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GOKAY v. PENNRIDGE SCHOOL DISTRICT

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania


February 5, 2004.

KAREN B. GOKAY, Plaintiff
v.
PENNRIDGE SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant

The opinion of the court was delivered by: FRANKLIN VAN ANTWERPEN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Karen Gokay (Gokay) asserts claims under the Equal Pay Act (EPA), 29 U.S.C. § 206(d), against her former employer, Defendant Pennridge School District (District). Additionally, she asserts claims against the District under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 951, et seq. Defendant has filed the instant motion seeking summary judgment, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), as to all counts still remaining in the Complaint.*fn1 For the reasons discussed below, as to all counts against the District, we deny Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

  This Court set forth the factual background of this case in its Memorandum Opinion denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, filed February 28, 2003. Thus, below we merely Page 2 highlight the relevant events to this motion, as set forth in Plaintiff's Counter Statement of Fact.

  Defendant, Pennridge School District, hired Plaintiff, Karen Gokay, in 1996 as its Human Resources Director and Legal Counsel. In a May 1998 memorandum to the school board, the Superintendent, Dr. Robert Kish, recognized Plaintiff's valuable contributions to the District, as well as acknowledged her under-compensation relative to comparable positions in the area. Similarly, in the memo, Kish recognized the competent performance and under-compensation of the District's Business Administrator, Denis McCall. While admitting that the amount does not erase the gap between their salaries and those similarly-situated in the area, Kish recommended, and the District approved, a $3000 salary increase for both Plaintiff and McCall.

  In 1999, McCall informed Kish that he had obtained an alternate job offer, the salary for which would make it difficult for him to turn the offer down. As indicated by Kish, McCall's job performance was valuable such that the District wanted to ensure that McCall stayed with them. Consequently, in April 1999, Defendant renegotiated McCall's contract, raising his salary by $10,000 and guaranteeing annual increases for the next three years. These changes constituted a 14% increase in McCall's salary.

  During this time, Plaintiff persisted in her efforts to obtain a wage increase commensurate with her responsibilities and performance. She even informed Kish that if her salary concerns were not satisfactorily addressed, she would have no other choice but to seek employment elsewhere. At the behest of Kish, Plaintiff completed a comparison of her salary to that of similarly-situated administrators in the area. The comparison showed that, at $73,725, Plaintiff had the second lowest salary; the average salary for her position was $88,033. Moreover, Defendant's target salary for her position was $87,835, 15% higher than her actual salary. Page 3

  Despite these figures, Defendant approved only a $3335 raise in Plaintiff's salary, plus a $1300 stipend in recognition of her law degree. Thus, compared to McCall's 14% increase, Plaintiff's $78,015 salary, almost $10,000 lower than Defendant's target salary for the position, represented only a 6% increase.

  According to Plaintiff, Kish informed her that the school board would not raise her salary any higher because certain members, specifically two female board members, opposed paying Plaintiff as high a salary as they would pay a man in the same position. Two former teachers also indicate that Kish similarly informed them of the basis for the board's reluctance to pay Plaintiff such a high salary. Kish denies that he made such statements.

  Additionally, one of those female board members, Joyce Stemler, admits that she commented to Plaintiff that, in effect, she should stay home with her child because Plaintiff's husband made enough money for them to live. Stemler concedes that she feels very strongly that one parent, specifically the mother, should not work, but rather should remain at home to care for the children; however, she contends that this opinion played no role in her decision to oppose any more wage increases for Plaintiff.

  In October 1999, Plaintiff resigned from her position with Defendant. Defendant hired George Crawford, a man with a Master's degree and several years of administrative experience, but who did not have Plaintiff's experience in human resources or her legal training, as Plaintiff's successor. The job description remained the same, with the exception that, unlike Plaintiff during her tenure with the District, Crawford was not responsible for any legal duties. Defendant paid Crawford a starting salary of $86,500, which Defendant shortly thereafter raised to $88,230, more than $10,000 higher than the highest salary garnered by Plaintiff. Page 4

  Plaintiff has filed claims against the District under the EPA, on grounds that her male successor, Crawford, received a higher salary for equal work, and under Title VII and the PHRA, on grounds that, due to her gender, she did not receive equal treatment as a similarly-situated male colleague, Business Administrator McCall, with respect to wage increases. As to all three claims, Defendant moves for summary judgment.

