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VALENTI v. TRIANGLE CIRCUITS OF PITTSBURGH INC.

August 26, 2005.

LISA A. VALENTI, Plaintiff,
v.
TRIANGLE CIRCUITS OF PITTSBURGH, INC.; THE MILLENNIA GROUP, INC., t/d/b/a TRIANGLE CIRCUITS OF PITTSBURGH, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: TERRENCE F. McVERRY, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF COURT

Presently before the Court for disposition is the MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, with brief in support, filed by Defendants Triangle Circuits of Pittsburgh, Inc. and The Millennia Group, Inc., t/d/b/a Triangle Circuits of Pittsburgh (collectively hereinafter referred to as "Triangle Circuits") (Document Nos. 10 and 11, respectively), and Plaintiff's brief in opposition (Document No. 16). After careful consideration of Defendants' motion, the filings in support and opposition thereto, the memoranda of the parties, the relevant case law, and the record as a whole, the Court finds that there is not sufficient record evidence upon which a reasonable jury could return a verdict for Plaintiff, Lisa A. Valenti, on her claims of discrimination due to her sex. Therefore, the Court will grant the motion for summary judgment of Defendants Triangle Circuits of Pittsburgh, Inc. and The Millennia Group, Inc., t/d/b/a Triangle Circuits of Pittsburgh, Inc. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed this civil rights action on May 23, 2003, in which she alleges that sexually harassing conduct by her "supervisors" and co-workers was of such severity that she was forced to resign, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 42 P.S. § 951, et seq. ("PHRA"). Defendants have filed the instant motion for summary judgment, in which they contend that Plaintiff is unable to establish a prima facie case on either her Title VII and/or PHRA claim.

  BACKGROUND

  The facts relevant to this discussion, and viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, are as follows. Plaintiff was an employee with Triangle Circuits from October 1995 until March 7, 2002, and worked at all times as a laborer in the Image Department. At the time she commenced her employment, she was provided with a Triangle Circuits' "Employee Handbook" ("Employee Handbook I"). In 1999, the Employee Handbook was revised and the revised edition was in effect at the time Plaintiff's employment with Triangle Circuits terminated in 2002. ("Employee Handbook II"). Employee Handbook I and II contain the following identical Sexual Harassment Policy:
SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Harassment on the basis of sex is illegal and will not be tolerated at Triangle Circuits. Unwelcome sexual advancements, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when: Submission to such conduct is either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment; or
Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used for the basis of employment decisions; or
Such conduct unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.
Any sexual harassment should be promptly reported to your supervisor, your supervisor's manager (supervisor), Human Resources or any other level of management up to and including the President of the Company. Claims of sexual harassment will be promptly investigated and corrective action will be taken as warranted. To the extent possible, such claims will be kept confidential and the privacy of the individuals involved will be respected.
Sexual harassment is extremely serious misconduct which will result in disciplinary action up to and including discharge.
Defs' Br. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J., Exhibit F, Sexual Harassment Policy. During her deposition, Plaintiff admitted to "skimming" through the Employee Handbook soon after being hired and stated that "I knew there was something in the book about [sexual harassment], but I don't remember recalling reading it." See Valenti Depo. at 20, 36.

  Plaintiff contends that the allegedly harassing conduct began approximately four months before her employment terminated, in approximately November 2001 at the time Dan Laux ("Laux") became the Group Leader of the employees in the Image Department. Both Plaintiff and Laux had applied for the Group Leader position; but by Plaintiff's own admission, Laux was considerably more experienced and was appointed to the Group Leader position instead of Plaintiff.

  The responsibilities of the Group Leader do not involve supervisory responsibilities, but rather include making sure that all jobs are completed and that all employees within the Image Department are working. The Group Leader does not decide employee shifts or schedules, and does not evaluate employee performance or make any decisions with regard to personnel or salary. See Skelley Depo., at 76.

  Plaintiff's last day of employment with Triangle Circuits was March 7, 2002. Prior to this date, Plaintiff had made arrangements with her immediate supervisor, John Macura ("Macura"), that on March 7, 2002, she would be allowed to arrive at work one-half hour earlier than the beginning of her shift so that she could leave one-half hour before the end of her shift. Macura advised her that she would be permitted to leave work early as long as there were no "hot" (i.e., emergency) jobs to complete prior to her normal shift change.

  On March 7, 2002, at 4:00 p.m., which was one-half hour before the end of Plaintiff's shift, there was a "hot" job that needed to be finished. Plaintiff began to "rant and rave" at Laux and punched out at 4:01 p.m., before the end of her shift and before finishing the "hot" job.

  At approximately 4:20 p.m. that day, Plaintiff called Susan Skelley, Human Resources Manager for Triangle Circuits, and reported that "Dan was `yelling and screaming' at her for leaving early" and that she had "never been treated so badly or mean in [her] life by anyone. . . ." Def's Br. in Support of Mot. for Summ. J., Exhibit J.

  Later that evening, at 8:28 P.M., Plaintiff called the "call off extension" at Triangle Circuits and left a message that she was calling off work for Friday, March 8, 2002.

  On Friday, March 8, Plaintiff again called Skelley and, for the first time, reported that she had been sexually harassed in her department. Plaintiff told Skelley that she had proof of the harassment as she had been recording everything in a notebook. Skelley told Plaintiff that she would call her back after Skelley had had an opportunity to investigate the matter.

  Sometime before lunch, Skelley called Plaintiff and left a message on her answering machine at home, in which she asked that Plaintiff return her call because she needed to talk to her. Plaintiff did not call back. Later in the day, Skelley again called Plaintiff and left another message in which she asked Plaintiff "to come in on Monday (March 11) at 8:00 A.M. so we can talk about this situation in more detail and bring in the documentation that you have." Id.

  Plaintiff did not report to work on March 11, 2002, but rather again called the "call off extension" at 6:43 A.M. on the morning of March 11th and reported that she was taking a vacation day. Skelley again attempted to reach Plaintiff at home, but to no avail. Skelly left a message on Plaintiff's answering machine stating that "we need to talk ...


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