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DUVA v. BRIDGEPORT TEXTRON

December 11, 1985

EDDA DUVA, Plaintiff
v.
BRIDGEPORT TEXTRON, GORDON JERVIS, JOSEPH WEBER, THOMAS MORAN and GUS ROTH, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DITTER

 J. WILLIAM DITTER, JR.

 Edda Duva filed a five-count complaint against her former employer, Bridgeport Textron (Textron), and several employees of Textron including Gordon Jervis, the personnel manager; Thomas Moran, the general supervisor; Joseph Weber, a supervisor; and Gus Roth, a non-supervisory employee. Plaintiff first purports to state a cause of action against all defendants pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. She alleges that defendants discriminated against her on the basis of her sex and that this discrimination constituted a constructive discharge. Plaintiff's remaining claims, which plaintiff contends are pendent to the Title VII claim, are brought pursuant to state tort law. Defendants have moved to dismiss the Title VII claims against the individual defendants, to dismiss the pendent state claims against all defendants, and to strike both plaintiff's claim for punitive damages and plaintiff's jury trial demand. For reasons that follow, this motion will be granted.

 Defendants first contend that plaintiff's Title VII claims against Jervis, Moran, Roth, and Weber should be dismissed because these individuals are not persons against whom a Title VII action may be maintained.

 In light of the Act's remedial purpose, the term employer should be given a liberal interpretation, extending to individuals who significantly control access to employment. See Baker v. Stuart Broadcasting Co., 560 F.2d 389, 391 (8th Cir. 1977); Bell v. Brown, 181 U.S. App. D.C. 226, 557 F.2d 849, 853 (D.C. Cir. 1977); Guyette v. Stauffer Chem. Co., 518 F. Supp. 521, 526 (D. N.J. 1981). Against this background, several district courts have correctly concluded that supervisory employees are agents of employers and, as such, may be proper defendants under Title VII. *fn1" See Thompson v. International Ass'n of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, 580 F. Supp. 662, 668-69 (D. D.C. 1984); Jones v. Metropolitan Denver Sewage Disposal Dist., 537 F. Supp. 966, 970 (D. Colo. 1982); Guyette, 518 F. Supp. at 526; Bradley v. Rockland County Community Mental Health Center, 25 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 225, 228 (S.D. N.Y. 1980).

 While supervisory employees fall within the ambit of the term "employer," the same is not true of employees who do not supervise the Title VII plaintiff. Consequently, if any of the individual defendants was not in a supervisory position with respect to plaintiff, he would not be a person against whom plaintiff could maintain a Title VII action.

 The employment relationship between plaintiff and each of the individuals is unclear from the face of the complaint. Nonetheless, there is at least a reasonable inference that Jervis, Moran, and Weber were supervisory personnel. This inference cannot be overcome by defendants without the support of affidavits to the contrary. See Guyette, 518 F. Supp. at 526. Therefore, defendants' argument that these individuals were not plaintiff's "employer" must be rejected on the basis of the present record. However, because plaintiff has conceded that defendant Roth was not a supervisor, see Plaintiff's Memorandum in Opposition to Motion for Partial Dismissal and Motion to Strike at 4, the Title VII claim against Roth must be dismissed.

 The individuals alternatively assert that even if they may be deemed to be plaintiff's employer, the Title VII action should be dismissed because plaintiff failed to name them as respondents in the charge she filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

 Section 2000e-5(f)(1) requires a complainant to file charges against a person before the EEOC prior to commencing an action in district court. Plaintiff concedes that she did not file charges against the individuals with the EEOC, but asserts that her filing of EEOC charges against Textron satisfies the jurisdictional prerequisite to bringing an action here against the individuals.

 In Glus v. G. C. Murphy Co., 562 F.2d 880 (3d Cir. 1977), the Third Circuit provided a four-factor equation for determining whether an EEOC charge against one party would be sufficient to allow a district court to exercise jurisdiction over Title VII claims against another party. The Glus court stated that the district court should look to the following:

 
1) whether the role of the unnamed party could through reasonable effort by the complainant be ascertained at the time of the filing of the EEOC complaint;
 
2) whether under the circumstances, the interests of a named [party] are so similar as the unnamed party's that for the purpose of obtaining voluntary conciliation and compliance it would be unnecessary to include the unnamed party in the EEOC proceedings;
 
3) whether its absence from the EEOC proceedings resulted in actual prejudice to the ...

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