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GERACI v. MOODY-TOTTURP INTL.

June 7, 1995

PATRICIA MCGUIRK GERACI, Plaintiff, -vs- MOODY-TOTTURP INTERNATIONAL, INC., Defendant.


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

 Plaintiff Patricia McGuirk Geraci ("Geraci") has filed this employment discrimination action alleging that her former employer, Defendant Moody-Tottrup International, Inc. ("MTI") discriminated against her on the basis of her pregnancy when she was laid off from her employment as an inspection coordinator at MTI. Pending before the Court is MTI's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the following reasons, the Motion will be granted.

 I. BACKGROUND FACTS.

 The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted. MTI is in the business of providing inspections of equipment and pipe for clients who wish to purchase these materials, so as to insure that the materials meet technical specifications and other requirements. (Wright Decl. P 3.) At the time Geraci was employed at MTI, its corporate office was located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. *fn1" (Wright Decl. P 5.) From its Pittsburgh office, MTI staff coordinated the activities of its inspectors, who often performed inspections on site at various locations throughout the United States. (Wright Decl. P 6.) It is not clear from the record how many individuals were employed at MTI's Pittsburgh office.

 Geraci began her employment at MTI in 1987 as a Clerk Typist. (Geraci Dep. at 12-13; Def. Ans. to Interrog. 3, Def. Exh. C.) Over the next few years, Geraci received a number of merit promotions and worked in various positions at MTI until December 2, 1991, when she was promoted to her last position as an Inspection Coordinator. (Geraci Dep. at 17; Def. Ans. to Interrog. 3.) As Inspection Coordinator, Geraci's direct supervisor was Vice President Michael J. Cribbins, until Mr. Cribbins was fired in December of 1991. (Geraci Dep. at 17.) After Cribbins was fired, Geraci asserts that she performed Cribbins' job and that she had no formal supervisor until February of 1992, when Tim Trott became Manager of Equipment Inspections and Geraci's new supervisor. *fn2" (Geraci Dep. at 47-48; Trott Dep. at 10.) Even if Geraci had no formal supervisor for the three months between the time Michael Cribbins was fired and Tim Trott was hired, Geraci would report directly to MTI President Robert Wright with any especially difficult problems she encountered in her job. (Geraci Dep. at 48.) Tim Trott supervised Geraci from February 1992 until she was terminated from her employment in January 1993.

 During the last week of December 1992, Geraci believed that she was pregnant, and she performed a pregnancy test at home with positive results. (Geraci Dep. at 71, 73.) She did not immediately inform either Trott or Wright of her pregnant status. Rather, she wanted to delay telling MTI management until after the annual raises had been announced sometime in January or February, because she feared that if management knew she were pregnant, she would not receive a raise. (Geraci Dep. at 77-78.) Geraci did, however, inform six coworkers that she was pregnant in late December and early January 1993. These six coworkers were Pat McQuillan, Ileen Jarlowski, Tori Boland, Michelle Klotz, Dale Gabauer, and Debbie Zunich. (Geraci Dep. at 73.) Geraci indicated to these coworkers that she preferred that MTI management (presumably Tim Trott and Robert Wright) not be told about her pregnancy until after the annual raises had been announced. (Geraci Dep. at 76.)

 Geraci initially revealed the news that she was pregnant to McQuillan and Jarlowski in late December because they were her friends. (Geraci Dep. at 74.) Geraci told Klotz about the positive pregnancy test at a wedding reception on New Years Eve. (Geraci Dep. at 75.) At the wedding reception, other people were also part of the conversation between Klotz and Geraci when Geraci was discussing the positive test results, including Pat McQuillan, Mike Cribbins, their wives, and Geraci's husband. However, Geraci had already told McQuillan about her pregnancy, and Mike Cribbins was no longer an MTI employee. There is no evidence that Mrs. McQuillan, Mrs. Cribbins, and Mr. Geraci had any connection to MTI or Trott or Wright except for the fact that they were married to MTI employees or former employees. In addition, although other people were sitting "further down the table" when the conversation at the wedding reception occurred, Geraci does not know who they were. (Geraci Dep. at 75.) There is no indication from the record that these other wedding guests were also MTI employees.

 Geraci next told Tori Boland that she was pregnant in the first week of January after Boland encountered Geraci in the bathroom and noticed that Geraci was having some trouble buttoning her pants. (Geraci Dep. at 75.) The next week Geraci told both Dale Gabauer and Debbie Zunich about the positive pregnancy test. The record reveals no evidence that anyone other than the people Geraci herself told knew or suspected that Geraci was pregnant, or that any of the six coworkers who knew about the pregnancy from Geraci had told anyone else at work before Geraci was terminated.

 On January 26, 1993, about two weeks after Geraci told Gabauer and Zunich about her positive pregnancy test, Tim Trott notified Geraci that she was being laid off. *fn3" (Geraci Dep. at 68.) The reason given to Geraci was that there was a decline in MTI's business revenues and that a decision had been made to lay off Geraci in order to cut down on costs. MTI contends that the decision to lay off Geraci was actually made in the middle of December, well in advance of the date that Geraci was notified that she was being terminated, but that Trott and Price wanted to delay notifying Geraci of the bad news until after the Christmas holidays. (Wright Decl. PP 14, 16.) MTI has submitted the affidavits of Trott and Price in which they state that they did not know Geraci was pregnant either in mid-December when they made the initial decision to terminate Geraci, or on January 27, the date Defendants contend Geraci was informed that she was being terminated. They further state that they had heard no office chatter or rumors to the effect that Geraci was pregnant prior to her termination. (Wright Decl. P 24; Trott Decl. P 7.)

 After Trott informed Geraci that she was being terminated, Geraci asked if she would be rehired if business picked up and she was told that business would not pick up and that she should look for another job. (Geraci Dep. at 81.) At that point, she informed Trott that she was pregnant and that she had a doctor's appointment scheduled for the following day to confirm the pregnancy. (Geraci Dep. at 82.) Geraci then met with Wright and informed him of her situation. Wright advised Geraci that she should have her doctor confirm the pregnancy, advise him of the results of the doctor-supervised pregnancy test, and that MTI would arrange for continuation of her health benefits until after the birth of the baby. She was, in fact, granted health care benefits until after the birth of her child. She also received three weeks severance pay upon termination.

 Within two months of terminating Geraci, MTI placed an advertisement in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for an "Inspection Coordinator" position (Wright Decl. P 29), a position which Geraci alleges is the same as the one from which she was terminated. MTI contends that the advertised position was a "new" position created in response to the possibility of acquiring a large Malaysian contract. (Wright Decl. P 29.) As a condition of this alleged contract, MTI contends, the "Malaysian people" required an inspection coordinator with hands-on technical inspection and report-writing experience. (Wright Decl. P 27.) According to MTI, Geraci lacked the necessary qualifications to satisfy the rigorous demands of the potential Malaysian contract. (Wright Decl. P 28; Trott Decl. P 9.) The newspaper advertisement served to heighten Geraci's suspicions that her termination was less than lawful, and she contacted MTI to inquire of Pat McQuillan if the advertisement were for her position, although she never applied for the job, presumably because she was under the impression that it would be a futile gesture. (Geraci Dep. at 93.) The contract was never awarded to MTI, and the position was consequently never filled. (Wright Decl. P 30.)

 II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT 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 ...


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