United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
February 11, 2004.
DEREK E. ELLIS, Plaintiff
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION and BROTHERHOOD OF RAILROAD SIGNALMEN, LOCAL 18, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: RONALD BUCKWALTER, District Judge
Presently before the Court is Defendant National Railroad Passenger
Corporation's ("Amtrak") Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendant
Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, Local 18's ("Union") Motion for
Summary Judgment, Plaintiff Derek E. Ellis' ("Plaintiff) Oppositions
thereto and Amtrak's Reply to Plaintiff's Opposition. For the reasons set
forth below, Amtrak's motion is granted in part and denied in part, and
Union's motion is granted.*fn1
The following is a recitation of the undisputed facts. On or around
July 11, 1994 Amtrak hired Plaintiff an African American
as a Helper. During subsequent times in his
employment with Amtrak, Plaintiff held the positions of Signalman
Trainee and Signalman. Except for the first sixty days of his employment,
Plaintiff was at all times a member of a collective bargaining unit that
was covered by a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") between Amtrak
and the Union.
On or around January 15, 2001, Amtrak eliminated approximately twenty
Signalman positions when it abolished several work gangs located in the
Pennsylvania Coach Yard. Plaintiff was one of the Signalmen who lost his
position. Pursuant to the CBA, Signalmen who lost their positions were
permitted to bid for vacant positions within their seniority district,
bump less senior employees by exercising their displacement rights or
transfer to another seniority district. Any employee who failed to obtain
a vacant position, bump a less senior employee or transfer to a different
district was furloughed. Faced with these options, Plaintiff bumped into
other positions, but each time he bumped into a position, he was
ultimately bumped out of the position by a more senior employee.
Eventually, Plaintiff ran out of bumps, and with no vacant positions
available, Plaintiff decided to accept furlough instead of transferring
into another seniority district. Plaintiff was furloughed on or around
January 22, 2001.
While he remained on furlough, two Caucasian employees with less
seniority George Dorman and Michael Moore obtained
positions within Plaintiff's seniority district. Both Dorman and Moore
had had their jobs abolished, along with Plaintiff's job, in January,
2001. Dorman received a position in or around April, 2001, and Moore
received a position in or around September, 2001. In or around January,
2002, Amtrak recalled Plaintiff from furlough.
On or around October 24, 2002, Plaintiff filed the instant action
alleging that Amtrak intentionally discriminated against Plaintiff by
awarding positions to less senior white
employees before awarding him a position, and that Amtrak's actions
violated the CBA. Specifically, Plaintiff has alleged the following three
causes of action: 1) violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act,
42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.; 2) violation of Civil Rights Act,
42 U.S.C. § 1981; and 3) Violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act,
43 Pa.C.S.A. § 951 et seq.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
A motion for summary judgment will be granted where all of the evidence
demonstrates "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(c). A dispute about a material fact is genuine "if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby. Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Since a grant of summary judgment will deny a
party its chance in court, all inferences must be drawn in the light most
favorable to the party opposing the motion. U.S. v. Diebold. Inc.,
369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962).
The ultimate question in determining whether a motion for summary
judgment should be granted is "whether reasonable minds may differ as to
the verdict." Schoonejongen v. Curtiss-Wright Corp.,
143 F.3d 120, 129 (3d Cir. 1998). "Only disputes over facts that might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly
preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
A. The Position Awarded to George Dorman
In or around October, 2000, Dorman a white Signalman with less
seniority than Plaintiff went out of work on a medical leave of
absence. As explained above, in January, 2001
Amtrak abolished approximately twenty Signalman positions,
including Dorman's position. Dorman was still on medical leave at the
time Amtrak abolished his position.
On or around January 26, 2001, James Ficarra a senior Signalman
who had retained a position after Amtrak abolished twenty Signalman
positions suffered an injury on the job and was unable to work.
Ficarra was out of work for several weeks when it was determined that he
would need surgery. In or around late March, 2001 or early April, 2001,
Amtrak officially labeled Ficarra's position as "permanently vacant."
