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WELDE v. TETLEY

July 25, 1994

ELEANOR WELDE, Plaintiff
v.
TETLEY, INC., Defendant


McClure, Jr.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES F. MCCLURE, JR.

BACKGROUND:

 On August 13, 1991, plaintiff Eleanor Welde initiated this action by filing a complaint alleging sex and age discrimination by defendant Tetley, Inc. Specifically, plaintiff alleged that defendant discriminated against her by failing to pay her a salary comparable to younger, male workers who perform work requiring substantially the same skill, effort, and responsibility as plaintiff, in violation of: the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq. (Count I); Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e (Count II); the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d) (Count III); and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 951 et seq. (Counts IV, V).

 A bench trial has been held during which plaintiff withdrew all of her claims except Count III, the Equal Pay Act claim. This memorandum and the accompanying order are the final adjudication by the court.

 The substance of plaintiff's claim is that, as Quality Control Supervisor at Tetley's Williamsport facility, she performs work substantially equal in terms of skill, effort and responsibility to that which was performed under similar working conditions as did Kenneth Maietta while Maietta was Quality Assurance Manager, but that plaintiff was and is paid a lesser wage than was Maietta.

 DISCUSSION:

 I. STANDARDS GOVERNING AN EQUAL PAY ACT CLAIM1

 A party asserting a claim under the Equal Pay Act bears the threshold burden of proving that the employer pays different wages to employees of the opposite sex "for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions." Corning Glass Works v. Brennan, 417 U.S. 188, 195, 94 S. Ct. 2223, 41 L. Ed. 2d 1 (1974). "Skill" includes an assessment of such factors as experience, training, education and ability. 29 C.F.R. § 1620.15. "Effort" refers to the physical or mental exertion needed to perform the job. 29 C.F.R. § 1620.16. "Responsibility" concerns the degree of accountability required in performing a job, with emphasis on the importance of the job obligation. 29 C.F.R. § 1620.17. These three terms -- skill, effort, responsibility -- "constitute separate tests, each of which must be met in order for the equal pay standard to apply." 29 C.F.R. § 1620.14(a).

 If this burden is carried by the employee, it then falls to the employer to demonstrate that there is a legitimate reason for the discrepancy in pay; in the words of the statute, that "the payment is made pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex. . ." 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1).

 Should the employer make such a showing, the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the reason for the disparity presented by defendant is only a pretext. Byrnes v. Herion, Inc., 764 F. Supp. 1026, 1030 (W.D. Pa. 1991) (citing Chipollini v. Spencer Gifts, 814 F.2d 893 (3d Cir. 1987); Angelo v. Bacharach Instrument Co., 555 F.2d 1164, 1171 (3d Cir. 1977)). Although intent to discriminate is not a requisite element for making out an EPA claim, a showing of discriminatory motivation may be used to demonstrate that an affirmative defense on which the employer relies is in fact pretextual. E.E.O.C. v. Delaware Dept. of Health and Social Services, 865 F.2d 1408, 1414 n.8 (3d Cir. 1989).

 The EPA affords relief only when males and females are paid different wages for equal work; mere comparability of positions is not sufficient to give rise to an inference that the positions under scrutiny are "equal" as that term is used in the EPA. Angelo, supra, 555 F.2d at 1176. "Failure to furnish equal pay for 'comparable work' or 'like jobs' is not cognizable under the Act." Nulf v. Int'l Paper Co., 656 F.2d 553, 560 (10th Cir. 1981). "When Congress enacted the EPA it substituted the word 'equal' for 'comparable' meaning that 'the jobs involved should be virtually identical, that is, they would be very much alike or closely related to each other.'" Angelo, supra, 555 F.2d at 1175 (quoting Brennan v. City Stores, 479 F.2d 235, 238 (5th Cir. 1973)).

  While the Act does not require that the jobs be identical for the equal pay mandate to apply, substantial equality of job content is required. Brobst v. Columbus Servs. Int'l, 761 F.2d 148, 154 (3d Cir. 1985) (citations omitted). "Actual job performance and content -- not job titles, classifications or descriptions -- is determinative." Gunther v. County of Washington, 623 F.2d 1303, 1309 (9th Cir. 1974), aff'd, 452 U.S. 161, 68 L. Ed. 2d 751, 101 S. Ct. 2242 (1981). See also Angelo, 555 F.2d at 1171.

