Case 1:17-cv-03401-LDH-RML Document 1 Filed 06/06/17 Page 1 of 13 PageID #: 1

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
----------------------------------------------------------------------X
YARIZA MARTINEZ, Index No.: 1:17-cv-3401

Plaintiff,
COMPLAINT
-against-

BUSHWICK IMPROVEMENT SOCIETY INC., Plaintiff Demands a Trial
individually and d/b/a STAGG STREET CENTER FOR By Jury
CHILDREN, IRMA VARNER, individually, and ROBERT
CAMACHO, individually,

Defendants.
----------------------------------------------------------------------X

Plaintiff, by and through her attorneys, Phillips & Associates, PLLC hereby complains of the

Defendants, upon information and belief, as follows:

INTRODUCTION

1. Plaintiff complains pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as codified, 42

U.S.C. §2000e et. Seq. (“Title VII”) and to remedy violations of the Executive Law of the

State of New York and the Administrative Code of the City of New York, based upon the

supplemental jurisdiction of this Court pursuant to Gibb, 383 U.S. 715 (1966) and 28 U.S.C.

§1367, seeking damages to redress the injuries Plaintiff has suffered as a result of being

harassed and discriminated against by the Defendants on the basis of her sex/gender,

pregnancy, actual and/or perceived disability, and caregiver status, failure to engage in the

interactive process, together with creating a hostile work environment and unlawful

termination.

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JURISDICTION AND VENUE

2. The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1331, §1343 and supplemental jurisdiction

thereto.

3. This action involves a Question of Federal Law.

4. Venue is proper in this district based upon the fact that a substantial part of the events or

omissions giving rise to the claims occurred within the Eastern District of the State of New

York. 28 U.S.C. §1391(b).

5. On or about November 23, 2016, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal

Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).

6. On or about April 21, 2017, Plaintiff received a Notice of Right to Sue letter from the EEOC.

7. This action is being brought within ninety (90) days of said Notice of Right to Sue letter.

PARTIES

8. Plaintiff is a female resident of the State of New York, County of Queens.

9. At all times material, Defendant BUSHWICK IMPROVEMENT SOCIETY, INC.,

individually and d/b/a STAGG STREET CENTER FOR CHILDREN (hereinafter also

referred to as “STAGG STREET”) was and is a domestic not-for-profit corporation.

10. Defendant STAGG STREET is a day care facility located at 77-83 Stagg Street, Brooklyn,

NY 11206.

11. At all times material, Defendant IRMA VARNER (hereinafter also referred to as

“VARNER”) was and is a resident of the State of New York.

12. At all times material, Defendant VARNER was and is an employee of Defendant STAGG

STREET.

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13. At all times material, Defendant VARNER was Plaintiff’s supervisor and/or had supervisory

authority over Plaintiff.

14. At all times material, ROBERT CAMACHO (hereinafter also referred to as “CAMACHO”)

was and is a resident of the State of New York.

15. At all times material, Defendant CAMACHO was and is an employee of Defendant STAGG

STREET.

16. At all times material, Defendant CAMACHO was Plaintiff’s supervisor and/or had

supervisory authority over Plaintiff.

17. At all times material, Plaintiff was an employee of Defendant STAGG STREET.

MATERIAL FACTS

18. On or about July 5, 2015, Plaintiff began working as a “Junior Counselor” at Defendant

STAGG CENTER’s 77-83 Stagg Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206 location for the summer.

Plaintiff’s duties included supervising children, teaching them how to read, and providing

feedback to parents about their children’s progress. Plaintiff was praised for her performance

throughout her summer working for Defendant STAGG STREET. As a result, Defendant

STAGG STREET’s “Director,” Rhonda Webb, asked Plaintiff to interview for a full-time

position in May 2016.

19. In or around the end of April 2016, Plaintiff returned to Defendant STAGG STREET for an

interview with Defendant STAGG STREET’s “Board Chairperson,” Defendant VARNER,

Defendant STAGG STREET’s “Vice Chairperson,” Defendant CAMACHO, Ms. Webb, and

a faculty member (name currently unknown). Plaintiff was five months pregnant at the time.

