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Patterson v. AFSCME #2456

May 14, 2008

STACY ANN PATTERSON, PLAINTIFF
v.
AFSCME #2456, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (mannion, M.J.)

MEMORANDUM

Pending before the court is the defendant's motion for summary judgment filed on February 6, 2008. (Doc. No. 32). Based upon the court's review of the record in this case, the defendant's motion will be granted.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

By way of relevant background, on May 25, 2007, the plaintiff filed the instant employment discrimination action, pro se. (Doc. No. 1). The court considers the plaintiff's complaint pursuant to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, ("PHRA"), 43 Pa.Cons.Stat.Ann. §§951, et seq.; the Americans with Disabilities Act, ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§12101, et seq.; and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§2000e-1 et seq.*fn1 /*fn2 The matter was originally assigned to the Honorable Christopher C. Conner. On August 3, 2007, the defendant filed an answer to the plaintiff's complaint. (Doc. No. 11). By order dated September 6, 2007, the case was reassigned to the undersigned, the parties having consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(c)(1). (Doc. No. 15).

Subsequent to the close of discovery, on February 6, 2008, the defendant filed the instant motion for summary judgment, along with supporting materials. (Doc. Nos. 23 & 24). The plaintiff was granted an extension of time to respond to the defendant's motion, (Doc. No. 26), and did so on March 19, 2008, (Doc. Nos. 27 & 28). The plaintiff filed a supplemental response to the defendant's motion on April 8, 2008. (Doc. No. 30). A reply brief was filed by the defendant on April 10, 2008. (Doc. No. 31).

II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate if 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 judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).

The Supreme Court has stated that:

". . . [T]he plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. In such a situation, there can be 'no genuine issue as to any material fact,' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial. The moving party is 'entitled to judgment as a matter of law' because the nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of her case with respect to which she has the burden of proof."

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).

The moving party bears the initial responsibility of stating the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Id. The moving party can discharge that burden by "showing . . . that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325.

Issues of fact are genuine "only if a reasonably jury, considering the evidence presented, could find for the nonmoving party." Childers v. Joseph, 842 F.2d 689, 693-94 (3d Cir. 1988)(citations omitted). Material facts are those which will effect the outcome of the trial under governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The court may not weigh the evidence or make credibility determinations. Boyle v. County of Allegheny, 139 F.3d 386, 393 (3d Cir. 1998). In determining whether an issue of material fact exists, the court must consider all evidence and inferences drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Id. at 393.

If the moving party meets his initial burden, the opposing party must do more than raise some metaphysical doubt as to material facts, but must show sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict in its favor. Id.

III. DISCUSSION

In her complaint, the plaintiff alleges that she became employed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Commission on Crime and Delinquency, ("PCCD"), in 1996. (Doc. No. 1, ¶4). Shortly thereafter, in 1997, she became a member of PCCD's union. (Doc. No. 1, ¶5).

On January 18, 2000, the plaintiff began a lateral position as an Information Technology Technician, ("ITT"), at the OIG. (Doc. No. 1, ¶6).

The plaintiff brings the instant action alleging that the defendant union, AFSCME #2456, discriminated against her in its representation of her with respect to various grievances filed during her employment with the OIG*fn3 . The plaintiff alleges that she filed at least eight grievances during her employment with the OIG, all of which were improperly handled by the defendant. (Doc. No.1, ¶ 44). Initially, the plaintiff claims that Grievance No. 1365, relating to her improper classification as "Information Technology Technician," was filed by the defendant on November 6, 2001, after which she did not hear anything about the grievance. (Doc. No. 1, ¶¶45(i)).

At around the same time, on November 13, 2001, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant attempted to coerce her into accepting a "demotion" to a job title which she was not capable of performing. (Doc. No. 1, ¶48, 58).

According to the plaintiff, Grievance No. 1385 was filed by the defendant on February 6, 2002, relating to a written reprimand she received on January 31, 2002, which was alleged to be in violation of the collective bargaining agreement. The plaintiff claims that she received a copy of a letter dated January 14, 2003, from Bill Brenner, Council 89 Staff Representative, to Tim Clapham, Office of Administration, indicating that the grievance was being withdrawn "without prejudice or precedence." (Doc. No. 1, ¶45(ii)).

Next, the plaintiff claims that Grievance No. 1407 was filed on her behalf by the defendant on June 14, 2002, relating to a one-day in-house suspension issued to her by her supervisor, Bill Barrett, in violation of the collective bargaining agreement. According to the plaintiff, there was a first-step grievance hearing on July 11, 2002, after which she did not receive any additional information on the grievance. (Doc. No. 1, ¶45(iii)).

The plaintiff alleges that Grievance No. 1421 was filed by the defendant on August 5, 2002, relating to a five-day in-house suspension issued to her by her supervisor, Bill Barrett. This grievance was heard at a first-step grievance hearing on February 26, 2003, which was a combined hearing for the five-day suspension and her subsequent termination. The plaintiff alleges that she received a letter from the defendant dated August 21, 2003, stating that the grievance was denied and would not be moved to arbitration. (Doc. No. 1, ¶45(iv)).

With respect to the final specific grievance cited by the plaintiff, she alleges that Grievance No. 1464 was filed in relation to a termination letter issued to her on October 2, 2002. The grievance was heard at the first-step grievance hearing on February 26, 2003, previously referenced. The plaintiff alleges that the grievance proceeded to AFSCME's Eastern Joint District Committee Panel on May 5, 2003, which ended in a "deadlock" decision. The grievance was then heard by AFSCME's State Committee Panel on July 30, 2003, which resulted in the Committee ruling that management had "just cause" to terminate the plaintiff for "unsatisfactory performance." The plaintiff alleges that she received a letter on August 22, 2003, which informed her of the decision and indicated that she could turn the termination into a resignation. (Doc. No. 1, ¶45(v)).

In another instance, the plaintiff alleges that a grievance was settled on her behalf before it was filed. (Doc. No. 1, ¶46). On this claim, the plaintiff indicates that she received a written reprimand for "unsatisfactory performance" on December 13, 2001. She alleges that she planned to file a grievance with respect to the reprimand, but before she could do so, she received correspondence dated December 27, 2001, from Barry Walker, AFSCE District Council 89 Staff Representative, to Tim Clapham, Office of Administration, which indicated that the matter was "settled." According to the plaintiff, attached to the letter was a copy of correspondence dated December 19, 2001, from Mr. Walker to Mr. Clapham indicating that the written reprimand was re-issued as a verbal reprimand. Had she been consulted, the plaintiff claims that she would not have settled the claim because her performance was not unsatisfactory.

The plaintiff further alleges that the defendant refused to file a grievance which should have been filed. (Doc. No. 1, ΒΆ47). Here, she claims that a grievance should have been filed with respect to a "new procedure" which was used to introduce her interim performance evaluation for the rating period of May 13, 2002, through July 12, 2002. The plaintiff alleges that she attempted to grieve the issue, but the Union Steward refused to file the grievance unless she was able to obtain a witness statement from an individual, Bob Metka, a Manager who ...


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