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Horner v. Allegheny General Hospital

March 1, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Conti, District Judge.


I. Introduction

Pending before the court is the motion for summary judgment (Docket No. 23) filed by defendants Allegheny General Hospital ("AGH"), West Penn Allegheny Health System ("WPAHS"), t/d/b/a/ Allegheny General Hospital and West Penn Allegheny Health System (collectively "defendants"), with respect to the claims asserted by plaintiff Lorraine Basil Horner ("Horner" or "plaintiff") under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000(e) et seq. ("Title VII"); the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. ("ADEA"); and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, as amended 43 PA. CONS. STAT. §§ 951, et seq. ("PHRA"). Plaintiff asserts claims against defendants for employment discrimination based upon sex and age arising from defendants' failure to hire plaintiff for an open position of manager of inventory and purchasing in their pharmacy department (the "pharmacy manager") on or about November 2005 and on or about April 2006. (Compl ¶ 1.) (Docket No. 1.) Plaintiff filed these claims initially with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and cross-filed with the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission ("PHRC").*fn1 After considering defendants' motion for summary judgment, plaintiff's response, the parties' respective memoranda of law, the parties' joint statements of material facts ("J.S. I")(Docket No. 40), and the Local Rule 51.C.1(c ) additional material facts ("J.S. II")(Docket No. 40),*fn2 the court will grant in part and deny in part defendants' motion for summary judgment for the reasons set forth below.

II. Factual Background

The factual background is derived from the undisputed evidence of record and the disputed evidence of record viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) ("The evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.").

A. The Parties

Plaintiff is a female whose date of birth is August 26, 1955. (J.S. I ¶ 1; Compl. ¶4. ) Plaintiff is a licensed pharmacist in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who graduated, magna cum laude, with a bachelor of science ("B.S.") in pharmacy from the University of Pittsburgh in 1978. ( Pl.'s App., Ex. 12 (Docket No. 35); J.S. II ¶ 1.) Plaintiff received a master of science in business administration degree ("M.B.A.") from the University of Pittsburgh in 1984 and a master of science in education degree from Duquesne University in 2004. (Pl.'s App., Ex. 12.)

On July 23, 1999, AGH, a tertiary*fn3 care hospital, became part of the WPAHS regional health system. (J.S. I ¶ 4.) WPAHS is comprised of two tertiary hospitals, AGH and West Penn, and four regional hospitals, Suburban General, Forbes Regional, Alle-Kiski Medical Center and Canonsburg General Hospital, and Forbes Hospice. (J.S. I ¶ 4.) During the relevant time, AGH employees implicated in plaintiff's claims included: pharmacy manager of systems operations, Thomas Grande ("Grande"); acting pharmacy manager of clinical services, Ed Seidl ("Seidl); pharmacy manager of medication safety, regulatory and professional development, Linda Weiloch ("Weiloch"); director of pharmacy, Laura Mark ("Mark"); pharmacy technician, Roxane Curinga ("Curinga"); human resource consultant, Janet Eggleston ("Eggleston"); and vice-president of operations and chief nurse officer, Judith Zedreck, now Zedreck-Gonzalez ("Zedreck-Gonzalez") (Defs.' App., Ex. 4; Pl.'s App., Ex. 20; Curinga Dep. 8-11, May 15, 2009, Defs.' App. B; Eggleston Dep. 6-11, Jun. 4, 2009, Defs.' App. G; Zedreck-Gonzalez Dep. 9-14, Jun. 4, 2009, Defs.' App. F.)