In March 2001 prior to the time that Amtrak labeled Ficarra's
position as permanently vacant Dorman contacted Amtrak and
notified Amtrak that he was ready to return from his medical leave. After
passing a physical and a drug test, Dorman returned to work on or around
April 8, 2001. Dorman filled Ficarra's position, which ultimately was not
advertised as vacant until April 17, 2001 approximately nine days
after Dorman had already filled the position.
Plaintiff has alleged that Amtrak engaged in racial discrimination by
awarding Ficarra's position to Dorman a less senior white
employee instead of properly advertising the position. Because
Plaintiff was the most senior furloughed employee, he claims that he
should have received the position. Plaintiff also alleges that Amtrak
deliberately left Ficarra's position vacant and did not advertise
the position for approximately two and one half months in order
for the vacancy to coincide with Dorman's return from medical leave in
April, 2001. (Def.'s Br. at 9-10, 20, 32.)
1. Railway Labor Act Preemption
Amtrak argues that Plaintiff's claims are preempted by the Railway
Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. ("RLA"). Amtrak states that the
CBA governed all of its actions in awarding Ficarra's position to Dorman,
and that Plaintiff's claim is premised on an interpretation of the CBA,
and thus, inextricably intertwined with the CBA.*fn2 Accordingly, Amtrak
argues that Plaintiff should have filed a grievance and "sought a
determination by the National Railway Adjustment Board ("NRAB"), the
entity that has exclusive authority to interpret collective bargaining
agreements under the RLA." (Pi's Br. at 2.)
The purpose of the RLA is to promote stability in relations between
labor and management. Hawaiian Airlines. Inc. v. Norris,
512 U.S. 246, 252 (1994). "To realize this goal, the RLA establishes a
mandatory arbitral mechanism for the prompt and orderly settlement
of . . . disputes." Id. Disputes that are subject to mandatory
arbitration are disputes that are grounded in the CBA and involve the
interpretation or application of the CBA. See id, at 254-56.
The RLA, however, "does not preempt causes of action to enforce rights
that are independent of the CBA." Id. at 256.
In Stokes v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co., a district court
addressed an issue that is similar to the issue in the instant case.
99 F. Supp.2d 966 (N.D. Ind. 2000). In Stokes, the plaintiff
claimed that he was discriminated against because of his race when his
employer laid him off and then refused his repeated requests to bump into
foreman positions. Id. at 968. The
plaintiff claimed that his employer did not layoff employees in
accordance with seniority, and that less senior white employees retained
positions. Id. at 969. The plaintiff further claimed that once
he was laid off, the employer did not advertise a position that should
have been advertised, and therefore, the plaintiff did not get a chance
to bid on the position. Id. The position was ultimately filled
by a white employee. Id. Plaintiff brought claims pursuant to
Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The defendant moved to dismiss the
complaint arguing that the RLA preempted the Plaintiff's claims.
In denying the defendant's motion to dismiss, the court stated,
[Plaintiff's] claims are not grounded in a dispute
over the meaning of the seniority provisions of
the CBA . . . but instead pertain to
[defendant's] motives in laying off [plaintiff]
and in denying his request to bump. Although
[Plaintiff's] claims involve seniority rights that
are determined by the CBA, that doesn't mean his
claims involve application or interpretation of
the CBA. Id. at 971.
[T]he court will not address an interpretation or
application of seniority rights under the CBA, but
instead will decide factually, [defendant's]
motives in denying [plaintiff] his seniority and
bumping rights. Whether [defendant] laid off
[plaintiff] or denied [plaintiff] his bumping
rights because of his race in violation of his
right to be free from race discrimination under
the Title VII and § 1981 are purely factual
questions whose resolution only requires inquiry
into [defendant's] motives.
Id. at 971-72. See also Hawaiian Airlines, 512 U.S.
at 261 (stating that purely factual questions about an employee's conduct
or an employer's conduct and motives do not require a court to interpret
any term of the collective bargaining agreement)(citing Lingle v.
Norge Div. of Magic Chef. Inc., 486 U.S. 399
(1988)); Smith v.
Northwest Airlines. Inc., 141 F. Supp.2d 936 (W.D. Tenn.
