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Seeney v. Elwyn

April 22, 2010

SHEILA SEENEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ELWYN, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eduardo C. Robreno, J.

MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction

Plaintiff, Sheila Seeney ("Seeney" or "Plaintiff"), brings this Title VII action against Defendant, Elwyn, Inc. ("Elwyn" or "Defendant"), alleging racial discrimination and retaliation.*fn1 Plaintiff is an African American female who resides in Pennsylvania. Defendant is a residential care center for individuals with mental and physical disabilities.*fn2

Plaintiff was employed by Defendant from December 1980 until February 2006. Before the Court is Elwyn's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the motion for summary judgment will be granted.

II. Background

Seeney was employed at Elwyn for twenty-five years as a member of the residential living staff, which had responsibility for the care and supervision of Elwyn's neediest, round-the-clock care clients. Plaintiff claims she had an exemplary work record until 2005 when her immediate supervisor on the second shift, Luceni Kamara ("Kamara"), began harassing her.

On October 18, 2005, Seeney reported to work, as usual, at 10 p.m. When she arrived, she observed that a client ("B.W.") had soiled himself, and had been left unattended for sometime by the personnel in the preceding shift. (Seeney Dep. at 57:3-9.) Seeney informed Kamara of this state of affairs, as he was the second shift supervisor at the time, and requested his assistance in placing B.W. in the shower. Seeney testified that she believed it was best to clean B.W. in the shower and Kamara felt B.W. should first be cleaned in the transportable wash basin. Seeney claims Kamara refused to put B.W. in the shower, and he called another employee to help wash B.W. in the wash basin. Following a disagreement between Seeney and Kamara about how to properly clean B.W., Kamara sent Seeney home before completing her shift.

Plaintiff was suspended for three days due to the October 18, 2005, incident. The suspension letter indicated that Plaintiff was suspended due to her refusal to accept a reasonable job assignment and directive by her supervisor, i.e., to clean B.W. using the basin instead of the shower. (Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. Ex. H.) Plaintiff submitted a response letter to Elwyn regarding the October 18 incident which makes no complaints about racial discrimination, disparate treatment or retaliation. (Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. Ex. I.)

Afterwards, Seeney reported to the Elwyn management that Kamara was sleeping while on duty. Kamara was suspended for this infraction. In December 2005, Kamara was made the third shift supervisor and chose to work in the same building where Seeney worked. (Seeney Dep. at 101:2-11.) Subsequently, Plaintiff made a series of complaints about Kamara's conduct to Elwyn's management.

In December 2005, Plaintiff wrote to management that Kamara alleged she had improperly left her shift, whereas she claims she did not. This letter makes no reference to racial discrimination, disparate treatment or retaliation. Seeney was not suspended or disciplined for this incident. (Def.'s Ex. J.)

In January 2006, Seeney complained that Kamara intentionally bumped into her in the hallway, she claims this was retaliation for her reporting that he was sleeping on the job. She complained that Kamara's behavior was aggressive, erratic and abusive. This letter also makes no reference to racial discrimination or disparate treatment. (Def.'s Ex. K.)

In February 2006, Plaintiff submitted a letter complaining about an incident where Kamara yelled at her after she removed a log book from his desk. This letter makes no complaint about racial discrimination or disparate treatment. (Def.'s Ex. L.)

On the morning of February 22, 2006, after another alleged incident with Kamara, Seeney resigned. Seeney claims Elwyn management took no disciplinary action against Kamara about her complaints and, as a result, she felt compelled to resign.

In order to implement her resignation, Seeney met with Elwyn manager Peter Vitarelli ("Vitarelli"). Plaintiff testified that Vitarelli said nothing out of the ordinary to her during this meeting. However, Vitarelli contends he pleaded with Seeney to stay and ...


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