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BISHOP v. NATIONAL R.R. PASSENGER CORP.

October 7, 1999

LORRAINE E. BISHOP, DOREEN CAIN, AND JUDY MORRIS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Van Antwerpen, District Judge.

        OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs Lorraine E. Bishop, Doreen Cain, Judy Morris, and Patricia Thompson ("Plaintiffs") filed this action on July 23, 1998 against Defendant National Railroad Passenger Corporation ("Defendant") pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.*fn1 Plaintiffs seek damages for claims of sex discrimination and sexual harassment.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

We have before us Defendant's motion for summary judgment. Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). An issue is "genuine" only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986) ("Anderson I"). A factual dispute is "material" only if it might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law. Id. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505. All inferences must be drawn and all doubts resolved in favor of the non-moving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S.Ct. 993, 8 L.Ed.2d 176 (1962); Gans v. Mundy, 762 F.2d 338, 341 (3d Cir. 1985).

On motion for summary judgment, the moving party bears the initial burden of identifying those portions of the record that it believes demonstrate the absence of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). To defeat summary judgment, the non-moving party cannot rest on mere denials or allegations, but must respond with facts of record that contradict the facts identified by the movant. Id. at 321 n. 3, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)); see also First Nat. Bank of Pennsylvania v. Lincoln Nat. Life Ins. Co., 824 F.2d 277, 282 (3d Cir. 1987). The non-moving party must demonstrate the existence of evidence that would support a jury finding in its favor. See Anderson I, 477 U.S. at 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The following facts have been taken from the submissions by the parties. Because this is a consideration on a motion for summary judgment, we view the facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs.

Each of the three Plaintiffs alleges that she was sexually harassed by Larry Platt. At all relevant times, Mr. Platt worked for Defendant, commonly known as Amtrak, as a first-level foreman. At the times relevant to the instant action, he worked in two of Amtrak's Delaware facilities, first in the "Wilmington" facility and then in the "Bear" location. Although Mr. Platt at various times worked in the same facility as one or more of the Plaintiffs, he was not the supervisor or foreman of any Plaintiff during any time period pertinent to this case. None of the allegations include physical touching or requests for sexual favors.

A. Lorraine E. Bishop

Lorraine E. Bishop was hired by Amtrak in 1977. Bishop Dep. at 31. In 1986, she began working as a clerk in the Locomotive Shop ("Loco Shop") office, where she worked until 1991. Id. at 39-40, 57-59, 64, 74. Her foreman from 1989 to 1991 was Rick Parke. Id. at 67.

Mr. Platt was a foreman in the Loco Shop at the time Ms. Bishop worked there. Id. at 63, 65. Although he neither was Ms. Bishop's supervisor nor worked with her, he frequently was in the Shop office for work-related reasons and to visit Mr. Parke, with whom he was friendly. Id. at 67-68. According to Ms. Bishop, Mr. Platt came into the Loco Shop almost daily, more than any other foreman. Id. at 66.

Ms. Bishop claims that while she worked in the Loco Shop, approximately 1989 through 1991, she was harassed by Mr. Platt. Id. at 43-44, 68-69. Ms. Bishop's primary complaint is that Mr. Platt would stand and stare at her, and that he made some comments and expressions that were sexual in nature. Id. at 68-69, 77, 72, 139. For instance, he once said that "he loved big women and he loved women with big breasts." Id. at 68-69. He would "leer" and "get into making remarks about body parts," once telling her that if she "played her cards right . . . he could make life easier." Id. at 14-16, 72. He asked her some personal questions, including whether he could take her out on a date. Id. at 68. Also, Mr. Platt referred to himself as Ms. Bishop's "stud muffin," which Ms. Bishop claims became a running joke between Mr. Platt and Mr. Parke. Id. at 73-74.

Ms. Bishop told Mr. Parke about Mr. Platt's behavior. Id. at 77. Mr. Parke "laugh[ed] it off," so she complained to her manager, Ray Knight. Id. at 77, 80. Mr. Knight told Mr. Platt not to enter the shop when Ms. Bishop was alone, and asked her to leave if Mr. Platt went into the shop. Id. At 80-81. Thereafter, Mr. Platt cut down on his visits to Ms. Bishop's office. Id. at 84, 87. However, a window was installed in the wall of Ms. Bishop's office, and Mr. Platt would "stand[] at the window smiling . . . and just leering . . ." Id. at 85. Ms. Bishop did not complain further, as she "figure[d] . . . nobody was doing anything anyway." Id. at 85, 87-88. Mr. Platt was also warned by Ms. Bishop's brother, who worked at Amtrak, to leave her alone. Id. at 117.

Mr. Platt was "bumped out" of Ms. Bishop's area in approximately 1991, ending his contact with her. Id. at 16. In 1993, Ms. Bishop went out on disability leave for reasons unrelated to the charges in this case, and she returned to Amtrak in January 1995. Id. at 134.

