After receiving notice of the final EEOC decision, the plaintiff submitted his complaint, accompanied by a motion to proceed in forma pauperis, to the Clerk of the Court within the ninety day filing period. Id. at 253-54. The court denied the motion, but allowed the plaintiff additional time to pay the filing fee. Id. The plaintiff paid the filing fee within the time period allowed by the court, but resulted in the "filing" of the civil action outside the ninety day statutory period. Id.
DRC argued that because the plaintiff failed to "file" within the ninety day period, the action in Richardson was time-barred. Id. at 253. The court reasoned, however, that the submission of the complaint within the ninety period, pending the outcome of the motion to proceed in forma pauperis, tolled the statute of limitations. Id. at 254. "A contrary holding would have the unjust effect of making the timeliness of any complaint submitted with a motion to proceed in forma pauperis depend upon the speed with which the court addresses the plaintiff's allegations of indigency." Id. at 254-55. Moreover, because the court led the plaintiff to believe that the statutory prerequisites for suit would be satisfied by compliance with its order, the court further tolled the statute of limitations until the end of the time period allowed by the order to pay the filing fees. Id. at 255 (citing Ford v. Temple Hospital, 790 F.2d 342, 350 (3d Cir. 1986)). This Court finds the reasoning of Richardson persuasive in the instant case as well.
Plaintiff herein received notice of the final EEOC decision on April 29, 1994. Seventy-two days later, on July 11, 1994, plaintiff submitted her civil complaint with a motion to proceed in forma pauperis to this Court. Thus, like the plaintiff in Richardson, plaintiff Woods submitted her complaint to the Clerk of the Court within ninety days of receiving notice that the EEOC rendered its final decision. Therefore, this Court holds that the ninety day statute of limitations for filing her complaint was tolled until the denial of plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis on July 18, 1994.
Furthermore, the Order denying the motion to proceed in forma pauperis allowed plaintiff until August 15, 1994 to pay the requisite filing fee. As plaintiff paid the filing fee on August 8, 1994, and therefore, like the plaintiff in Richardson, tendered payment within the time period allowed by the Order, this Court concludes that the statutory filing period continued to be tolled until August 15, 1994. Accordingly, plaintiff "filed" her civil action within the statutory period prescribed by subsection 16(c) of Title VII, and the argument by defendant regarding timeliness necessarily fails.
D. Failure To State A Claim
Defendant claims that plaintiff's allegations fail to set forth a claim of adverse employment actions amounting to racial harassment under Title VII. This Court agrees, and though not addressed in any substantive manner by defendant, also finds that plaintiff's evidence of record fails to establish a case of discriminatory retaliation.
1. Methods Of Proof Under Title VII
Plaintiff claims she suffered disparate treatment based on race and retaliatory harassment for filing an EEO complaint.
A plaintiff may prove Title VII claims in either one of two ways: (1) by producing direct evidence of discriminatory or retaliatory treatment, or (2) by producing circumstantial evidence that would allow a reasonable factfinder to infer discrimination or retaliation. See Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228, 244-45, 104 L. Ed. 2d 268, 109 S. Ct. 1775 (1989); Mardell v. Harleysville Life Ins. Co., 31 F.3d 1221, 1225-26 n.6 (3d Cir. 1994), rev'd on other grounds, 131 L. Ed. 2d 286, 115 S. Ct. 1397 (1995).
If a plaintiff cannot produce direct evidence of discrimination or retaliation, then she must sustain a Title VII claim by utilizing the procedure detailed in the McDonnell Douglas line of cases. See St. Mary's Honor Ctr. v. Hicks, 125 L. Ed. 2d 407, 113 S. Ct. 2742 (1993); Texas Dep't. of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 67 L. Ed. 2d 207, 101 S. Ct. 1089 (1981); McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668, 93 S. Ct. 1817 (1973); Fuentes v. Perskie, 32 F.3d 759 (3d Cir. 1994). First, the plaintiff must establish a prima facie case of unlawful discrimination or retaliation. By establishing a prima facie case, the plaintiff eliminates the most common nondiscriminatory reasons for the adverse employment action and creates a presumption of discrimination. Burdine, 450 U.S. at 253-54. Once a prima facie case is established, the defendant must produce evidence that supports a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for his actions. Fuentes, 32 F.3d at 763 (quoting McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802). If the defendant produces such evidence, then the plaintiff may survive a motion for summary judgment only if she produces "some evidence, direct or circumstantial, from which a factfinder could reasonably either (1) disbelieve the employer's articulated legitimate reasons; or, (2) believe that an invidious discriminatory reason was more likely than not a motivating or determinative cause of the employer's action." Fuentes, 32 F.3d at 764. Evidence of discriminatory intent, insufficient to constitute direct evidence of discrimination, may satisfy this burden. Armbruster v. Unisys Corp., 32 F.3d 768, 781-82 (3d Cir. 1994).
2. Disparate Treatment Based On Race
The Supreme Court recognizes that Title VII's protection embraces not only "economic" or "tangible" discrimination, such as the denial or loss of a job or promotion, but includes work environments abusive to employees because of their race as well. West v. Philadelphia Elec. Co., 45 F.3d 744, 753 (3d Cir. 1995) (citing Harris v. Forklift Systems, 126 L. Ed. 2d 295, 114 S. Ct. 367, 371 (1993)). To be cognizable under Title VII, racial harassment must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the terms, conditions, or privileges of the plaintiff's employment. West, 45 F.3d at 753. (citing Meritor Sav. Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 67, 91 L. Ed. 2d 49, 106 S. Ct. 2399 (1986)).
In Andrews v. City of Philadelphia the Third Circuit adopted the "totality of the circumstances" approach to determine whether a hostile work environment exists. 895 F.2d 1469, 1482 (3d Cir. 1990). "A plaintiff must establish by the totality of the circumstances, the existence of a hostile or abusive working environment. . . ." Andrews, 895 F.2d at 1482 (quoting Vance v. Southern Bell Tel. and Tel. Co., 863 F.2d 1503, 1510 (11th Cir. 1989)). The relevant circumstances may include "the frequency of the discriminatory conduct; its severity; whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and whether it interferes with an employee's work performance." West, 45 F.3d at 753 (citing Harris, 114 S. Ct. at 371). Five elements must be fulfilled by a plaintiff to establish a prima facie case of hostile work environment: "(1) the plaintiff suffered intentional discrimination because of his or her membership in the protected class; (2) the discrimination was pervasive and regular; (3) the discrimination detrimentally affected the plaintiff; (4) the discrimination would have detrimentally affected a reasonable person of the same protected class in that position; and, (5) the existence of respondeat superior liability." West, 45 F.3d at 753 (quoting Andrews, 895 F.2d at 1482).
Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the only evidence of record indicating discriminatory motive is:
"At the meeting on Oct. 15, 1991 . . . Shirley Pollitt was verbally abusing me . . . [and] mentioned the fact that my husband is black and questioned me. . . . Shirley Pollitt also made a statement that she admitted to talking about me a week earlier, in front of my desk area making remarks such as; 'I can't stand her,"why is she looking at me all the time,' and 'I wish I could .' These remarks were made to a couple of her friends that were with her." Woods Aff. at 53.