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Menta v. Community College of Beaver County

March 31, 2006


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


In this memorandum order, the court considers the motion for summary judgment filed by defendant Community College of Beaver County ("defendant" or the "college"). After considering the parties' respective concise statements of material facts, the respective motions and briefs submitted by defendant and plaintiff Franco Menta ("plaintiff" or "Menta"), the court will grant defendants' motion in part and deny the motion in part.

Factual Background and Procedural History

In 1989, plaintiff was hired by defendant as a Special Services Aide. Defendant's Statement of Material Facts ("Def's St") ¶ 1. The Special Services Aide position was funded pursuant to the availability of grant money. Def's St. ¶ 2. Plaintiff's position was available on a year-to-year basis, subject to defendant's receipt of grant funds. Id. ¶ 3. The position was part of the college's Learning Center and was funded by a Carl Perkins Grant. Id. ¶ 4. The Carl Perkins Grant is a federal fund that is dispensed through the United States Department of Education. Id. ¶ 5. The grant is issued on a fiscal year basis running from July 1 through June 30. Id. ¶ 6.

In 1997, defendant began a reorganization of the Learning Center. Id. ¶ 7. One of the main goals of the reorganization was to provide more efficient services to evening students. Id. ¶ 10. Defendant created a campus-wide task force to evaluate the Learning Center's scope and function and to make recommendations for improvements. Id. ¶ 7. As a result of the task force's work, several personnel changes occurred. Id. ¶ 8. In 1998-99, a full-time Support Services Supervisor position was eliminated. Id. In 1999-2000, secretarial positions were changed to part-time positions and a full-time Office Support Services Coordinator position was created. Id. In 2000-01, a Computer Lab Assistant was downgraded to a part-time position, four computer lab positions were upgraded to full-time positions, and Career Services Specialist was upgraded to a full-time position. Id. In 2001-02, funding for a Financial Aid Technical Specialist was not provided, two Financial Aid Counselors were not funded, academic program areas lost funding, and part-time subject specific tutors were created. Id.

In 2002, due to financial constraints, defendant continued to reorganize the Learning Center. Id. ¶ 9. In the early spring of 2002, plaintiff was informed about the reorganization. Id. ¶ 11. Under the plan, three positions would be eliminated: Perkins Vocational Service Coordinator, Perkins Supportive Service Specialist, and Learning Center 24-Hour/Week Tutor. Id. ¶ 14. Two full-time positions were to be created: Career Link/Service Specialist and Special Populations Coordinator. Id. ¶ 13.

On or around June 10, 2002, plaintiff received a letter from the Director of the Learning Center, Jan Kaminski ("Kaminski"), informing him that his position would be eliminated in accordance with defendant's reorganization plan. Id. ¶ 15. The letter was also sent to employees C.H. and M.P. informing them that their jobs would also be eliminated. Id. ¶ 16. Plaintiff, C.H., and M.P. were also informed that, provided defendant received funding, two full-time grant-funded positions--Special Population Coordinator and Career Link/Service Specialist--would become available for 2002-03 school year. Id. ¶ 17.

In 2002, a total of four candidates applied for the Special Population Coordinator position. Id. ¶ 19. Two candidates, including plaintiff, were interviewed for the position. Id. ¶ 18. The candidates were interviewed by Michael Macon, Vice President for Academic and Student Services ("Macon"), David Albanese, Director of Human Resources ("Albanese"), and Kaminski Id. ¶ 20. Plaintiff, a male, believed that the interview process was a "sham" and that he was under the impression that C.H., the successful candidate--a woman--participated in a mere five minute interview. Deposition of Frano Menta ("Menta Dep.") at 108-110. Plaintiff did admit that he could have been mistaken and that C.H.'s interview could have taken place at a different time and lasted longer. Id.

C.H., received higher interview scores than those the of plaintiff. Def's St. ¶ 21. Macon rated C.H. superior to plaintiff. Id. ¶ 22. Macon's ratings for C.H.'s included "very good" in five categories and "good" in four. Id. Plaintiff was rated "average" in four categories, "good" in four categories, and "very good" in one category. Id. Albanese also rated C.H. higher than plaintiff. Id. ¶ 23. Albanese rated C.H. "very good" in one category, between "good" and "very good" in seven categories, and "good" in one category. Albanese rated plaintiff "very good" in one category, "good" in two categories, between "average" and "good" in one category, and "average" in five categories. Id. Kaminski rated C.H. higher than plaintiff. Id. ¶ 24. Kaminski rated C.H. "very good" in seven categories and "good" in two categories. Id. Kaminski rated plaintiff "good" in four categories and "average" in five categories. Id. Albanese felt that plaintiff interviewed poorly and Macon believed that C.H. was the better candidate, due to her educational background and knowledge of supportive services. Id. ¶¶ 25-26. While Albanese described plaintiff's interview as "poor," he actually rated plaintiff's interview conduct as "good"on the interview evaluation sheets. Def's Appx., I & L. Albanese gave the same score on interview conduct to plaintiff that he gave to C.H. Id. In terms of qualifications, at the time of the interviews, both plaintiff and C.H. had associates' degrees. Menta Dep. at 9. Plaintiff also had 132 credits towards a bachelor's degree. Id. C.H. was enrolled in a bachelor's program and had some continuing education credits, but had yet to earn a degree. Deposition of C.H. ("C.H. Dep.") at 5. Plaintiff also had thirteen years of experience working at the college, while C.H. had only five. Menta Dep. at 30; C.H. Dep. at 4.

