United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
(DOC. NO. 60).
C. Hall United States District Judge.
Lawrence Jaggon (“Jaggon”) brought the present
action against defendant Community Health Services, Inc.
(“CHS”), alleging discrimination in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, negligent
infliction of emotional distress, and defamation. See Amended
Complaint (Am. Compl.) (Doc. No. 18). This court previously
dismissed all claims except for the Title VII and defamation
claims. See Ruling (Doc. No. 21).
before the court is CHS' Motion for Summary Judgment on
the remaining claims. See Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 60). For the reasons stated below,
the Motion is granted.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion for summary judgment will be granted if the record
shows no genuine issue as to any material fact, and the
movant is “entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the
initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine
dispute of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Cartrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The non-moving party may defeat the
motion by producing sufficient specific facts to establish
that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249
(1986). If the moving party satisfies that burden, the
nonmoving party must set forth specific facts demonstrating
that there is a genuine issue for trial. A genuine issue
exists where the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could decide in the non-moving party's favor. See,
e.g., Rojas v. Roman Catholic Diocese of
Rochester, 660 F.3d 98, 104 (2d Cir. 2011) (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252).
court's role at summary judgment “is to determine
whether genuine issues of material fact exist for trial, not
to make findings of fact.” O'Hara v. Nat. Union
Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, 642 F.3d 110, 116 (2d Cir.
2011). Unsupported allegations do not create a material issue
of fact and cannot overcome a properly supported motion for
summary judgment. See Weinstock v. Columbia Univ.,
224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000). A party who opposes summary
judgment “cannot defeat the motion by relying on the
allegations in his pleading, or on conclusory statements, or
on mere assertions that affidavits supporting the motion are
not credible.” Gottlieb v. County of Orange,
84 F.3d 511, 518 (2d Cir. 1996). Rather, a party opposing
summary judgment “must come forth with evidence
sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to find in [its]
favor.” Brown v. Henderson, 257 F.3d 246, 252
(2d Cir. 2001). The evidence offered in opposition to a
motion for summary judgment must be both admissible and must
be sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact.
See LaSalle Bank National Ass'n v. Nomura Asset
Capital Corp., 424 F.3d 195, 205 (2d Cir. 2005);
Santos v. Murdock, 243 F.3d 681, 683 (2d Cir. 2001).
a health center located in Hartford, Connecticut.
Defendant's Local Rule 56(a)(1) Statement of Facts
(“Def. 56(a)(1)”) ¶ 1; Plaintiff's Local
Rule 56(a)(2) Statement of Facts in Opposition (“Pl.
56(a)(2)”) ¶ 1. Jaggon worked as a Registered
Nurse at CHS from August 2012 until October 2016. Def.
56(a)(1) ¶ 2. Jaggon is a black male born in Jamaica.
Id. ¶ 3. Gregory Stanton is CHS' CEO;
Stanton is a black male. Id. ¶ 4. Genea Bell is
CHS' Chief Legal and Human Resources Officer; Bell is a
black female. Id. ¶ 5. Mauricio Montezuma,
M.D., was CHS' Medical Director. Id. ¶ 6.
Montezuma is a “white male Latino” born in
Colombia. Pl. 56(a)(2) ¶ 6. Anne Howley is CHS'
Nurse Manager for its Adult Medicine Department; Howley is a
white female. Def. 56(a)(1) ¶ 7.
first filed a charge of discrimination with the Connecticut
Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities
(“CHRO”) on October 14, 2016. Def. 56(a)(1)
¶ 10. He filed a second charge of discrimination on
December 20, 2016. Id. The CHRO dismissed
Jaggon's claims and, on April 3, 2018, rejected
Jaggon's request for reconsideration of those
dismissals. Id. at 12. Three hundred days
before October 14, 2016, the first date of filing with the
CHRO, was December 19, 2015. Id. ¶ 13.
