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GOKAY v. PENNRIDGE SCHOOL DISTRICT

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 ...


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