4. Plaintiff Owens' Title VII sex discrimination claim
Defendant argues that plaintiff Owens' claim for sex discrimination in
Counts I and V are barred because her EEOC charge did not include
allegations of sex discrimination. When a complaint contains a claim not
presented to the appropriate administrative agency, the Third Circuit
requires courts to determine "whether the acts alleged in the subsequent
Title VII suit are fairly within the scope of the prior EEOC complaint,
or the investigation arising therefrom." Antol v. Perry, 82 F.3d 1291,
1295 (3d Cir. 1996).
Plaintiff Owens was terminated on November 12, 1998 and filed a charge
of race discrimination on December 22, 1998. However, on February 11,
1999, Owens filed an amended charge of discrimination with the EEOC,
alleging sex discrimination. Since this amended charge was filed within
the applicable 300 day period, Owens' claims of sex discrimination
For the reasons set forth above, the court will grant defendant's
motion for summary judgment with respect to plaintiffs Reynolds,
Minott-Talley and Ramirez-Crane as time-barred, and deny the motion with
respect to plaintiff Owens.
B. Merits of Plaintiffs Velez, Owens and Tucker's Claims
The three remaining plaintiffs assert the following claims. Plaintiff
Velez asserts claims under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, Pennsylvania
Human Relations Act, New York State Human Rights Act, and New York City
Civil Rights Act, alleging (1) token hiring, (2) hostile work
environment, (3) disparate treatment, (4) termination, and (5)
retaliation. Plaintiff Owens asserts claims under Title VII,
42 U.S.C. § 1981, and Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, alleging (1)
hostile work environment, (2) disparate treatment, (3) termination, and
(4) retaliation. Plaintiff Tucker asserts claims under Title VII,
Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, New York State Human Rights Act, and
New York City Civil Rights Act, alleging (1) hostile work environment and
(2) retaliation. Plaintiffs Owens and Tucker also assert claims under the
Equal Pay Act, and plaintiff Tucker asserts a fraud claim arising from
the renegotiating of her employment contract of April/May 1999.
1. Applicable standard of proof
The United States Supreme Court has recognized three models for proving
intentional discrimination: (1) direct evidence cases as described in
Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Thurston, 469 U.S. 111, 121 (1985) and
Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989); (2) indirect evidence
cases based on an alleged pattern or practice of discrimination, as
described in Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324
(3) indirect evidence cases based on the paradigm described
in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). The court
concludes that only the McDonnell Douglas indirect evidence paradigm is
available to plaintiffs.*fn19
a. Direct evidence
In direct evidence cases, the employee alleging discrimination must
produce "direct evidence that decision makers placed substantial negative
reliance on an illegitimate criterion in reaching their decision." Price
Waterhouse, 490 U.S. at 277; Starceski v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp.,
54 F.3d 1089, 1097 (3d Cir. 1995). If the employee does produce direct
evidence of discriminatory animus, the employer must then produce
evidence sufficient to show that it would have made the same decision if
the illegal bias had played no role in the employment decision. Price
Waterhouse, 490 U.S. at 244-45; Starceski, 54 F.3d at 1096. In order to
shift the burden, the plaintiff must produce evidence that is "so
revealing of discriminatory animus that it is not necessary to rely upon
any presumption from the prima facie case . . . ." Armbruster v. Unisys
Corp., 32 F.3d 768, 778 (3d Cir. 1994).
"Stray remarks in the workplace, statements by non-decisionmakers, or
even statements by decisionmakers unrelated to the decisional process
itself, do not constitute direct evidence of discrimination." Fakete v.
Aetna, Inc., 152 F. Supp.2d 722, 733 (E.D. Pa. 2001) (citing Starceski,
54 F.3d at 1096)); see also Keller v. Orix Credit Alliance, Inc.,
130 F.3d 1101, 1111-12 (3d Cir. 1997) (statement made by plaintiff's
superior that "if you are getting too old for the job, maybe you should
hire one or two young bankers" not direct evidence of age
discrimination); Ezold v. Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen,
983 F.2d 509, 545 (3d Cir. 1992) ("Stray remarks by non-decisionmakers or
by decision-makers unrelated to the decision process are rarely given
great weight, particularly if they were made temporally remote from the
date of decision.")
Plaintiffs proffer as direct evidence of discriminatory employment
practices the following alleged incidents.
1. A statement by Vice President of Television
Sales, Jack Comstock, to host Lisa Mason about
plaintiff Velez in which he stated, "Lisa, we did
what we had to do to get a minority face on the
air. You can understand that, can't you? . . . But
he's not earning $80,000 any more is he Lisa?"
Plaintiff's Mem. Opp. Summ. J. at 97-98.
2. A statement by show host Dan Hughes at a host
meeting: "[w]hy don't we all paint our faces black
and sue the company . . . and make some money."
Plaintiffs allege that Comstock, who was presiding
over the meeting, laughed at this comment and never
condemned it. Furthermore, plaintiffs contend that
QVC Vice President Rob Cadigan and QVC President
Doug Briggs did nothing to investigate the situation
when made aware of it. Id. at 98-99.
3. An alleged comment by Hughes to fellow host
plaintiff Ramirez-Crane in which he asked, "what's
black and white and smells? — a Puerto Rican."
Id. at 99.
4. An alleged comment from Briggs, before he
became QVC president, to minority show host
Chuck Fields, after a meeting in which Briggs
and Fields had a disagreement about product
placement on the overnight shifts, and Briggs
passed Fields in the hallway and muttered to
Fields, "little nigger." Id.
5. An alleged comment by Comstock, when seeing
Fields with a hat on, "why are you wearing your hat
that way, I thought all you guys wore your hats
backwards." Id. at 100.
Because two of these five statements were not made by decisionmakers
and all five are unrelated to the decision making process implicated in
this case, none of the comments are direct evidence of discrimination.
Two of the comments were made by fellow host Dan Hughes who had no impact
on any of plaintiffs' salary, termination or hiring decisions. Two
statements were allegedly made by Jack Comstock, who supervises the show
hosts. However, none of Comstock's statements were made in the process of
any employment decision. See Fakete,