2001)(finding that Plaintiff's Title VII claim is not preempted by the
RLA where there is a factual inquiry into employer's motives even if the
CBA will be consulted); Mosqueda v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe
981 F. Supp. 1403 (D. Kan. 1997)(fmding that RLA does not preempt
Title VII claim when a resolution requires more than an interpretation of
For the reasons stated in the above-cited cases, the Court finds that
the RLA does not preempt Plaintiff's claim with regard to the position
that Amtrak awarded to Dorman. Amtrak urges that it followed the CBA, and
that this dispute can be resolved only by interpreting and applying the
CBA. Specifically, with regard to advertising Ficarra's position and
labeling it "permanently vacant," Amtrak argues that Rule 12 governed its
actions. Rule 12 states, in pertinent part, "(b) Temporary positions and
temporary vacancies, when it is known they will be of more than 30 days'
duration, unless a longer period is agreed upon, shall be advertised as
though they were permanent positions or vacancies . . ." (Def.'s Br.,
The parties do not dispute that Ficarra became injured and left work on
January 26, 2001. Furthermore, it is undisputed that he remained out of
work for months until Amtrak finally advertised his position as a
permanent vacancy on April 17, 2001. Despite the wording of Rule 12(b)
when it is known that a temporary vacancy will be longer than
thirty days it "shall be" advertised as a permanent position
Amtrak argues that this rule provided it with discretion on when
to advertise Ficarra's position. While the Court has serious questions
regarding how Rule 12(b) conveys discretionary powers to Amtrak, the
Court still finds that contract interpretation is not necessary. Amtrak
and its management have repeatedly stated and their undisputed
actions show that Amtrak had and used discretion on when to
advertise the Ficarra
position as permanently vacant. (Def.'s Br. at 9-11; Palmer Dep.
Tr. at 31; Def.'s Reply Br. at 8; Robinson Dep. Tr. at 45.)*fn3
This "discretion" is what saves Plaintiff's claims from RLA preemption.
This particular issue does not require an interpretation or application
of the CBA. Rather, this issue presents a factual dispute regarding
Amtrak's conduct and motives for waiting until April 17, 2001 to
advertise the Ficarra position. Whether or not the CBA actually conferred
discretion to Amtrak is irrelevant in determining the critical issue in
this case whether Amtrak exercised discriminatory conduct or had
discriminatory motives in waiting until April 17, 2001 to advertise the
Plaintiff alleges, inter alia, that Amtrak deliberately waited
until mid-April to advertise the position so that Dorman's return from
medical leave would coincide with Ficarra's position becoming permanently
vacant. Amtrak on the other hand states, inter alia, that it
waited until mid-April because it was not sure of the extent of Ficarra's
injuries or the length of time he would be off of work. Regardless of the
CBA's interpretation or application, the parties have a factual dispute
over Amtrak's motives for not advertising Ficarra's position until
mid-April, and the RLA does not preempt such disputes.
2. Prima Facie Case of Discrimination
Amtrak next argues that even if the RLA does not preempt Plaintiff's
claims, Plaintiff cannot meet his burden to prove a prima facie case of
discrimination under Title VII or § 1981. (Def.'s Br. at 31.) In
order to succeed on a discrimination claim, the Plaintiff must first
establish by a preponderance of evidence a prima facie case of
discrimination. Ezold v. Wolf. Block. Schorr and Solis-Cohen,
983 F.2d 509, 522 (3d Cir. 1993). A plaintiff can establish a prima facie
case by showing that he is a member of a protected class; that he was
qualified for and rejected for a position; and that non-members of the
class were treated more favorably. Id. After the plaintiff
establishes a prima facie case, the burden then shifts to the defendant
to produce evidence of a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for its
decision. Id. If defendant successfully meets this burden, then
the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to prove that defendant's
proffered reasons are pretext for discrimination. Id.
a. Adverse Employment Action
Amtrak argues that Plaintiff has failed to meet its burden of
establishing a prima facie case because Plaintiff cannot prove that he
suffered an adverse employment action. (Def.'s Reply Br. at 11-12.) The
Court, however, does not agree. There is no dispute that Plaintiff is an
African American and was qualified for the position that Dorman received.
