contacts should the harassment reoccur. See id.
Further, the Third Circuit has held that "punitive action against the
harassing employee . . . is not necessary to insulate the employer from
liability for a hostile work environment." Id. at 414. So long as the
remedy chosen by the employer is adequate to stop the harassment, an
aggrieved employee cannot object to the selected remedy. See id.
When plaintiff told her supervisor about the alleged harassment on May
25, 1998, Ms. Sudyka took prompt remedial action. Immediately, she
transferred Mr. Engram to another area, and a male supervisor spoke to
Mr. Engram. Mr. Engram testified that the male supervisor told him that
plaintiff had complained that he was rubbing his stomach; however, Mr.
Engram was soon told that he had been accused of sexual harassment. Ex.
D-B, pp. 48-49.
After a confrontation with Mr. Engram in front of her supervisor, on
June 1, 1998, while plaintiff was still working in the access room,
plaintiff was sent to Ms. Parrott, the senior manager on duty. Ex. D-A,
pp. 120-24. Ms. Parrott told plaintiff that she took her allegations
seriously and would initiate an investigation, and she did so. Id. pp.
147-48. She moved Mr. Engram to the fourth floor and plaintiff to the box
area on the first floor, in an area close to Ms. Sudyka. In her new
position, instead of handing badges to employees, plaintiff handed boxes
to customers. Ms. Parrott also instructed plaintiff and Mr. Engram to
stay away from each other, and plaintiff was assigned an employee
assistance counselor, Ernestine Jenkins, to whom she could talk about her
emotional state. Id., pp. 138-39.
In her investigation, Ms. Parrott interviewed Mr. Engram, Ms. Sudyka,
and Ms. Alexander, a co-worker, but was unable to confirm plaintiff's
allegations. Decl. of Rhonda Parrott, ¶¶ 8-12. On June 1, 1998,
Edward Lugo, an Employee Assistance Counselor, was asked by management to
investigate plaintiff's allegations of sexual harassment. His
investigation disclosed no corroborating witnesses to substantiate
plaintiff's charges, and no disciplinary action was taken against Mr.
Engram. Decl. of Edward Lugo, ¶¶ 5-7.
After plaintiff and Mr. Engram were separated, they had no further
prolonged interaction, although plaintiff believed Mr. Engram was stalking
her after they were separated. She said that on the days she worked
between June 1 and June 22, Mr. Engram found a way to see her every day.
However, during that time, he never said anything to plaintiff other than
"hello," nor did he rub his crotch in front of her.
Plaintiff also testified that before she complained to her supervisor,
Ms. Sudyka, on May 25, 1998, Ms. Sudyka would, when plaintiff would walk
over to her, say "Having trouble with Joe again?" Ex. D-A, pp. 106-07.
Since there is no evidence before the Court which could lead to a
conclusion that the defendant would have had any indication that any such
"trouble" was sexual harassment, rather than two employees not getting
along, Ms. Sudyka's statements, by themselves, cannot serve as notice of
sexual harassment. See Kunin, 175 F.3d at 294-95.
Plaintiff also presented evidence that Mr. Engram stalked her after
they were separated. She testified that Mr. Lee, a supervisor had to send
Mr. Engram away "a couple of times." According to plaintiff, on the day
she went to receive her final paycheck, Ms. Sudyka told her "we just had
to chase Joe out of here. He was down here again." Ex. D-A, pp. 149-152.
The evidence presented by plaintiff on this issue does not support the
claim that the
Postal Service turned a blind eye to the alleged
stalking. Rather, it demonstrates that the Postal Service tried to keep
plaintiff and Mr. Engram apart.
Plaintiff presented no evidence that she complained to the Postal
Service about the stalking. If plaintiff did not alert the defendant, the
Postal Service cannot have had notice, unless the stalking was so
pervasive and open that a reasonable employer would have had to be aware
of it. See Kunin, 175 F.3d at 294. In analyzing whether the defendant
knew or should have been aware of the stalking without notice by
plaintiff, the Court notes the short time frame in which it could have
occurred, from June 1, when plaintiff and Mr. Engram were separated, to
June 22, when plaintiff left the Postal Service. Further, it is clear
from the record that plaintiff and Mr. Engram did not work together every
day during these three weeks; instead, they interacted only on days when
their shifts overlapped. Thus, because of the short time period, the type
of interaction, and the limited extent of the interaction, the Court
concludes the stalking was not pervasive, and there was no constructive
notice to the defendant about any stalking. See Kunin, 175 F.3d at 295
(finding no constructive notice when, over a three week period where
shifts did not overlap on ever day worked, and because the harassment was
personal comments to plaintiff when management was not around).
The Court concludes that defendant took prompt, remedial action, and
therefore rejects plaintiff's argument the no such action was taken.
After hearing plaintiff's allegations, defendant took steps to separate
plaintiff and Mr. Engram. Defendant also promptly initiated an
investigation into the accusations, which determined that the accusations
could not be corroborated.
Plaintiff has failed to present evidence of respondeat superior
liability, the fifth factor in the Andrews test. Thus, her sexual
harassment claim must fail, and the Court will grant defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment, and enter judgment in favor of defendant.
AND NOW, this 28th day of March, 2001, upon consideration of
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment with supporting affidavits and
exhibits (Document No. 15, filed Aug. 31, 2000), Plaintiff's Memorandum
of Law In Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment with
supporting exhibits (Document No. 17, filed Sept. 21, 2000), Defendant's
Reply to Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment (Document No. 18, filed Sept. 27, 2000) and
Supplement to Defendant's Reply to Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in
Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Document No. 19,
filed Sept. 29, 2000), for the reasons set forth in the attached
Memorandum, IT IS ORDERED that defendant William J. Henderson's Motion
for Summary Judgment is GRANTED and JUDGMENT IS ENTERED in favor of
defendant William J. Henderson and against plaintiff Donna Dougherty.