Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

CLARK v. HESS TRUCKING CO.

January 5, 1995

WILLIAM T. CLARK, Plaintiff, -vs- HESS TRUCKING COMPANY, Defendant.

Donetta W. Ambrose, U. S. District Judge


The opinion of the court was delivered by: DONETTA W. AMBROSE

and

 ORDER OF COURT

 Plaintiff William T. Clark ("Clark") has sued his former employer, Hess Trucking, Inc. ("Hess Trucking") for violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act arising out of his discharge from his employment at Hess Trucking. Pending before the Court is Hess Trucking's Motion for Summary Judgment on both Counts of the Complaint. For the following reasons, the Motion will be granted.

 I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND.

 The following facts are undisputed except where noted. Defendant Hess Trucking is a trucking company with facilities or "terminals" in Hammonton, New Jersey, as well as in Harrisburg and Butler, Pennsylvania. Hess Trucking's main terminal and company headquarters is located at the facility in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Clark, an African-American, was hired in October 1991 as a dock supervisor at the Harrisburg terminal by Joseph Underkoffler, Vice President of Operations at Hess Trucking. Four months later, in February 1992, Underkoffler promoted Clark to be Terminal Manager of Hess Trucking's Butler terminal. Clark reported directly to Underkoffler while he was Terminal Manager.

 One of Clark's duties as the Butler Terminal Manager included overseeing the petty cash fund, which had been established for day-to-day business expenses such as turnpike tolls paid by the drivers, supplies for the business, and supplying coffee and soda for the drivers. (Clark Dep. at 11.) When disbursing money from the petty cash fund, Clark was instructed to get a receipt for the disbursed funds and place the receipt in the petty cash fund, keeping the cash in a rough equilibrium of cash and receipts totalling $ 500.00, according to company policy. (Clark Dep. at 9, 15, Underkoffler Aff. PP 2, 6.) Clark was responsible for checking the petty cash on a daily basis, verifying that the cash and receipts totalled $ 500.00. (Underkoffler Exh. P 7; Def. Exh. 2 at C.) Clark would periodically send the receipts to Harrisburg and would receive in return a sum of money equal to the total amount of the receipts. (Clark Dep. at 9, 15, 17; Underkoffler Aff. PP 4, 6.)

 In addition to overseeing the petty cash account, Clark was responsible for sending employee time cards to Hess Trucking's Vice President of Finance, Debra Harner. On September 9, 1992, Clark had an argument over the telephone with Harner concerning Clark's compliance with her request to send employee time cards to her by a certain date. (Clark Dep. at 38.) Harner informed Clark that Clark would not be receiving a paycheck that week because he had not submitted the time cards by the date she had requested. (Clark Dep. at 37.) During this telephone conversation, Clark called Harner a "bitch" and Harner allegedly called Clark a "black nigger" and told him to shut his "black ass mouth up" and to do what she told his "black ass to do." *fn1" (Clark Dep. at 33-34.) Clark claims that he immediately advised Underkoffler and William Nelson, president of Hess Trucking, both that Harner refused to issue Clark a paycheck and that Harner had used racially derogatory language towards him. (Clark Dep. at 41.) Harner was not Clark's supervisor, nor is there evidence that she had any decision making power with respect to Clark. (Clark Dep. at 33-34; Harner Aff. P 3.) Harner was the only person at Hess Trucking who used racially derogatory terms to him, and the telephone conversation on September 9 constituted the only time that Harner used such terms. (Clark Dep. at 34, 42-43, 70-71.)

 Sometime during late October or early November 1992, Underkoffler, Clark's supervisor, became aware of complaints that Clark was not promptly reimbursing truck drivers for tolls from the petty cash and that Clark had stated to several of the drivers that the reason for the delay was that petty cash was being "held up" at the main office in Harrisburg. (Stuble Aff. P 7; Underkoffler Aff. P 3; Boulanger Aff. P 2; McCandless Aff. P 2.) After making several inquiries, Underkoffler determined that the Harrisburg office was not "holding up" the petty cash funds; rather, Clark had not received petty cash funds from Harrisburg because he had not submitted receipts for reimbursement since July 1992. (Underkoffler Aff. P 4.)

 On November 20, 1992, Underkoffler travelled to Harrisburg to perform a surprise audit of the petty cash account, and the audit revealed an undocumented cash shortage of approximately $ 157.00. (Clark Dep. at 18-19, 21; Underkoffler Aff. P 6.) When asked to account for the missing funds, Clark replied that he had paid $ 50.00 for carpet installation in the terminal but had forgotten to get a receipt. *fn2" As to the balance of the shortfall, Clark maintained that there were several receipts missing that he could not produce immediately and that, in any event, other employees working in the office should also be questioned regarding the missing funds. (Clark Dep. at 26; Clark Aff. P 4.) Clark then admitted to Mr. Underkoffler that he "used a little bit of the petty cash" for his personal use without documenting how much he used. (Clark Dep. at 26-27; Clark Aff. P 4.) Underkoffler suspended Clark immediately and subsequently notified Clark by letter that Clark was being terminated for "exercising improper control and judgment" over the petty cash account. (Underkoffler Aff. P. 4; see also Exh. 5 to Mot. Summ. Judg. P 1.)

 Clark contends that Hess Trucking intentionally harassed him and unlawfully terminated him because of his race, and he also contends that the reason advanced by Hess Trucking for Clark's termination is merely a pretext for the real reason, which in Clark's view was because of his race.

 II. LEGAL STANDARD.

 Summary judgment may only be granted if 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. Proc. 56(c). In considering a motion for summary judgment, this Court must examine the facts in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. International Raw Materials, Ltd. v. Stauffer Chemical Co., 898 F.2d 946, 949 (3d Cir. 1990). The burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that the evidence creates no genuine issue of material fact, and an issue is "genuine" only 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, 249, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). Where the nonmovant will bear the burden of proof at trial, the party moving for summary judgment may meet its burden by showing that the evidentiary materials of record, if reduced to admissible evidence, would be insufficient to carry the nonmovant's burden of proof at trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.

 Title VII prohibits employers from discharging an employee because of that employee's race. 42 U.S.C.A. ยง 2000e-2(a)(1) (1981). Clark has alleged that Hess Trucking intentionally discriminated against him because of his race when it fired him. Intentional discrimination cases fall within one of two categories: "pretext" and "mixed motives" cases. Griffiths v. Cigna Corp., 988 F.2d 457, 468 (3d Cir. 1993); Ezold v. Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen, 983 F.2d 509, 522 (3d Cir. 1992). "Whether a pretext or a mixed-motives case has been presented depends on the kind of circumstantial evidence the employee produces in support of [his] claim of illegal discrimination." Hook v. Ernst & Young, 28 F.3d 366, 374 (3d Cir. 1994). In a pretext case, an employee argues that the employer's facially legitimate reason for the adverse employment decision is false and is merely a pretext disguising its real reason for the adverse decision, i.e., discrimination. A pretext ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.