reverse it. Oppasser testified that he did not then know that Cheryl Mason had filed a sexual harassment charge on November 3, 1982 with the EEOC. Oppasser testified that as of October 1982 he didn't know that Mandia was married to Cheryl Mason.
On November 5, 1982 ARCO Chemical received a copy of the EEOC charge at the Beaver Valley plant. Personnel at the plant advised Edmunds in Philadelphia of receipt of the charge, and Edmunds asked that a copy be forwarded to him. He received this on or about November 8, 1982. Although Edmunds and Oppasser met between November 8 and November 10, 1982, there is no direct evidence that Oppasser learned of the charge before November 10, 1982. Oppasser denies this, and testified that he first learned of it on November 16, 1982. Plaintiff only argues that he must have known earlier because of the close departmental relationship between Edmunds and Oppasser.
The EEOC administrative investigator found no probable cause for Cheryl Mason's complaint of sexual harassment. However, we need not make a finding that the sexual harassment actually occurred. The test in retaliation cases is whether plaintiff had a reasonable belief that an employment practice violated Title VII. See Novotny v. Great American Federal Savings and Loan Association, 539 F. Supp. 437 (W.D. Pa. 1982). Even if a charge filed with the EEOC is found to be without merit, the employee is protected in making that charge by Section 2000-3(a). Hicks v. ABT Assoc., 572 F.2d 960 (3d Cir. 1978).
Mandia filed a charge of retaliatory discharge with the EEOC on November 16, 1982. The EEOC administrative procedure found no probable cause.
The ultimate question is, was Mandia terminated because of his wife's EEOC charge? Plaintiff bears the ultimate burden of proof on this issue. While there is a time relation between Mandia's termination and the wife's charge, to conclude from that relation alone that they were causally related would be pure speculation.
While we have Mandia's assertion that the complaints of sexual harassment were orally transmitted to his superiors, and the denial of the superiors that they received such reports, all of the corroborating documentation from Robert Mandia and Cheryl Mason fail to support Richard Mandia's claim. With respect to whether Oppasser knew of the EEOC charge on November 11, 1982 when he refused to reconsider the the termination of October 12, 1982, we can only rest on mere speculation. His testimony refutes this. The time-stamps on his incoming correspondence refutes this. Plaintiff's counsel's argument that he must have known because of his corporate relationship to those who were informed, and the critical importance of this issue, ignores the fact shown by the evidence that the Beaver Valley plant is only one of several widely spaced plants under his jurisdiction, and that Nurse Mason was only one of the many personnel problems that he faced, and actually she and the Medical Department were not under his jurisdiction.
Furthermore, the employer has shown a bonafide business reason for the dismissal of October 12, 1982, which may seem harsh, but is entirely legitimate. Even before that time Mandia's superiors were disturbed at the way he was handling his job, were actively seeking and interviewing a replacement, and announced his replacement by October 19, 1982, before the date of Cheryl Mason's charge.
Therefore, plaintiff has failed to carry his burden of proof and judgment will be entered for defendant.
The foregoing opinion shall constitute the court's findings of fact and conclusions of law.
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