she was earning a salary of $42,640 per year.
Sherrod's Work Environment
Sherrod's testimony in this case is replete with general
characterizations of her work environment at PGW as racially
hostile and otherwise unpleasant. She has purported to bolster
these characterizations with four incidents in particular:
First, Sherrod alleged in her complaint that Joe Bogdonavage,
then Senior Vice President of Finance at PGW, remarked that if
Sherrod "could not get her African American clerks to work, he
would sit at their desks with a whip for them." Compl. 5. In her
deposition testimony, Sherrod later recalled the remark as
lacking any reference to race. Sherrod Dep. 129.
Second, Thomas Smyth, who succeeded Larry Hoffman as Acting
Vice President in February 1999, observed that the clerks under
Sherrod's supervision had a habit of eating at their desks.
Sherrod testified that Smyth remarked that "he didn't like the
way they were eating at their desks, it must be their culture."
Sherrod Dep. 195. Although Sherrod testified that she "[didn't]
have a clue" as to what Smyth meant by the remark, she took it
to be racist because the clerks eating at the time were black.
Id. at 195-96. Smyth testified that he made this remark
because "[c]oming in as the new vice president . . . I need to
understand the company culture and how it applies to the
accounting organization." Smyth Dep. 66. The same day, Smyth
instituted an office policy according to which no PGW employee
would be permitted to eat at his or her desk. Id. at 64.
Third, when Sherrod's department moved to a different location
within the PGW building in early 1999, the seating for managers
and clerks was rearranged. As a result of the rearrangement, all
of the minority employees were seated in front of managers'
offices. According to testimony not only by her white colleagues
but also by Sherrod herself, this seating was based on union
classifications, with the least senior employees seated in front
of management offices and the more senior clerks placed in
larger cubicles in the back of the floor. Sherrod Dep. 174-75;
Young Dep. 53-54; Breyer Dep. 73-73. Moreover, although Sherrod
testified that the union and the other clerks had taken the
position that the seating arrangement was "a racist setup," she
herself had no opinion as to whether it was racially motivated.
Sherrod Dep. 174-75.
Fourth, shortly after taking the position of Acting Vice
President, Smyth assigned to Sherrod various clerical tasks in
addition to her managerial responsibilities. However, the
testimony of both Smyth and Sherrod herself establishes that all
PGW employees at that time were called upon to assist with
clerical responsibilities to combat the backlog of unpaid bills
which had resulted from the introduction of a new system of bill
paying in the summer of 1998. Sherrod Dep. 134; Smyth Dep. 76.
Sherrod's Leaves of Absence and Complaint to Human Resources
Sherrod took two sick leaves during her employment with PGW:
one between December 2, 1998 and January 19, 1999, and the other
between March 16, 1999 and June 8, 1999. She attributes her need
for the first sick leave to stress she was experiencing at PGW.
Sherrod Dep. 236. She undertook the second leave in order to
care for her grandmother, who had raised her. Id. 224.
Prior to the second of these two leaves of absence, Sherrod
lodged a complaint with PGW's Human Resources Department,
stating that she was experiencing stress because of the racially
hostile environment in her department. Stewart Dep. 20, 26;
Pl.'s Ex. N.
In July of 1999, after her second leave of absence, Sherrod
informed Ann Stewart, Manager of Staffing and Diversity at PGW,
that she was not interested in returning to the Accounting
Department to work for Smyth. Sherrod Dep. 108. Stewart
responded by reassigning Sherrod as a Community Relations
Specialist in the Public Relations Department, a position
comparable in salary and work hours to her previous position.
Stewart Dep. 28. Sherrod testified that she was dissatisfied
with the kind of work she was asked to do in this new position,
as she considered it duplicative of work that was already being
conducted by her co-workers, and thus a waste of her time.
Sherrod Dep. 110-112. Avowedly as a result of her
dissatisfaction, Sherrod tendered her resignation from PGW on
January 14, effective on February 18, 2000. She characterized
the circumstances of her resignation as follows:
Q. Did anyone suggest that you should retire from
A. You're talking about PGW people?
A. Not openly.
Q. In any manner did anyone at PGW suggest that you
A. Not that I recall.