 II. JURISDICTION

  This Court has jurisdiction to hear claims alleging violations of Title VII and the Equal Pay Act under our federal question jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Plaintiff's state law claim under the PHRA arises out of the same transaction and occurrence, over which we have supplemental jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).

 III. DISCUSSION

  Defendant has moved for summary judgment with respect to all counts, which allege violations under the Equal Pay Act, Title VII, and the PHRA. Rule 56(c) allows for summary judgment "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. An issue is genuine only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party, and is material only if it might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby. Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

  At the summary judgment stage, the moving party bears the initial burden of identifying those portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Page 5 Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Thereafter, to defeat summary judgment, the non-movant must respond with specific facts "sufficient to establish an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Id. at 322. At this stage, our role is "not [] to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249; Country Floors v. Partnership of Gepner & Ford, 930 F.2d 1056, 1062 (3d Cir. 1991).

  We are required to view the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, Matsushita Elec. Ind. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 U.S. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Betz Laboratories. Inc. v. Hines, 647 F.2d 402, 404 (3d Cir. 1981), and to resolve all doubts against the moving party. Gans v. Mundy, 762 F.2d 338, 341 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 1010, 106 S.Ct. 537, 88 L.Ed.2d 467 (1985). Because we find, after reviewing the record in a light most favorable to Plaintiff, that there are genuine issues of material fact for trial, we deny Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.

 A. Count II: Equal Pay Act Claim

  Plaintiff alleges that, in violation of the Equal Pay Act (EPA), 29 U.S.C. § 206(d), Defendant paid her lower wages than it did her successor, George Crawford, for equal work.

  According to the Third Circuit, the analysis of an EPA claim "follow[s] a two-step burden-shifting paradigm." First, the plaintiff must establish a prima facie case, which requires that she show that "employees of the opposite sex were paid differently for performing `equal work' — work of substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility, under similar working conditions." Stanziale v. Jargowskv, 200 F.3d 101, 107 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing E.E.O.C. v. Del. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 865 F.2d 1408, 1413-14 (3d Cir. 1989)). Page 6

  If the plaintiff can establish a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the defendant to show the existence of one of four possible affirmative defenses: "(i) a bona fide seniority system, (ii) a merit system, (iii) a system which measures earning by quantity or quality of production, or (iv) a differential based on a factor other than sex." Id.. 107 n.6 (citing 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1)).

  Defendant argues that Plaintiff cannot establish a prima facie case with respect to George Crawford, her successor.*fn2 According to Defendant, Crawford's substantial work experience and salary at his previous job negate any legitimate comparison for purposes of establishing that Defendant paid Plaintiff less for comparable job responsibilities. Furthermore, Defendant argues that even if we were to find that Plaintiff has established a prima facie case, it can prove the affirmative defense that the salary differential was based on a factor different from gender. Because we find that there are genuine issues of material fact with respect to whether Defendant's decision to pay Plaintiff's successor a higher salary was motivated by gender, we deny Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.

  It is undisputed that Defendant paid Plaintiff and her successor, Crawford, different salaries. According to the record, which we review in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the highest salary garnered by Plaintiff, which she apparently received after two years of requesting an increase in pay, was $78,015. (See Compl. ¶¶ 26, 40.) Contrarily, Crawford received a starting salary of $86,500, which Defendant raised for the 2000-01 school year to $88,230. (Compl. ¶¶ 53-54.) Thus, the main inquiry for determining whether Plaintiff can establish a prima facie case involves whether the job responsibilities of Plaintiff and Crawford constitute Page 7 "equal work," in other words, of equal skill and effort under similar conditions. Plaintiff need show not that their responsibilities were identical, but rather that, in their totality, their job functions were "substantially identical," such that any difference was too insignificant to justify the difference in salary. E.E.O.C. v. Hav Assocs., 545 F. Supp. 1064, 1083 (E.D. Pa. 1982) (quoting Shultz v. Wheaton Glass Co., 421 F.2d 259, 265 (3d Cir.), cert. denied. 398 U.S. 905, 90 S.Ct.1696, 26 L.Ed.2d 64 (1970)).

