United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
July 28, 2004.
LIONEL S. LAWRENCE, Plaintiff,
O'NEIL BUICK, INC., Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: LAWRENCE F. STENGEL, District Judge
Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment in this civil
rights action. For the reasons discussed below, defendant's
motion is granted.
Plaintiff filed suit against defendant, his former employer,
asserting claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
42 U.S.C. § 2000e, and the Pennsylvania Human Rights Act (PHRA),
43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 951, et seq. Specifically,
plaintiff claimed that he was sexually harassed while he was
employed by defendant and that he was fired because of his race.
On October 10, 2003, the court granted defendant's motion to
dismiss as to plaintiff's claim for sexual harassment but denied
the motion to dismiss as to plaintiff's race discrimination
claim. On June 17, 2004, defendant filed this motion for summary
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) states that summary
judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admission 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." "[T]his standard
provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the
parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion
for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no
genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).
In deciding whether an issue of material fact exists, all
inferences must be drawn against the moving party. U.S. v.
Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962). In order to stave off a
summary judgment motion, however, the non-moving party may not
rest on the bare allegations contained in his or her pleadings.
After the moving party has satisfied its burden of identifying
evidence which demonstrates an absence of a genuine issue of
material fact, Childers v. Joseph, 842 F.2d 689, 694 (3d Cir.
1988), the non-moving party is required by Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 56(e) to go beyond the pleadings by way of affidavits,
depositions, answers to interrogatories or the like in order to
demonstrate specific material facts which give rise to a genuine
issue. Celotex Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324
Although defendant raises multiple arguments in support of its
motion for summary judgment, its argument that plaintiff cannot
adduce sufficient facts beyond the mere allegations of his
pleadings which would enable this matter to proceed to trial is
both persuasive and dispositive.
Title VII and the PHRA both prohibit an employer from engaging
in race discrimination against an employee. Pursuant to
McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973),
plaintiff must first establish a prima facie case of
discrimination. To do so, he must offer sufficient evidence that
he was: (1) a member of a protected class; (2) qualified for the
position he sought; and (3) non-members of the protected class were
treated more favorably. Goosby v. Johnson & Johnson Medical,
Inc., 228 F.3d 313, 318-19 (3d Cir. 2000) (citation omitted). If
a plaintiff under Title VII establishes a prima facie case, the
employer must come forward with a legitimate, non-discriminatory
reason for the adverse employment decision. Id. at 319 (citing
Texas Department of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248,
254-56 (1981)). If the employer proffers a legitimate,
non-discriminatory reason for its actions, the plaintiff must
demonstrate that the proffered reason was merely a pretext for
unlawful discrimination. Id. (citing Reeves v. Sanderson
Plumbing Products Inc., 530 U.S. 2097 (2000)).
In this case, defendant argues that even assuming plaintiff has
established a prima facie case, defendant had a legitimate,
non-discriminatory reason for firing plaintiff. Through the
affidavits of three of plaintiff's co-workers, defendant shows
that plaintiff was fired after repeatedly threatening to kill a
fellow employee and informing another employee that he had a
pistol in his vehicle. In his response to defendant's motion for
summary judgment, however, plaintiff does not produce any
evidence, by way of affidavits, depositions, answers to
interrogatories or the like, which demonstrates that defendant's
proffered reason for its action was merely a pretext for unlawful
discrimination. Therefore, since there is no issue of material
fact regarding defendant's reason for firing plaintiff, the court
is constrained to grant defendant's motion for summary judgment.
Based on the foregoing, the court grants defendant's motion for
summary judgment. Plaintiff's claims are dismissed. An
appropriate order follows. ORDER
AND NOW, this day of July, 2004, upon consideration of
defendant's motion for summary judgment, and plaintiff's
response, it is hereby ORDERED that said motion is GRANTED. This
case is CLOSED.
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