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WALDEN v. SAINT GOBAIN CORPORATION

June 30, 2004.

ALFONSO WALDEN, Plaintiff
v.
SAINT GOBAIN CORPORATION and GLOTEL, INC., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CYNTHIA RUFE, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Alfonso Walden brings this action against Defendants Saint Gobain Corporation ("Saint Gobain") and Glotel, Inc. ("Glotel"), alleging race-based employment discrimination, promissory estoppel and fraudulent misrepresentation. Near the outset of this litigation and with the express consent of all parties, the Court stayed Walden's claims against Glotel pending the outcome of arbitration proceedings and permitted the case to move forward solely as to Walden's claims against Saint Gobain.*fn1 Presently before the Court is Saint Gobain's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons below, Saint Gobain's Motion is granted as to all counts in the Complaint.

BACKGROUND

  Saint Gobain, a building materials supplier, retained Glotel to locate and recruit computer network programmers and consultants to work at Saint Gobain's North American headquarters. Sometime in early 2002, Lynne Watson of Glotel contacted Walden, an African American male, and informed him of an open position with a company located near West Chester, Pennsylvania. At the time, Walden was working for the City of Philadelphia as an employee of a City subcontractor, Ajilon, with a salary of $67,000 per annum. Knowing that Ajilon's contract with the City was about to expire and therefore his job at the City was going to end shortly, Walden authorized Watson to send his resume to the company in hopes of obtaining a new job.*fn2

  In late February 2002, Walden met with Steve Hillman of Glotel, who provided details about the position, then revealed to be with Saint Gobain. Soon thereafter, Walden interviewed for the position with Lee Congleton of Saint Gobain. At Congleton's request, Hillman offered the position to Walden at a salary of $73,000 per annum and said that Saint Gobain needed him to start immediately. Walden told Hillman that he was uncomfortable resigning from his current position without giving advance notice to his employer, but Hillman said that if Walden insisted on providing the traditionaltwo-weeks' notice, Saint Gobain would find someone else to fill the position.

  Walden immediately tendered his resignation*fn3 and, on March 1, 2002, signed a Project Consultant Agreement ("Agreement") with Glotel. The Agreement provided that Walden would provide consulting services for Glotel's client, Saint Gobain. Paragraph 11, which governs termination of the Agreement, is significant for purposes of today's decision: "[Walden] understands and agrees that [Glotel] may terminate [Walden's] engagement at any time and for any reason, with or without cause, and with or without notice."*fn4

  On Wednesday, March 6, 2002, Walden reported to Saint Gobain's offices for his first day of work wearing jeans and a flannel shirt over a white t-shirt. He worked that day, apparently without incident. That evening, Walden had planned to sleep at a friend's house but left in the middle of the night because the friend was having an argument with his girlfriend. At 2:00 a.m., Walden drove to Saint Gobain's offices, spoke briefly to a security guard, and then slept in his car for approximately four hours. At 6:00 a.m., Walden awoke and went inside to Saint Gobain's bathroom, washed his hands and face, wet his hair, and went back outside to smoke a cigarette.

  Congleton arrived for work on Thursday morning at approximately 7:00 a.m. and encountered Walden. When Congleton remarked that Walden was early for work, Walden explained that he had slept in the parking lot. Congleton noticed that Walden was wearing the same jeans, flannel and t-shirt he had worn the previous day. He considered Walden's behavior "bizarre," and at some point told Walden "it would be more appropriate if [you] wore a button-down shirt and Dockers."*fn5

  Congleton called Hillman of Glotel to report that Walden had slept in the parking lot and that Walden was not conforming to Saint Gobain's business-casual dress code. He told Hillman that if Glotel could not get Walden to conform to Saint Gobain's dress code, Saint Gobain would not need him any longer. Walden worked at Saint Gobain on Friday, March 8, 2002, apparently without incident.

  When Walden reported to Saint Gobain on Monday, March 11, 2002, Congleton told him that "based on you sleeping in the parking lot, . . . we don't think you're going to fit into our corporate culture," and that Saint Gobain was "looking for someone who wears Dockers."*fn6 Acting on instructions from a Saint Gobain manager, Congleton terminated Walden's assignment effective immediately. Walden then met with Hillman of Glotel to express his anger at being fired. Glotel paid Walden for the three days worked at Saint Gobain, plus an additional week's salary. Glotel had no other positions available for Walden, so their relationship terminated.

  After receiving a Notice of Right to Sue from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Walden filed the instant action on August 14, 2003. The Complaint alleges race-based employment discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 951 et seq.; and common law causes of action for promissory estoppel and fraudulent misrepresentation. After Saint Gobain filed its Motion for Summary Judgment, Walden voluntarily agreed to withdraw his claim for fraudulent misrepresentation. Accordingly, judgment is entered in favor of Saint Gobain on that count.

  STANDARD OF REVIEW

  The underlying purpose of summary judgment is to avoid a pointless trial in cases where it is unnecessary and would only cause delay and expense.*fn7 Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), 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 a judgment as a matter of law." In deciding a motion for summary judgment, all facts must be viewed and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in favor of the non-moving party.*fn8 The Court's function is not to weigh the evidence, but to determine whether there is a ...


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