The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. JOYNER, District Judge.
Presently before the Court are the Motions for Summary Judgment of
Defendants Aetna and Joe Kushnerick. In this case, Plaintiff Brigitte
Shramban ("Plaintiff") brings discrimination claims on the basis of
race, sex, religion and national origin against Defendants under Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and
under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa. Cons.Stat.
Ann. § 951 et seq.*fn1 Plaintiff also alleges retaliation and a
hostile work environment. Additionally, Plaintiff brings a claim of
aiding and abetting discrimination under the PHRA. Plaintiff also seeks
punitive damages under Title VII. For the reasons that follow, the Court
will grant the motions for summary judgment.
Plaintiff is a Caucasian, Jewish female from Moldavia. Since April
2000, she has been employed in Aetna's Quality Assurance
department as a Business System Delivery Specialist with a 500014 job
code. Since the beginning of her employment until July 25, 2001, she
worked on the EZLink project at Aetna's Blue Bell, Pennsylvania offices.
On July 26, 2001, she was transferred to Aetna's Horsham, Pennsylvania
facility to work on a Pharmacy project, where she remained a Business
System Delivery Specialist with a 500014 job code.
On April 2, 2001, Plaintiff wrote Diane Ball, a Quality Assurance
manager, a letter "to serve as formal notice" to Aetna about a hostile
work environment. Plaintiff's complaints centered around working long
hours without overtime compensation. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant
Kushnerick, the EZLink project supervisor, demanded projects be completed
with unreasonable deadlines and also threatened, "if you don't want to
work overtime then quit." Plaintiff overheard one of Defendant
Kushnerick's conversations and felt that he was creating a conspiratorial
atmosphere against her. She also mentioned that she feared Defendant may
retaliate against her for voicing her concerns about overtime at a staff
meeting because he insisted that she take a compensation day off. In
response to Plaintiff's letter, Ball discussed the overtime hours issue
with Defendant Kushnerick.
Around June 2001, Plaintiff wrote to Paul Buttacavoli, Aetna Human
Resources, to file her second formal complaint against her supervisor,
Defendant Kushnerick, as well as a complaint against Diane Ball for
failing to take action in response to her first complaint. Specifically,
Plaintiff alleged that Defendant Kushnerick caused her "to be embarrassed
and humiliated in front of other co-workers and continuously made
derogatory comments to [her] regarding [her] ethnicity and religion and
. . . is completely outside of what constitutes professional and/or civil
conduct." Plaintiff has alleged that Defendant Kushnerick asked
inappropriate questions or made discriminatory comments about her hair
color, her personal relationships, and her Moldavian national origin.
On June 12, 2001, Buttacavoli met with Plaintiff to discuss her
complaints, which included being asked personal questions, feeling
belittled and being mocked for her Moldavian ethnicity. On June 18,
2001, Buttacavoli continued his investigation by meeting with Defendant
Kushnerick. The next day, on June 19, 2001, Plaintiff contacted Aetna's
Office of Employment Dispute Resolution regarding her complaints. On June
25 and June 29, 2001, Buttacavoli met with Diane Ball and Plaintiff
Shramban in attempts to resolve Plaintiff's concerns and complaints. On
July 3, 2001, as part of the on-going investigation, Buttacavoli met with
Kyran McLaughlin, another Quality Assurance analyst on the EZLink
project. McLaughlin's report of alleged events did not confirm Plaintiff's
various allegations that Defendant mimicked Plaintiff's accent and did
not inform Plaintiff of her project responsibilities. On July 19, 2001,
Diane Ball wrote Plaintiff regarding the dispute resolution, and they
also discussed a transfer to Aetna's Horsham office. On July 26, 2001,
Plaintiff transferred and joined the Quality Assurance team in Horsham,
Plaintiff received her first annual performance review on December 1,
2000, and her overall rating was "Met Expectations." Her subsequent
evaluation result for the January to June 2001 time period was also "Met
Expectations." On October 4, 2001, Plaintiff filed a Charge of
Discrimination with the EEOC. On January 22, 2002, Plaintiff received a
letter informing her that she would not receive a pay increase and also
would not receive a year-end performance incentive bonus.
Plaintiff alleges discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title
VII and the PHRA. Defendants now move for summary judgment on all
claims, arguing that there are no genuine issues of material fact and
that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
In 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 judgment as a matter
of law." Medical Protective Co. v. Watkins, 198 F.3d 100, 103 (3d Cir.
1999) (internal citation omitted). When 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, 106 S.Ct. 1348, and must produce more than a "mere scintilla of
evidence in its favor" to withstand summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). If
the nonmoving party fails to create "sufficient disagreement to require
submission [of the evidence] to a jury," the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 251-52,
106 S.C. 2505.
II. Plaintiff's Hostile Work Environment Claim
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Kushnerick created a hostile work
environment with discriminatory conduct and comments and that Defendant
Aetna failed to respond to her complaints of racial, sexual, religious
and national origin discrimination and harassment and prevented Plaintiff
from advancing in her employment position. Defendant Aetna contends that
there are no genuine issues of material fact and that it is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law on the hostile work environment claim.
In order to establish a hostile work environment claim, Plaintiff must
prove five elements: "(1) the employee suffered intentional discrimination
because of [membership in a protected group]; (2) the discrimination was
pervasive and regular; (3) the discrimination detrimentally affected the
plaintiff; (4) the discrimination would detrimentally affect a reasonable
person of the same [protected group] in the same position; and (5) the
existence of respondent superior liability." Kunin v. Sears Roebuck
& Co., 175 F.3d 289, 295 (3d Cir. 1999)(citing Andrews v. City of
Philadelphia, 895 F.2d 1469, 1482 (3d Cir. 1990)). In determining whether
an environment is sufficiently hostile or abusive, courts must look to
the totality of the circumstances, including the "frequency of the
discriminatory conduct; its severity; whether it is physically
threatening or ...