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Boyce v. Commonwealth

November 22, 2006

TERRI L. BOYCE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Terrence F. McVerry United States District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Presently before the Court is the MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, with brief in support, filed by Defendant Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, the BRIEF IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT filed by Plaintiff, Terri L. Boyce, and the SUPPLEMENTAL BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT filed by Defendant .

The issues have been fully briefed and the matter is ripe for disposition. After a careful consideration of the 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, Terri L. Boyce, on either her claims of retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or her claims of disability discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act. Therefore, the Court will grant the Defendant's motion for summary judgment in its entirety.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Terri L. Boyce ("Plaintiff") filed this civil rights action on January 27, 2004, in which she alleges that Defendant has retaliated against her in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), because she filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in February 2003. Plaintiff also claims that she was denied a promotion because of a handicap or disability in violation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, et seq.*fn1

Defendant has filed the instant motion for summary judgment in which it contends that Plaintiff is unable to establish a prima facie case of retaliation under Title VII and/or disability discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act. Plaintiff has filed her brief in opposition to the motion for summary judgment. The matter is ripe for disposition.

Factual Background

The facts relevant to this discussion, and viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, are as follows.

Employment with Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation

Plaintiff began her employment with defendant Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation ("Defendant" or "PennDOT") in 1992 as a temporary employee. In 1993, she began permanent employment as a Real Estate Technician, and was promoted in 1994 or 1995 to a Real Estate Specialist. From approximately 1995 to early 2000, Plaintiff worked as a Real Estate Specialist in PennDOT's District 12 Uniontown office, as the sole person in charge of the Outdoor Advertising program.

According to Plaintiff, she "loved" her position in the Outdoor Advertising program. However, in February 2000, Plaintiff was removed from the Outdoor Advertising program, a change with which she was "very upset." Dan Bucan ("Bucan") thereafter became her supervisor.

On July 21, 2000, Defendant issued Plaintiff a notice of Pre-Disciplinary Conference ("PDC") which charged her with several offenses including: destruction of computer programs; delay in turning over work documents, passwords, and items associated with the Outdoor Advertising program; refusal to attend scheduled training sessions; leaving work premises during working hours without permission; a safety violation for not wearing a seatbelt while conducting Department business; and abuse of time during working hours. (Def's Stmt of Undisputed Facts, at ¶ 14.)

A PDC was held on July 26, 2000, at which time Plaintiff refused to respond or comment on her alleged work offenses. By letter dated October 16, 2000, Plaintiff was notified that no discipline would be administered for the alleged offenses but instructed that "behavior of the sort demonstrated by you cannot be condoned or tolerated."

On December 1, 2000, Plaintiff filed a grievance with her Union (# 00-159-2613) in which she complained of Bucan's treatment of her during a November 29, 2000, general staff meeting. According to Plaintiff, Bucan "began accusing, belittling, harassing, and embarrassing" her in front of her co-workers and allowed others to question and demean her.

Plaintiff also complained about Bucan's plan to move her workstation and his statement that "he would not tolerate her taking notes of the conversations and activities of others during work hours." (Id. at 17-19.)

On January 12, 2001, Plaintiff filed a Complaint with the PennDOT office of Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") which related to the events that occurred at the November 29, 2000, meeting and her problems with her supervisor, Bucan.*fn2 Notably, the EEO Complaint did not accuse Bucan of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. (Id. at ¶ 25.) On February 21, 2001, a meeting was held between Plaintiff, Bucan, two of his superiors, an EEO representative, and Plaintiff's union representative. During the course of that meeting all parties agreed to the following:

"1. To promote open communication between [Plaintiff] and [Bucan].

2. To work in a professional manner and to show respect for one another.

3. When a problem arises between [Plaintiff and Bucan], Mr. Myron Hartos will be contacted the solve the problem.

4. [Bucan] will distribute work fairly and reframe (sic) from singling [Plaintiff] out.

5. Weekly meetings will be held with [Plaintiff] to discuss [her] work performance.

6. Assignments will not be in writing but verbally communicated.

7. [Plaintiff] will function as a "team player" as in the past, prior to [Bucan] becoming [her] supervisor.

8. [Plaintiff] will be permitted to remain in [her] seat as requested." Id., Exhibit 8.

On May 23, 2002, Plaintiff applied for the PennDOT posted job opening for "Right of Way Administrator I." Plaintiff's co-workers Patricia B. Swisher and Roy Negley also applied for the position. Separate interviews of the three applicants were conducted on June 27, 2002, by a three-person panel which consisted of Bucan, Right of Way Administrator II; George W. Tanner, Design Services Engineer; and Donald P. Boord, Chief of Surveys. During the interviews, each applicant was asked identical questions from a prepared list which inquired into the applicant's technical ...


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