B. Plaintiff's Employment with AGH

Plaintiff began her employment with AGH in 1983 as a part-time pharmacist. (Pl.'s Dep. 38, Aug. 18, 2008, Defs.' App. A; J.S. ¶ 2.) From January 1984 to December 1998, plaintiff worked full time as the manager of financial services in pharmacy at AGH. (Pl. Dep. 17, 38-39; J.S. II ¶ 2.) Plaintiff had system-wide responsibilities for AGH, through AHERF, an integrated hospital delivery system which included fourteen primarily tertiary care hospitals. (J.S. II ¶¶ 4, 6.) She served as vice chairman of the VHA*fn4 pharmacy director's task force and chairman of the VHA customer supplier task force. (J.S. II ¶ 6.) Plaintiff participated in the purchasing plan for Southwest Integrated Delivery Network and the home intravenous ("IV") infusion program utilized by several hospitals across the VHA. (J.S. II ¶ 6.) She was a member of the Ob/Gyn utilization team, worked with the corporate legal department and nursing to investigate and improve revenue from outpatient billing and evaluated the feasibility of establishing an IV micro-manufacturing facility. (J.S. II ¶¶ 6-9). Plaintiff regularly monitored revenue codes and diagnosis codes, late charges and high cost medications. (J.S. II ¶ 39.) She provided corporate-wide reports and attended regularly scheduled corporate-wide meetings. (J.S. I ¶ 14.)

Toni Fera ("Fera"), director of pharmacy during plaintiff's tenure, stated:

Lorraine continues to exceed expectations in all major responsibilities. Assignments are completed in a timely, accurate manner with minimal supervision. . . .

Over this past year, Lorraine continued to develop relationships beyond the pharmacy department, such as the AHERF purchasing project, physician offices, and the Ob/Gyne utilization management team. . . . (Pl.'s App. Ex. 8; J.S. I ¶ 29.) Fera rated plaintiff's performance as "[e]xceeds all expectations: 100 per cent of plan objectives and job responsibilities were exceeded." (Id.) Fera later noted that plaintiff "expanded involvement in integrated health care system issues including ambulatory care, multi-hospital systems and revenue enhancement. Thanks for the extra effort." (Pl.'s App., Ex. 15; J.S. I ¶ 29.) In December 1998, plaintiff voluntarily resigned her full-time position and began working as a part-time casual pharmacist. (J.S. I ¶ 3.) She worked on a part-time basis until December 2005. (Id.)

C. Replacements in the Pharmacy Manager Position and Responsibilities of Position

In December 1998, Curinga replaced plaintiff in plaintiff's former full-time pharmacy manager's position. (Curinga Dep. 10-14; J.S. I ¶ 8.) Curinga, a pharmacy technician, assumed some of plaintiff's former management responsibilities. (Curinga Dep. 14; J.S. I ¶¶ 8, 9.) Curinga did not negotiate contracts or perform plaintiff's clinically related management responsibilities. (Curinga Dep. 15-16, 49-52; J.S. I ¶ 8.) Toward the end of Curinga's time of employment, her position included "a lot more system involvement with West Penn Allegheny Hospital and the sister hospitals." (Curinga Dep. 31-32; J.S. I ¶ 10.) This increased involvement resulted in regularly attending WPAHS pharmacy directors' group meetings and providing reports for the hospitals in the system. (Curinga Dep. 38-40; J.S. I ¶ 10.) Curinga testified that she did not think that her job description changed during her tenure of employment with defendants. (Curinga Dep. 33; J.S. I ¶ 10.) Curinga resigned her full-time position on April 1, 2005, due, among other reasons, to concerns relating to clinical issues that she felt were necessary to carry out her duties. (Curinga Dep. 49-52; J.S. I ¶ 11.) Most of the corporate-wide initiatives at the time Curinga fulfilled them were "clinical". (Mark Dep. 49-50, May 15, 2009, Defs.' App. H; J.S. ¶ 11.) After Curinga resigned her full-time position, she continued to work part time until March 2007. (Curinga Dep. 34, 61; J.S. I ¶ 12.)

