The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHARD B. SURRICK, District Judge
Presently before the Court is Defendants Rose Casual Dining, E.P. d/b/a
Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar, Jamie Ruckle, Susan Purcell, Stacey
Bartholomew, Dexter Volpe, and Brian Mark's Motion for Summary Judgment.
(Doc. No. 27.) For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment will be denied.*fn1
On or about October 25, 2001, Plaintiff Danielle Rielli was hired as a
manager trainee by Defendant Rose Casual Dining, E.P. ("Rose Causal"),
at their Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania facility. (Doc. No. 12 ¶ 10.) Rielli alleges that almost immediately after she was
hired, she was subjected to a sexually hosfile work environment by the
management and other employees of Rose Casual. (Id. ¶ 11.) When Rielli
complained to the assistant general manager, Susan Purcell, about the
sexually hosfile work environment at the Bloomsburg facility, she
responded that Rielli would have to deal with it. (Id. ¶ 12.) When
Rielli complained to the general manager, Stacey Bartholomew, she laughed
and questioned Rielli's sexual orientation. (Id. ¶ 13.)
Determined to become a restaurant manager, Rielli continued to endure
the sexual harassment until she finished the kitchen training and
transferred to Rose Casual's Audubon facility to begin "front of the
house" training. (Id. ¶ 15.) On or about November 23, 2001, at the
Audubon orientation meeting, Rielli explained the difficulties she
encountered at the Bloomsburg facility and that she did not feel fully
prepared to be a restaurant manager. (Id. ¶ 16.) Rielli promised the
general manager, Scott Larsen, that she would do anything to make up for
the deficiencies in her training in Bloomsburg and was assured by Larsen
that she would be successful. (Id. ¶ 17.) On November 27, 2001, Rielli
met with the manager and training coordinator, Dexter Volpe, and informed
him of the sexual harassment that she endured at the Bloomsburg
facility. (Id. ¶ 18.) Volpe expressed concern and told Rielli that he
was going to refer the matter to the human resources department and make
them aware of her allegations. (Id. ¶ 19.) On November 29, 2001, Rielli
met with two human resources employees, Paul Rockelmann and Paul
Trzaska, to discuss the sexual harassment Rielli endured at the
Bloomsburg facility. (Id. ¶ 20.) Trzaska told her that he was aware of
complaints at the Bloomsburg facility and that she was not the first one
to make such a complaint. (Id.)
On December 3, 2001, Rielli attended Rose Casual's holiday party. (Id.
123.) Upon entering the party, the Bloomsburg manager, Jamie Ruckle, immediately
approached Rielli and grabbed her posterior while commenting on how good
she looked. Ruckle then removed Rielli's name tag and dropped it down her
cleavage. Ruckle continued to pursue Rielli throughout the night,
grabbing her and making repeated sexual comments towards her. (Id.) On
December 4, 2001, Rielli returned to work and again complained to Volpe
about Ruckle's sexually harassing behavior. (Id. ¶ 25.) Volpe commented
that Ruckle "was doing that to everyone," not just Rielli. (Id. ¶ 26.)
Less than three hours later, Rielli was informed that she was being
terminated because she did not fit in. (Id ¶ 27-29.)
Rielli alleges that Defendants subjected her to a sexually hosfile work
environment and retaliated against her when she complained about the
sexual harassment. She seeks relief under Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII") and the
Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 PA. CONS. STAT. § 951, et seq.
("PHRA"), and raises other state law claims.*fn3
Summary judgment is appropriate "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(c). The party moving for summary
judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating that there are no
facts supporting the non-moving party's legal position. See Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-324 (1986). The burden then shifts to
the nonmoving party who "must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus.
Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). "The nonmoving party
. . . cannot rely merely upon bare assertions, conclusory allegations or
suspicions to support its claim," Townes v. City of Phila., No. Civ. A.
OO-CV-138, 2001 WL 503400, *2 (E.D. Pa. May 11, 2001) (quoting Fireman's
Ins. Co. v. DeFresne, 676 F.2d 965, 969 (3d Cir. 1982)). Rather, the
party opposing summary judgment must go beyond the pleadings and present
evidence through affidavits, depositions, or admissions on file to show
that there is a genuine issue for trial. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324.
When deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court must construe the
evidence and any reasonable inferences therefrom in the non-movant's
favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby. Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). A
genuine issue of material fact exists only when "the evidence is such
that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party."
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
A. Sexually Hosfile Work Environment
Defendants contend that Plaintiffs cannot meet the standard for
establishing a claim for hosfile work environment discrimination under
Title VII. Title VII makes it "an unlawful employment practice for an
employer . . . to discriminate against any individual with respect to his
compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of
such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin."
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). This language is not limited to solely
prohibiting discrimination that is "economic" or "tangible." Harris v.
Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 20 (1993) (citing Meritor Sav. Bank.
FSB v. Vinson. 477 U.S. 57, 67 (1986) (internal quotations omitted)).
"When the workplace is permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult, that is sufficiently severe or
pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim's employment and create an
abusive working environment, Title VII is violated." Harris. 510 U.S. at
20 (internal quotations and citations omitted). To establish a prima
facie case of hosfile work environment, plaintiff must show: (1) the
employee suffered intentional discrimination because of his or her
sex;*fn4 (2) the discrimination was pervasive and regular; (3) the
discrimination detrimentally affected the employee; (4) the
discrimination would detrimentally affect a reasonable person of the same
sex in that position; and (5) the presence of respondeat superior. Suders
v. Easton. 325 F.3d 432, 441 (3d Cir. 2003) (citing Andrews v. City of
Phila., 895 F.2d 1469, 1482 (3d Cir. 1990).
1. Discrimination Must be Pervasive and Regular
To survive a motion for summary judgment, a plaintiff must raise a
genuine issue of material fact such that a trier of fact could conclude
that the discrimination was pervasive and regular.*fn5 Andrews. 895 F.2d
at 1482. The Third Circuit has held that "[h]arassment is pervasive when
`incidents of harassment occur in concert or with regularity.'" Id. at
1484 (quoting Lopez v. S.B. Thomas, Inc., 831 F.2d 1184, 1189 (2d Cir. 1987)). The Supreme Court
has emphasized that the harassment "must be sufficiently severe or
pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim's employment and create an
abusive working environment." Meritor. 477 U.S. at 67 (quotation
omitted). Whether an environment is hosfile and therefore actionable can
be determined only by looking at all the circumstances, including "the
frequency of the discriminatory conduct; its severity; whether it is
physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and
whether it unreasonably interferes with an employee's work performance."
Harris. 510 U.S. at 23. ...