University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Mete v. New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, and Cooper v. New York State Office of Mental Health EE-NY-0227
Docket / Court 92-CV-169-NPM ( N.D.N.Y. )
Additional Docket(s) 5:93-cv-01506  [ 93-1506 ]  Northern District of NY (U.S.)
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Case Summary
Introduction

This Clearinghouse record summarizes two Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) cases against two New York State agencies. the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD), and the Office of Mental Health (OMH). We group them ... read more >
Introduction

This Clearinghouse record summarizes two Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) cases against two New York State agencies. the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD), and the Office of Mental Health (OMH). We group them together because they were consolidated on appeal.

The OMRDD Case

On February 5, 1992 several former employees of the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD) brought a class action lawsuit against their employer and the New York State Department of Civil Services in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. Represented by private counsel, they alleged that they were laid off from their roles as managers at the OMRDD because of their age and enacted policies with a disparate impact on older workers, in violation of the ADEA, and that the agency also violated several New York state laws. The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Neal P. McCurn.

Judge McCurn granted the plaintiff's request for class certification for their ADEA claims in a June 24, 1993 opinion. 1993 WL 226434. The class consisted of:
"All persons, in the present or former employ of Defendant the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (“OMRDD”), now or hereafter executing and filing written consents to participate and join in this action pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), who:
a. were 40 years of age or older on or about September 20, 1989;
b. on or about September 20, 1989, were employed by OMRDD as Chief of Developmental Center Treatment Services (“CDCTS”), Grade 32;
c. were eliminated, demoted, downgraded in employment, subjected to a reduction in force (“RIF”) or forced to retire because of such elimination, demotion, downgrading and/or RIF by OMRDD; and
d. were subjected to such adverse employment action(s) as described in paragraph (c) pursuant to, or in connection with, an RIF that took effect on or about September 20, 1989.”

However, Judge McCurn reserved the question of class certification on the plaintiff's state law claims.

The defendants moved to dismiss and for summary judgment on June 30, 1994. After more than three year of litigation, Judge McCurn granted the defendants' motion to dismiss a New York state law claim, but denied dismissal in all other respects. 984 F.Supp. 125. With respect to the ADEA claim he found that the statute was intended by Congress to abrogate states' immunity from suits under the Eleventh Amendment and, thus, the court had subject matter jurisdiction to hear the case. He also denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment.

The defendants filed a notice of appeal on December 4, 1997.

The OMH Case

Similarly, on November 30, 1993, a single employee of the New York Office of Mental Health (OMH) filed an ADEA lawsuit against his employer and several individual employees in the same district. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiff alleged that he was demoted and terminated because of his age in violation of the ADEA and that OMH's policies and practices had a disparate impact on employees over 60 years old. That case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin, Jr..

After several years of discovery, on November 29, 1995 the defendants moved for summary judgment. Judge Scullin granted that motion with respect to the plaintiff's claim of disparate impact under the ADEA, but not with respect to his claim of disparate treatment on March 31, 1997. 958 F. Supp. 87. The opinion did not address the Eleventh Amendment immunity question. On May 9 and July 28, 1997 the defendants moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the basis of Eleventh Amendment immunity and other grounds. Judge Scullin denied these motions orally on September 24, 1997. Because of the age of this case, not all the details for this motion are available.

The defendants filed a notice of appeal from this decision on October 28, 1997.

The Consolidated Cases

On appeal, the Second Circuit consolidated both the OMRDD and OMH cases, along with a third case, from Connecticut, that raised the question of state immunity from ADEA suit under the Eleventh Amendment: Davis v. Board of Trustees of the University of Connecticut, No. 92-CV-370, D. Conn. (Davis is not in the Clearinghouse because it was an individual damage action.) On December 23, 1998, a panel consisting of Circuit Judges Wilfred Feinberg, Amalya L. Kearse, and Chester J. Straub held that states were not immune from suit under the ADEA because Congress had abrogated their Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit in federal court when it enacted the ADEA. 162 F.3d 770. Thus, the district courts had subject matter jurisdiction over the plaintiffs’ ADEA claims. The Second Circuit affirmed all three district court orders being appealed.

The defendants sought Supreme Court review; before that petition was decided, on January 11, 2000, the Court issued an opinion in Kimel v. Florida Board of Regents, 528 U.S. 62 (2000), holding that Congress did not abrogate the states’ sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment when it passed the ADEA and, thus, federal courts had no jurisdiction to hear ADEA damage actions against state employers. The following week, the Court vacated the Second Circuit’s opinion in these cases. 528 U.S. 1110 (2000).

Both the OMRDD and OMH cases were eventually remanded to the district court, where they had been stayed awaiting the final results of the appeals. The OMRDD case was dismissed on July 12, 2000 and the OMH case was dismissed on July 7, 2000.

Jonah Hudson-Erdman - 06/15/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Discrimination-area
Demotion
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Discrimination-basis
Age discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq.
State Anti-Discrimination Law
State law
Defendant(s) New York State Department of Civil Services
New York State Office of Mental Health
New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities
Plaintiff Description A class of older employees of the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities and An individual employee of the New York State Office of Mental Health.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 02/05/1992
Case Closing Year 2000
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
N.D.N.Y.
07/10/2000
5:93-cv-01506-FJS-GJD
EE-NY-0227-9001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
07/12/2000
5:92−cv−00169
EE-NY-0227-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D.N.Y.
03/31/1997
Opinion [ECF# 24] (958 F.Supp. 87)
EE-NY-0227-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
N.D.N.Y.
11/06/1997
Memorandum Decision and Order [ECF# 60] (984 F.Supp. 125)
EE-NY-0227-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
12/23/1998
Opinion (162 F.3d 770)
EE-NY-0227-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
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Judges DiBianco, Gustave Joseph (N.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
EE-NY-0227-9000 | EE-NY-0227-9001
Feinberg, Wilfred (S.D.N.Y., Second Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0227-0003
Kearse, Amalya Lyle (Second Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0227-0003
McCurn, Neal Peters (N.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0227-0001 | EE-NY-0227-9000
Scullin, Frederick James Jr. (FISC, N.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0227-0002 | EE-NY-0227-9001
Straub, Chester J. (Second Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0227-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Flamm, Leonard N. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0227-9000
Kinsella, Pauline R (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0227-0003
Saccocio, John R (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0227-9001
Sheehan, William F. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0227-9001
Vitt, Geoffrey Judd (Vermont) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0227-0003
Defendant's Lawyers LeCours, Lisa (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0227-0003
Leong, Vincent (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0227-9000
Shapiro, Paul M (Connecticut) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0227-0003
Siegfried, Robert A. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0227-9000 | EE-NY-0227-9001
Other Lawyers Galanter, Seth Michael (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0227-0003

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