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SAIDU-KAMARA v. PARKWAY CORPORATION

August 14, 2001

VICTORIA SAIDU-KAMARA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PARKWAY CORPORATION, LAWRENCE SESAY, PAUL DEANGELO AND EMMANUEL OLUWOLE, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM

This is an employment discrimination case brought by Plaintiff Victoria Saidu-Kamara ("Plaintiff") against her former employer Parkway Corporation ("Parkway") and Parkway employees Lawrence Sesay ("Sesay") and Emmanuel Oluwole ("Oluwole") (collectively "Defendants"). In her Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants discriminated against and harassed her on the basis of her sex, thereby violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII") and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. § 951, et seq. ("PHRA"). Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. For the reasons that follow, we will grant in part and deny in part the Motion.

BACKGROUND

Taken in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the relevant facts are as follows. Parkway operates several parking facilities in Philadelphia. In August 1994, Plaintiff was hired by Parkway to work part-time as a cashier at a Parkway facility. After working for several months, Plaintiff eventually became a full-time cashier, working different shifts at various Parkway locations throughout center city Philadelphia. During this time, Sesay was the facility manager in charge of operations at all of the Parkway locations where Plaintiff worked, and Oluwole was the Assistant Manager at three of those locations.

While working at Parkway, Plaintiff received several disciplinary notices for violations of company policy. First, in June 1995, she received a written disciplinary notice from her supervisor, Moses Harris, for a fight she had with another Parkway cashier. On February 2, 1996, Plaintiff received a second disciplinary notice, this time from Sesay for sleeping while on duty. Sesay gave Plaintiff another disciplinary notice on February 26, 1996 for again sleeping on the job. The February 26 notice also indicated that because of the violation Plaintiff was dismissed from her employment with Parkway.

Although Plaintiff concedes that she received the disciplinary notices described, she alleges that throughout her employment she was subjected to various forms of discrimination and harassment by Sesay and Oluwole. According to Plaintiff, Oluwole asked her out on dates on several occasions, directed sexual innuendo toward her, and, at least one time, touched her breasts and buttocks. Plaintiff repeatedly reported these incidents to Sesay, but no action was ever taken.

Plaintiff dual-filed a claim of sexual harassment and discrimination with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission ("PHRC") on March 2, 1996. The PHRC subsequently found probable cause for the sex discrimination claim and no probable cause for her sexual harassment claim. Following a June 23, 1999 public hearing, the PHRC issued an opinion and final order on Plaintiff's sexual discrimination claim on January 27, 2000. On May 19, 2000, Plaintiff filed the instant action in this Court.

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Standard

When deciding a motion for summary judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c), a court must determine "whether there is a genuine issue of material fact and, if not, whether the moving party is entitled to judgement as a matter of law." Medical Protective Co. v. Watkins, 198 F.3d 100, 103 (3d Cir. 1999) (internal citation omitted). In making this determination, courts should view the facts, and reasonable inferences drawn therefrom, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See, e.g., Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). For its part, the non-moving party must, through affidavits, admissions, depositions, or other evidence, demonstrate that a genuine issue exists for trial. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). In making its showing, the non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts," id. at 586, and must produce more than a "mere scintilla of evidence in its favor" to withstand summary judgement. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). If the non-moving party fails to create "sufficient disagreement to require submission [of the evidence] to a jury," the moving party is entitled to judgement as a matter of law. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 251-52.

II. Hostile Work Environment

First, Parkway argues that Plaintiff has not presented sufficient evidence to support her hostile work environment claims (Counts II, V, VII, and XI). To state a hostile work environment claim, a plaintiff must show that (1) she suffered intentional discrimination because of her sex; (2) the discrimination was pervasive and regular; (3) the discrimination detrimentally affected her; (4) the discrimination would have detrimentally affected a reasonable person of her sex in her position; and (5) respondeat superior liability exists. See, e.g., Kunin v. Sears Roebuck & Co., 175 F.3d 289, 293 (3d Cir. 1999) (quoting Andrews v. City of Philadelphia, 895 F.2d 1469, 1482 (3d Cir. 1990)). Parkway claims that Plaintiff has not fulfilled the second element of the prima facie case, that is, she has not established discrimination that was sufficiently pervasive and regular. We agree.

For purposes of a hostile work environment claim, the discrimination complained of must be pervasive and severe enough "to alter the conditions of [the victim's] employment and create an abusive working environment." Meritor Savings Bank FSB v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 67, 106 S.Ct. 2399, 91 L.Ed.2d 49 (1986). In determining whether a plaintiff has made the requisite showing, a court must consider the totality of the circumstances, including "the frequency of the discriminatory conduct, its severity, whether it is physically threatening or a mere offensive utterance, and whether it reasonably interferes with an employee's work performance." Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 23, 114 S.Ct. 367, 126 L.Ed.2d 295 (1993). It follows that the purview of Title VII does not extend to all workplace difficulties, even where the conduct at issue may be crass and unwarranted. Likewise, allegations of isolated or single incidents of harassment do not constitute a cognizable hostile work environment claim. See, e.g., Rush v. Scott Speciality Gases, Inc., 113 F.3d 476, 482 (3d Cir. 1997) (citations omitted). Instead, liability for such claims will only attach in situations where the conduct at issue is so severe and pervasive to create an objectively hostile or abusive work environment. Harris, 510 U.S. at 21.

In this case, Plaintiff's hostile work environment claim primarily consists of four incidents that occurred over an eighteen month period. Plaintiff first claims that in late 1994 or early 1995, Oluwole touched her breast, told her she looked "fresh," and propositioned her to join him later that evening. (Pl.'s Dep. at 26; Answer to Interrog. 10(c)). In the second incident several months later, Oluwole made several suggestive comments regarding Plaintiff's eyes and offered his financial assistance if Plaintiff would go out with him. (Pl.'s Dep. at 45-49). On a third occasion in spring 1995, Oluwole removed from his pants a large bottle of wine, offered Plaintiff a drink, and then asked her to join him later at a local hotel where they could have a "good time." (Id. at 41-44). The fourth incident occurred in December 1995 when Oluwole, after complimenting Plaintiff on her good work, patted her on the buttocks ...


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