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Jackson v. University of Pittsburgh

argued: February 11, 1987.

MATTHEW E. JACKSON, JR., APPELLANT
v.
UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH, DAVID C. SULLIVAN AND WESLEY W. POSVAR, IN THEIR OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, D.C. Civil Action No. 85-264.

Higginbotham and Stapleton, Circuit Judges, and Rodriguez, District Judge.*fn*

Author: Higginbotham

Opinion OF THE COURT A. LEON HIGGINBOTHAM, JR., Circuit Judge.

This appeal requires us to determine whether summary judgment was properly granted for the defendants-appellees in an employment discrimination case. Because record evidence demonstrates the existence of genuine issues of material fact that must be resolved at trial, we determine that, in part, it was not properly granted. We therefore will reverse the judgment of the district court on appellant's federal claims concerning his discharge and remand them for trial.

I. BACKGROUND

Appellant Matthew E. Jackson, Jr., who is black, was hired on July 15, 1975 by appellee the University of Pittsburgh ("Pitt") to work as an attorney in its legal department. Jackson continued in this position until January 3, 1984, when he was discharged by appellee David C. Sullivan, who had then been Pitt's general counsel, and Jackson's supervisor, for one year. Jackson thereafter filed an internal grievance with Pitt concerning his termination; he also complained to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission ("PHRC"), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs ("OFCCP"), that his discharge was racially motivated.*fn1 On February 1, 1985, Jackson commenced this action, alleging federal claims under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2 (1982), and Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Voting Rights Act of 1870, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (1982), and pendent state claims. After discovery and a hearing, the district court denied Jackson's motion for summary judgment and entered summary judgment for appellees. Jackson v. University of Pittsburgh, No. 85-0264 (W.D. Pa. June 11, 1986). This appeal followed. Our jurisdiction is conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 1291 (1982).

II. THE GOVERNING LAW

We review grants and denials of summary judgment by applying the same test a district court should employ. Marek v. Marpan Two, Inc., 817 F.2d 242, 244 (3d Cir. 1987); Goodman v. Mead Johnson & Co., 534 F.2d 566, 573 (3d Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 1038, 97 S. Ct. 732, 50 L. Ed. 2d 748 (1977); see generally Bushman v. Halm, 798 F.2d 651, 656-57 (3d Cir. 1986). Rule 56 permits a district court to grant a summary judgment motion only when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A disputed factual matter is a "genuine" issue "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986). "Material" facts are those "that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law . . . ." Id.

Inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts contained in the evidential sources submitted to the trial court must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. The non-movant's allegations must be taken as true and, when these assertions conflict with those of the movant, the former must receive the benefit of the doubt.

Goodman, 534 F.2d at 573 (footnote omitted).

In a federal discrimination case such as this one, the governing law includes the "method of . . . presumptions and shifting burdens of production" set forth by the Supreme Court in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668, 93 S. Ct. 1817 (1973) (" McDonnell Douglas "), and its progeny. Dillon v. Coles, 746 F.2d 998, 1003 (3d Cir. 1984).

First, the plaintiff has the burden of proving by the preponderance of the evidence a prima facie case of discrimination. Second, if the plaintiff succeeds in proving the prima facie case, the burden shifts to the defendant "to articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the employee's [dismissal]." Third, should the defendant carry this burden, the plaintiff must then have an opportunity to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the legitimate reasons offered by the defendant were not its true reasons, but were a pretext for discrimination.

Texas Dep't of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 252-53, 67 L. Ed. 2d 207, 101 S. Ct. 1089 (1981) (" Burdine ") (quoting McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802); see generally Robinson v. Lehman, 771 F.2d 772, 777 n.13 (3d Cir. 1985); Kunda v. Muhlenberg College, 621 F.2d 532, 541-43 (3d Cir. 1980).

This Court noted recently, in the context of a federal age discrimination claim, that "a defendant's burden of production as the moving party on summary judgment generally is to show that the plaintiff cannot meet his [or her] burden of proof at trial." Chipollini v. Spencer Gifts, Inc., 814 F.2d 893, 895 (3d Cir. 1987) (in banc), cert. dismissed, 483 U.S. 1052, 108 S. Ct. 26, 97 L. Ed. 2d 815, 56 U.S.L.W. 3013 (1987). This burden on the moving defendant is not satisfied, however, "merely by showing the plaintiff's inability to prove by direct evidence that the defendant's proffered reason is a pretext for . . . discrimination." Id. (original emphasis). At the summary judgment stage, in other words, "all that is required [for a non-moving party to survive the motion] is that sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute be shown to require ...


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