In 2002, four candidates, including plaintiff, applied for the Career Link/Service Specialist position. Def's St. ¶ 27. The candidates were interviewed by Macon, Albanese, and Scott Ensworth, Dean of Enrollment Services ("Ensworth"). Id. ¶ 28. M.P., the successful candidate for the Career Link/Service Specialist position--a woman--received higher interview scores than plaintiff. Id. ¶ 29. Macon rated M.P. superior to plaintiff. Id. ¶ 30. He rated M.P. "very good" in four categories and "good" in five categories. Id. Macon rated plaintiff "very good" in one category, "good" in four categories, and "average" in four categories. Id. Macon felt that M.P.'s interview was stronger than plaintiff's. Id. ¶ 35. Macon did, however, noted that M.P.'s language was "a little rough." Def's App. Q. Despite that fact, Macon still rated M.P. higher than plaintiff in interpersonal skills-"good" for M.P. as opposed to "average" for plaintiff--despite nothing no problems with plaintiff's ability to communicate. Def's App. N & Q. Macon did note under the "weaknesses" section that plaintiff did not have strong communications skills and gave very short answers. Def's App. N. In addition, under the "extra comments" section, Macon noted that plaintiff was "looking for any full-time job" and was "not really prepared." Id.

Albanese also rated M.P. superior to plaintiff. Id. ¶ 31. Albanese rated M.P. between "very good" and "good" in seven categories and "good" in two categories. Id. Albanese rated plaintiff "good" in two categories, between "good" and "average" in three categories, and "average" in four categories. Id. Albanese stated that he felt defendant "chose the person who was the best qualified" and that plaintiff performed poorly in the interview. Id. ¶¶ 33-34. Despite his comment that plaintiff performed poorly in the interview, Albanese had rated plaintiff's interview conduct as "good." Def's App. I.

Plaintiff had thirteen years experience at the college prior to the interviews. Menta Dep. at 30. M.P. had worked at the college since 2000, but her employment was not continuous. Deposition of M.P. ("M.P. Dep.") at 6-8. Ensworth rated M.P. superior to plaintiff. Id. ¶ 32. Ensworth rated M.P "very good" in seven categories and "good" in two categories. Id. Ensworth rated plaintiff "good" in three categories and "average" in six categories. Id.

Defendant also planned to hire three people for the part-time position of Accommodation Specialists. Id. ¶ 36. Those positions were never posted for application because posting was not required by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Id. ¶ 37. Plaintiff believed he would be considered for part-time employment because no one told him of any part-time specific application process and because he had applied for full-time employment. Menta. Dep. at 123. Plaintiff stated that he knew, prior to receiving a letter dated June 26, 2002, that the three part-time positions were going to be created because he overheard two other employees discussing it. Def's St. ¶ 40-41; Menta Dep. at 158. Plaintiff admitted that nothing precluded him from approaching an administrator and informing the administrator that he wished to be considered for part-time employment and that no one told him not apply for the part-time positions or that he would automatically be considered for those positions. Def's St. ¶ 42; Menta Dep. at 123.

Plaintiff felt that the atmosphere in his office favored female employees. Menta Dep. at 113. Plaintiff was the only male employee in the department. Id. Plaintiff believed he was more harshly scrutinized that the other female employees in his department and kept notes on the conduct of his supervisors. Id. at 138. Plaintiff complained to Albanese about his feelings. Id. at 153.

On August 28, 2003, Plaintiff filed a complaint with this court against the County of Beaver (the "county") and the college. Count I charged the county and the college with sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a). Count II charged the county and the college with similar violations of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. § 951 et seq. (West 1991). In both counts, plaintiff alleged, among other things, that the college discriminated against him on this basis of his sex by hiring a female candidate for two different full-time positions. On December 23, 2003, a motion to dismiss was filed by defendant and the county seeking to strike plaintiff's claim for punitive damages and to dismiss the county from the action. On April 30, 2004, plaintiff filed a response consenting to the motion. On May 6, 2004, an order granting defendant's motion was granted. On March 11, 2005, defendant filed a motion for summary judgment with respect to both of plaintiff's remaining claims.

Standard of Review

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 as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED.R.CIV.P. 56(c). A motion for summary judgment will not be defeated by the mere existence of some disputed facts, but will be defeated when there is a genuine issue of material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). In determining whether the dispute is genuine, the court's function is not to weigh the evidence or to determine the truth of the matter, but only to determine whether the evidence of record is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id. at 249. The court may consider any material or evidence that would be admissible or usable at trial in deciding the merits of a motion for summary judgment. Horta v. Sullivan, 4 F.3d 2, 8 (1st Cir. 1993) (citing 10 CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT, ARTHURMILLER& MARYKAYKANE, FEDERALPRACTICE AND PROCEDURE ยง 2721, at 40 (2d ed. 1983)); Pollack v. City of ...

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