R.F. KELLY, J.
OCTOBER 4, 1996
Plaintiff, James P. Ward, III, filed this action against his former employer, Defendant Ridley School District alleging that he was the victim of a hostile work environment created by the sexual harassment of two male co-workers. Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiff's remaining claims
under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. § 951 et seq.2 For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion will be granted.
Plaintiff, a mentally retarded male who suffers from a mild personality disorder and epilepsy, began working for Defendant in July of 1984 as a custodian. Beginning in February, 1992, Plaintiff alleges that he was subjected to both physical and sexual harassment by two male custodial co-workers, William West ("West") and James DePaola ("DePaola"). The alleged harassment consisted of one instance of having his head banged against a wall, repeated instances of being physically pushed up against a wall and punched in the chest and stomach, being threatened with a pocket knife on one occasion, and having his custodian cart overturned. Plaintiff also alleges that West exposed his anus and genital areas to him and solicited genital contact. Although Plaintiff alleges that the harassment began in February of 1992, he first brought the allegations to the attention of his supervisor on June 18, 1992.
On June 19, 1992, Plaintiff, for the first time, told his family that he had regularly been harassed by two co-workers since February, 1992 when West arrived at the high school. Plaintiff never returned to work after telling his family about the harassment he endured.
The decision by Plaintiff to finally disclose the harassment to his supervisor and family closely followed two "mooning" incidents by West. Dr. Jerry Lewis, the Director of Administrative Services for Ridley School District, first learned of one such incident by way of an anonymous phone call he received on June 22, 1992 where an unidentified male stated that one custodial employee had "mooned" another custodial employee.
Dr. Lewis immediately began an investigation and determined that West was the responsible party. West admitted to a "mooning" in the custodian's break room, which he stated was directed to DePaola. West falsely denied any other such occurrences.
After interviewing several other custodians, Dr. Lewis learned that West had in fact engaged in a second "mooning" incident in the cafeteria several days after the "mooning" in the break room. Dr. Lewis confronted West about the second incident and West stated that he did not mention the "mooning" in the cafeteria because he was afraid he would lose his job. On July 6, 1996, West was suspended from work for five days without pay. Plaintiff later filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Office ("EEOC") and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. Plaintiff received a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC on November 14, 1994. The instant action was filed on December 12, 1992.
Pursuant to Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is proper "if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The moving party has the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). The non-moving party cannot rest on the pleadings, but rather that party must go beyond the pleadings and present "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). If the court, in viewing all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party, determines that there is no genuine issue of material fact, then summary judgment is proper. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; Wisniewski v. Johns-Manville Corp., 812 F.2d 81, 83 (3d Cir. 1987).
Defendant argues that summary judgment should be granted in its favor because Plaintiff has failed to establish that he suffered intentional discrimination "because of" his sex. Defendant also argues that Plaintiff has failed to establish the requisite existence of respondeat superior liability.
A. INTENTIONAL DISCRIMINATION "BECAUSE OF" AN INDIVIDUAL'S SEX
Title VII prohibits discrimination "against any individual with respect to [that individual's] compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment, because of such individual's . . . sex. . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). The prohibition against sex discrimination also extends to "hostile work environment" harassment. Meritor Savs. Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 91 L. Ed. 2d 49, 106 S. Ct. 2399 (1986). The Third Circuit has clearly set forth the requirements for a plaintiff to establish a claim of a hostile work environment:
Five elements must converge to bring a successful claim for a sexually hostile work environment under Title VII; (1) the employees suffered intentional discrimination because of their sex; (2) the discrimination was pervasive and regular; (3) the discrimination detrimentally affected the plaintiff; (4) the discrimination would detrimentally affect a reasonable person of the same sex in that position; and (5) the existence of respondeat superior liability.