  The crux of Defendant's argument that Crawford is not an adequate comparator focuses on Crawford's substantial prior work experience and his salary at his previous job. More specifically, Defendant notes that, compared to Plaintiff's complete lack of administrative experience prior to being hired by Defendant and lack of formal training in education administration, Crawford had completed a Master's degree in educational administration, as well as more than fifteen years of administrative experience, prior to his being hired as Plaintiff's successor. (Def.'s Br. at 12.) Furthermore, Crawford's salary at his previous job, which Defendant had to consider when determining his salary, was higher than his starting salary with the District.

  Defendant offers one case to support this argument that differences in prior salary and experience prevent an adequate comparison of job functions for purposes of establishing the prima facie element of "equal work" under the EPA. In Best v. Janerich, 80 F. Supp.2d 334, 337 (M.D. Pa. 1999), affd. 208 F.3d 205 (3d Cir. 2000), the court stated that "the law is clear that an employer may reward experience and consider prior salary without violating the EPA." However, this statement, while certainly true, related not to whether the former employee had established a prima facie case, but rather whether the employer had adequately established its Page 8 affirmative defense that the differential was based on factors besides gender. See id. (prefacing its discussion of the reasons for paying the plaintiff a lower salary with the statement that "assuming arguendo that Best had established aprima facie case. . . .").

  Thus, Best does not substantiate Defendant's argument that differences in prior salary and experience prevent Plaintiff from establishing a prima facie case. In fact, as Best tends to suggest, while prior experience and salary certainly play a role in determining whether the pay differential for equal responsibilities is justified, these factors do not contribute at all to a determination of whether the job responsibilities are sufficiently equal. As such, Defendant has not met its initial burden of identifying the parts of the record that show an absence of genuine issues of material fact with respect to whether Plaintiff has established a prima facie case. See Celotex. supra, 477 U.S. at 323 (discussing the moving party's preliminary burden at the summary judgment stage). Moreover, we find that, at the very least, the record reflects that Plaintiff's and Crawford's job responsibilities were sufficiently similar to establish aprima facie case.

  The record indicates that when he was hired, Crawford assumed Plaintiff's position as Director of Human Resources. (Crawford Dep. at 7-8; Kish Dep. at 20-21.) Furthermore, Plaintiff indicates that, according to the job descriptions, the position for which Crawford was hired entailed the same duties as her position, with the exception of the additional responsibilities she incurred due to her legal training. (See Gokay Dep. at 76.) As such, and especially absent applicable argument from Defendant to the contrary, we find that Plaintiff has met her burden of establishing a prima facie case.

  Thus, the burden shifts to Defendant to establish one of the designated four affirmative Page 9 defenses to an EPA violation. Defendant contends that the pay "differential was based on any factor other than sex." 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1). More specifically, Defendant argues that it paid Crawford a higher salary because of his significant work experience and relevant education, as well as the higher salary that he garnered in his prior position.*fn3 (Def.'s Br. at 14.)

  Defendant's burden of establishing an affirmative defense is a significant one, as it cannot proffer explanations for the salary differential that merely identify a possible cause for the disparity; rather, Defendant "must produce sufficient evidence such that no rational jury could conclude but that the proffered reasons actually motivated the wage disparity of which the plaintiff complains." Stanziale, 200 F.3d at 108 (emphasis added). In other words, Defendant must set forth evidence showing that the wage differential "was in fact made pursuant to" Crawford's prior experience and salary, and further must "establish this fact `so clearly that no rational jury could find to the contrary.'" Id. (quoting Del. Dep't of Health and Human Services, 865 F.2d at 1414). In light of the evidence set forth by Plaintiff suggesting that her gender, rather than Crawford's experience and salary, served as the basis for the salary differential, we find that Defendant cannot satisfy its burden and thus, summary judgment as to the EPA claim must be denied.