 "The task of determining whether plaintiff has met her burden of proving the 'equal work' component of her claim is guided by a determination of whether the jobs have a 'common core' of tasks, i.e. whether a significant portion of the two jobs is identical." Byrnes, 764 F. Supp. at 1030 (citing Brobst v. Columbus Servs. Int'l, 761 F.2d 148 (3d Cir. 1985)). But if plaintiff establishes a "common core," "the inquiry then turns to whether the differing or additional tasks make the work substantially different." Brobst, 761 F.2d at 156 (citations omitted). See also Byrnes, 764 F. Supp. at 1030. Therefore, even if two positions have the same or "common core" of duties and responsibilities, the two positions may still not be "substantially equal" within the meaning of the EPA and thus present an insufficient basis of comparison to support a prima facie case because of those differing or additional tasks.

 With these legal standards in mind, we turn to the facts established at trial.

 II. FINDINGS OF FACT

 A. Tetley's Williamsport Facility

 1. Defendant Tetley, Inc. operates a facility in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, that facility being one of a number of Tetley facilities throughout the East Coast.

 2. Since 1987, Tetley's Williamsport Plant Manager has been Raymond Depp.

 3. From 1971 until his promotion to Plant Manager, Depp served as the Production Manager at Tetley's Williamsport facility.

 4. Depp's immediate predecessor as Plant Manager at Tetley's Williamsport facility was Alan Davies.

 5. From approximately 1971 until the early 1980's, Tetley's Williamsport facility produced both tea bag products and an instant tea mix product, although the instant tea mix always was a minor part of the Williamsport operation.

 6. When Tetley purchased TENCO (formerly a division of Coca-Cola) in the early 1980's, the instant tea mix operation was transferred to the former TENCO facility in Morris Plains, New Jersey.

 7. Since that time, tea bag product has been the sole product of the Williamsport facility.

 8. The tea bag product is a dry state product which is packaged in various forms of bags and sizes. Thirty or more components are blended and transferred to tea bag machines where the tea is placed into a manufactured bag, some containing a string and tag and others not, and then collated and machine- or hand-packed into a carton sales unit, then checkweighed, overwrapped and case-packed for shipment.

 9. Prior to the mid-1980's, the Williamsport facility utilized antiquated, thirty-year-old, rebuilt machines to pack the tea in bags. The machines could pack approximately 180 bags of tea per minute.

 10. These older machines did not pack the tea bags into cartons; rather, employees were utilized to hand-pack the bags into the carton sales units.

 11. In the mid-1980's, IMA C-55 packing machines were installed in Williamsport and, currently, the Williamsport facility utilizes 18 IMA C-55 machines.

 12. The IMA C-55 machines are state of the art and pack 450 bags of tea per minute, attach strings and tags to the bags, and collate the tea bags and machine-pack them into the carton sales units.

 13. In the mid-1970's, three Delaware & Williams (D&W) machines also were installed in the Williamsport facility.

 14. The D&W machines produced tea bags with mylar strips instead of string, and different tags, and packed 350 tea bags per minute, collated the tea bags, and packed them into the carton sales units.

 15. In mid-1991, two IMA C-51 machines were installed at the Williamsport facility.

 16. The IMA C-51 machines pack tea into round, rather than square, bags without strings or tags, collate the bags, and pack them into carton sales units.

 17. The IMA C-51 machines pack 1,600 to 2,000 tea bags per minute.

 18. Since installation of the IMA C-51 machines, Williamsport's overall potential for tea bag packing is at a higher rate than previously.

 19. With only the IMA C-55 and D & W machines, Williamsport's daily packing rate was optimally 7 to 7-1/2 million tea bags per day. Currently, with all machines, 10 million tea bags per day may be reached.

 20. When the IMA C-55 machines were installed in Williamsport, the facility's antiquated machines were transferred to Tetley's operation in Bristol, Pennsylvania, which had no IMA machines.

 21. The Williamsport facility also co-packs tea, that is, packages tea under different brand names, as well as producing tea bags under the Tetley name.

 22. In approximately 1990, Tetley began operating a facility in Marietta, Georgia, which formerly had been owned by Southern Tea.

 23. The Marietta operation is a co-packing operation which produces primarily tea bags under another company's name.

 24. Until 1991, a Commodities Operation also was present at Tetley's Williamsport facility charged with purchasing raw materials, ingredients and tea for the various Tetley facilities.