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20. During the interview, Defendant VARNER asked Plaintiff to talk about herself and her

qualifications. Plaintiff did not immediately disclose her pregnancy to Defendant VARNER

and Defendant CAMACHO during the interview.

21. On or about May 25, 2016, Plaintiff was hired as a full-time “Teacher Aid” for Defendant

STAGG STREET.

22. Plaintiff continued to receive praise for her performance from her supervisor, Ms. Webb, as

well as from Defendant VARNER and Defendant CAMACHO.

23. On or about June 13, 2016, Plaintiff met with Defendant VARNER and inquired about the

company’s policy and procedures for maternity leave. Plaintiff then informed Defendant

VARNER that she was pregnant and her due date was on August 28, 2016. Defendant

VARNER appeared dismayed to learn about Plaintiff’s pregnancy, and replied, “I’m

disappointed to hear this. If you had mentioned your pregnancy the day of your

interview, I would have made a different decision. I need workers who can work.”

Plaintiff was humiliated and explained, “I was afraid to talk about it then, I didn’t want to be

discriminated against.” Defendant VARNER replied, “I understand, but I still need people

to work. Again, I am disappointed. I don’t know what to say at this moment. I will get

back to you with more information on what to do.”

24. The next day, Defendant VARNER and Defendant CAMACHO called Plaintiff into a

meeting. Defendant VARNER and Defendant CAMACHO then gave Plaintiff a termination

letter effective June 17, 2016. When Plaintiff asked why she was being terminated, she was

informed that her request for leave information would not be entertained due to her purported

“probationary” status. Plaintiff was terminated a mere one (1) day after revealing her

pregnancy to Defendant.

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25. Defendant CAMACHO clarified that Plaintiff would have been terminated for her pregnancy

status even after completing her probationary status. When Plaintiff asked, “What would

have happened if I waited ‘til (sic) August to say…,” Defendant CAMACHO interrupted,

“You would have left, we would have terminated you. Then you really can’t get a job.

Because under the FMLA we can’t, we gotta terminate you, ‘cause we need you here.

That’s what happens.”

26. Plaintiff rebutted stating that she had a normal pregnancy, and she could continue working

until her due date. Plaintiff again asked, “So there’s no way I could even finish like

working?” Defendant CAMACHO again clarified, “There’s no way.”

27. Defendant VARNER and Defendant CAMACHO then told Plaintiff that she could re-apply

for a position with Defendant STAGG STREET after giving birth, if one was available at the

time. However, Defendants then subjected Plaintiff to a barrage of discriminatory comments

regarding her childcare and caregiving responsibilities once her baby was born.

28. For example, Defendant CAMACHO told Plaintiff, “When you give birth and you come

back, and there’s a position, you come back but make sure you’re ready to complete

your probation.” Defendant VARNER said, “Make sure that you have someone who’s

gonna be able to take care of the baby, because you’re gonna be in and out, in and out,

and that’s gonna jeopardize your probation.”

29. Defendant CAMACHO also informed Plaintiff that she (Plaintiff) would have been

terminated if she had hidden her pregnancy until her due date. Defendant CAMACHO said,

“It would have been worse if you had said nothing, because you would have stayed here

until August, you would have given birth, and you didn’t pass your probation, then

we’d have to terminate you, and then you would have never come back.”

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30. Plaintiff would not have been terminated but for her pregnancy.

31. On or about June 15, 2016, the next day, Plaintiff requested another meeting with Defendant

VARNER to understand why she could not continue to work until her due date. Defendant

VARNER informed Plaintiff that her termination was a final decision. Defendant VARNER

also said, “I was deceived…” Plaintiff replied, “So had I not mentioned my pregnancy, I

would still be working.” Defendant VARNER said, “You’re right.”

