The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. CURTIS JOYNER
This Title VII discrimination case is before the Court today on motion of the defendants, which seek an order granting them summary judgment as to the claims set forth in the four related complaints Plaintiff has filed. In deciding this motion, we are asked to consider Plaintiff's allegation that he was terminated from his employment on account of his race, in violation of federal law. For the reasons that follow, the defendants' motion will be granted.
The defendants in this case are American Travellers Corporation ("ATC") and three of its employees: Earlette Hinton, Jennifer LaLena and Angela Palo. The plaintiff is Elmer David Jones, Jr., an African-American man who was terminated after a twenty-one month term of employment. Following his discharge, Mr. Jones filed a pro se complaint in this Court, in which he set forth claims of defamation against the four defendants. Mr. Jones subsequently filed three additional complaints against ATC, alleging that he was discriminated against not only on the basis of his race, age and gender, but also in retaliation for his filing of complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. All four complaints have been consolidated into this single action.
The defendants now bring the instant motion, in which they seek an award of summary judgment as to all of Mr. Jones's claims. In his response to the motion, Mr. Jones, through counsel, concedes that he cannot sustain the claims for defamation, retaliation, gender or age discrimination, and so proceeds on the theory that ATC discriminated against him on the basis of his race, in violation of Title VII. As a result, we must award summary judgment to the defendants as to the defamation, age discrimination, gender discrimination and retaliation claims. Of course, since the three individual defendants are parties to this action only by virtue of their status as defenders of the defamation claim, this action will be dismissed as to them. Accordingly, we now turn to the remaining claim set forth against ATC.
ATC hired Mr. Jones in February of 1991 as Telecommunications Coordinator, a position in which he was responsible for programming and maintaining ATC's telephone system. In November of 1992, Ms. Hinton filed a charge of sexual harassment with ATC's human resources department manager, and alleged that she was the object of Mr. Jones's persistent and inappropriate attention. After conducting an investigation, ATC issued a warning to Mr. Jones, advising him to stay clear of Ms. Hinton and to avoid the appearance of impropriety with any female employee. The warning notwithstanding, Mr. Jones reinitiated conversations with Ms. Hinton. Furthermore, on December 16, 1992, management discovered that Mr. Jones had violated company policy when he unilaterally changed the password to ATC's telephone system on November 2, 1992. Thus, on December 17, Mr. Jones was summoned to the office of his supervisor, Ted Blecharczyk, who told Mr. Jones that he was being fired because he both failed to heed the warning regarding his inappropriate behavior and changed the telephone system password without authorization.
The defendants have submitted the instant motion for summary judgment, and argue that Mr. Jones has failed to produce any evidence to support his claims. In his opposition to the defendants' motion, Mr. Jones contends that the purported reasons for his termination are fabrications and a mere pretext for discrimination. Specifically, Mr. Jones points to the findings of the Pennsylvania Board of Unemployment Compensation ("PBUC"), which concluded that (1) Mr. Jones did not know that he should have obtained his supervisor's permission prior to changing the telephone system password and (2) he did not sexually harass a co-worker. Mr. Jones asserts that issue preclusion attaches to these findings.
Further, the plaintiff points to the deposition of Gary Koontz, a former ATC vice-president, who testified that the president of the company harbored a general discriminatory animus toward those in the racial minority. Finally, Mr. Jones himself testified that he thought he heard Mr. Blecharczyk call him a "lazy, dumb n///--" some months prior to the discharge. Jones Depo. at p. 81. With this background in mind, we turn now to the merits of the parties' arguments.
A. The Summary Judgment ...