  First, while Defendant may very well have appropriately considered Crawford's past administrative experience, formal education, and salary in his previous administrative capacity when determining his salary (see Kish Dep. at 21-22), Plaintiff has set forth sufficient evidence Page 10 to call this justification into doubt, such that only a jury can decide whether the wage disparity constituted a violation of the EPA.

  For example, while Crawford commenced his position for the District with several years of administrative experience, that experience was not as a Human Resources Director, but rather as a Business Manager. While Crawford's prior position did involve some human resources responsibilities, it did not entail all of the duties and qualifications required in the job description for Plaintiff's position. (See Crawford Dep. at 6-7 (discussing his duties at his prior job.)) Thus, in contrast to the three years Plaintiff had served as Human Resources Director when she was denied a wage increase, Crawford's extensive experience was not wholly relevant to his job duties for Defendant.

  Furthermore, while Crawford holds a Master's Degree in Administrative Education, which certainly enhances his ability to carry out his administrative responsibilities, Plaintiff holds a law degree, which was required for the legal function of her position as Human Resources Director. It is an issue of fact for the jury to consider whether this parallel in formal education, Plaintiff's additional legal responsibility in her capacity as Human Resources Director, and the nature of Plaintiff's and Crawford's work experience with respect to their specific duties sufficiently undermines Defendant's affirmative defense that Crawford's experience, education, and former salary formed the basis of the wage differential.

  Additionally, the most compelling suggestion of pretext and that Plaintiff's gender played a role in establishing the pay disparity, is evidence from former employees of the District and a former member of the school board. Kathy Jenkins and Jean Buchanan, both former teachers in the District and leaders of the Pennridge Education Association during the time Plaintiff worked Page 11 for the District, recall having conversations with Superintendent Kish, where he revealed to them that members of the school board did not feel comfortable supporting a raise for Plaintiff because they "did not want to give [Plaintiff] a salary as high as they would give to a man." (Jenkins Aff, Buchanan Aff, Pl.'s Br. App. 11.)

  Moreover, a board member from during the time of Plaintiff's employ with the District acknowledges her "very strong opinion," which she "share[s] [] with many people," that a parent, but particularly the mother, should not work, but rather should remain at home to care for the children. (Stemler Dep. at 8.) She also admits telling Plaintiff something to the effect that, because Plaintiff's husband made sufficient money, instead of working, Plaintiff should be at home caring for her son. (Stemler Dep. at 9; See also Compl. ¶ 22.)

  We do note that Stemler denies that this opinion played any role in her decision to vote against raising Plaintiff's salary. (Stemler Dep. at 10.) Additionally, Kish denies that any school board members informed him that Plaintiff's gender was the basis for their opposition to Plaintiff's raise. (Kish Aff. ¶ 40.) We find this inconsistency in the record to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether gender played a role in the wage disparity between Plaintiff and her successor.

  We leave it to a jury to weigh this evidence and determine whether the District's decision to pay Plaintiff's successor a higher salary violated the EPA. Summary judgment is denied. Page 12

 B. Counts I and III: Title VII and PHRA Claims*fn4

  Plaintiff alleges that, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et. seq., and the PHRA, 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. 951, et. seq., Defendant discriminated against her because of her gender when it "denied [her] salary increases and parity with male administrators," such that she was forced her to resign from her position as Human Resources Director. (Compl. ¶¶ 59, 66.) Defendant argues that it is entitled to summary judgment because the record fails to reveal any evidence demonstrating that Plaintiff's working conditions were so objectively intolerable that she was forced to resign. As such, Defendant claims that Plaintiff cannot show that she was constructively discharged or that there was gender-motivated discrimination by Defendant. (See Def.'s Br. at 16, 20.)