September 29, 2016, Jaggon had a phone conversation with a
representative of a home care agency, Tina Antogiovanni
(“Antogiovanni”). Id. ¶ 17; Pl.
56(a)(2) ¶ 19. During that conversation, Jaggon stated
that he “had been a Director of Nursing.” Def.
56(a)(1) ¶ 19; Pl. 56(a)(2) ¶¶ 19-20. Kim Tran
and Kyle O'Donnell, two CHS employees, provided Howley
with written statements about the incident. Def. 56(a)(1)
¶ 21; Pl. 56(a)(2) ¶ 21. Howley spoke to
Antogiovanni on September 23, 2016. Def. 56(a)(1) ¶ 23.
Antogiovanni, Tran, and O'Donnell all submitted
statements to Howley in which they stated that Jaggon had
said he was “the” Director of Nursing during the
phone call with Antogiovanni. See Def. 56(a)(1)
¶¶ 20-21, 25, 28. Jaggon denies that he said he was
“the” Director of Nursing during his conversation
with Antogiovanni, but does not deny that Antogiovanni, Tran,
and O'Donnell reported to Howley that he had done
Pl. 56(a)(2) ¶¶ 21, 25. Dr. Montezuma and Bell
spoke to Antogiovanni on October 3, 2016. Affidavit of Genea
Bell (“Bell Aff.”) (Doc. No. 63-5) ¶ 5.
Antogiovanni again reported that Jaggon had identified
himself as “the Director of Nursing.”
Id. Dr. Montezuma placed Jaggon on administrative
leave on October 4, 2016. Pl. 56(a)(2) ¶ 33.
met with Jaggon and his union representative on October 13,
2016. Id. ¶ 34. During that meeting, Jaggon
stated that when he told Antogiovanni that he was
“a” Director of Nursing, he meant only that he
had previously held that title before working at CHS. Def.
56(a)(1) ¶ 36; Pl. 56(a)(2) ¶ 36. During a
conversation between Bell and Antogiovanni on October 19,
Antogiovanni told Bell that Jaggon had “absolutely
not” explained that he had previously been
“a” Director of Nursing, and that she was under
the impression that Jaggon was the Director of Nursing for
Def. 56(a)(1) ¶¶ 38- 39; Bell Aff. ¶ 8; Pl.
56(a)(2) ¶¶ 38-39. Jaggon's employment was
terminated on October 21, 2016. See Termination
Letter (Doc. No. 63-5) at 65.
February 26, 2016, Stanton (the CEO of CHS) held a staff
meeting in the lobby of CHS. Pl. 56(a)(2) ¶ 48. At the
staff meeting, Stanton called Jaggon to the front of the
room, and made a comment to the effect that employees
“should be careful with whom they associate.”
Deposition of Lawrence Jaggon (“Jaggon Depo.”)
(Doc. No. 63-1) at 35.
Other Discriminatory Actions
addition to his termination, Jaggon claims that CHS
discriminated against him in other ways on the basis of his
race, color, national origin, and sex, all in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Def. 56(a)(1)
¶ 51; Pl. 56(a)(2) ¶ 51.
Motion for Summary Judgment as to Jaggon's Title VII
Claims (Count One)
first argues that it is entitled to summary judgment as to
Jaggon's Title VII claims. See Defendant's
Memorandum in Support of its Motion for Summary Judgment
(“Def.'s Mem. in Supp.”) (Doc. No. 61) at 14.
CHS argues that (1) allegations that predated December 19,
2015, are time barred, see id. at 14-16, and (2)
that Jaggon's timely allegations do not meet the Title
VII standard set in McDonnell Douglas, id.
at 16. Before addressing the merits of any claims, the court
addresses whether any of the alleged discriminatory or
retaliatory acts are time-barred.
seeking to file discrimination claims under Title VII must
ordinarily file such claims with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) within 180 days
of the date on which the “alleged unlawful employment
practice occurred.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1).