32. Defendant VARNER then stated, “Well one of the things we asked you is ‘tell us

something about yourself,’ and you told us everything you wanted us to know, you

didn’t say, ‘I’m pregnant’.” Plaintiff replied, “It was so early, and I’m not entitled to share

that with anyone.” Defendant VARNER then said, “I guess if we had even noticed, you

know…”

33. On or about June 17, 2016, Defendant VARNER and Ms. Webb called Plaintiff into another

meeting. Ms. Webb was also in attendance. Realizing that they had acted unlawfully by

terminating Plaintiff, Defendant VARNER informed Plaintiff that she had spoken to the

other members of the board, and that Plaintiff would be permitted to continue working until

her due date. Nevertheless, Defendant VARNER continued to harass Plaintiff about her

pregnancy.

34. For example, Defendant VARNER said, “I felt in the beginning from the way it went on

that I was deceived and the board was deceived by how it was handled, and um, so and

as you told me, we didn’t have to know but it would have been nice of you to mention it

[Plaintiff’s pregnancy] and we would have known where we were with you and you

would have known where we were with yourself, cause as you said, you gave up a part-

time job and you came here. …If we had known you would now…and we didn’t hire

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you, you would not have given up your part-time job. You would have kept your part-

time job, you know. It was a deceive (sic) there. I was deceived and you deceived

yourself.” Plaintiff was offended and replied that she did not feel that she deceived her

supervisors by failing to disclose her pregnancy status during her interview.

35. Defendant VARNER then said, “We felt that you deceived us because you didn’t mention

your pregnancy. And you didn’t have to mention it, I understand that, you didn’t have

to mention it but if I had known, I probably would not have even interviewed you, if I

had known we was (sic) bringing on someone pregnant. We need workers, we need

people who can work. I understand that you are a good worker but we cannot hire

people who are not gonna be here.”

36. Defendant VARNER then began to harass Plaintiff regarding her ability to provide care to

her child while working for Defendant STAGG STREET.

37. In a conversation Plaintiff recorded, Defendant VARNER stated, “Now you’re gonna have

a situation with the baby. When the baby comes, you’re still gonna have to be here,

when it’s time for you to be at work, you need to be here. Cause that will cause another

problem, and they’re gonna be watching.” Plaintiff clarified that she could work after the

birth of her child.

38. Nevertheless, Defendant VARNER continued, “Who’s gonna take the baby to the doctors,

cause you know the baby needs to get injections, and checks, and treatments? Ms.

Webb also interjected, “How you gonna work that out?

39. At the end of their conversation, Defendant VARNER added, “I was honestly shocked, I

didn’t see you, I still don’t see no (sic) pregnancy.”

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40. Plaintiff was humiliated and she felt that she would continue to experience harassing

comments about her pregnancy and caregiving responsibilities throughout her employment

with Defendant STAGG STREET.

41. Defendants terminated Plaintiff because of her pregnancy.

42. Defendants terminated Plaintiff because they perceived her as disabled (due to her

pregnancy).

43. Defendants terminated Plaintiff because she put them on notice that she would need a

reasonable accommodation.

44. Defendants failed to engage in the interactive process.

45. Although Defendants offered Plaintiff her job back, Defendants created a hostile work

environment with the intent to constructively discharge Plaintiff.

46. Defendant constructively discharged Plaintiff because of her pregnancy.

47. As a result of Defendants’ actions, Plaintiff felt, and continues to feel, extremely humiliated,

degraded, victimized, embarrassed, and emotionally distressed.

48. As a result of the Defendants’ discriminatory and intolerable treatment of Plaintiff, she

suffered severe emotional distress and physical ailments.

49. As a result of the acts and conduct complained of herein, Plaintiff has suffered and will

continue to suffer the loss of income, the loss of a salary, bonuses, benefits and other

compensation which such employment entails, and Plaintiff has also suffered future

pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, and

other non-pecuniary losses.

50. As Defendants’ conduct has been malicious, willful, outrageous, and conducted will full

knowledge of the law, Plaintiff demands punitive damages against Defendants.

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AS A FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION
UNDER TITLE VII
DISCRIMINATION

51. Plaintiff repeats, reiterates, and realleges each and every allegation made in the above

paragraphs of this Complaint as if more fully set forth herein at length.

