The opinion of the court was delivered by: HERBERT HUTTON, District Judge
Presently before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion to Compel
Defendants' Full and Complete Responses to Plaintiff's First Set of
Interrogatories and Request for Production and for Removal of the
Confidential Designation on Certain Documents Identified by Defendant as
Confidential (Docket No. 15), Defendant Acuity Specialty Products Group,
Inc. d/b/a Zep Manufacturing, Inc.'s response (Docket No. 19),
Plaintiff's reply (Docket No. 20), and Plaintiff's sur-reply thereto
(Docket No. 32).
This is an employment discrimination suit brought under Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e 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 seg., alleging gender
discrimination and retaliation. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that (1)
she was wrongfully denied a promotion to District Sales Manager ("DSM")
of the mid-Atlantic division in mid-1999; (2) she was demoted from the
position of Branch Sales Manager ("BSM") to Field Sales Manager
("FSM") in August of 2001 because of her gender; and (3) Defendant
retaliated against her for filing a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human
Rights Commission by setting unrealistic sales goals, by failing to give
her business leads at a comparable rate to what male employees were
receiving, and by reducing her compensation. On January 30, 2004, this
Court dismissed Plaintiff's failure to promote claim as time-barred under
Title VII and the PHRA. The Court also determined that Plaintiff had
failed to make a prima facie case of an EPA violation under her failure
to promote claim. Plaintiff now moves to compel answers to certain
interrogatories and document requests.
"It is well-established that the scope and conduct of discovery are
within the sound discretion of the trial court." Marroquin-Manriques
v. Immigration and Naturalization Serv., 699 F.2d 129, 134 (3d Cir.
1983). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permit discovery of "any
matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the claim or defense of any
party." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Discovery is not limited solely to
admissible evidence but encompasses matters which "appear reasonably
caculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." See
id; Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340
(1978). "Relevance is construed broadly and determined in relation to the
facts and circumstances of each case." Hall v. Harlevsville Ins.
Co., 164 F.R.D. 406, 407
(E.D. Pa. 1996). Once the party from whom discovery is sought
raises an objection, the party seeking discovery must demonstrate the
relevancy of the information requested. Vitale v. McAtee,
170 F.R.D. 404, 406 (E.D. Pa. 1997). At that point, the burden shifts back to
the objecting party to show why discovery should not be permitted.
In this motion, Plaintiff seeks information related to the Branch Sales
Manager, District Sales Manager, and Regional Sales Manager positions,
including personnel files, performance evaluations, salary information,
and company-wide sales information broken down by branch. Plaintiff also
seeks documents related to her job performance and responsibilities,
documents regarding claims or complaints of gender discrimination against
Defendant, and information regarding sales representatives and their
expected sales goals.
Defendant objects to many of these requests as overly broad. Defendant
has limited the temporal scope of its production to the period from June
1, 1998 to the present. Defendant also asserts that Plaintiff is not
entitled to nationwide discovery and has limited the geographical scope
of its production to the Philadelphia branch and the Washington branch,
which are the branches headed by Ethan Powers. Moreover, Defendant
objects to the production of all documents related to the Regional Sales
Managers and District Sales Managers, arguing that they are
irrelevant to Plaintiff's claims. In particular, Defendant argues
that because Plaintiff's failure to promote claim is time-barred,
Plaintiff is not entitled to any information related to the District
Sales Manager position.
Because much of the discovery dispute may be resolved by determining
the proper scope of discovery, the Court addresses this issue first.
Defendant has suggested that the temporal scope of discovery should be
for the time period from June 1, 1998 to the present and has not produced
documents outside of that scope. Plaintiff responds that she has no issue
with the time limitation for most of the discovery requests and in fact,
most of her requests have been limited to the past five years.
"It is well established that discovery of conduct predating the
liability period of a Title VII lawsuit is relevant and courts have
commonly extended the scope of discovery to a reasonable number of years
prior to the liability period of a Title VII lawsuit." Miller v.
Hygrade Food Prods. Corp., 89 F. Supp.2d 643, 657 (E.D. Pa. 2000)
(discovery limited to five years before filing of EEOC charge);
Steven v. General Electric Co., No. 1-77-122, 1978 WL 150, at
*1 (S.D. Ohio Oct. 4, 1978) (noting emergence of a "five year rule");
Milner v. Nat'l Sch. of Health Tech., 73 F.R.D. 628, 632 (E.D.
Pa. 1977) (approximately five years before alleged
violation). In this case, Plaintiff filed her EEOC charge ...