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Carmody v. Pennsylvania State University

April 9, 2007

TERESA ANN CARMODY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge McClure

MEMORANDUM

BACKGROUND

On August 12, 2005, plaintiff Teresa Ann Carmody instituted this civil action against defendant, the Pennsylvania State University. In her amended complaint, plaintiff alleges that defendant retaliated against her for filing a previous lawsuit in violation of Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that she was terminated from her position with defendant and then not hired for multiple positions with defendant because of the previous lawsuit.

The parties have completed discovery. On January 16, 2007, defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. (Rec. Doc. No. 19.) Opposing and reply briefs have been filed and the matter is now ripe for disposition. Now, for the following reasons, we will grant defendant's motion.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

Plaintiff Teresa Ann Carmody obtained a B.S. in Engineering Science and Mechanics in 1995 and an M.S. in Engineering Science in 1997 both from the Pennsylvania State University ("University"). (Def.'s Statement of Facts, Rec. Doc. No. 19, ¶ 1.) Thereafter she was employed at a lab in the University's College of Engineering from July of 1997 through June 30, 1999. (Id. ¶ 2.) This employment ended when her one-year contract was not renewed. (Id. ¶ 3.)

Thereafter, she obtained a position with the University's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences ("EMS") beginning on July 1, 1999. (Id. ¶ 4.) On February 22, 2000, plaintiff filed a pregnancy discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission based on the non-renewal of her employment contract with the College of Engineering. (Id. ¶ 12.) Then, on October 30, 2001, plaintiff filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania alleging the discrimination. (Id. ¶ 14.) This case was eventually settled in October, 2002. (Id.¶15.)

Plaintiff remained employed with EMS from July 1, 1999 until June 30, 2003. (Id. ¶ 4.) At the beginning of this time period, plaintiff worked ten hours per week as a safety officer and performed other assignments which made her employment full-time. (Id. ¶ 88-89.) On May 6, 2002, plaintiff received notice that her contract would be renewed only from July 1, 2002 until September 30, 2002, rather than the typical year it was normally renewed. (Rec. Doc. No. 30, ¶ 9.) In October, 2002, plaintiff began to perform only the safety officer part-time position. (Rec. Doc. No. 19, ¶ 90.) Finally, on June 30, 2003, her employment as safety officer was terminated.

Defendant alleges that the reason that plaintiff's employment was reduced to only the safety officer position was because plaintiff's other assignments either lost funding or had been completed. (Id. ¶ 90.) Furthermore, it alleges that it terminated plaintiff's employment as safety officer because the defendant decided it was not advisable for the safety officer's duties to be held by an individual who was not a full-time employee of EMS after an accident occurred when plaintiff was not working. (Id. ¶¶ 91-92.)

Plaintiff, on the other hand, disputes that plaintiff's other assignments were terminated because of lost funding or completion. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that funding continued to exist because the defendant hired another individual to work in the same lab where plaintiff had been working. (Pl.'s Response to Def.'s Statement of Facts, Rec. Doc. 29, ¶ 90.) Additionally, as to defendant's allegation that plaintiff's employment as a safety officer was terminated because she was not a full-time employee, plaintiff alleges that there was no requirement that the safety officer serve as an emergency responder or be on-call at all times. (Id. ¶ 91.) Instead, the safety officer receives reports of accidents or incidents and then investigates them. (Id. ¶ 92.)

The record also indicates that following plaintiff's lawsuit, defendant failed to hire plaintiff for thirty-two different positions throughout the University to which she applied. (Def.'s Statement of Facts, Rec. Doc. No. 19, ¶ 19-22.) Yet, in the plaintiff's opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment, plaintiff only alleges that fourteen of these positions are at issue. (Rec. Doc. No. 31, at 3.) Therefore, it appears that plaintiff has abandoned her challenges as to the other positions and we will only address the fourteen positions at issue. Each of these positions is labeled as a number from one to thirty-two.*fn1

Defendant alleges that it has been unable to identify Position Nos. 1, 5, and 11 based on the information provided by the plaintiff. (Rec. Doc. No. 19, ¶¶ 26, 33, 45.) As to Position No. 1, plaintiff alleges that she applied for the position on December 9, 2002 and she points to a confirmation email received by plaintiff after the application was submitted. (Rec. Doc. No. 29, ¶¶ 23, 26.) As to Position Nos. 5, plaintiff alleges that she applied on December 27, 2002 and although she does not have a confirmation email, she nevertheless remembers applying for the position. (Id. ¶¶ 23, 33.) Finally, as to Position No. 11, plaintiff alleges that she applied on February 24, 2003. (Id. ¶ 23.) Again, she does not have a confirmation email but she remembers applying for the position. (Id. ¶ 45.)

Defendant alleges that as to Position No. 13, its records indicate that the job posting does not exist. (Rec. Doc. No. 19, ¶ 47.) Plaintiff nevertheless alleges that she applied for the position on March 14, 2002. (Rec. Doc. No. 29, ¶¶ 23, 47.)

Defendant alleges that Position Nos. 2, 22, 29, and 31 were withdrawn prior to being filled. (Rec. Doc. No. 19, ¶¶ 27, 65, 78, 80.) Plaintiff does not dispute that this is the case, but simply states that no reason was given for the withdrawal. (Rec. Doc. No. 29, ¶¶ 27, 65, 78, 80.)

Defendant alleges that as to Position Nos. 6, 15, 21, and 25, the decision not to hire plaintiff was made by a single decisionmaker and that the decisionmaker in each instance was unaware of plaintiff's previous lawsuit. (Rec. Doc. No. 19, ¶¶ 34, 49, 64, 71.) As to each of these positions, defendant cites to an affidavit from the decisionmaker. (Id.) Plaintiff does not dispute the validity or truth of these affidavits. (Rec. Doc. No. 29, ¶¶ 34, 49, 64, 71.)

Defendant alleges that as to Position No. 16, the decision not to hire plaintiff was made by a selection committee. (Rec. Doc. No. 19, ¶ 50.) It alleges that the chair of the committee was not aware of plaintiff's previous lawsuit and cites to an affidavit from that individual. (Id. ¶ 51.) Furthermore, the affidavit of the chair of the committee states that none of the individuals on the selection committee ever mentioned the previous lawsuit when hiring discussions took place. (Id. ¶ 52.) Plaintiff does not dispute this evidence.

Finally, defendant alleges that Position No. 20 was withdrawn and then later reposted as Position No. 26. (Id. ¶ 63.) Then, the decisionmaker for Position No. 26 was unaware of plaintiff's previous lawsuit. (Id. ¶ 72.) Plaintiff, on the other hand alleges she applied for Position No. 20 on April 2, 2003, had an interview on April 12, 2003, and then received an email on May 2, 2003 stating that another individual had been hired. (Rec. Doc. No. 29, ¶ 63, ...


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