52. This claim is authorized and instituted pursuant to the provisions of Title VII of the Civil

Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. Section(s) 2000e et Seq., as amended, for relief based upon

the unlawful employment practices of the above-named Defendants.

53. Plaintiff complains of Defendants’ violation of Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination

in employment based, in whole or in part, upon an employee’s sex/gender, together with

pregnancy discrimination, creating a hostile work environment, and unlawful termination.

AS A SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION
UNDER TITLE VII
RETALIATION

54. Plaintiff repeats, reiterates and realleges each and every allegation made in the above

paragraphs of this Complaint as if more fully set forth herein at length.

55. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §2000e-2(a) provides that it

shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer:

“(1) to … discriminate against any of his employees … because he has opposed
any practice made an unlawful employment practice by this subchapter, or
because he has made a charge, testified, assisted or participated in any manner in
an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this subchapter.”

56. Defendants engaged in an unlawful employment practice prohibited by 42 U.S.C. §2000e et

Seq. by discriminating against Plaintiff with respect to the terms, conditions, or privileges of

employment because of her opposition to the unlawful employment practices of Defendants.

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AS A THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION
UNDER NEW YORK STATE LAW
DISCRIMINATION

57. Plaintiff repeats, reiterates and realleges each and every allegation made in the above paragraphs

of this Complaint as if more fully set forth herein at length.

58. Executive Law § 296 provides that “1. It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice: “(a) For

an employer or licensing agency, because of the …sex, pregnancy [or] disability of any

individual, to refuse to hire or employ or to bar or to discharge from employment such

individual or to discriminate against such individual in compensation or in terms, conditions or

privileges of employment.”

59. Defendants engaged in an unlawful discriminatory practice by discriminating against the

Plaintiff because of her sex, actual and/or perceived disability, pregnancy, together with

failure engage in the interactive process, and wrongful termination.

AS A FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION
UNDER NEW YORK STATE LAW
RETALIATION

60. Plaintiff repeats, reiterates and realleges each and every allegation made in the above

paragraphs of this Complaint as if more fully set forth herein at length.

61. New York State Executive Law §296(7) provides that it shall be an unlawful discriminatory

practice:

“For any person engaged in any activity to which this section applies to retaliate or
discriminate against any person because he has opposed any practices forbidden under
this article.”

62. Defendants engaged in an unlawful discriminatory practice by discharging, retaliating, and

otherwise discriminating against the Plaintiff because of Plaintiff’s opposition to her

employer’s unlawful employment practices.

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AS A FIFTH CAUSE OF ACTION
UNDER NEW YORK STATE LAW
AIDING & ABETTING

63. Plaintiff repeats, reiterates and realleges each and every allegation made in the above paragraphs

of this Complaint as if more fully set forth herein at length.

64. New York Executive Law §296(6) provides that it shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice,

“For any person to aid, abet, incite, compel or coerce the doing of any acts forbidden under this

article, or attempt to do so.”

65. Defendants engaged in an unlawful discriminatory practice in violation of New York State

Executive Law §296(6) by aiding, abetting, inciting, compelling and coercing the discriminatory

conduct.

AS A SIXTH CAUSE OF ACTION
UNDER THE NEW YORK CITY ADMINISTRATIVE CODE
DISCRIMINATION

66. Plaintiff repeats, reiterates and realleges each and every allegation made in the above paragraphs

of this Complaint as if more fully set forth herein at length.

67. The Administrative Code of City of NY §8-107(1) provides that “It shall be an unlawful

discriminatory practice: (a) For an employer or an employee or agent thereof, because of the

actual or perceived … gender… disability … caregiver status… of any person, to refuse to

hire or employ or to bar or to discharge from employment such person or to discriminate

against such person in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment.”

68. Defendants engaged in an unlawful discriminatory practice in violation of New York City

Administrative Code Title 8, §8-107(1)(a) by creating and maintaining discriminatory working

conditions, and otherwise discriminating against the Plaintiff because of her gender, pregnancy

and/or disability and/or perceived disability, and caregiver status.

