The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eduardo C. Robreno, District Judge.
The following facts are uncontested or viewed in the light
most favorable to plaintiff. Beginning on or about November 1,
1995, while employed at the Kutztown Post Office, plaintiff was
subjected to several unwelcomed sexual advances by Mr. Jay
Wentzel, another employee at the Kutztown Post Office. (Pl.'s
Aff., p. 1). These advances included Mr. Wentzel's rubbing
plaintiff's back, forcing food into plaintiff's mouth, placing his
hand under plaintiff's shirt, placing his hands inside the back of
plaintiff's pants, pulling plaintiff toward him in attempts to
kiss her, placing unwanted gifts and cards in plaintiff's car, and
generally harassing plaintiff. (Pl.'s Aff., p. 1). In fact, Mr.
Wentzel ultimately entered the Berks County Accelerated
Rehabilitative Disposition Program on charges of stalking and
harassing plaintiff. (Pl.'s Resp., Ex. B).
After these unwanted sexual advances occurred, plaintiff
reported Mr. Wentzel's conduct to her immediate supervisor,
Postmaster Robert Sarnoski. (Pl.'s Aff., p. 1). As a result of
plaintiff's report and because of his conduct toward plaintiff,
Mr. Wentzel was suspended for one week. (Def.'s Mem., Ex. 7).
Also, thereafter, the postal authorities arranged both plaintiff's
and Mr. Wentzel's work schedules to ensure that they both were not
physically present in the post office at the same time. (Pl.'s
Aff., p. 2).
On January 20, 1996, approximately two to three months after
Mr. Wentzel's alleged sexual advancements, Mr. Wentzel's son and
another man confronted plaintiff while she was delivering mail.
The unidentified man "made an angry face at [her], raised his fist
and shook it at [her]." (Pl.'s Aff., p. 2). On February 2, 1996,
plaintiff reported to work and was informed by a clerk that Mr.
Wentzel had telephoned and asked why plaintiff's car was at the
post office. (Pl.'s Aff., p. 2). In addition, on February 3,
1996, plaintiff was delivering mail after a particularly heavy
snowfall when she noticed tire tracks at each mailbox along her
route. (Pl.'s Aff., p. 2). According to plaintiff, she took
these tracks as an indication that "Mr. Wentzel was letting [her]
know that he had been there, by driving the route before [her]."
(Pl.'s Aff., p. 2). Plaintiff notified the postal authorities of
each of these incidents, but the postal authorities took no
action. (Pl.'s Aff., p. 3).
Due to the stress caused by Mr. Wentzel's sexual harassment
and by these three post-harassment incidents, plaintiff requested
and was granted a transfer to the Hamburg Post Office. While at
the Hamburg Post Office, plaintiff became aware that her
co-workers knew of her reasons for leaving the Kutztown Post Office.
(Pl.'s Aff., p. 3). In fact, plaintiff heard other employees
make statements to the effect that "they better watch what they
say or they might get in trouble for sexual harassment." (Pl.'s
Aff., p. 3). While employed at the Hamburg Post Office, plaintiff
was "treated like an outcast" and generally ignored by her
co-workers. (Pl.'s Aff., p. 3).
Plaintiff's claims raise three principal issues. The first
is whether Mr. Wentzel was plaintiff's supervisor. The second is
whether defendant took prompt remedial action to stop Mr.
Wentzel's harassment after learning of plaintiff's complaint. The
third is whether Mr. Wentzel's conduct during the alleged
incidents of January 20, 1996, February 2, 1996, and February 3,
1996 and the conduct of plaintiff's co-workers while she was
assigned to the Hamburg Post Office constituted discrimination
because of plaintiff's sex.
Summary judgment is appropriate if the moving party can "show
that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the
court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
non-movant. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348 (1986). The court must
accept the non-movant's version of the facts as true, and resolve
conflicts in the non-movant's favor. See Big Apple BMW, Inc. v.
BMW of N. Amer., Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992), cert.
denied, 507 U.S. 912, 113 S.Ct. 1262 (1993).
The moving party bears the initial burden of
demonstrating the absence of genuine issues of material fact. See
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548
(1986). Once the movant has done so, however, the non-moving
party cannot rest on its pleadings. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).
Rather, the non-movant must then "make a showing sufficient to
establish the existence of every element essential to his case,
based on the affidavits or by depositions and admissions on file."
Harter v. GAF Corp., 967 F.2d 846, 852 (3d Cir. 1992); see also
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct.
A. Title VII and PHRA Hostile Environment Claims
1. Employer hostile environment ...