 25. In 1991, the Commodities Operation was transferred to the Marietta facility.

 26. When Depp became the Williamsport Plant Manager, Davies became the head of the Commodities Operation, and was transferred to the Marietta facility along with the Commodities Operation.

 27. Tetley's Williamsport facility contains a Quality Control Department.

 28. The Quality Control Department at the Williamsport facility contains the only full-functioning leaf tea quality control laboratory within the Tetley organization.

 29. As so presented at trial, quality assurance at Tetley focuses on the establishment of guidelines and policy, the setting of specifications -- be they for equipment, raw materials, or finished product -- the creation of programs and procedures, the initiation of audit systems, all designed to satisfy corporate quality objectives.

 30. The role of quality control, on the other hand, is to implement, to ascertain whether the standards and programs established by quality assurance are having the desired result. At Williamsport, the quality control function consisted predominantly of the chemical and physical testing of samples carried out in the laboratory, the weight checks of finished product (i.e., tea bag cartons) performed on the production floor, and the preparation of periodic statistical reports reflecting the results of those tests and checks.

 B. Plaintiff's Background and Employment, Generally, with Tetley

 31. Plaintiff is a female.

 32. Plaintiff obtained a B.S. degree in chemistry from Western Maryland University in 1952.

 33. After receiving a chemistry degree, plaintiff worked as a chemist, performing primarily quantitative analysis for three employers from 1952 until 1958, when she left the work force to start and raise a family.

 34. In June, 1977, plaintiff returned to the work force as a part-time laboratory technician, or Quality Control Analyst, at the Tetley Williamsport plant, where she worked two to three days a week in the Quality Assurance Department.

 35. As a part-time Quality Control Analyst, plaintiff primarily was responsible for calculating weight data, conducting quality checks of tea bags, and statistical work.

 37. Effective October 1, 1984, plaintiff was promoted to the position of Senior Quality Assurance Analyst, also known as Senior Technician.

 38. As a part-time and full-time Quality Control Analyst, and as Senior Quality Assurance Analyst, plaintiff reported to Ken Maietta, Quality Assurance Manager at Tetley's Williamsport facility.

 39. Maietta conducted periodic performance reviews of plaintiff between 1977 and 1986, and plaintiff received merit increases as a result.

 40. During the period of time that Tetley's Williamsport plant was involved in production of instant tea mix, plaintiff did the chemical analysis required, standardized solutions, prepared experimental formulations, assayed raw materials, helped resolve various production problems, and assisted in the streamlining of the operation as volumes increased.

 41. Generally, throughout the 1980's, plaintiff was in charge of the Quality Control Laboratory, and, with assistance from a part-time and then full-time Quality Control Analyst, did virtually all of the chemical and technical work required by the Quality Control Department.

 42. In addition, plaintiff acted as Maietta's assistant, and, in addition to typing all of Maietta's reports, assisted him in various quality control functions such as the drafting of policies and procedures, training of personnel, interfacing with suppliers, resolving various quality control problems, and filling in for Maietta when he was away from the plant.

 43. As of August 14, 1989, plaintiff was thoroughly familiar with all aspects of quality control for leaf tea bag production at the Williamsport plant and other Tetley tea packing facilities, as well as various quality control issues relating to instant tea products.

 44. Effective August 14, 1989, plaintiff officially was promoted and received the title of Quality Control Supervisor at Tetley's Williamsport facility, and as such, was in charge of the Quality Control Department.

 45. Concurrent with her promotion, from August 14, 1989, to August 26, 1990, plaintiff was paid a yearly salary of $ 26,600.00. The minimum yearly salary for her position was listed as $ 25,111.00, the mid-point yearly salary was listed as $ 31,388.00, and the maximum yearly salary was listed as $ 37,666.00.

 46. From August 27, 1990, to August 25, 1991, plaintiff was paid a yearly salary of $ 28,600.00. The minimum yearly salary for her position was listed as $ 26,326.00, the mid-point yearly salary was listed as $ 32,907.00, and the maximum yearly salary was listed as $ 39,489.00.

 47. From August 26, 1991, to September 6, 1992, plaintiff was paid a yearly salary of $ 30,600.00. The minimum yearly salary for her position was listed as $ 27,442.00, the mid-point yearly salary was listed as $ 34,278.00, and the maximum yearly salary was listed as $ 41,133.00.

