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HURST v. PNC BANK

May 5, 2004.

JAMES H. HURST, JR.;
v.
PNC BANK, ET AL



The opinion of the court was delivered by: STEWART DALZELL, District Judge

MEMORANDUM

James H. Hurst, Jr. alleges that PNC Bank ("PNC") discriminated against him because of his race, sex, and age, and PNC denies these allegations. The parties' motions for summary judgment*fn1 and Hurst's motion for jury trial are now before us.

Factual Background

  Hurst is an African — American man who, at all relevant times, was at least forty years old.

  On May 8, 2000, PNC hired Hurst as a Check Receiving Processor II in its Proof Encoding Department. Hurst reported directly to Juanita West, and West reported to the manager of the Proof Encoding Department, Arnold Schiavi. In turn, Schiavi reported to Thomas Starke, the Shift Manager IV, and Starke reported to Mario Nicolai, the Senior Check Processing Department Manager.

  Hurst's complaint describes several examples of how PNC treated him differently from younger employees, white employees, and female employees beginning in the summer of 2001.*fn2 Frustrated with what he perceived as disparate treatment, Hurst approached Valerie Walton — Singer, a Human Resources Specialist, to discuss his concerns. Walton — Singer arranged for Hurst to meet with Starke three times during November of 2001. Starke investigated Hurst's allegations of discrimination and took corrective action where he felt it was warranted.

  Unsatisfied with Starke's response, Hurst contacted Walton — Singer again on December 5, 2001, and she arranged for him to meet with Nicolai. To prepare for the meeting, Nicolai reviewed and investigated the allegations that Hurst had presented to Walton — Singer and Starke. Hurst met with Nicolai on December 27, 2001, and, after listening to Hurst's complaints and explaining his investigation, Nicolai told Hurst that he had found no evidence of discrimination.

  Walton — Singer convened a final meeting with Hurst, Schiavi, and Starke on January 11, 2002 to reiterate that PNC found no evidence of discrimination. PNC placed Hurst on administrative leave on January 30, 2002, and he never returned to work.

  After some preliminary activity in this case, Hurst filed an amended complaint against PNC, Starke, Schiavi, West, and Nicolai. That pro se complaint includes six causes of action: (1) race and sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII")*fn3 against PNC;*fn4 (2) age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA")*fn5 against PNC;*fn6 (3) wrongful discharge against PNC*fn7; (4) negligence against all defendants*fn8; (5) fraud against PNC, Nicolai, and Starke*fn9; and (6) breach of fiduciary duty against PNC and Schiavi.*fn10 Following discovery, Hurst and the defendants filed the motions for summary judgment now before us.*fn11 Hurst also filed a motion for jury trial.

 Analysis

  A. Federal Discrimination Claims

  As we have observed, Hurst alleges that PNC violated Title VII by discriminating against him based on his race and sex as well as ran afoul of the ADEA by discriminating against him based on his age. In evaluating motions for summary judgment, "[t]he familiar McDonnell Douglas burden shifting analysis applies to . . . claims of discrimination under both Title VII and the ADEA." Sarullo v. United States Postal Serv., 352 F.3d 789, 797 (3d Cir. 2003); see also McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817 (1973).

  In this framework, the plaintiff bears the initial burden of establishing a prima facie case of discrimination. McDonnell Douglas. 411 U.S. at 802, 93 S.Ct. 1824. A male plaintiff generally may carry this burden by showing that (i) he belongs to a protected class; (ii) he was qualified for the position; (iii) he was subject to an adverse employment action despite being qualified; and (iv) the adverse employment action occurred under circumstances that raise an inference of unlawful discrimination. Tex. Dep't of Cmty. Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 253, 101 S.Ct. 1089, 1094 (1981); see also Potence v. Hazleton Area Sch. Dist., 357 F.3d 366, 370 (3d Cir. 2004); Sarullo, 352 F.3d at 797. Still, the facts necessary to establish a prima facie case will vary depending on the circumstances of a particular case. McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802 n.13, 93 S.Ct. at 1824 n.13; see also Geraci v. Moody — Tottrup, Int'l. Inc., 82 F.3d 578, 581 (3d Cir. 1996) ("The elements of that prima facie case, however, must not be applied woodenly, but must rather be tailored flexibly to fit the circumstances of each type of illegal discrimination.").

  Whenever the plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, "[t]he burden of production (but not the burden of persuasion) shifts to the defendant, who must then offer evidence that is sufficient, if believed, to support a finding that it had a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason" for the adverse action. Keller v. Orix Credit Alliance, Inc., 130 F.3d 1101, 1108 (3d Cir. 1997). Should the defendant fail to satisfy this burden, we will enter summary judgment for the plaintiff.

  If the defendant provides sufficient evidence of a legitimate reason for its action, however, the burden of production shifts back to the plaintiff to proffer evidence "from which a factfinder could reasonably either (1) disbelieve the employer's articulated legitimate reasons; or (2) believe that an invidious discriminatory reason was more likely than not a motivating ...


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