On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. L-6508-09.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Cuff, Lihotz and Waugh.
Plaintiff Sadio Diallo appeals from an April 18, 2011 summary dismissal of his discrimination complaint, filed against defendants East Orange Board of Education (the Board), Dr. Clarence Hoover, III, Dr. Kenneth King, David Johnson, Arthur Wright, Everett Jennings, CCE, Theresa Combs, Belinda Jackson, Carmen Jones, and Vernon Pullins (individual defendants). We affirm.
The following facts are taken from the record submitted in support of and in opposition to summary judgment, viewed in a light most favorable to plaintiff, the non-moving party. Livsey v. Mercury Ins. Group, 197 N.J. 522, 525 n.1 (2009); Brill v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 142 N.J. 520, 523 (1995).
In 1996, plaintiff, an African national, commenced employment with the Board as a French teacher and was assigned to the Ecole Toussaint Louverture Elementary School (Ecole). Plaintiff held a "Non-Citizen Teaching Certificate issued by the New Jersey Department of Education." Additionally, plaintiff's status as a non-citizen made him ineligible for an award of tenure. N.J.S.A. 18A:28-3 ("No teaching staff member shall acquire tenure unless he is, or until he shall become, a citizen of the United States."). Over the ensuing years, plaintiff considered his performance evaluations satisfactory.
In 2007, Principal David Johnson, an African-American male, began serving as plaintiff's direct supervisor, evaluating him three times during the 2008-2009 school year. Plaintiff considered the evaluations as an unduly negative reflection of his performance. Further, Principal Johnson sent memoranda to plaintiff during the 2008-2009 school year, seeking correction of plaintiff's "failure to adhere to the schedule and being late to assigned posts."
In January 2009, plaintiff met with Principal Johnson regarding the areas of his performance requiring improvement. Plaintiff admitted he was late at times because "he could not leave a class without supervision and the relieving teachers were late which caused him to be late." Plaintiff also acknowledged certain identified classroom management problems, but generally felt he was being "micro-managed" by Principal Johnson.
On February 23, 2009, plaintiff submitted a transfer request, which was denied by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kenneth D. King because plaintiff's "performance [wa]s not consistently satisfactory." Plaintiff's second letter on April 1, 2009, requested a transfer, which also was denied.
On June 2, 2009, plaintiff received Dr. King's letter stating "a recommendation has been made that you will be re-appointed for the 2009-2010 School year without employment increment and/or adjustment increase and you will be placed on employment probation due to an unsatisfactory rating of your attendance and/or punctuality and/or performance." After plaintiff received the letter, he attended a June 8, 2009, closed Board of Education meeting. Dr. King attended the meeting and advised plaintiff that he could defend himself at a public Board meeting but he needed to know "we're going to talk about your private life, that you're not a citizen and things like that and that [you are] not tenured, can't be tenured because [you are] not a citizen." On June 26, 2009, plaintiff received a letter by the Board officially placing him on probation. Plaintiff accepted the terms of employment and was reappointed for the 2009-2010 school year without an increase in pay.
During the 2009-2010 school year, plaintiff was assigned hallway monitor responsibilities. Further, he generally asserted he suffered ridicule by his peers for this assignment.
On August 10, 2009, plaintiff filed a complaint claiming defendants violated the Law Against Discrimination (LAD), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to -49, based on his national origin, alleging a hostile work environment, violation of his New Jersey constitutional and civil ...