Plaintiff has alleged, and Amtrak has not attempted to refute, that he
was the most senior Signalman to be furloughed when Amtrak abolished jobs
in January, 2001. (Comp. at ¶ 12.) Accordingly, Plaintiff would have
been the first furloughed employee to be eligible to return to work. The
adverse employment action that Plaintiff alleges to have suffered was
when Amtrak deliberately held Ficarra's position vacant instead
of properly advertising it so that Amtrak could award the
position to Dorman. Plaintiff alleges that had the position been
advertised earlier, Dorman would not have been back from medical leave to
take the position, and Plaintiff being the most senior furloughed
employee would have received the position.
Amtrak, however, argues that pursuant to Rule 12 of the CBA, furloughed
employees are only eligible to bid on positions if there are no bids from
active employees. (Def.'s Br. at 15-17; Def.'s Reply Br. at 11-12.)
Accordingly, Amtrak states that Plaintiff "cannot prove that, absent the
award of the position to Mr. Dorman . . . he would have been awarded
the position under the terms of the CBA." (Def.'s Reply Br. at 11.)
The Court does not find Amtrak's argument persuasive. First, Amtrak's
arguments appear to be contradicted by its own exhibits. Exhibits H1 and
H2 attached to Amtrak's brief purport to show the advertisement of
Ficarra's position and the notice of award of the position. Included in
Exhibit H2 is a document entitled "Bidder Summary All Bidders." The
document lists "all bidders" for two different positions that Amtrak
advertised, including the Ficarra position. The document shows that,
regarding the Ficarra position, there was only one bidder George
Dorman. If the position had not gone to Dorman, and as Exhibit H2 shows
there were no other bids from active employees, then the position would
have gone to the most senior furloughed employee Plaintiff.
The Court also has another issue with Amtrak's argument. Assuming
arguendo that Amtrak did engage in racial discrimination, Amtrak cannot
now rely on that discrimination to discredit Plaintiff's prima facie
case. Amtrak is arguing that even if Plaintiff is correct in alleging
that Amtrak discriminated by awarding the position to Dorman, Plaintiff
cannot now go back and recreate events in 2001 to prove that no other
active employees would have bid on the
position, and consequently, Plaintiff would have obtained the
position. If, however, Amtrak did discriminate, then what Amtrak's
argument ignores is that it is its own discrimination that might hinder
Plaintiff in making such a showing. Again, assuming arguendo, had Amtrak
not discriminated by awarding the position to Dorman, Plaintiff would not
be in the position of having to recreate a scenario that would have
played itself out but for the discrimination. Accordingly, the Court
cannot accept Amtrak's argument, because at a minimum, it creates a
genuine issue of fact as to whether Plaintiff could have received the
Regardless of that particular argument, the Court still would not grant
summary judgment to Amtrak based on this issue. There is enough evidence
that Plaintiff could possibly prove that he suffered an adverse
employment action, but more importantly, there is a genuine issue of fact
that exists for trial. Amtrak did not meet its burden of showing that,
with regard to this issue, there are no issues of fact for a jury to
b. Similarly Situated Employees
Amtrak next argues that Plaintiff cannot meet his burden of showing a
prima facie case because Plaintiff and Dorman were not similarly situated
employees. (Def.'s Br. at 32-33.) Specifically, Amtrak argues that at the
time the Ficarra position became available, Dorman was returning from
medical leave, and that pursuant to the CBA, employees returning from
medical leave have more rights than furloughed employees.
The Court only partly agrees with Amtrak's argument. To the extent
Plaintiff challenges Amtrak's interpretation of the CBA, the Court agrees
with Amtrak's argument the
CBA does appear to give certain rights to employees who are
returning from medical leave. The Court notes, however, that interpreting
the CBA is unnecessary for this particular issue*fn4
With regard to whether Dorman and Plaintiff were similarly situated,
the critical inquiry is not determining the extent of Dorman's rights at
the moment he returned from medical leave, but rather, whether Dorman and
Plaintiff were similarly situated when Amtrak allegedly delayed
advertising the Ficarra position so that it could award the position to
Dorman instead of Plaintiff. There is no dispute that both Dorman and
Plaintiff were Signalmen, and that Amtrak abolished both Dorman's and
Plaintiff's positions in January, 2001. There is also no dispute that
Plaintiff was trying to return to work from furlough, that Dorman was
trying to return to work from medical leave, and that both employees
needed a vacant position to become available so that they could return to
work.*fn5 Pursuant to Plaintiff's allegations, Amtrak deliberately
denied Plaintiff a position and awarded the position to a similarly
situated white employee a Signalman whose job was abolished, who
was trying to return to work and who needed a vacant position to become
available. Accordingly, the Court finds that there is enough evidence in
the record that a genuine issue of fact exists for a jury to decide.