  However, Plaintiff correctly points out that one can sufficiently show a violation of Title VII and the PHRA without proving constructive discharge. See Jones v. School Dist. of Philadelphia, 198 F.3d 403, 411 (3d Cir. 1999) ("[T]he relevant question with respect to [the Plaintiff's] Title VII and PHRA claims is whether he suffered some form of `adverse employment action' sufficient to evoke the protection of Title VII and the PHRA. Obviously something less than a discharge could be an adverse employment action."). Because Plaintiff raises genuine issues of material fact regarding whether the alleged disparate treatment she received with respect to pay raises constitutes a violation of Title VII and the PHRA, we deny Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment as to Counts I and III.

  To survive summary judgment, Plaintiff must establish a prima facie case of gender Page 13 discrimination under Title VII, which, as to these circumstances, consists of four elements:

1) she is a member of a protected class;
2) she is qualified for her position;
3) she suffered some form of an adverse employment action;
4) under circumstances that give rise to an inference of unlawful discrimination.
Jones, 198 F.3dat 410. 411: see also McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802, 802 n.13, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973) (laying out the general test for discrimination, but noting that the specific facts of each case will modify those prima facie elements). If Plaintiff can establish a prima facie case, the burden shifts to Defendant to set forth evidence of a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its presumptively discriminatory employment action. Texas Dep't. of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 254, 101 S.Ct. 1089, 67 L.Ed.2d 207(1981).

  If Defendant can sufficiently rebut the presumption of discrimination established by Plaintiff's prima facie case, Plaintiff can survive summary judgment only if she can present circumstantial or direct evidence that would allow a reasonable factfinder to conclude either that Defendant's rebuttal reasons are pretext or that "an invidious discriminatory reason was more likely than not a motivating or determinative cause of [Defendant's] action." Fuentes v. Perskie, 32 F.3d 759, 764 (3d Cir. 1994).

  The record well establishes that Plaintiff satisfies the first two elements of the prima facie case for gender discrimination, as Plaintiff is a woman and Defendant concedes that Plaintiff's qualifications and performance were more than satisfactory. (See Def.'s Br. at 18.) To establish the third prima facie element, Plaintiff must show that Defendant engaged in conduct that resulted in "a `significant change in [Plaintiff's] employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing Page 14 to promote, reassignment, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits.'" Weston v. Pennsylvania, 251 F.3d 420, 431 (3d Cir. 2001) (quoting Burlington Indus. Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742, 749, 118 S.Ct 2257, 141 L.Ed.2d 633 (1998), which defines "adverse employment action").

  Plaintiff argues that Defendant's refusal to grant her parallel wage increases to that granted a similarly-situated male, Denis McCall, the Business Administrator for the District, constituted an adverse employment action because it denied her a significant benefit, i.e., a raise in salary commensurate with her responsibilities and performance.

  In 1998, Superintendent Kish recognized Plaintiff's and McCall's positions jointly as being undercompensated, especially relative to comparable positions in the area, and recommended the same wage increase for both positions. (See Kish Memo to School Board, 5/28/98, also Pl.'s Br. App. 3). However, both positions remained undercompensated.

  In early 1999, McCall received a job offer from a bank that would have paid him more money than he currently made working for Defendant. (See McCall Dep. at 8.) In response to McCall's job offer, in April 1999, the District renegotiated McCall's contract, approving a long-term contract that increased his salary by $10,000 and guaranteed additional annual increases. According to the amended employment contract, the District agreed to pay him $89,500 for the 1999-2000 year, in addition to a marginal annual increase of $3000. (See McCall Agreement, Gokay Dep. Ex. 7.) According to Plaintiff, the District raised McCall's salary by more than 14%. (Pl.'s Br. at 20.)

  Contrarily, despite Plaintiff's repeated attempts to obtain a salary increase commensurate with the target or market value of her position, and despite acknowledgment from Plaintiff's Page 15 supervisor and Kish that she was grossly underpaid (Gokay Performance Evaluation Summary, Kish Memo to Board, Pl.'s Br. Apps. 2, 3), the District agreed to raise her salary only by 6%. (See PL's Br. at 20.)*fn5 Plaintiff argues that this disparity constitutes an adverse employment action. Moreover, Plaintiff contends that, in light of her testimony and the sworn statements indicating that Plaintiff's gender motivated the denial of her raise, the failure to grant her a similar raise as McCall raises an inference of unlawful gender discrimination. (See e.g., Jenkins and Buchanan Affs. (stating that Kish informed them that members of the Board opposed granting Plaintiff a salary as high as a man would receive)).

