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Willauer v. Riley Sales

September 16, 2009

RAEANNE WILLAUER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RILEY SALES, INC. DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Schiller, J.

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff RaeAnne Willauer brings this action against her former employer, Riley Sales, Inc., alleging that her employment with Defendant was terminated in violation of federal and state law. Presently before this Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment on all counts asserted in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint and on several issues related to damages. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants the motion in part and denies it in part.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff began working for Defendant in August of 2001. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Statement Undisputed Facts, [hereinafter "Pl.'s Facts"] ¶ 4). In 2003, Plaintiff held the position of accounting coordinator and reported to Deborah Ott, Riley Sales' Controller. (Pl.'s Facts ¶¶ 6--7.)

In June 2007, Riley Sales advertised a job opening for the position of accounting coordinator. (Pl.'s Facts ¶ 15.) On July 6, 2007, Plaintiff went to see the president of Riley Sales, Michael Riley, and inquired whether Riley Sales had placed the advertisement in order to find her replacement. (Pl.'s Facts ¶¶ 23--24.) Mr. Riley responded that Riley Sales was "making changes." (Pl.'s Facts ¶ 25.) Plaintiff contends that, in addition, Mr. Riley told her that "[Ott] said that you were looking for another job so we thought maybe we should hire somebody just in case-to cover ourselves." (Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. for Summ J. Ex. A [hereinafter, "Pl. Dep."] at 421.)

Upon hearing that the company was "making changes," Plaintiff told Mr. Riley that she felt that she had been the victim of sexual harassment based her supervisor Ott's behavior. (Pl.'s Facts ¶¶ 27--28.) Plaintiff claimed that Ott often complimented Plaintiff on her shirts and stared at her breasts in a way that made Plaintiff uncomfortable. (Pl.'s Facts ¶ 28.b.) Plaintiff contended that on one occasion Ott watched her change into a bathing suit when Plaintiff and her children were over at Ott's home to go swimming following a company barbeque in August of 2006. (Pl.'s facts ¶ 28.c.) In addition, Plaintiff once found a piece of paper in Ott's office on which Plaintiff's name was written repeatedly, in a way that suggested to Plaintiff that Ott was infatuated with her. (Pl.'s facts ¶ 28.a.)

According to Plaintiff, Mr. Riley told her that he was leaving on a trip out of the country and that they would talk upon his return. (Pl.'s facts ¶ 29.) On July 16, 2007, after Mr. Riley returned from his trip, Plaintiff was fired. (Pl.'s facts ¶ 30.)

Plaintiff's claims of sexual harassment also focus on an incident that occurred in March or April of 2007. Willauer was discussing with a colleague an upcoming vendor show at Dave & Buster's restaurant in Philadelphia, PA in which Willauer and Ott would be working together. Plaintiff claims that after commenting to her colleague that the work for the vendor show would continue into the late evening, Ott said "RaeAnne, since it's going to be such a late night, we can get a room down the road and stay there." (Pl.'s facts ¶ 32.c.) To this, Plaintiff replied, "no, I don't think so." (Id.)

Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on November 5, 2008. Her Amended Complaint raises four causes of action: a claim of sexual harassment under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 42 PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. § 951--63 (claiming both that Defendant is responsible for a hostile work environment created by Ott and that her firing constitutes quid pro quo harassment), and a claim of retaliation in violation of Title VII and the PHRA.*fn1

Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on all counts on August 14, 2009.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate when the admissible evidence fails to demonstrate a dispute of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247--48 (1986). When the moving party does not bear the burden of persuasion at trial, the moving party may meet its burden on summary judgment by showing that the nonmoving party's evidence is insufficient to carry its burden of persuasion at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323--24 (1986). Thereafter, the nonmoving party demonstrates a genuine issue of material fact if sufficient evidence is provided to allow a reasonable jury to find for her at trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In reviewing the record, "a court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all inferences in that party's favor." Armbruster v. Unisys Corp., 32 F.3d 768, 777 (3d Cir. 1994).

Furthermore, a court may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence in making its determination. See Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000); see also Goodman v. Pa. Tpk. Comm'n, 293 F.3d 655, 665 (3d Cir. 2002).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Retaliation ...


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