standard requires the non-moving party to create a "sufficient disagreement to require submission [of the evidence] to a jury." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 251-52.
B. Title VII
As noted above, Mr. Jones seeks relief under Title VII. Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer "to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). Thus, a court's ultimate task in a race discrimination case is to determine whether the plaintiff has carried his burden of showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the employer intentionally discriminated against him. Josey v. John R. Hollingsworth Corp., 996 F.2d 632, 637 (3d Cir. 1993); see Bellissimo v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 764 F.2d 175, 179 (3d Cir. 1985)("[A] plaintiff must show that his status as a minority class was the but for reason for the treatment accorded."), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1035, 106 S. Ct. 1244, 89 L. Ed. 2d 353 (1986).
In evaluating claims brought under Title VII, we follow the procedure allocating burdens of proof as set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S. Ct. 1817, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668 (1973). Accordingly, the plaintiff bears the initial burden of presenting a prima facie case by demonstrating that (1) he is a member of a protected class; (2) he was qualified for the job from which he was terminated; (3) he was terminated; and (4) others not in the protected class were treated more favorably. Fuentes v. Perskie, 32 F.3d 759, 763 (3d Cir. 1994)(citing McDonnel Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802); Blanding v. Pennsylvania State Police, 811 F. Supp. 1084, 1093 (E.D. Pa. 1992), aff'd , 12 F.3d 1303 (3d Cir. 1993); Butler v. Elwyn Inst., 765 F. Supp. 243, 246 (E.D. Pa. 1991). Should the plaintiff make this showing, a presumption of discrimination is created and the burden shifts to the defendant to articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for discharging the plaintiff. Fuentes, 32 F.3d at 763; Weldon v. Kraft, Inc., 896 F.2d 793, 797 (3d Cir. 1990). The employer need only produce sufficient evidence to enable a factfinder to conclude that the action taken was motivated by a nondiscriminatory purpose. Fuentes, 32 F.3d at 763. If the defendant is able to clear this relatively low hurdle, the presumption evaporates and the onus is again on the plaintiff, who bears the ultimate burden of showing that a discriminatory purpose was a determinative factor in the decision to effect the discharge. Id. at 764; Bellissimo, 764 F.2d at 179-80. The plaintiff can either prove this directly, by showing that discriminatory considerations motivated the defendant's actions, or indirectly, by showing that the rationale provided by the defendant is unworthy of credence. Josey, 996 F.2d at 638; Weldon, 896 F.2d at 797.
As we noted above, a Title VII plaintiff must prove at trial both that the employer's reason was false and that discrimination was the real reason for the discharge. Fuentes, 32 F.3d at 763. But as our Court of Appeals has recently held, the plaintiff's burden is not as onerous when attempting to survive a summary judgment motion. In such situations, the plaintiff need only demonstrate that there are disputed factual issues concerning either (1) whether the proffered reason for the discharge is false, or (2) whether an invidious discriminatory reason was more likely than not a motivating or determinative cause for the discharge. Torre v. Casio, Inc., 42 F.3d 825, 830 (3d Cir. 1994); Fuentes, 32 F.3d at 764; Brennan v. National Tel. Directory Corp., 881 F. Supp. 986, 994 (E.D. Pa. 1995).
C. Plaintiff's Title VII Claim
The present issue for the Court is therefore whether, assuming he can make out a prima facie case, Mr. Jones has adduced evidence sufficient to create a disputed issue of fact as to one of the two tests set forth above. Mr. Jones argues that he can survive the summary judgment motion under either test, and in support of his argument, he points to (1) the findings of the PBUC to the effect that Mr. Jones did not sexually harass Ms. Hinton; (2) the racist views harbored by ATC's president; and (3) the racist remark allegedly made by Mr. Blecharczyk. Moreover, Mr. Jones contends that the relatively minor nature of his transgression regarding the phone system password does not justify the severe sanction of dismissal.
Upon review of the evidence, however, we find that an award of summary judgment is warranted. First, we note that while the PBUC concluded that Mr. Jones did not engage in sexual harassment, the reason for Mr. Jones's discharge was his violation of the order not to contact Ms. Hinton. Thus, the PBUC's findings do not cast doubt on the purported reason for the discharge, nor are they suggestive of a discriminatory animus. Moreover, the evidence suggesting that Mr. Blecharczyk and ATC's president hold racist attitudes does not aid Mr. Jones's case in the absence of evidence suggesting that discrimination was at the core of the termination of Mr. Jones's employment. Mr. Jones's presentation to this Court is utterly devoid of evidence probative of a discriminatory discharge. For example, there is no evidence that similarly situated white employees received more favorable treatment. Indeed, when Mr. Jones was asked during his deposition to support his contention that he was treated less favorably than others, he was completely unable to do so. From the deposition:
Q. What was racially discriminatory about the investigation?
A. I believe I was treated different than other people.