Ms. Bishop was aware of Amtrak's non-discrimination policies from her experience as a clerk in the Labor Relations Department in the 1980s. Id. at 44, 49-50. She knew, for instance, that an employee has the right to complain to the union and to management, and to go to higher levels if the response is not satisfactory. Id. at 51-52. She never saw any statements or policies concerning sexual harassment during 1989 — 1991, but she did receive an employee handbook describing Amtrak's sexual harassment policies. Id. at 54, 130.

B. Doreen Cain

Doreen Cain was hired by Amtrak in March 1990 as a probationary coach cleaner in the Bear Maintenance Facility, where she worked for three months. Cain Dep. at 37, 42. She alleges that during those three months, Mr. Platt made various offensive statements to her at least ten to fifteen times. Id. at 49-51. Id. at 49, 52. For instance, he would ask her whether she was dating anyone, make comments about her dating situation, and ask other personal questions. Id. at 51. Mr. Platt was not her foreman and never had any supervisory or disciplinary power over Ms. Cain. Id. at 56, 57.

About a month after she was hired, Ms. Cain told her foreman, Bruce Carlton, that Platt was "bothering [her] and it made [her] feel really uncomfortable." Id. at 5355. She asked Mr. Canton to sit with her while she worked, because Mr. Platt "would not leave [her] alone." Mr. Carlton began keeping an eye on her, and Ms. Cain was satisfied with this response. Id. at 53-55, 57.

Ms. Cain was transferred to an Indiana facility in June 1990, for reasons unrelated to the allegations in this case. Id. at 42-43. She had no interactions with Mr. Platt in Indiana. Id. at 42-43, 57.

In 1993, Ms Cain returned to work in Delaware, id. at 58, where she claims Mr. Platt subjected her on a few occasions to further offensive behaviors. Id. Ms. Cain and Mr. Platt had the "same type of conversations," id., and a few times Mr. Platt, who left his shift as Ms. Cain arrived for hers, "did the same thing, staring whispering comments, the strange looks." Id. at 58. Ms. Cain does not know what Mr. Platt was whispering. Id. at 59.

Sometime in early 1996, Ms. Cain complained to her supervisor, Vince Nesci. Id. at 60-62, 70. Also, in early 1996 or thereabouts, Ms. Cain spoke generally with Roosevelt Gill, general foreman at Amtrak, about Mr. Platt's behavior.

Ms. Cain was advised, during an early 1996 meeting about sexual harassment, of Amtrak's policy against sexual harassment, as well as the provision for reporting harassing behavior. Id. at 117. She also had received a copy of the employee handbook describing Amtrak's sexual harassment policies.

Ms. Cain attended three sessions with a counselor in September 1998 because of the stress of bringing a lawsuit and personal matters unrelated to the instant case. Cain at 11-12. She has never sought counseling due to Mr. Platt's alleged behavior toward her, id. at 120, although she asserts that it caused her "a lot of fear" for her job, and that she "lost a lot of sleep for being afraid." Id. at 120.

C. Judy Morris

Judy Morris was an electrician at Amtrak beginning in 1988. Pl.'s Compl. at ¶ 31; Morris Dep. at 42. She met Mr. Platt in the late 1980s or early 1990s, when she was working in the Loco Shop. Morris Dep. at 13, 21.

Mr. Platt, who at that time was not yet a foreman, would enter her shop and "stand there and stare . . . every day, a couple of times a day." Id. at 13. He asked her personal questions, such as where she lived. Id. Ms. Morris did not tell anybody, because she felt afraid and intimidated by the disproportionate number of men to women in the facility. Id. at 15. Ms. Morris's partner in the Loco Shop noticed that Mr. Platt was standing around the area, and told Mr. Platt to leave Ms. Morris alone. Id. at 18.

Ms. Morris transferred to the Electric Shop in 1991. Id. at 19. She contends that Mr. Platt would appear once a week or more and glare at her. Id. Also, he stood by the time clock, watching her and other people "come in and he would glare at them with this goofy grin on his face." Id. at 19, 25. Ms. Morris complained to her foreman, Tommy Reese, but the frequency of the staring did not decrease. Id. at 19-20. However, Ms. Morris asked Mr. Reese not to involve anybody else. Id. at 51.

It appears that Ms. Morris transferred to the Bear facility in April 1995, where she still works. Id. at 19; Def.'s Brief, Ex. 7. Mr. Platt transferred to Bear in September of the next year. Morris Dep. at 19. Ms. Morris was able to avoid Mr. Platt at Bear because his shifts did not always overlap with hers. Id. at 31, 66. According to Ms. Morris, the "staring instances . . . were much fewer when [Mr. Platt] was at Bear. . . ." Id. at 67. However, he continued to stare at her. Id. at 68-69. Also, he made comments to other ...


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