c. Amtrak's Legitimate Non-Discriminatory Reason
Amtrak next argues that even if Plaintiff meets his burden of
establishing a prima facie case, that Amtrak had a legitimate,
non-discriminatory reason for awarding the position to Dorman. (Def.'s
Br. at 33-34.) Specifically, Amtrak states that Rule 12(b) of the CBA
Amtrak discretion on when to advertise the Ficarra position.
Additionally, Amtrak argues that pursuant to Rules 16, 13 and 12 an
employee who returns from medical leave such as Dorman
has rights that are superior to employees who are on furlough.*fn6
d. Plaintiff Alleges that Amtrak's Reason is Pretext for
When a defendant answers the Plaintiff's prima facie case with
legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for its action, the plaintiff
must point to some evidence, direct or circumstantial, from which a fact
finder could reasonably either (1) disbelieve the employer's articulated
reasons; or (2) believe that an invidious discriminatory reason was more
likely than not a motivating or determinative cause of the employer's
action. Fuentes v. Perskie, 32 F.3d 759, 764 (3d Cir. 1994).
Plaintiff alleges that Amtrak management condoned racial
discrimination, and in one case, made racial comments directly regarding
Plaintiff. In support of this allegation, Plaintiff offers two pieces of
evidence to show that Amtrak's legitimate reasons are pretext for
discrimination. Plaintiff claims that Joseph Derillo, an Amtrak
supervisor for over twenty years became upset when Amtrak awarded the
Ficarra position to Dorman instead of Plaintiff. (Pl's Br. at 4-8.)
Derillo testified at his deposition that he talked with Amtrak management
regarding why Dorman received the position. (Id.) Derillo
stated that he spoke with, among other people, Bob Mays, Assistant Chief
Engineer. (Id. at 6.) Derillo testified that when he entered
Mays' office, he found that Mays was in possession of a black-faced
voodoo doll that was hanging by its neck a symbol that Derillo
believed was a connotation of race. (Id.) The two of them had a
verbal confrontation regarding doll and Amtrak's treatment of
Plaintiff, and then Derillo left Mays' office. (Id.) According
to Derillo, Mays and his boss Keith Holt, oversaw the entire
Communications and Signals Division of Amtrak, which is where Plaintiff
The second alleged racial incident occurred when Derillo spoke with
Jack Whalen, Assistant Division Engineer. Derillo testified that he told
Whalen that it was not right that Amtrak awarded the position to Dorman
instead of Plaintiff. (Id. at 7-8.) Derillo stated that Whalen
responded by saying "what do you care, [Plaintiff] is black." Derillo
then had a verbal confrontation with Whalen and left his office.
(Id. at 8.)
According to Plaintiff, Whalen was one of the key decision makers in
deciding to award the Ficarra position to Dorman. (Id. at 6.)
Plaintiff has submitted evidence that supports this allegation. During
his deposition, Derillo was questioned as to why the Ficarra position
remained vacant for such a long period of time. (Id. Ex. I at
12-13.) Derillo responded that he did not know the answer because that
would have been Whalen's responsibility. (Id.) Additionally,
Plaintiff submitted two "Personnel Action Request" forms. (Id.
at Ex. P-4 & P-6.) The first form indicates that Ficarra needed a
medical leave of absence, and it was authorized by Whalen on March 9,
2001. (Id. at Ex. P-4.) The second form indicates that Dorman
was returning from his medical leave of absence, and it was authorized by
Whalen on April 9, 2001. (Id. at Ex. P-6.) This evidence
suggests that Whalen was, at least to some extent, involved with handling
the personnel actions regarding Ficarra and Dorman.
