The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lowell A. Reed, Jr., Senior District Judge.
Defendant National Railroad Passenger Corporation has filed a
motion for summary judgment in the two above-captioned matters,
which sound in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., the Federal Employers' Liability Act,
45 U.S.C. § 51, et seq., and Pennsylvania tort law. Upon
consideration of defendant's motion (Document No. 17 in Case No.
98-3421), plaintiff's response (Document No. 19 in Case No.
98-3421), the memoranda submitted therewith, and the evidence,
pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the
motion will be granted.
Plaintiff Martha Allen had worked for defendant National
Railroad Passenger Corporation ("Amtrak") for 14 years without
incident. An electrician by trade, Allen was employed at Amtrak's
Wilmington Maintenance Facilities in Delaware. The job seemed to
be going well for Allen, but that changed when Larry Platt
In February 1996, Platt became a foreman at the Wilmington
Maintenance Facilities, and his shift overlapped with Allen's for
one hour each day. (Plaintiff's Response in Opposition to
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, Exhibit A, Deposition of
Martha Allen, Dec. 30, 1998,
at 93) ("Allen Deposition I"). About two or three weeks after he
started his job, Platt began to behave oddly toward Allen. When
Allen would go to punch out at the end of the day, Platt would be
waiting for her. He would snatch up her time card before she
could reach it and taunt her, offer the card to her and then pull
it away, and touch her hand as she reached for her card. (Id.
at 30). He did this "every day" for approximately two months.
(Id. at 31). Eventually, in April 1996, Allen complained about
Platt's behavior to her foreman, Ed Heath, who apparently
reported the behavior to management officials. (Id. at 71-72).
The time card behavior ceased immediately following Allen's
discussion with Heath. (Id. at 79).
Platt's conduct generally took on a more subtle, but no less
peculiar, form after Platt's time-card related complaint to her
foreman. Platt began to "glare" at Allen (Allen Deposition I, at
79), "watch" her, and follow her around the workplace. (Id. at
114, 117). Allen would go to the bathroom and emerge to find
Platt waiting outside. (Id. at 114). Allen testified that this
behavior was "scarier" to her than the time card conduct.
(Id.). Allen told her union representative about Platt's
following and staring, but did not report it to her foreman or
any other Amtrak official at that time. (Id. at 117-19).
In April 1996, Platt briefly touched or rubbed Allen's ear
while she was speaking with a co-worker. (Allen Deposition I, at
87). A week and a half later, Allen reported this incident to her
foreman, Heath. (Allen Deposition I, at 102); Plaintiff's
Response in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment, Exhibit A, Deposition of Martha Allen, Feb. 5, 1999, at
45 ("Allen Deposition II").
At some point in April 1996, Allen and another woman who had
complained of harassment by Platt in 1988 met with Amtrak
official Christina Marks to report Platt's conduct. (Allen
Deposition I, at 159). Allen then met with Amtrak plant manager
Jim Weisinger, who suggested that he might "take [Platt] out of
service" or suspend him. (Id. at 178). Allen responded that she
did not want Platt to be taken out of service or fired. (Id. at
179; Allen Deposition II, at 56).
Allen's complaint triggered an investigation by Amtrak's Equal
Employment Opportunity representative, Sheila Davidson. (Allen
Deposition II, at 57; Defendant's Memorandum in Support of Motion
for Summary Judgment, Tab 2, Declaration of Sheila Davidson, at ¶
6) ("Davidson Declaration"). Davidson interviewed Allen and
Platt, as well as other women who were rumored to have been
harassed by Platt. (Allen Deposition II, at 61-62; Davidson
Declaration, at ¶ 7, 8, 9). Based upon her investigation,
Davidson concluded that there were insufficient grounds to
formally charge Platt, as much of the complained-of conduct had
occurred at least four years earlier. (Plaintiff's Response in
Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, Exhibit A,
Allen Deposition, Feb. 18, 1999, at 261 ("Allen Deposition III");
Davidson Declaration, at ¶ 10). However, Davidson and Amtrak
officials met with Platt, described the complaints that had been
received about his conduct, explained Amtrak's sexual harassment
policy to Platt, and warned him that he would be judged by the
standards set forth in the policy. (Allen Deposition III, at 262;
Davidson Declaration, at ¶ 11).*fn1
Platt's staring and following behavior resumed when Allen
returned to work in July 1996. On one occasion, when Platt was
following Allen, she entered the women's locker room. (Allen
Deposition III, at 269). Platt banged on the door, and when Allen
did not respond, Platt opened the door and walked into the room.
(Id.). Allen was clothed, sitting on a table. (Id.). Platt
said nothing, gave Allen "sort of like a smirk and turned around
and walked out." (Id. 269-70). Allen informed her union
representative of this incident, but did not tell any Amtrak
officials. (Id. at 274). In addition, Allen's co-workers teased
her about Platt, suggesting that he "wanted her." (Allen
Deposition III, at 299).*fn3
Soon after the locker room incident, Allen took another leave
of absence from August 1996 to February 1997, and again from May
1998 to November 1998.*fn4
The two separate actions brought by Allen are based on the same
set of factual circumstances, and therefore both of the actions,
No. 98-3421 and No. 99-130, will be considered here together.
According to Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, "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 a judgment
as a matter of law," then a motion for summary judgment must be
granted. The question before the Court at the summary judgment
stage is "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement
to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided
that one party must prevail as a matter of law." See Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The Court's role at summary judgment is not
to weigh the evidence, but to determine whether there is a
genuine issue for trial; that is, an issue upon which a
reasonable jury could return a verdict in the non-moving party's
favor. See id. at 249, 106 S.Ct. at 2511.
The moving party "bears the initial responsibility of informing
the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying
those portions of `the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of
a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).
The nonmoving party must then "go beyond the pleadings and by her
own affidavits, or by the `depositions, answers
to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate `specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at
324, 106 S.Ct. at 2553.
In deciding whether there is a disputed issue of material fact,
the "inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts . . . must
be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the
motion." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986)
(quoting United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82
S.Ct. 993, 994, 8 L.Ed.2d 176 (1962)).
A plaintiff seeking to establish employer liability for a
sexually hostile work environment must establish the ...