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Sotomayor v. New York (No, Not That Sotomayor)

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By Robyn Hagan Cain on April 11, 2013 4:20 PM

Would Justice Sonia Sotomayor -- the Wise Latina herself -- sue her beloved New York City? Perish the thought. New York, after all, is her beloved world.

But Gladys Sotomayor, a 56-year-old, Hispanic New York City schoolteacher who shares a surname with the Justice, claims that the New York City Department of Education skirted a slew of state and federal law by discriminating against her.

Sotomayor alleged violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law, claiming that she was discriminated and retaliated against on the basis of her age, race, and national origin. She also claimed that that defendants violated the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Sotomayor claims that, beginning in the 2007-2008 school year, defendants unfairly reprimanded her, observed her classroom with unusual frequency, evaluated her classroom performance negatively, and gave her less desirable classroom assignments and duties. She argues that the actions were unwarranted and motivated by discriminatory and retaliatory animus. Defendants acknowledge that they increased their supervision of and attention toward Sotomayor, but they contend they did so to address her performance and behavioral issues.

That's quite a complaint, but the district court agreed with the school system that Sotomayor's claims should be dismissed in summary judgment. This week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that decision.

Summary judgment is appropriate only when "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Here, the appellate court upheld dismissal because "no reasonable jury" could find that the school officials' actions were motivated by a retaliatory animus.

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