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WOODRUFF v. MILLCREEK TWP.

April 14, 1987

Betty Woodruff, Plaintiff
v.
Millcreek Township, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEBER

 WEBER, D.J.

 This is an action tried non-jury under the Equal Pay Act Amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. ยง 206(d)(1), which prohibits discrimination between employees on the basis of sex for equal work on jobs, the performance of which requires equal effort and responsibility.

 The defendant is Millcreek Township, a municipal corporation, in the County of Erie and State of Pennsylvania. The Township employs 4 persons in its Maintenance Department whose general duties are the maintenance and cleaning of the buildings and grounds housing the Township office and its various departments.

 The top echelon job is called Maintenance Supervisor, held by Joseph Fickenworth. Next on the hierachy is the Assistant Maintenance Supervisor, held by William Perry. The third position is called Maintenance Helper, filled by Terrence Kohler. The fourth position is called Cleaning Helper filled by the within plaintiff, whose rate of pay is lower than that of the Maintenance Helper, with whose work she compares her own.

 Until 1984 Plaintiff worked the second shift alone. In 1984 Kohler was assigned to the second shift. Prior to that he had worked the third shift for six years, and before that he had worked the day shift summers and the night shift (third shift) winters.

 From the evidence it appears that the personnel on the first shift, the Supervisor and Assistant Supervisor do the building maintenance chores that arise from time to time, minor repairs, replacement and the like. From time to time either grass cutting or snow removal must also be done. When the Maintenance Helper was assigned to the third shift (and previously to the first shift in summer) he did some of these duties. As of April 16, 1982, written job descriptions for the Maintenance Helper and the Cleaning Helper were prepared. Principally the Cleaning Helper does all work relating to cleaning. The description says "Cleaning help will not be required to do maintenance work." The Maintenance Helper description covers "janitorial work and light maintenance work." Although Plaintiff filed a grievance in November 1982 claiming that her work was comparable to that of Kohler, there was very little evidence produced at the hearing in this case of how Kohler operated, or what tasks he performed prior to his 1984 assignment to the second shift, along with plaintiff, and we believe that the evidence is equivocal until the beginning of 1984.

 Beginning with Kohler's assignment to the second shift along with plaintiff, both were assigned to cleaning work in the Township Buildings. They worked in different buildings but performed essentially the same functions in these buildings, cleaning at the end of each business day, the removal of dirt and debris from the floors, cleaning bathrooms, emptying waste baskets, and the like. While it was shown that Mr. Kohler had on occasions plowed snow during his shift, but this was only occasionally; he was not called upon to plow snow each time this was needed. Mr. Fickenworth and Mr. Perry plowed snow.

 The principal contention between the parties is that in performing his cleaning duties, Mr. Kohler uses a 17 inch mechanical buffer to clean and polish floors, while plaintiff uses a 12 inch mechanical buffer. Also Mr. Kohler uses a heavier mop. Mr. Kohler testified that it takes more physical strength and effort to operate the large buffer; plaintiff says she has never been offered a chance to try the 17 inch buffer, but she is willing to be taught the use of the heavier equipment. Mr. Perry testified that the skill to use the larger buffer can be acquired in one hour.

 Kohler describes his work during the usual day as cleaning the street department areas, its lunch room, locker room and shower room, removing tar from the floor, usually by wet mopping for one and a half hours daily. He then cleans the police department area, containing 13 rooms. For this he uses the heavy 17 inch buffer in a routine that provides buffing two times per week for certain rooms in that area. He testified that he spends 80% to 90% of his working time operating the heavy buffer. He also testified that he spends 5 hours per day operating the buffer.

 It appears that Mr. Kohler's essential daily occupation was cleaning, that any other tasks that he performs are occasional, and are not frequent since his transfer to the second shift.

 The testimony of Supervisor Fickenworth was the 17 inch buffer was heavy to operate for several hours but that teen age temporary employees from C.E.T.A. had operated it at intervals during the summer. Assistant Supervisor Perry testified that it required some skill to operate but this could be learned in one hour.


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