Amtrak counters by arguing that Plaintiff cannot show pretext because
Amtrak properly followed the CBA and because the alleged racial incidents
did not involve decision makers. (Def.'s Br. at 34-26; Def.'s Reply Br.
at 9-10.) The Court, however, does not agree. As
previously discussed, this case will not involve, and does not
require, an in-depth interpretation of the CBA. The primary issue in this
case is whether Amtrak had discriminatory motives and actions in delaying
the advertisement of the Ficarra position and ultimately awarding it to
Dorman. Furthermore, regarding Amtrak's "decision maker" argument, Amtrak
again misses the point. Amtrak states that the key decision maker was
Richard Palmer, Director of Labor Relations, because Palmer interpreted
the CBA to mean that Dorman had certain bidding and seniority rights at
the time he returned from medical leave. (Def.'s Reply Br. at 5 &
9-10.) Again, interpretation of the CBA is not the critical issue in this
case. The key decision makers in this case were the people who decided to
deliberately leave the Ficarra position vacant, and if Plaintiff's
allegations are accurate, the people who devised a way to award Dorman
the position at Plaintiff's expense. Amtrak has not offered any evidence
regarding who these people were.
Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiff has come forward with
enough evidence to survive summary judgment regarding this issue. There
is enough evidence in the record that creates genuine issues of fact
regarding Amtrak's motives and whether Amtrak's legitimate,
non-discriminatory reasons are pretext for discrimination.
B. The Position Awarded to Michael Moore
Plaintiff also alleges that Amtrak discriminated against him in
September, 2001 when Amtrak awarded a position to Michael Moore a
white employee with less seniority than Plaintiff. Moore was a Signalman
in the Philadelphia seniority district in January, 2001 when his
position, along with Plaintiff's position, was abolished. Moore, however,
decided to transfer to the New York district in order to remain employed
and in order to remain "active" under the
CBA.*fn7 While in the New York district, Moore exercised his
rights as an "active" employee and bid on and received a position in
Lancaster in September, 2001.*fn8 Soon after he got to Lancaster, the
position was abolished, and Moore exercised his rights as an "active"
employee to obtain a position in Philadelphia.
Plaintiff alleges discrimination because Amtrak awarded a position in
Philadelphia to Moore instead of Plaintiff. Plaintiff's only support for
this allegation is that Plaintiff was more senior than Moore, and that
there appears to be no record of an advertised vacancy for that time
period.*fn9 (PL's Br. at 20-21.) The Court notes, however, that at least
a portion of Plaintiff's argument is based on his own misunderstanding of
the seniority districts>. Plaintiff alleges that Amtrak just simply
awarded a position to Moore in the Philadelphia district, "after Moore
had been furloughed in Lancaster District, while Plaintiff was kept out
on furlough." (PL's Br. at 20-21; See also PL's Br. at 22.) The
undisputed evidence, however, shows that Moore's job in Lancaster was
actually part of the Philadelphia seniority district. (Def.'s Reply Br.
at 11; Def.'s Brief Ex. H3-H4.) Accordingly, when Amtrak abolished
Moore's position in Lancaster, Moore was permitted to exercise his rights
within his home seniority district Philadelphia.
Furthermore, in attempting to support his allegations, Plaintiff
repeatedly misstates Moore's deposition testimony. Plaintiff states,
"Amtrak assigned Mr. Moore to a job
as a Signalman, after Moore had been furloughed in Lancaster
District . . ." (Pl.'s Br. at 20-21.) Plaintiff also states, "Moore
testified that he did not bid for this position, and there was no known
vacant position that he was assigned to." (PL's Br. at 21) Plaintiff
further states that Moore was "recalled" for the Philadelphia position
and that there "was no bidding on the job."*fn10 (Pl.'s Br. at 29.)
These characterizations of Moore's testimony are blatantly false. Moore
testified as follows:
Q. Now, how did you get your job in the
Philadelphia office in September 2001?
