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Plavan v. Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation

January 30, 2007

KAREN A. PLAVAN, PH.D., PLAINTIFF,
v.
PITTSBURGH LEADERSHIP FOUNDATION AND JOHN STAHL-WERT, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ambrose, Chief District Judge.

OPINION and ORDER OF COURT

SYNOPSIS

Pending is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment relating to allegations of discrimination based on Plaintiff's sex with respect to compensation in violation of the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S. C. §206(d)(1) ("EPA"), and in violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. §951, et seq. ("PHRA"). (Docket No. 14). Plaintiff has filed a Brief in Opposition. (Docket No. 25). Defendants filed a Reply Brief. (Docket No. 32). Based on my opinion set forth below, said Motion is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant, Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation ("PLF"), is a faith based, nonprofit organization headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which provides startup funding and other support to various religious social service programs. Defendant, John Stahl-Wert, is the President and CEO of PLF. He became the President in 2001 and acquired the additional titled of CEO in 2003. Plaintiff, Karen A. Plavan, Ph.D., first became involved with PLF in 1982, when the PLF's program called the Coalition for Addictive Diseases became involved with an outreach program from QED Communications with which she was involved, called the Chemical People Institute. At that time, Reid Carpenter was the director of the Coalition for Addictive Diseases.

Between 1982 and 1989, Plaintiff was associated with the Coalition for Addictive Diseases as an unpaid volunteer. In 1989, she became a member of the Executive Committee of the Coalition for Addictive Diseases. Shortly thereafter, she successfully pushed for a change in the name of the organization to the Coalition for Leadership, Education and Advocacy for Recovery ("CLEAR"). The mission of CLEAR is to gather and connect the broad spectrum of alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention, treatment and recovery efforts in the region in order to improve learning, support advocacy and impact.

Between 1989 and 1993, Plaintiff continued to volunteer her time and service to CLEAR. While she volunteered her time, Mr. Carpenter told her on many occasions that she should submit her expenses for reimbursement, but she declined. During that time, she was also a part-time professor at Penn State University. Plaintiff also worked for a management consulting firm, Strategic Management.

Beginning in 1993, Plaintiff's duties with CLEAR expanded. She trained staff, participated in staff meetings as a member of the Executive Committee, and counseled PLF staff for personal problems. In 1994, Plaintiff accepted Mr. Carpenter's offer of a part-time consultancy position at PLF and she resigned her position at Strategic Management. Plaintiff invoiced PLF for her services.

In or around 2001, Plaintiff took on more responsibilities with CLEAR. She resigned her faculty position, and her took the full-time consultant position with PLF. Her consultant fee doubled to $60,000.00. Plaintiff was paid via an IRS form 1099.

Plaintiff's duties as a full time project director with CLEAR between 2001 and 2004, included writing periodic reports about CLEAR activities to the PLF Board of Directors; assisting in the writing of an unknown number of grant requests to seek funds for CLEAR; recruiting and managing volunteers of CLEAR; scheduling speakers for a conference each fall, and for a pastoral care conference each spring; and organize and oversee the Shadyside Hospital Screening Project. Plaintiff also did consulting or family intervention as needed. In February of 2004, Defendant, StahlWert made the decision to discontinue Plaintiff's relationship with PLF.

Prior to becoming a project director, in or around 1999, Plaintiff authored a foreword to a book titled "New Light on Alcoholism." In that foreword, Plaintiff identified herself as "Consultant, CLEAR, PLF." Plaintiff acknowledges that prior to taking the full-time position with CLEAR, Plaintiff was a consultant.

The first project director of CLEAR, the Reverend David Else, was a consultant, and not an employee of PLF. His last year of service in that capacity was in 1999, when he received $20,800.00 in compensation. That was the highest amount that Reverend Else ever received in his ten years in that position.

In addition to CLEAR, PLF sponsored a variety of other programs that were religious and/or social service in nature. Each of these programs was headed by a director who was either a full time employee of PLF, a part time employee of PLF, a paid consultant, or an unpaid volunteer.

Occasionally, a program would go unfunded for years and them reappear due to a successful grant. An example of this is the program ...


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