On or about April 2005, AGH advertised a pharmacy manager position indicating it required a B.S. degree in pharmacy or health administration, a preferred master's degree, and experience with financial accounting. (Pl.'s App. Ex. 21; J.S. II ¶ 22 .) The August 9, 2005 job description of the manager's position duties and responsibilities included a listing in order of importance of the eight essential functions of the job, which was identical to the previous job description dated March 1, 2004. (Pl.'s App. Exs. 5, 9; J.S. II ¶¶ 12-14 .)

Three pharmacy managers, Grande, Seidl, and Wieloch, were involved in finding Curinga's replacement. (Grande Dep. 105-06, Mar. 11, 2009, Defs.' App. C; J.S. I ¶ 13.) AGH identified Grande as the person by whom the "hiring decision will be made." (Pl.'s App., Ex. 3; J.S. I ¶ 13.)

Grande indicated that the August 9, 2005 job description went through "several rewrites". (Pl.'s App., Ex. 6; J.S. I ¶ 14.) The position summary of the August 9, 2005 job description and for the March 1, 2004 position, however, are virtually identical. The responsibilities of the job were described as: "[p]rovides analyses . . . relevant to system wide initiatives, and assisting in their implementation." (Pl.'s App. Exs. 5, 9; J.S. I ¶ 14.) The job duties in both descriptions are listed in the same order of importance. (Id.) System-wide responsibilities are listed last, comprising 20% of the job responsibilities. (Pl.'s Exs. 5, 9; J.S. I ¶ 14.)

Grande described the pharmacy department at the time as "moving in a direction departmentally that was going to involve corporate-level activities" that would "potentially change the way we did purchasing," and involved changes to budgeting, including the use of a new information management system ("IMS") to develop, justify and change the pharmacy budget. (Grand Dep. 107-08; J.S. I ¶14.) Grande agreed that the IMS used for budgeting was specific to AGH and was a function of information being entered into a software system and a result coming out of that which either is consistent with what you expected or not either in terms of pricing or budget, and if there's a variance, you have to explain it. (Grand Dep. 110-11; J.S. I ¶ 14.) Curinga testified that in April 2005, AGH continued to use the systems created by plaintiff, which included software programs for the monitoring of pharmaceutical purchases, budgeting, and costs. (Curinga Dep. 12-13, 57; J.S. I ¶14.) Grande acknowledged that many of the software programs designed by plaintiff were in use as of April 2005 and that the WPAHS effort to standardize pharmacy systems was the same as when AHERF took over AGH. (Grand Dep. 97, 102-03; J.S. I ¶14.)

With respect to the corporate nature of the position, Seidl testified:

The corporate involvement was very time consuming. And we really felt that the person stepping into this position was going to have to play a big role and spend a lot of time working on these corporate initiatives because it was taking a lot of my time as well as Roxanne's when she was there. (Seidl Dep., 32-33, Apr. 20, 2009, Defs.' App. D; J.S. I ¶15.) Seidl participated in the creation of the August 2005 job description that assigned system-wide duties the least important activity listed with a twenty per cent time allocation. (Seidl Dep. 31-32; J.S. I ¶15.)

Weiloch reported that the departmental involvement in corporate initiatives was Attending those [corporate level] meetings, handling the corporate initiatives, the changes that were going to be coming. Like the creation of a system P&T [Pharmacy and Therapeutics], those types of things. (Weiloch Dep. 42, Apr. 20, 2009, Defs.'s App. E; J.S. I ¶16.)

Zedreck-Gonzalez was responsible for overseeing the pharmacy department. (Zedreck-Gonzalez Dep. 34, Jun. 4, 2009, Defs.'s App. F; J.S. I ¶17.) Zedreck-Gonzalez testified that with respect to the impact that system-wide integration would have on the manager position:

It was going to be more of the relationships within the system.

