The opinion of the court was delivered by: SEAN McLAUGHLIN, District Judge
Presently pending before the Court is the Motion for Summary
Judgment filed by the Defendant, PHB Die Casting.
Plaintiff, Cari Goodwine ("Goodwine" or "Plaintiff"), started
working at PHB Die Casting ("PHB" or "Defendant"), on March 6,
2000. (Complaint ¶ 5). Plaintiff, an African-American male,
worked primarily as a Die Cast Punch Operator at PHB's Fairview
location. (Complaint ¶ 6). Plaintiff remained at PHB through
In or around February 2003, Plaintiff's supervisor, Gary
Gebhart, directed Plaintiff to undertake a workplace task that
Plaintiff was not qualified to perform. Plaintiff objected and
summoned another supervisor, Ron Sayers, who informed Gebhart
that Plaintiff lacked the requisite training to accomplish the
task. According to a white PHB employee, Rob Tolhurst, Gebhart
then made the comment, "We have to make them work harder." This
comment was not made in Goodwine's presence, but was relayed to
him by Tolhurst. (Goodwine Depo. I (1/29/05), Dkt. #27, Exhibit
1, p. 54). Goodwine attributes racial connotations to the remark,
interpreting it to mean that Gebhart felt that the white
employees ("we") had to make the black employees ("them") work
harder. (Goodwine Depo. I, pp. 56-59, 60-62; Complaint ¶ 14).
Goodwine reported the comment to Sayers who advised Goodwine that
he would look into it. Sayers returned in less than an hour and
advised Goodwine that he had arranged a meeting between Goodwine,
Gebhardt, Tollhurst, Sayers and a union steward. (Goodwine Depo.
I, pp. 56-57). At the meeting, Gebhardt stated that he did not recall making
the comment, but that, whatever he said, he did not intend it to
be racial in nature. Gebhardt attempted to apologize to Goodwine
and offered his hand, but Goodwine refused to shake his hand and
rejected the apology. (Goodwine Depo. I, pp. 57-58). Goodwine
indicated that he did not feel the apology was sincere. (Id.)
After the meeting, Ben Hancock, PHB's Manager of Human Resources,
met with Gebhardt and advised him to be more considerate in his
comments and sensitive to how others might perceive them. Hancock
also ordered Gebhardt to attend a diversity training class at
Edinboro University. (Hancock Affidavit, ¶¶ 12-14). Gebhardt
enrolled in the course, but Edinboro University later cancelled
it due to insufficient enrollment. (Id.)
After Goodwine complained about Gebhardt, another incident
occurred involving Goodwine. Goodwine's machine had
malfunctioned, so Goodwine and Ron Sharp, a process control
technician, worked on the valves in an attempt to repair it. At
some point, while Goodwine was away getting a drink of water, a
joke was shared between Supervisor Gordon Phillips and another
employee, Jay Lewis, to the effect that they should open the
valve and spray Goodwine with water to see how fast he could run.
(Goodwine Depo. I, pp. 76-78). Sharp informed Goodwine of
Phillips' comment when Goodwine returned from the water fountain
and inquired as to why everyone was laughing. (Id.) It is
undisputed that no one actually opened the valve or sprayed water
on Goodwine, and there is nothing in the record indicating that
Phillips' comment had anything to do with Goodwine's race.
Sometime in late 2003 or early 2004, while Goodwine was on
leave, a large hole was being excavated on the premises of PHB.
Maintenance Supervisor Bill Donnell, when asked as to the purpose
of the hole, allegedly responded with words to the effect that
"he would like to put Cari Goodwine in it." (Goodwine Depo. I.,
pp. 122-23; Plaintiff's Brief in Opposition, Dkt. #35, Ex. 2,
Henry Aff.). Goodwine was not present when the comment was made,
but it was relayed to him by another employee, James Henry.
(Id.) Goodwine testified that he did not feel the comment was
racially motivated; instead he attributed it to Phillips' anger
over Goodwine having asserted what Phillips believed to be a
frivolous EEOC claim against PHB. (Goodwine Depo. I, pp 123-24).
In addition to the aforementioned comments, Goodwine asserts
that he was constantly subjected to racial slurs from
co-employees and supervisors and to racist graffiti in the
workplace. Goodwine also suggests that he was subjected to a
hostile work environment because he was once made to "degrease shot monitors," a job that was apparently
distasteful to PHB employees. (Complaint, ¶ 39). Although
Goodwine alleges in his complaint that this job assignment
constitutes evidence of a racially hostile work environment, he
later admitted at deposition that the job assignment had nothing
to do with his race. (Goodwine Depo. I, pp. 133-135). Rather,
Goodwine asserts that Hancock required him to degrease the
monitors because he held a grudge against Goodwine for prevailing
in an unemployment compensation proceeding. (Goodwine Depo. II
(2/12/05), Dkt. #27, Exhibit 2, p. 34-35).
Finally, Goodwine also asserts that, throughout his employment
at PHB, he was routinely assigned to "harder" jobs than white
employees in his position. Without citing specifics, Goodwine
contends that he suffered disparate treatment in his job
assignments, primarily by being assigned to "the worst jobs
within the workplace" and "routine assignment to the most
difficult machines." (Complaint, ¶¶ 9-10). Goodwine contends that
assignment to the "difficult" machines occurred "three or four
times more often" than his white co-workers. (Id.)
Goodwine filed the underlying complaint on May 26, 2004. PHB
filed a motion for summary judgment on May 23, 2005, and Goodwine
responded on July 25, 2005. PHB filed a reply on August 11, 2005,
and oral argument on the summary judgment motion was held on
August 25, 2005. This matter is ripe for review.
Summary judgment is proper "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). In order to
withstand a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party
must "make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of
[each] element essential to that party's case, and on which that
party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In evaluating whether the
non-moving party has established each necessary element, the
Court must grant all reasonable inferences from the evidence to
the non-moving party. Knabe v. Boury Corp., 114 F.3d 407, 410,
n. 4 (3d Cir. 1997) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574 (1986)). "Where the record
taken as a whole could not lead a reasonable trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no
`genuine issue for trial.'" Id. (quoting Matsushita,
475 U.S. at 587).
Under Title VII and the PHRA it is unlawful for an employer to
discriminate against any individual with respect to this
compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment
because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex or
national origin. See Weston v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,
Dept. of Corrections, 251 F.3d 420, 425 (3rd Cir. 2001),
citing 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1).*fn1 To establish a claim
under Title VII based on an intimidating or offensive work
environment, a plaintiff must show: "(1) that he or she suffered
intentional discrimination because of race; (2) the
discrimination was pervasive and regular; (3) the discrimination
detrimentally affected the plaintiff; (4) the discrimination
would detrimentally affect a reasonable person of the same race
in that position; and (5) the existence of respondeat superior
liability." See Aman v. Cort Furniture Rental Corp.,
85 F.3d 1074, 1081 (3rd Cir. 1996). In employing this analysis a
court must evaluate the frequency of the conduct, its severity,
whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, and whether
it unreasonably interferes with an employee's work performance.
See Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 23 (1993).
Title VII is not violated by "[m]ere utterance of an . . .
epithet which engenders offensive feelings in an employee" or by