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Roberts v. Planned Building Services

February 13, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert F. Kelly, Sr. J.


Presently before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Planned Building Services ("Planned Security"). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.


Plaintiff William Roberts ("Roberts") was employed by Planned Security as a site supervisor at a building of condominiums located at 2601 Pennsylvania Avenue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.*fn1 Prior to 2005, the building operated as a rental facility. In 2005, the building began its conversion from apartments to condominiums. During the transition of the building to condominiums, Wentworth Property Management ("Wentworth"), the company managing 2601 as the condominium complex, hired Planned Security to provide front-desk concierge and security services for the building. Planned Security chose to keep many of the employees who had previously worked at 2601 when it operated as an apartment community. Roberts was one of these employees. Though the management of 2601 had changed hands many times, Roberts had worked at the building for approximately seventeen years. Planned Security hired Roberts as a site supervisor on May 27, 2005. Roberts was supervised by Dino Iuliano ("Iuliano"), Vice President of Operations for Planned Security, and Robert Vigliotti ("Vigliotti"), Planned Security's Regional Manager. In addition, Stacia Scaduto ("Scaduto"), Wentworth's Community Manager, remained in contact with Iuliano and worked on behalf of Wentworth to ensure that Planned Security's operation of concierge and security service remained satisfactory.

Following the building's transition to condominiums, Wentworth became concerned with Roberts's performance as site supervisor. Both Iuliano and Scaduto testified that they had received numerous complaints from residents of the building concerning Roberts's performance. Specifically, Scaduto testified that she had received complaints that front-desk employees were not greeting residents or their guests, the appearance of the front desk was disorderly and "disheveled," employees were not handling packages properly, employees were not wearing uniforms, employees were playing inappropriate music at the front desk, pets were being brought through the lobby, and employees were blocking security monitors with newspapers. (Scaduto Dep. 31:16-35:18.) Scaduto testified that she relayed these complaints to Iuliano. Iuliano, himself, testified that he had received complaints about Roberts's tardiness and his failure to wear a uniform, and that both Scaduto and Vigliotti felt that Roberts was not adequately performing his duties as supervisor. (Iuliano Dep. 104:13-110:12.) Furthermore, Scaduto testified that she had several conversations with Roberts regarding these complaints wherein she advised him that it was his responsibility, as supervisor, to address these issues. (Scaduto Dep. 77:7-12.) Nonetheless, Roberts failed to "step up to the plate" to address these issues. (Id. at 77:10.) Iuliano testified that, as a result of these complaints, he decided to terminate Roberts's employment on March 27, 2006.

In contrast, Roberts asserts that he was fired, not for poor work performance, but rather on the basis of his race. In support of this contention, Roberts points to one specific conversation that he alleges took place between himself and Iuliano, in the presence of another employee, wherein Iuliano made, what Roberts interpreted to be, a racist remark. (Roberts Dep. 40:3-23.) Roberts asserts that, sometime between fall 2005 and winter 2006, he spoke with Iuliano concerning the possibility of obtaining a pay increase and an increased budget to hire more employees. According to Roberts, Iuliano replied that he would not increase the budget, but that Roberts could hire more "animals" at a lower pay rate and keep the additional savings for himself. Roberts asserts that because the majority of the staff was African American, Iuliano's reference to "animals" was directed at African Americans, both those currently employed at Planned Security and those who may be hired in the future. (Id.)

Furthermore, Roberts asserts that he performed the functions of his job adequately at all times. In response to Iuliano's assertion that he had received complaints concerning Roberts's tardiness, Roberts contends that he had spoken to Iuliano about the fact that he needed to take his child to daycare in the mornings and would, therefore, be unable to report for work at the scheduled time. (Roberts Dep. 77:18-78:11.) Furthermore, with respect to the additional complaints to which Ms. Scaduto testified, Roberts asserts that Scaduto never spoke to him regarding these issues. (Roberts Dep. 74: 18-22.) Roberts additionally argues, in his Response to the Motion for Summary Judgment, that Scaduto never issued him either a verbal or written warning, and she could not identify any specific occasion when she spoke to Roberts about his failure to wear a uniform. Furthermore, Roberts contends that none of these performance issues were brought up to him at the time of his termination.

Roberts filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). On November 16, 2007, the EEOC issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights in Roberts's case. Roberts filed a Complaint in this Court on February 26, 2008. The allegations set forth in Roberts's Complaint allege claims against Planned Security for unlawful discrimination pursuant to: (1) Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e); (2) 42 U.S.C. § 1981; and (3) the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 951 ("PHRA"). Additionally, Roberts seeks relief for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Planned Security filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment on November 11, 2008.


"Summary judgment is appropriate when, after considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, no genuine issue of material fact remains in dispute and 'the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'" Hines v. Consol. Rail Corp., 926 F.2d 262, 267 (3d Cir. 1991). The inquiry is "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). The moving party carries the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of any genuine issues of material fact. Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am. Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1362 (3d Cir. 1992). "A fact is material if it could affect the outcome of the suit after applying the substantive law.

Further, a dispute over a material fact must be 'genuine,' i.e., the evidence must be such 'that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor of the non-moving party.'" Compton v. Nat'l League of Prof'l Baseball Clubs, 995 F. Supp. 554, 561 n.14 (E.D. Pa. 1998), aff'd, 172 F.3d 40 (3d Cir. 1998).

Once the moving party has produced evidence in support of summary judgment, the non-moving party must go beyond the allegations set forth in its pleadings and counter with evidence that demonstrates that there is a genuine issue of fact requiring a trial. See Big Apple BMW, 974 F.2d at 1362-63. Summary judgment must be granted "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." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). "[A]n opposing party may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading; rather, its response must . . . set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2).


Planned Security asserts that it is entitled to summary judgment because: (1) Roberts's Title VII claims were untimely filed and are barred by the statute of limitations; (2) Roberts has failed to meet his burden of establishing that he was terminated on the basis of race; (3) Roberts's ...

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