There was going to have to be a need to work with not only other pharmacy directors but other vice presidents. Corporate purchasing was becoming more involved as each day transpired, and the positions within all those roles were going to be important for the person in this job to have expertise related to those types of relationships, interactions, and looking broadly related to opportunities for savings, expenses across the system, what might apply to Allegheny General might be different at West Penn, and the ability to look broadly at those opportunities or situations. (Zedreck-Gonzalez Dep. 34; J.S. I ¶17.) Zedreck-Gonzalez indicated, however, that she was not qualified to provide details about how the duties of pharmacy manager position had changed. (Zedreck-Gonzalez Dep. 39; J.S. I ¶17.)

D. Plaintiff's Interview

In April 2005, plaintiff saw a posting for the position of manager of purchasing, inventory and finances for the pharmacy department and applied for the position. (Pl. Dep. 40; J.S. I ¶18.) At the end of May 2005 plaintiff was interviewed for the position (Pl. Dep. 41; J.S. I ¶19.) Plaintiff was interviewed by Grande, Seidl, and Weiloch, each of whom worked with plaintiff for many years. (Pl. Dep. 42; J.S. I ¶ 20.) The interview lasted for approximately twenty minutes.

(Pl.'s Dep. 51; J.S. I ¶ 26.) Plaintiff attached her resume to her application, but did not submit any documents to the interviewers at the interview itself. (Pl.'s Dep. 51; J.S. I ¶ 26.) During the interview, plaintiff described her experience with preparing an operational budget, developing cost accounting programs and ensuring compliance with applicable standards. (Pl. Dep. 46-47; J.S. I ¶ 27.) Plaintiff asked the interviewers how the job had changed and "[t]hey replied with the duties [she] had been doing . . . everything they mentioned [she] had done . . . and done well . . . ." (Pl. Dep. 47; J.S. I ¶ 27.) Grande "did not articulate any changes . . . about the job description." (Pl. Dep. 58; J.S. I ¶ 29.)

The day after the interview, plaintiff sent letters to Grande, Seidl and Weiloch in which she reiterated her achievements in performing the pharmacy manager's responsibilities, including that she had "developed a unique method of budgeting and a database management system using cost accounting principles" to reflect a computerized analysis of "expense variances due to volume used, price paid, or change in inventory." (Grande Dep. 92; Pl.'s App., Ex.13; J.S. I ¶ 26.) Plaintiff asked a human resource consultant, Eggleston, about any changes in the job description. Eggleston informed plaintiff that "requiring that it be a pharmacist was the major change. . .." (Pl. Dep. 58-59; J.S. I ¶ 29.) During her deposition plaintiff indicated*fn5 that she believed she was the best qualified candidate for the position "[b]ecause [she] had performed 100 percent of the duties in the job description, and had done it well for 15 years." (Pl. Dep. 53; J.S. I ¶ 28.) Plaintiff added, " I guess even the new job description I had done all the job duties, so I can't always relate it to the past." (Pl. Dep. 53-54; J.S. ¶ 28.)

E. Partsch - The Candidate Selected to Fill the Position in December 2005

Matthew Partsch ("Partsch") was selected to fill the November 2005 opening. (J.S. I ¶ 46.) Partsch was born on September 21, 1970. (J.S. I ¶ 47.) He held a B.S. degree in pharmacy from the University of Pittsburgh. (Partsch Dep. 8, May 15, 2009, Defs.' App. H; J.S. I ¶ 46.) When he began his employment with AGH, Partsch was working on his M.B.A. (J.S. I ¶ 46.) Prior to his employment at AGH, Partsch worked as a regional inventory manager for NeighborCare, a closed-door pharmacy that supplied medications to long-term care facilities. (Partsch Dep. 23-25; J.S. I ¶ 46.) Partsch testified that he was part of the operations team, primarily worked to manage inventory, evaluated contracts, prices, and budget in a region that stretched from Florida to Western Pennsylvania, and was involved in writing inventory policies for the entire company. (Partsch Dep. 24-27, 51, J.S. I ¶ 46.)

Grande noted that during Partsch's interview he "showed us work that he was involved in that lent [sic] me to believe that he had the expertise and the knowledge that we were looking for at that ...

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