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MCLAUGHLIN v. ROSE TREE MEDIA SCHOOL DIST.
June 16, 1999
MICHELLE MCLAUGHLIN AND TOMMY MCLAUGHLIN, W/H, PLAINTIFFS,
ROSE TREE MEDIA SCHOOL DISTRICT, ET. AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joyner, District Judge.
This is an employment discrimination action brought by the
plaintiffs, Michelle McLaughlin ("Michelle") and her husband
Tommy McLaughlin ("Tommy") (collectively "McLaughlins") against
the defendants, Rose Tree Media School District ("Rose Tree"),
William T. Gamble ("Gamble"), Anthony R. Hicks ("Hicks") and
Thomas K. Simpson ("Simpson") alleging claims of quid pro quo
sexual harassment, hostile work environment sexual harassment and
retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et. seq.; claims under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"),
43 Pa.C.S.A. § 951, et. seq.; and claims for intentional
infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery and loss of
consortium. Before the court is Rose Tree and Gamble's Motion for
Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule 56 of Civil Procedure.
For the following reasons, the motion will be denied in part and
granted in part.
Until January 26, 1996,*fn1 Simpson, Michelle's immediate
supervisor, allegedly sexually harassed her and other female
custodians. Among some of the acts by Simpson are that: he
publicly sexually assaulted female custodians by touching their
breasts, buttocks, and crotch areas; made inappropriate sexual
comments, including bragging about the size of his penis and
sexual prowess; questioned employees about their preferred
positions while engaging in sexual intercourse; kept pornographic
photos in his office which he showed to female employees; and
exposed himself to one female custodian. Additionally, Simpson
regularly and repeatedly issued threats of retaliation and
intimidation toward employees.*fn2 Further, Simpson gave
favorably treatment to one female employee, Florence McClaren,
who submitted to Simpson's sexual advances while Michelle
received less favorable treatment due to her refusal of Simpson's
Beginning in 1993, Michelle and other female employees
complained to Gamble about Simpson's sexual harassment and the
favoritism shown to Florence McClaren. However, Gamble did not
stop the harassment.
Hicks made advances on Michelle and on one occasion had sexual
intercourse with her. Although he continued to pursue Michelle,
she rebuffed his advances. Hicks then repeatedly came to
Michelle's work area to ask if her husband was away, hit her on
the bottom, tried to kiss her, and told her he was "the boss."
Craig Hopkins ("Hopkins") was the head custodian after Simpson.
Hopkins tried to hug Michelle and sit on her lap without
Michelle's approval. Anne Callahan, Rose Tree's personnel manager
concluded in a memorandum to Dr. Laird P. Warren, the
Superintendent of Schools that "Hopkins did engage in some
inappropriate behavior including hugging female custodians,
sitting on the laps of several female custodians . . ., making
comments about coming to their homes which suggested that he was
having a relationship with one or more of the female custodians
and trying to kiss female custodians somewhere in the vicinity of
their faces." (McLaughlins'.' Mem. Opp'n Mot.Summ.J.Ex. 18 at
unnumbered pages 1-2).
In early 1998 Michelle was written up for infractions of work
rules. At the same time Michelle found that the walls and toilets
of the bathroom for which she was responsible were being smeared
with feces. Michelle resigned on June 5, 1998.
On August 8, 1997 the McLaughlins filed the complaint. It was
amended on May 1, 1998 and amended and supplemented on October 5,
1998 with the court's permission. The Amended and Supplemented
Complaint contains nine counts. They are: Count I (Title VII
Sexual Harassment — Quid Pro Quo), Count II (Title VII — Hostile
Work Environment), Count III (Title VII — Retaliation), Count IV
(42 U.S.C. § 1983 — Equal Protection), Count V (42 U.S.C. § 1983
— First Amendment), Count VI (Pennsylvania Human Relations Act),
Count VII (Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress), Count
VIII (Assault and Battery), and Count IX (Loss of Consortium).
Rose Tree is a defendant in Counts I to VI. Gamble is a defendant
in Counts IV, V, VI, VII and IX. Both parties move for summary
I. Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment is appropriate where the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,
together with the affidavits, reveal no genuine issue of material
fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Our responsibility is not to resolve
disputed issues of fact, but to determine whether there exist any
factual issues to be tried. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 247-49, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The
presence of "a mere scintilla of evidence" in the nonmovant's
favor will not avoid summary judgment. Williams v. Borough of
West Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460 (3d Cir. 1989) (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505). Rather, we will
grant summary judgment unless "the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party."
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505.
In making this determination, all of the facts must be viewed
in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and all
reasonable inferences must be drawn in favor of the non-moving
party. Id. at 256, 106 S.Ct. 2505. Once the moving party has
met the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact, the non-moving party must establish the
existence of each element of its case. J.F. Feeser, Inc. v.
Serv-A-Portion, Inc., 909 F.2d 1524, 1531 (3d Cir. 1990)
(citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct.
2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)).
II. Title VII Sexual Harassment Claims
Rose Tree moves for summary judgment on the Title VII sexual
harassment claims (Counts I and II) alleging that because Simpson
directed conduct of a sexual nature to men and women alike,
Michelle has failed to show she suffered intentional
discrimination because of her sex. A showing of intentional
discrimination on the basis of sex is required for hostile work
environment sexual harassment claims,*fn3 but not for quid pro
quo sexual harassment claims.*fn4 This requirement is satisfied
as a matter of course in cases involving sexual propositions,
innuendo, pornographic materials, or sexual derogatory language.
See Andrews v. City of Philadelphia, 895 F.2d 1469, 1482 n. 3
(3d Cir. 1990). Here evidence of such conduct abounds. For
example, Rose Tree dismissed Simpson in part because he sexually
assaulted female employees, conveyed sexual comments to and about
female employees under his supervision and issued threats of
retaliation and/or intimidation toward employees under ...