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SAVKO v. PORT AUTH. OF ALLEGHENY CTY.

July 31, 1992

ELAINE SAVKO, Plaintiff,
v.
PORT AUTHORITY OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY, LARRY LUTHERAN and KATHLEEN RADKOFF, Defendants.


LEWIS


The opinion of the court was delivered by: TIMOTHY K. LEWIS

LEWIS, District J.

 After hearing evidence and argument during a non-jury trial in the above-captioned case, and after having reviewed and considered the parties' post-trial submissions, the court enters the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. Defendant Port Authority of Allegheny County ("PAT") is a body corporate and politic organized and existing pursuant to the terms of the Second Class County Port Authority Act, 55 P.S. § 551 et seq. PAT provides public mass transportation in, among other places, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

 2. Plaintiff Elaine Savko, a female, was an employee of PAT between January of 1972 and July 21, 1987.

 3. Hired by PAT as a secretary, the plaintiff was promoted in 1974 to the position of personnel assistant in PAT's employment department by John Tipton, a male who was then PAT's manager of personnel services.

 4. In 1978, John Tipton once again promoted plaintiff, this time to the position of employment assistant in the employment department.

 5. In the positions of personnel assistant and employment assistant during the period from 1974 to 1980, plaintiff performed pre-employment screening, interviewing, test administration, and other employment-related functions.

 6. In January of 1980, John Tipton promoted plaintiff to supervisor of employment in the employment department, a position compensated at the job class 10 salary rate.

 7. Plaintiff's duties as supervisor of employment beginning in 1980 included screening employment applicants, interviewing, administering tests, providing orientation to new employees, supervising other employment staff and working on special projects in the employment field.

 8. From 1974 through mid-1985, Savko reported to John Tipton. For the years 1980 through 1984, John Tipton evaluated Savko's performance in twelve areas. He rated Savko from commendable to superior in each area of performance for each year; he rated her highly in all areas dealing with work performance, initiative, personal habits, communications, planning, ability to interact with superiors and subordinates and in all other areas.

 9. Plaintiff is distantly related to defendant Larry Lutheran, a male. During a family function held in 1978, plaintiff encouraged Lutheran to apply for a position in PAT's Management Training Program.

 10. PAT's Management Training Program employed and developed middle management and staff personnel by placing baccalaureate and master-degree personnel in hourly-rated bus operator and maintenance positions for a period of six months to a year, then dispersing them to trainee positions throughout PAT's departments and finally assigning them to permanent slots. In response to plaintiff's encouragement, Lutheran, who held a bachelor's degree, applied for and was accepted into PAT's Management Training Program.

 11. Following completion of the bus operator component of the Management Training Program, Lutheran was assigned in 1978 to work as a trainee in the employment department.

 12. In January of 1980, Lutheran received a permanent assignment as an employment assistant in the personnel department and began reporting to plaintiff.

 14. As assistant supervisor of employment, Lutheran performed the same basic duties as plaintiff and assisted plaintiff in the supervision of two employees, Daryl Bigler and Kirstan Fedell.

 15. Plaintiff evaluated Lutheran's job performance for the years 1980 and 1981. Plaintiff deemed Lutheran to be "promotable" and, among his other commendable attributes, determined that: he has a "professional personal appearance;" he "regularly adheres to company policy regarding working hours;" and he has an "excellent grasp of . . . union contract provisions which enable him to contribute a great deal to the department."

 16. Sometime after 1981, plaintiff's opinion of Lutheran changed when she learned that Lutheran was having difficulty with his marriage to her blood relative and that he had become romantically involved with another PAT employee.

 17. Plaintiff complained to Tipton about Lutheran getting a divorce. Tipton told her that it was Lutheran's personal business and that she must "let it go." Plaintiff responded that she could not.

 18. Fearing that plaintiff's bias against Lutheran would cloud her judgment, Tipton believed it necessary to conduct the performance appraisals of Lutheran for 1982 and subsequent years.

 19. In October of 1983, plaintiff and Tipton met for lunch. At that lunch, Tipton counseled plaintiff that managers and co-workers had complained to him about her inflexibility. At that same meeting, plaintiff complained that Lutheran spent too much time in Tipton's office.

 20. On November 2, 1983, plaintiff delivered a follow-up memorandum to Tipton in which she referred to the complaints about her inflexibility and Lutheran's spending time in Tipton's office. *fn1" In her memorandum, plaintiff told Tipton that she favored "a more formal, structured management style" and Tipton had a "tendency . . . toward a more informal, loosely run office." According to plaintiff, this "difference in style" was the "primary conflict" she had with Tipton, and was the reason that they had come "to a crossroad in [their] working relationship." Plaintiff suggested that she maintain her duties in the "employment function" but that she be removed physically from the department and that her supervisory duties over Lutheran and Fedell be reassigned.

 21. Finally, in her memorandum of November 2, 1983, plaintiff also offered an unsolicited critique of Lutheran, including "general observations" that Lutheran often returned from lunch "with strong odor of alcohol."

 22. Prior to mailing these allegations about Lutheran's drinking to Tipton, plaintiff admittedly had never discussed any such incidents with Lutheran.

 23. Plaintiff subsequently discussed her allegations of Lutheran's drinking with Ronald Willard, an individual experienced in the field of alcoholism and the coordinator of PAT's Employee Assistance Program ("EAP").

 24. Ronald Willard spoke to Tipton about the possibility of Lutheran having problems associated with alcohol. Even though neither Willard nor Tipton had observed any behavior which would indicate that Lutheran had such problems, particularly in light of Lutheran's consistently perfect attendance record, Willard and Tipton agreed that they would watch him closely. Despite numerous opportunities to do so, neither ever observed any conduct on Lutheran's part, including his job performance, to indicate that he had any such problems. There is no credible evidence on this record to substantiate plaintiff's attack on Lutheran.

 25. On November 4, 1983, plaintiff wrote Tipton another memorandum detailing her plans for relinquishing her supervision of Lutheran and Fedell and emphasizing that her primary responsibility would continue to be in the employment process.

 26. Within weeks of receiving her November 4, 1983 memorandum, Tipton complied with plaintiff's wishes and announced at a departmental staff meeting that plaintiff no longer supervised Lutheran and Fedell. They began to report to Tipton.

 27. Tipton's appraisal of Lutheran's performance was higher than that of plaintiff's performance in 1983. The results of Tipton's appraisals of Lutheran's and plaintiff's performance in 1984 were similar, with both being rated "commendable." PAT did not have a formal appraisal program after 1984.

 28. Prior to and during this time period, Tipton, Lutheran and other PAT employees fished together on one or two occasions, golfed together at a PAT-sponsored outing and otherwise socialized. It was not unusual for Tipton to socialize with all of his employees, male and female.

 29. In 1984, Tipton was promoted from the position of manager of personnel services to director of administration, and, as a result of a departmental reorganization, Lutheran and plaintiff began reporting to Richard Ober, manager of human resources.

 30. While reporting to Ober, Lutheran continued to gain experience in personnel functions other than just employment. For example, he supervised Ronald Willard in the EAP, designed and developed training programs for PAT employees and served on PAT's collective ...


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