Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

MOCHNACH v. OHIO VALLEY GENERAL HOSPITAL

November 16, 2005.

MARY MOCHNACH, Plaintiff,
v.
OHIO VALLEY GENERAL HOSPITAL, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID CERCONE, District Judge

OPINION

Plaintiff commenced this action seeking redress for alleged wrongful termination of employment based on age discrimination, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 ("ADEA"), and a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 ("FLSA"). Presently before the court is defendant's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be granted.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 (c) provides that summary judgment may be granted if, drawing all inferences in favor of the non-moving party, "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Summary judgment may be granted against a party who fails to adduce facts sufficient to establish the existence of any element essential to that party's claim, and upon which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986). The moving party bears the initial burden of identifying evidence which demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. When the movant does not bear the burden of proof on the claim, the movant's initial burden may be met by demonstrating the lack of record evidence to support the opponent's claim. National State Bank v. National Reserve Bank, 979 F.2d 1579, 1582 (3d Cir. 1992). Once that burden has been met, the non-moving party must set forth "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial," or the factual record will be taken as presented by the moving party and judgment will be entered as a matter of law. Matsushita Electric Industrial Corp. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (a), (e)) (emphasis in Matsushita). An issue is genuine only if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986).

  In meeting its burden of proof, the "opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586. The non-moving party "must present affirmative evidence in order to defeat a properly supported motion" and cannot "simply reassert factually unsupported allegations." Williams v. Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460 (3d Cir. 1989). Nor can the opponent "merely rely upon conclusory allegations in [its] pleadings or in memoranda and briefs." Harter v. GAF Corp., 967 F.2d 846 (3d Cir. 1992). Likewise, mere conjecture or speculation by the party resisting summary judgment will not provide a basis upon which to deny the motion. Robertson v. Allied Signal, Inc., 914 F.2d 360, 382-83 n. 12 (3d Cir. 1990). If the non-moving party's evidence merely is colorable or lacks sufficient probative force summary judgment must be granted. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50; see also Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of North America, 974 F.2d 1358, 1362 (3d Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 113 S.Ct. 1262 (1993) (although the court is not permitted to weigh facts or competing inferences, it is no longer required to "turn a blind eye" to the weight of the evidence).

  The record as read in the light most favorable to plaintiff establishes the background set forth below. Defendant Ohio Valley General Hospital ("OVGH") serves the medical needs of residents in Southwestern Pennsylvania and Southeastern Ohio. Plaintiff was a long-term employee of defendant who held both part-time and full-time positions during her fourteen (14) years with defendant.

  Plaintiff was hired as a part-time secretary in the maintenance facilities department on January 13, 1988. She was thirty-five years of age. In 1991 she also began working as a part-time secretary in the medical records department while maintaining her part-time position in the maintenance facilities department. A full-time secretarial position became available in the human resources department in November of 1996 and plaintiff applied for the position. David Scott, senior vice president of OVGH, facilitated plaintiff's transfer into the human resources department. Plaintiff was forty-three years of age at the time. Plaintiff held the secretarial position in the human resources department over the next four years.

  In December of 2000, the human resources department was reorganized and plaintiff was promoted to the exempt position of human resources assistant. Plaintiff received a significant salary increase. She was forty-seven years of age at this time.

  Defendant hired an outside consulting firm to conduct an employee opinion survey in December of 1999. The survey was designed to determine defendant's employees' perceptions of the various departments within OVGH. A tabulated report was prepared from the survey which provided a detailed profile of each department and identified their respective deficiencies and areas for improvement. The manager of each department was then tasked with the responsibility of interviewing appropriate personnel in order to identify underlying problems and formulate a plan to resolve them. The employee opinion survey produced a number of complaints about the human resources department. Some of these complaints specifically referenced plaintiff's position as "secretary" or the staff member who obtained appropriate forms. The comments were critical of plaintiff's competency and demeanor in performing her job.

  At approximately the same time the survey results were released Scott received complaints about the human resources department. He and the director of human resources, Beth Conte, interviewed several managers from various departments within the hospital in order to identify the areas giving rise to the complaints. Each manager was questioned about his or her perception of the human resources department as well as the employees within the department. Poor recruiting and follow-up, along with poor customer service, surfaced as two main areas of concern. Four out of ten managers advised that their employees perceived the staff in the human resources department to be unfriendly. Three managers made negative comments about plaintiff. Two managers advised that their staff had refused to go to the department for assistance because its staff was uncooperative and unfriendly. Plaintiff was aware that the survey results reflected negatively on her.

  After considering the results of the survey and managerial interviews, the employee responsible for recruiting within the human resource department was terminated and the head of the department, Conte, was demoted. Shortly after Conte was demoted Terri Scalise-Hamm ("Hamm") became vice president of human resources. Conte resigned a few months later.

  Hamm began to reorganize the human resources department in December of 2000. It was at this juncture that plaintiff was promoted to the human resources assistant position. Hamm also hired another human resources assistant, Sue Solt-Lonsinger, with the idea of making the two positions interchangeable. Nevertheless, plaintiff remained primarily responsible for the duties associated with employment/employee relations and Lonsinger handled the wage/salary and benefits processing portion of the work. Plaintiff also handled wage and benefit matters when Lonsinger was unable or refused to assist the employee in question.

  After the reorganization Hamm made a number of changes in the way the human resources department provided service to the employees. These changes were not well received and negative complaints concerning the unfriendly and unhelpful environment within the department resurfaced. As a consequence, Scott conducted a second set of interviews in May of 2001 in order to get to the bottom of the recurrent problems within the department.

  Scott interviewed eleven of the twenty-six department managers. He also interviewed six non-management employees who had interaction with the department. Several of the managers were critical of plaintiff and her job performance and all six non-management employees supplied negative information concerning plaintiff's attitude and job performance. After receiving at least seventeen comments indicating plaintiff was unfriendly, negative and treated employees poorly, Scott concluded that "there seemed to be overwhelming evidence that [plaintiff] treated people poorly, she could be mean, sarcastic, negative and she really didn't reflect what we needed in a human resources department." Deposition of David Scott, Exhibit B of Defendant's Appendix of Exhibits, at 69.

  Scott discussed the results of his interviews with Hamm and asked her to formulate an appropriate plan of action. Hamm advised plaintiff that she was perceived as unfriendly and unapproachable and she needed to improve her relationships with the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.