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FERRERI v. MAC MOTORS

April 11, 2001

JOYCE B. FERRERI, PLAINTIFF,
V.
MAC MOTORS, INC., DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM

This is an employment discrimination case brought by Plaintiff Joyce B. Ferreri ("Plaintiff") against her former employer, Defendant Mac Motors, Inc. ("Defendant"). In her Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's termination of her employment violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. ("ADA"); Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII"); the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 42 U.S.C. § 623, et seq. ("ADEA"); and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 48 P.S. § 951, et seq. ("PHRA"). In addition, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant committed a breach of contract and violated the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law, 43 P.S. § 260.1, et seq. ("WPCL"). Defendant now moves for summary judgment. For the reasons below, we will grant Defendant's Motion on the federal law claims and decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims.

BACKGROUND

The facts of this case are straight-forward. Defendant is an auto-parts company. In 1985, Plaintiff was hired by Defendant to work as a telemarketer, a position she held until she was terminated in 1998. The stated reason for Plaintiffs termination was "excessive absence." (Def.Ex. O).

Plaintiff forthrightly admits that throughout her 13 year employment with Mac Motors, she had difficulty arriving to work on time. (Pl.Dep. at 65, 120-22). Plaintiff blames "99%" of her late arrivals on traffic congestion. (Id. at 120). She further states that, despite the obvious and consistent traffic problems she encountered, she was never able to figure out a way to get to work on time while in Defendant's employ. (Id. at 121-22).

Mac Motors did not have an official, written attendance policy in place for the first several years of Plaintiffs employment. As a result, on the occasions that Plaintiff was late, she would be informally confronted by her supervisor and reminded of the need to be to work on time. Unfortunately, these informal efforts were unsuccessful, and Plaintiffs tardiness began to worsen in late 1994 and 1995. As a result, Plaintiffs current manager, Mark Boruta ("Boruta"), issued her a written notice on December 28, 1995 regarding the excessive "amount of time that [she was] missing from work." (Def.Ex. C). After Plaintiff s tardiness did not improve, Boruta and William Boyk ("Boyk"), President of Mac Motors, met with her in February 1996 to re-emphasize the importance of arriving to work on time. (Pl. Dep at 199-200; Boyk Dep. at 43). Several months later, after still no improvement in Plaintiffs punctuality, Boyk and Bortita removed Plaintiff from several of her sales accounts because of her continual lateness. (Def.Ex. E). Despite that action, Plaintiff continued to struggle getting to work on time and after being late for a company meeting in August 1996, she was suspended for two days. (Def.Ex. G).

Near the same time Plaintiffs tardiness problem worsened in 1995, she began receiving treatment for migraine headaches. (Castillo Dep. at 25). Plaintiffs physician treated her with several medications, including an injectable form of the prescription drug Imitrex. (Id. at 117-18). Plaintiff stated that she discussed her migraines, and the medicine she took to alleviate them, with Boruta. (Pl.Dep. at 387-88). According to Plaintiff, she requested that on mornings when she had an acute migraine attack, she be permitted to come into work late. Plaintiff claims that Boruta responded that she should simply take an entire day off if she had a migraine. (Id.).

In March 1998, Mac Motors instituted a formal, written attendance policy and distributed it to all employees. The policy regarding tardiness stated:

TARDINESS

Definition: An employee will be considered to be tardy if he punches the time clock more than 5 minutes after his scheduled start time, or if he is more than 5 minutes late punching in after lunch break.
If an employee is late 3 times in a 30 day period he or she will be issued a verbal warning. If the employee is late I more time within the next 30 days after the verbal warning he will be issued a written reprimand. If he is late again within 30 days after the written reprimand he will be suspended for 1 day without pay. If he is late again within 30 days after the one day suspension he will receive a 3 day suspension. If he is late again within 30 days of the 3 day suspension he will (at the discretion of the management) be subject to termination of his employment with Mac Motors.

(Def.Ex. H).

Plaintiff was more than five minutes late to work on March 6, 18, and 31, 1998, for which she received a verbal warning pursuant to the new policy. (Def.Ex. I, J). Plaintiff was late again on April 17, 1998 and, consequently, received a written reprimand on April 24, 1998. (Id.). Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff was late yet again, which resulted in her receiving a one-day suspension on May 4, 1998. (Def.Ex. J.). Within several weeks, Plaintiff arrived late for work again, this time resulting in a three-day suspension as of June 9, 1998. (Def.Ex. K). Unfortunately, Plaintiffs tardiness problem still did not improve; she was late on at least another five occasions between July 1998 and September 1998. After the last set of incidents, Plaintiff received a second three-day suspension on September 11, 1998. (Def.Ex. L). Plaintiff protested the discipline in writing, but nevertheless served out her suspension and returned to work on September 17, 1998.

Upon Plaintiffs return to work, Boruta sent her a memorandum that formally responded to her earlier protests about the suspension. The September 20, 1998 memorandum rejected Plaintiffs arguments and restated the need for her to arrive to work on time. (Def.Ex. M). After receiving Boruta's memorandum, Plaintiff called out sick from work the next two days, September 21 and 22, 1998, and then called off work twice more over the next two weeks. Plaintiff asserts that on each occasion she had a migraine headache and, therefore, called off work per Boruta's previous instructions. (Pl.Dep. at 387-88; Pl.Resp. at 4-5). Notwithstanding ...


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