“However, if the alleged discrimination took place in a
state or locality that has its own antidiscrimination laws
and an agency to enforce those laws, then the time period for
‘fil[ing]' claims with the EEOC is extended to 300
days.” Ford v. Bernard Fineson Dev. Ctr., 81
F.3d 304, 307 (2d Cir. 1996) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-
5(e)(1)). Connecticut is a state with its own employment
practices agency, the Commission on Human Rights and
Opportunities (“CHRO”). Therefore, the 300-day
period applies. Jaggon first filed a charge of discrimination
with the CHRO on October 14, 2016. Def. 56(a)(1) ¶ 10.
Three hundred days prior to that date was December 19, 2015.
contends that the “continuing violation”
exception applies and that the allegedly discriminatory acts
that occurred before December 19, 2015, therefore remain
actionable. Under the continuing violation exception to the
Title VII limitations period, “[if] a Title VII
plaintiff files an EEOC charge that is timely as to any
incident of discrimination in furtherance of an ongoing
policy of discrimination, all claims of acts of
discrimination under that policy will be timely even if they
would be untimely standing alone.” Chin v. Port
Auth. of New York & New Jersey, 685 F.3d 135, 155-56
(2d Cir. 2012). However, the continuing violation exception
does not apply to discriminatory acts that are merely similar
or related. Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp. v.
Morgan, 536 U.S. 101, 113 (2002). Instead, the exception
applies to “cases involving specific discriminatory
policies or mechanisms, ” Lambert v. Genesee
Hosp., 10 F.3d 46, 53 (2d Cir. 1993), and to claims
involving hostile work environment, Morgan, 536 U.S.
at 115. In hostile work environment claims, the Second
Circuit instructs courts to examine “the totality of
the circumstances” including behavior outside the
300-day period. McGullam v. Cedar Graphics, Inc.,
609 F.3d 70, 79 (2d. Cir. 2010).
supports his claim of discrimination with several events that
occurred before December 19, 2015 - the date at which the
300-day window closed. Jaggon alleges that: (1) he was
bypassed for two positions in 2013, Jaggon Depo. at 205, (2)
he was bypassed for a position in 2014, id. at 21,
(3) a co-worker called him a “rat” in 2014,
id. at 72, (4) his supervisors demoted him in June
2015, id. at 93, and (5) his supervisor disciplined
him in September 2015, id. at 198. The statute of
limitations has run on these discrete acts of alleged
discrimination; however, the court considers them for the
narrow purpose of determining whether the conduct was so
pervasive as to make the work environment hostile.
See, infra § IV(A)(3).
complains that CHS discriminated against him on the basis of
his race, color, national origin, and sex in violation of
Title VII. Am. Compl. ¶ 131. Specifically, Jaggon
complains that CHS discriminated against him by (1) failing
to promote him to two positions to which he applied,
Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Opposition to
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgement
(“Pl.'s Mem. in Opp.”) (Doc. No. 68) at 3- 5,
(2) demoting him from several committee assignments,
id. at 20, (3) refusing to allow his schedule change
request, id. at 18, and (4) terminating his
employment, id. at 26.
evaluating claims of employment discrimination, courts apply
a three-step burden shifting framework. McDonnell Douglas
Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). At step one, a
plaintiff must initially establish a prima facie case of
discrimination. The burden then shifts to the defendant to
put forward a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the
adverse action. If the defendant makes such a showing,
“the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to prove
discrimination, for example, by showing that the
employer's proffered reason is pretextual.”
Demoret v. Zegarelli, 451 F.3d 140, 151 (2d Cir.
argues that summary judgment is appropriate because (1) CHS
failed to meet its initial burden of putting forward a prima
facie case of discrimination, and (2) assuming,
arguendo, that Jaggon established a prima facie case
of discrimination, he failed to demonstrate that a genuine
dispute of material fact exists as to whether CHS'
reasons for any ...