  We agree that this evidence sufficiently sets forth a prima facie case of gender discrimination under Title VII, and further note that Plaintiff has set forth a stronger prima facie case than other Plaintiff's who have survived summary judgment. See e.g. Szustowicz v. City of Philadelphia, No. 02-2054, 2003 WL 1818175, at *6 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 26, 2003) (denying summary judgment to the employer defendant in a Title VII case, on grounds that the female detective plaintiff "may be able to provide [] evidence in the future" that she was denied the average overtime hours that male colleagues served) (emphasis added).

  Because Plaintiff has established a prima facie case, the burden shifts to Defendant to identify a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the disparate treatment. While Defendant sets forth no such reason in its brief, the record reflects that Defendant could present, at least facially, a nondiscriminatory reason. According to Kish, the District renegotiated McCall's contract, with Page 16 the substantial wage increases, "based upon his significant and valuable contributions as an employee" and, in light of McCall's alternative job offer for a higher salary, Defendant wanted to ensure that McCall remained with the Defendant. (Kish Aff. ¶¶ 34-39.)

  Thus, to survive summary judgment, Plaintiff must identify evidence showing either that Defendant's reason merely is pretext or that her gender played a role in its decision not to grant her a more substantial raise, similar to that received by McCall. See Fuentes, supra, 32 F.3d at 764. We find that Plaintiff has sufficiently set forth evidence that would support either argument.

  First, with respect to the possibility that Defendant's explanation for the disparity is pretext, we agree with Plaintiff's rebuttal that, similar to McCall, she too, informed the District, through Kish, that she would be forced to obtain work elsewhere if she did not receive a more favorable salary. (Gokay Dep. at 55-56.) While Plaintiff did not have an alternate job offer to heighten the urgency of the situation, the motivation for Defendant's actions in giving McCall a higher salary, i.e., the desire to keep a valuable employee, remains the same for Plaintiff, especially considering Plaintiff's stellar reputation as a competent employee. (See e.g. Bringe Performance Evaluation Summary, Pl.'s Br. App. 2; Def.'s Br. at 18 (stating that "Plaintiff consistently received raves for her job performance.")).

  We find that, based on the analogous circumstances of Plaintiff and McCall with respect to their reputations as valuable employees, their well-established concerns regarding their under-compensation, and the compulsion to seek other employment if their concerns were not satisfactorily addressed, a rational factfinder could conclude that Defendant's reasons for the significant disparity in the raises received by McCall and Plaintiff were pretext.

  Similarly, the affidavits from Kathy Jenkins and Jean Buchanan stating that board Page 17 members disfavored paying Plaintiff as high a salary as a they would pay a man, in addition to Gokay's testimony that Kish informed her that female board members were reluctant to compensate women at the same rate as men and Stemler's vocal opinions directed at Plaintiff about mothers in the workplace, all suggest the possibility that Plaintiff's gender more likely than not played a role in Defendant's decision not to grant her an increase in salary similar to that granted McCall. Because Plaintiff has sufficiently rebutted Defendant's non-discriminatory reason for its disparate treatment of Plaintiff and McCall, Plaintiff survives summary judgment. As to Counts I and III, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is denied.

 IV. CONCLUSION

  We find both that Plaintiff has established a prima facie case that she was paid a lower salary than her male successor for sufficiently similar work, and that there are genuine issues of material fact as to whether Defendant's explanation for the pay differential is based on factors besides gender. As such, with respect to Plaintiff's EPA claim, we deny the motion for summary judgment.

  We further find that Plaintiff has established a prima facie case that she was denied a significant employment benefit, a wage increase, as a result of her gender and that there are genuine issues for trial with respect to whether Defendant's purported explanation for the alleged disparate treatment, extraordinary job performance and a desire to maintain a long-term commitment from Plaintiff's male colleague, was pretext. As such, as to Plaintiff's Title VII and PHRA claims, we deny Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.


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