A. I don't recall actually.
Q. Did you receive any letter recalling you from
A. No. I never received any letter. (Moore Dep. Tr.
* * *
Q. Did you bid for any position in Philadelphia
office in September 2001 that you took?
A. That I cannot recall. (Id. at 8.)
* * *
Q. Your job in Lancaster in September 2001 was
Q. And then you were able to get a position in the
Philadelphia office immediately after that?
A. That's correct. (Id. at 9.)
Q. And the position that you would have gotten when
you came in September 2001 to Philadelphia you did
not bid for an open position, did you?
A. That I cannot recall. (Id. at 10.)
As this testimony shows, 1) Moore's job in Lancaster was abolished, but
he never claimed to be furloughed, and Plaintiff has not submitted any
evidence that Moore was furloughed; 2) Moore never claimed that Amtrak
recalled him. In fact, he specifically said he never received any recall
letter; 3) Moore never claimed that he did not bid on a position
he stated that he could not recall whether or not he bid; and 4) Moore
never claimed that there was not a vacant position at the time he
received a position in Philadelphia.
Amtrak argues that it should be awarded summary judgment on this claim
because 1) the claim is preempted by the RLA; 2) Plaintiff cannot prove a
prima facie case of discrimination; 3) if Plaintiff does prove a prima
facie case, Plaintiff cannot show that Amtrak's legitimate,
non-discriminatory reasons were pretext for discrimination. The Court
agrees with all three arguments.
1. Railway Labor Act Preemption
In his Opposition Brief, Plaintiff has not offered any evidence
whatsoever as to why his claim regarding the Moore position should not be
preempted by the RLA. Additionally, as stated above, at least a portion
of Plaintiff's arguments are blatantly false. The undisputed evidence in
this case shows that Moore was at all relevant times an "active" employee
because he chose to transfer to New York instead of accepting furlough.
Plaintiff, on the hand, was not "active" because he accepted furlough
instead of transferring to New York. When Moore eventually received a
position back in Philadelphia in September, 2001, Plaintiff alleges
discrimination because Moore is white and less senior.
Amtrak, on the other hand, argues that the CBA provided for every
action taken by Moore and Amtrak, and that to prove its argument would
require CBA interpretation and application. The Court agrees with Amtrak.
Moore took a series of actions that were purportedly permitted by the CBA
and which ultimately landed him back in Philadelphia. To determine if
Amtrak properly permitted Moore to make these moves would require an
in-depth interpretation and application of the CBA. Furthermore,
Plaintiff has not offered any legitimate allegations, let alone evidence,
that would show that there are purely factual questions regarding
Amtrak's conduct or motives that would save this claim from RLA
preemption. Accordingly, the Court finds that the RLA preempts this
2. Prima Facie Case. Legitimate Non-Discriminatory Reason &
Even if somehow the RLA did not preempt this claim, the Court would
grant summary judgment on this claim because Plaintiff cannot meet its
burden of proving discrimination. First, Plaintiff cannot meet his burden
of showing a prima facie case of discrimination because the evidence is
clear that Plaintiff and Moore were not similarly situated. Moore chose
to transfer to New York in order to remain "active" under the CBA.
Plaintiff, on the other hand, chose to be furloughed instead of
transferring, and this decision meant that Plaintiff lost his active
status. The CBA clearly grants superior rights to active employees over
inactive employees even if the active employee is less
senior.*fn11 Accordingly, Moore and Plaintiff were not similarly
Secondly, even if Plaintiff could show a prima facie case, Amtrak has
offered a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its actions
following the rules of the CBA. Plaintiff, on the other hand, has not
offered any evidence whatsoever to show that the Amtrak's reason is
pretext. For this reason, and the reasons stated above, the Court grants
Amtrak's motion for summary judgment as it relates to Plaintiff's
allegations regarding the position Amtrak awarded to Moore.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court grants Amtrak's motion for summary
judgment with regard to Plaintiff's claim of discrimination relating to
the position that Amtrak awarded to Michael Moore. The Court denies
Amtrak's motion for summary judgment with regard to Plaintiff's claim of
discrimination relating to the position that Amtrak awarded to George
Dorman. The Court grants Union's motion for summary judgment.
An appropriate Order follows.