The opinion of the court was delivered by: Katz, Senior District Judge.
Before the court is defendant's motion for summary judgment.
Because there is no genuine issue of material fact, the court
will grant the motion.
Plaintiff Richard Grande was employed by State Farm from 1987
until October 1994. At the time of the events at issue in this
case, Grande was working as a claims specialist in the Bodily
Injury Unit at State Farm's Hatfield, Pennsylvania office. His
primary duty was to process automobile injury claims.
His secretary was Martha Littley. On September 26, 1994,
Littley complained to Pius Kang, the individual who supervised
both herself and Grande, that Grande had sexually harassed her.
Upon Kang's request, Littley put her complaint in writing See
Def. Ex. A (letter of September 28, 1994, alleging that Grande
her)*fn2; Def. Ex. C at 7-8, 22 (Kang Dep.). Kang reported
Littley's complaint to the Human Resources Department, see Def.
Ex. C at 7-8, and on September 30, 1994, Janet Hammerman
McCleary, the Divisional Claims Superintendent, and Scott
Knudsen, the Personnel Manager, interviewed Littley. According to
the notes taken by Hammerman McCleary and Knudsen, Littley
reaffirmed her complaint but stated that she had not objected
vigorously to Grande's behavior. See generally Def. Ex. E
(Hammerman McCleary's notes taken during interviews of Littley
and Grande)*fn3, Ex. F (Aff. regarding notes); Def. Ex. I at 10
(Dep. of Michelle Mehler, Southeast Claims Manager) (stating that
State Farm concluded that Littley had sent "mixed messages"). On
October 3, 1994, Knudsen and Hammerman McCleary interviewed
Grande, who suggested that Littley had raised the issue because
Grande's romantic relationship with her sister Margaret Littley
had ended. See generally Def. Ex. E; see also Def. Ex. G at
74-76 (Grande Dep. June 4, 1999) (stating that Littley attempted
to persuade Grande to reconcile with her sister). While Grande
professed surprise at the accusations, Hammerman McCleary's notes
indicate that he agreed that many of the incidents had occurred.
See Def. Ex. E, Ex. F ¶ 5. In any event, State Farm conducted
no further investigation.
State Farm decided to separate Littley and Grande, and, on
October 4, 1994, Grande was offered a lateral transfer to another
office at either Exton or Newtown Square. Plaintiff concedes that
he was told that he was transferred because it was easier to
transfer him than a secretary. See Def. Ex. G at 153-55. On
October 6, 1994, Grande requested that he be allowed to transfer
to the Doylestown office. State Farm refused this requested and
told him to report to Newtown Square on October 17.*fn4 After
taking a week's vacation to consider the matter, Grande decided
not to report to Newtown Square, and, on October 25, 1994, State
Farm informed Grande by letter that he was fired as of October
19, 1994, for failure to report. See Def. Ex. P (termination
letter of October 25, 1994).*fn5
This action is brought under the PHRA, which makes it an
"unlawful discriminatory practice" for an employer to
discriminate on the basis of sex. 43 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 955(a).
Pennsylvania courts have generally interpreted this statute in
accordance with the standards applied to claims brought under
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. See, e.g., Knabe v.
Boury Corp., 114 F.3d 407, 410 n. 5 (3d Cir. 1997); Kelly v.
Drexel Univ., 94 F.3d 102, 105 (3d Cir. 1996); Hoy v.
Angelone, 456 Pa. Super. 596, 691 A.2d 476, 480 (1997).
When, as in this case, a plaintiff alleges disparate treatment,
he typically presents his case using the burden shifting
framework established in McDonnell Douglas Corporation v.
Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973). See,
e.g., Anderson v. Haverford College, 868 F. Supp. 741, 744
(E.D.Pa. 1994). Both parties agree, at least implicitly, that
this test should apply here. Grande can succeed on this theory
only if he can prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, a prima
facie case of discrimination.
To establish a prima facie case, Grande must establish that (1)
he is a member of a protected class; (2) he performed his job
satisfactorily; (3) he suffered an adverse employment action; and
(4) his employer treated similarly-situated females more
favorably.*fn7 See Ezold v. Wolf, Block, 983 F.2d 509, 523 (3d
Cir. 1992); Anderson, 868 F. Supp. at 744; see also Taylor v.
PHRC, 681 A.2d 228, 231 (Pa.Commw. 1996) (noting that
Pennsylvania has adopted McDonnell Douglas framework for cases
brought under section 5(a) of the PHRA and applying same test);
Kryeski v. Schott Glass Tech., 426 Pa. Super. 105, 626 A.2d 595,
597-98 (1993) (applying same test). Even though this is a claim
of reverse discrimination, in accordance with recent Third
Circuit precedent, the court may not apply a heightened pleading
standard. See Iadimarco v. Runyon, 190 F.3d 151 (3d Cir. 1999).