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AS A SEVENTH CAUSE OF ACTION
UNDER THE NEW YORK CITY ADMINISTRATIVE CODE
RETALIATION

69. Plaintiff repeats, reiterates and realleges each and every allegation made in the above paragraphs

of this Complaint as if more fully set forth herein at length.

70. New York City Administrative Code Title 8-107(7) provides that:

“It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person in any activity to which this
chapter applies to retaliate or discriminate in any manner against any person because such
person has (i) opposed any practice forbidden under this chapter, (ii) filed a complaint,
testified or assisted in any proceeding under this chapter, (iii) commenced a civil action
alleging the commission of an act which would be an unlawful discriminatory practice
under this chapter…”

71. Defendants engaged in an unlawful and retaliatory practice by retaliating, and otherwise

discriminating against the Plaintiff because she opposed Defendants’ unlawful employment

actions.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests a judgment against the Defendants:

A. Declaring that Defendants engaged in unlawful employment practices prohibited by Title VII

of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, the New York Executive Law and the New

York City Administrative Code that Defendants discriminated against Plaintiff on the basis

of her sex/gender, pregnancy, actual and/or perceived disability, and caregiver status,

together with failure to engage in the interactive process, creating a hostile work

environment, retaliation and unlawful termination;

B. Awarding damages to the Plaintiff, retroactive to the date of discharge, for all lost wages and

benefits, past and future, back pay and front pay, resulting from Defendants’ unlawful

discharge and to otherwise make Plaintiff whole for any losses suffered as a result of such

unlawful employment practice;

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AO 440 (Rev. 06/12) Summons in a Civil Action

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
for the
Eastern District
__________ of New
District York
of __________

Yariza Martinez )
)
)
)
Plaintiff(s) )
)
v. Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-3401
)
Bushwick Improvement Society, Inc., individually and )
d/b/a "Stagg Street Center For Children," Irma )
Varner, individually, and Robert Camacho, )
individually, )
Defendant(s) )

SUMMONS IN A CIVIL ACTION

To: (Defendant’s name and address) Bushwick Improvement Society, Inc. d/b/a
"Stagg Street Center for Children," Via Secretary of State
Irma Varner, via Place of Employment
77-83 Stagg Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206
Robert Camacho, via Place of Employment
77-83 Stagg Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206

A lawsuit has been filed against you.

Within 21 days after service of this summons on you (not counting the day you received it) — or 60 days if you
are the United States or a United States agency, or an officer or employee of the United States described in Fed. R. Civ.
P. 12 (a)(2) or (3) — you must serve on the plaintiff an answer to the attached complaint or a motion under Rule 12 of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The answer or motion must be served on the plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney,
whose name and address are: Silvia C. Stanciu, Esq.
Phillips & Associates, PLLC
45 Broadway, Suite 620
New York, NY 10006

If you fail to respond, judgment by default will be entered against you for the relief demanded in the complaint.
You also must file your answer or motion with the court.

CLERK OF COURT

Date:
Signature of Clerk or Deputy Clerk
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AO 440 (Rev. 06/12) Summons in a Civil Action (Page 2)

Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-3401

PROOF OF SERVICE
(This section should not be filed with the court unless required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 4 (l))

This summons for (name of individual and title, if any)
was received by me on (date) .

’ I personally served the summons on the individual at (place)
on (date) ; or

’ I left the summons at the individual’s residence or usual place of abode with (name)
, a person of suitable age and discretion who resides there,
on (date) , and mailed a copy to the individual’s last known address; or

’ I served the summons on (name of individual) , who is
designated by law to accept service of process on behalf of (name of organization)
on (date) ; or

’ I returned the summons unexecuted because ; or

’ Other (specify):
.

My fees are $ for travel and $ for services, for a total of $ 0.00 .

I declare under penalty of perjury that this information is true.

Date:
Server’s signature

Printed name and title

Server’s address

Additional information regarding attempted service, etc:

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