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GAUL v. ZEP MANUFACTURING COMPANY

January 30, 2004.

KAREN LEE GAUL
v.
ZEP MANUFACTURING COMPANY, et al



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HERBERT HUTTON, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Presently before the Court are Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings With Respect to Plaintiff's Failure to Promote Claim (Docket No. 18), Plaintiff's response (Docket No. 22), Defendants' reply (Docket No. 25), Plaintiff's sur-response (Docket No. 27), and Defendants' sur-reply (Docket No. 30).

I. BACKGROUND

  Plaintiff Karen Lee Gaul ("Plaintiff") brings suit against Defendants Acuity Specialty Products Group, Inc. d/b/a Zep Manufacturing Company ("Zep") and National Service Industries, Inc. ("NSI"),*fn1 alleging claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000 (e) et seq., the Equal Pay Act ("EPA"), 29 U.S.C. § 206 et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 951 et seq., as well as for breach of contract. Zep is a manufacturer and supplier Page 2 of industrial and institutional maintenance and sanitation products.

  Plaintiff started working for Defendant Zep on August 22, 1994 in a sales position. Approximately four years later, on June 1, 1998, Plaintiff was promoted to the position of Branch Sales Manager ("BSM"). In mid-1999, Zep had an opening for a District Sales Manager ("DSM") for the Mid-Atlantic District. Plaintiff applied for the position but did not get the promotion. Instead, Defendant promoted Ethan Powers, an allegedly less qualified male, on June 1, 1999. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants denied her the promotion because of her gender.

  Plaintiff next alleges that she was demoted, because of her gender, from her BSM position to the position of Field Sales Manager in August of 2001. Plaintiff also alleges that Zep retaliated against her after she filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission ("PHRC") by setting unrealistic sales goals, by failing to give her business leads at a comparable rate that male employees were receiving, and by reducing her compensation.

  Plaintiff filed her complaint with the PHRC on November 26, 2001. The complaint was cross-filed with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on that same date. On March 6, 2003, the EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue letter to Plaintiff. Plaintiff filed suit on April 23, 2003. Defendants now Page 3 move for judgment on the pleadings with respect to Plaintiff's failure to promote claim.

  II. LEGAL STANDARD

  A motion for judgment on the pleadings, made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) is treated under the same standard as a motion to dismiss under 12(b)(6). See Jablonski v. Pan American World Airways, Inc., 863 F.2d 289, 290-91 (3d Cir. 1988); Abdulaziz v. City of Philadelphia, No. 00-5672, 2001 WL 1257441, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 18, 2001). A motion for judgment on the pleadings will only be granted where the moving party has established that no material issue of fact remains to be resolved, and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Consolidated Rail Corp. v. Protlight, Inc., 188 F.3d 93, 95-96 (3d Cir. 1999); Institute for Scientific Info., Inc. v. Gordon and Breach, Science Publishers, Inc., 931 F.2d 1002, 1005 (3d Cir. 1991). In determining whether a material issue of fact exists, the court must view the facts and inferences to be drawn from the pleadings in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Green v. Fund Asset Management, L.P., 245 F.3d 241, 220 (3d Cir. 2001); Janney Montgomery Scott, Inc. v. Shepard Miles, Inc., 11 F.3d 399, 406 (3d Cir. 1993). Page 4

  III. DISCUSSION

 A. Title VII and PHRA Claims*fn2

  Defendants argue that Plaintiff's claims arising from the alleged failure to promote her to the DSM position in mid-1999 are time-barred under Title VII and the PHRA. Plaintiff responds that she is not time-barred under the continuing violation doctrine.

  1. Timeliness of Plaintiff's Claims

  A plaintiff under Title VII must file a timely charge with the EEOC before initiating suit in federal court. See Love v. Pullman, 404 U.S. 522, 523 (1972). Title VII provides that a plaintiff must file with the EEOC or its state or local equivalent within 300 days of the alleged actions or practice that constitutes illegal discrimination. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5 (e);*fn3 West v. Philadelphia Elec. Co., 45 F.3d 744, 754 (3d Cir. 1995). To bring a suit under the PHRA, Pennsylvania law requires that a plaintiff first file an administrative complaint with the PHRC within 180 days of the alleged act of discrimination. See 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 959(h); Page 5 Woodson ...


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