she cannot succeed on her retaliation claim, as she makes no
argument in support of it and failed to include retaliation in
her summation of her claims in her "Response Contra Motion for
Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer to retaliate
against an employee who has "opposed any practice made an
unlawful employment practice by [Title VII], or because [the
employee] has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated
in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under
[Title VII]." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a). To establish a prima
facie case of retaliation, Plaintiff must show the following:
(1) she engaged in conduct protected by Title VII; (2) her
employer took an adverse employment action against her; and (3) a
causal link exits between her protected conduct and her
employer's adverse action. Charlton v. Paramus Bd. of Educ.,
25 F.3d 194, 201 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 1022, 115 S.Ct.
590, 130 L.Ed.2d 503 (1994). Judging from Plaintiff's Complaint
alone, she appears to claim that Defendant fired her for
reporting sexual harassment that occurred while she was still
employed. She also appears to claim that, after her termination,
Defendant illegally retaliated against her for filing her claim
with the PHRC by refusing to cooperate with her. Plaintiff's
pursuit of these theories of recovery ends with her Complaint,
however, and she has pointed to no evidence in support of them.
Plaintiff has not identified when she reported harassment to
Defendant or established a link between this alleged report and
her firing. While the Supreme Court has recognized that Title VII
covers post-termination retaliation, see Robinson v. Shell Oil
Co., 519 U.S. 337, 117 S.Ct. 843, 848-49, 136 L.Ed.2d 808
(1997), Plaintiff has not argued that failing to cooperate
constitutes an adverse employment action or that it was causally
linked to her filing the PHRC charge. Summary Judgment appears
proper with regard to Plaintiff's retaliation claim.
D. Punitive Damages
All four of Plaintiff's claims include a demand for an award of
punitive damages. In a recent decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme
Court announced that punitive damages are not available to
plaintiffs suing under the PHRA. See Hoy v. Angelone,
720 A.2d 745, 751 (Pa. 1998) ("[W]e hold that punitive damages are not
available under the [PHRA]."). Federal courts are constrained to
apply the law of Pennsylvania when applying the PHRA. See United
Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726, 86 S.Ct. 1130,
16 L.Ed.2d 218 (1966). Cf. Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins,
304 U.S. 64, 78, 58 S.Ct. 817, 82 L.Ed. 1188 (1938) ("Except in matters
governed by the Federal Constitution or by Acts of Congress, the
law to be applied in any case is the law of the State.").
Accordingly, Plaintiff's claims under the PHRA will be dismissed
to the extent that they demand punitive damages.
Title VII allows for recovery of punitive damages when the
plaintiff demonstrates that the Defendant discriminated against
her "with malice or reckless indifference to [her] federally
protected rights." 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(b). As noted, Plaintiff has
raised genuine questions of fact regarding the legitimacy of the
reasons for which she was terminated. If Plaintiff proves that
Holmes, and possibly others, deliberately or recklessly falsified
her records or inconsistently applied the sleeping policy, the
fact finder would be entitled to award punitive damages. Punitive
damages for the Title VII claims thus remains an issue for the
trier of fact.
Defendant has demonstrated the absence of any questions of
material fact as to Plaintiff's sexual harassment claims and that
it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law thereon.
Plaintiff's retaliation claim also appears to lack merit. Genuine
factual issues remain, however, on the claims of discriminatory
discharge, and Plaintiff will be afforded the opportunity to
prove those claims, except to the extent that they demand
punitive damages under the PHRA.
An Order follows.
AND NOW, this 3rd day of February, 1999, upon consideration
of Defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff's Response thereto, and
Defendant's Reply Memorandum, it is ORDERED that:
1. Defendant's Motion is GRANTED IN PART and
DENIED IN PART.
2. Summary Judgment shall be entered in favor of
Defendant on Plaintiff's claims for hostile work
environment sexual harassment and illegal retaliation
under both 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. and 42 Pa.
Cons.Stat. § 951 et seq.
3. To the extent that Plaintiff's claims for
disparate treatment under 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 951
et seq. demand punitive damages, those claims are
4. In all other respects, Defendant's Motion is
BY THE COURT.