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Plaintiff-appellant Martin Zelnik ("Zelnik") appeals from a summary judgment entered in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Swain, J.) in favor of defendants-appellees, Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York ("FIT"), and the President of FIT, Dr. Joyce Brown ("Brown"). Zelnik brought this action to remedy alleged deprivations of the right of free speech, the right of free association, and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. The alleged deprivations were pleaded in claims made pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983; the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution; and Article I, Sections 8 and 9 of the New York State Constitution. A claim of defamation also was alleged, pursuant to New York State law, but was later voluntarily withdrawn by Zelnik. Following cross-motions for summary judgment, the District Court granted the motion of the defendants-appellees and dismissed the Complaint. The District Court determined that Zelnik could not establish that he had suffered an "adverse employment action," an element of his prima facie case, as he was unable to demonstrate the loss of a benefit resulting from FIT's retaliatory failure to afford him professor emeritus status. The District Court also found that no reasonable fact-finder could have determined that the conduct of defendant-appellee Brown constituted harassment of the type that would have deterred a reasonable person from exercising his free speech rights. The District Court's dismissal of Zelnik's First Amendment claim for failure to demonstrate retaliation by adverse employment action is the only ruling challenged on appeal. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the District Court.


Martin ZELNIK, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. FASHION INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, State University of New York, Joyce F. Brown, individually as President of Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York, Defendants-Appellees.

Docket No. 05-5131-CV.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

Argued: May 19, 2006.

Decided: September 14, 2006.

New York Law School location: File #3447, Box #150