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Reynolds v. Port Authority of Allegheny County

June 26, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Donetta W. Ambrose Chief Judge, U.S. District Court



In this civil action, Plaintiff, an African-American woman, claims that Defendant Port Authority of Allegheny County ("PAT"), her former employer, violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §2000e, 42 U.S.C. §1981, and the Pennsylvania Human Rights Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa. C.S.A. §951, et seq. Her claims sound in race and gender discrimination, and retaliation. The facts will be developed in the body of the Opinion, and are undisputed unless otherwise indicated.

Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the following reasons, the Motion will be granted.


I. Applicable Standards

Summary judgment shall be granted if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court must examine the facts in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. International Raw Materials, Ltd. V. Stauffer Chem . Co., 898 F. 2d 946, 949 (3d Cir. 1990). The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of any genuine issues of material fact. United States v. Onmicare, Inc., 382 F. 3d 432 (3d Cir. 2004). Rule 56, however, mandates the entry of judgment 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. Celotex Corp. v. Cattrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed. 265 (1986).

The sum of the affirmative evidence to be presented by the non-moving party must be such that a reasonable jury could find in its favor; it cannot simply reiterate unsupported assertions, conclusory allegations, or suspicious beliefs. Croman v. Twp. of Manalapan, 47 F.3d 628, 633 (3d Cir. 1995).Otherwise stated, a "party cannot rely upon self-serving conclusions, unsupported by specific facts in the record." LaResca v. AT&T, 161 F.Supp. 2d 323, 327 (D.N.J.2001). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50, 106 S.Ct. 2505; 91 L.Ed. 2d 202 (1986) (citations omitted).

Local Rule 56.1. provides as follows: Alleged material facts set forth in the moving party's Concise Statement of Material Facts...which are claimed to be undisputed, will for the purpose of deciding the motion for summary judgment be deemed admitted unless specifically denied or otherwise controverted by a separate concise statement of the opposing party.

Accordingly, "lack of knowledge" denials, unsupported in the record, may be ignored for purposes of summary judgment. Cf. Bouriez v. Carnegie Mellon Univ., No. 02-2104, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18324, at *10 (W.D. Pa. Aug. 26, 2005). A party seeking judgment on grounds that a particular fact is undisputed is entitled "to demand at least one sworn averment of that fact before the lengthy process of litigation continues." Lujan v. National Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888, 111 L.Ed. 2d 695, 110 S.Ct. 3177 (1990).

II. Defendant's Motion

A. Discrimination in Hiring/Promotion

I first address Defendant's challenge to Plaintiff's discrimination claim regarding her failure to obtain either a Signal Maintainer or Signal Maintainer Trainee position. The Signal Maintainer issue surrounds a June, 2005 "system pick," in which bargaining unit employees were able to bid on open positions within the Port Authority. Plaintiff characterizes her claim as one for disparate treatment "when compared to caucasian males who applied for Signal Maintainer positions."

1. Prima Facie Case

Initially, Defendant argues that it is entitled to judgment on Plaintiff's claim, because Plaintiff did not apply for the Signal Maintainer position. According to Defendant, this failure is fatal to Plaintiff's prima facie case of disparate treatment.

As part of a prima facie case in this context, the plaintiff must show that she communicated to the employer her interest in the position. Parker v. University of Pa., 128 Fed. Appx. 944, 946 (3d Cir. 2005) (Title VII); Langley v. Merck, 186 Fed. Appx. 258, 261 (3d Cir. 2006) (§1981).*fn1 In order to ...

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