U.S. District Court, WDNY
Focarazzo v. University of Rochester
Background: The plaintiff commenced an action against her former employer alleging age discrimination. The plaintiff worked in several secretarial positions before being hired as the administrative assistant to the associate dean for academic affairs for the university’s School of Nursing. The plaintiff’s performance was well-rated, with the exception of a letter to the plaintiff concerning inappropriate comments she made about a coworker, in which she expressed a wish to “take a contract out on the coworker’s life.” Shortly after this her performance began to deteriorate due to personal issues affecting her work. After numerous attempts to correct the plaintiff’s unexplained absences, she was terminated.
Ruling: The District Court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the complaint. The court found that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that she was performing her job satisfactorily. Further, the plaintiff’s characterization of her job criticism as “nitpicky” does not provide evidence of pretext sufficient to foreclose summary judgment.
Christina A. Agola for the plaintiff; Sarah Snyder Merkel of the Wolford Law firm for the defendant