 48. From September 7, 1992, to September 20, 1993, plaintiff was paid a yearly salary of $ 32,750.00. The minimum yearly salary for her position was listed as $ 28,559.00, the mid-point yearly salary was listed as $ 35,699.00, and the maximum yearly salary was listed as $ 42,836.00.

 49. From September 20, 1993, to date, plaintiff has been paid a yearly salary of $ 34,600.00. The minimum yearly salary for her position was listed as $ 29,694.00, the mid-point yearly salary was listed as $ 37,117.00, and the maximum yearly salary was listed as $ 44,540.00.

 C. Kenneth Maietta's Background and Employment, Generally, with Tetley

 50. Maietta is a male.

 51. Maietta received a Bachelor's degree in biology in 1968.

 52. Following college, in addition to working for six months computing map designs for the Department of Interior and a six-month stint in the armed services, he worked for approximately two years with two different pharmaceutical companies performing production control duties.

 54. Maietta's title was changed to Quality Assurance Manager in May, 1973, with responsibility for quality-related functions at both the Williamsport and Savannah, Georgia, leaf (and some instant) tea facilities.

 55. In April 1989, Maietta was promoted to a corporate-wide quality assurance position, and given the title of Manager of Corporate Quality Assurance.

 56. From July 7, 1986, to August 2, 1987, Maietta was paid a yearly salary of $ 37,275.00. The minimum yearly salary for his position was listed as $ 27,338.00, and the maximum yearly salary for his position was listed as $ 41,006.00. The calculated midpoint would be $ 34,172.00.

 57. From August 3, 1987, to September 25, 1988, Maietta was paid a yearly salary of $ 39,900.00. The minimum yearly salary for his position was listed as $ 29,042.00, and the maximum yearly salary for his position was listed as $ 43,562.00. The calculated mid-point would be $ 36,302.00.

 58. From September 26, 1988, to April 2, 1989, Maietta was paid a yearly salary of $ 42,400.00. The minimum yearly salary for his position was listed as $ 30,538.00, and the maximum yearly salary for his position was listed as $ 45,800.00. The calculated mid-point would be $ 38,169.00.

 59. From April 3, 1989, to April 8, 1990, Maietta was paid a yearly salary of $ 47,000.00. The minimum yearly salary for his position was listed as $ 34,656.00, the mid-point yearly salary was listed as $ 43,320.00, and the maximum yearly salary was listed as $ 51,983.00.

 E. Comparison of Reporting Relationships

 60. A job description which Maietta wrote for himself in the position of Quality Assurance Manager, Tea Products, dated July 6, 1983 shows Maietta reporting in a straight-line relationship to Dr. Dobry, Manager, Research and Development/Quality Assurance, a corporate position.

 61. Maietta also had a dotted-line reporting relationship to the Plant Manager of the Williamsport facility, Allen Davies.

 62. As of August 31, 1984, Maietta continued to have a dotted-line reporting relationship with Plant Manager Davies.

 63. As of July 9, 1987, Maietta, in the position of Quality Assurance Manager, Tea Products, continued to have a straight-line reporting relationship to the Williamsport Plant Manager, Depp, and a dotted-line reporting relationship to Manager, Technical Services, a corporate position filled by Dr. Dobry at the time.

 64. As of July 20, 1987, Maietta had a straight-line reporting relationship to the Williamsport Plant Manager, Depp.

 65. During the first several months of 1986, Maietta reported directly to Dr. Dobry, and, as of approximately July 30, 1986, he began reporting directly to the Williamsport Plant Manager, Davies.

 66. From approximately July 30, 1986 until his promotion to the corporate quality assurance position, Maietta had a straight-line reporting relationship to the Williamsport Plant Manager, with a dotted-line reporting relationship to Dr. Dobry, the Manager of Technical Services, a corporate quality position.

 67. After his promotion to the corporate-wide quality assurance position, Maietta began reporting to Ernest Beltran.

 68. As Quality Control Supervisor, plaintiff reports to the Williamsport plant manager, with a dotted line relationship to Maietta.

 69. As Quality Control Supervisor, plaintiff required the approval of Depp and Maietta to make changes in quality assurance policy or procedure.

 70. While Maietta reported changes in quality assurance policy or procedure, he had the authority to make such changes without prior approval.

 71. Plaintiff's job description (Plaintiff's Exhibit 7) as Quality Control Supervisor lists, as her peers, the production supervisor, warehouse manager, personnel manager, plant controller, ...


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