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Gorey v. Carpenters Joint Apprentice Committee

April 27, 2010


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


The plaintiff was terminated from a carpenter's apprentice program operated by the defendant Carpenters Joint Apprentice Committee (the "CJAC"). The defendants allege that she was terminated due to her poor attendance record and failure to follow the program's rules and regulations. The plaintiff alleges that she was terminated because she was pregnant and because of her history of drug addiction. She brings claims of pregnancy discrimination under Title VII and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (the "PHRA"), and claims of discrimination based on her previous drug addiction under the Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA").

In addition to the CJAC, the plaintiff also brings her claims against the Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters, Southeastern Pennsylvania, State of Delaware and Eastern Shore of Maryland, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (the "MRC") and the Carpenters Apprentice School of Philadelphia and Vicinity (the "CASPV"). The plaintiff, however, agreed to withdraw her claims against the CASPV upon the defendants' representation that the CASPV is not a separate legal entity.

The defendants filed a motion for partial summary judgment. They seek summary judgment for the MRC on the grounds that (1) the plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies against the MRC, and (2) in the alternative, the plaintiff has failed to produce evidence of discrimination by the MRC. The defendants also seek summary judgment for all of the defendants on the plaintiff's pregnancy discrimination claims.

The Court grants summary judgment for the MRC on all counts. The Court rejects the plaintiff's argument that the CJAC and the MRC should be considered a single entity for exhaustion purposes. The Court, therefore, concludes that the plaintiff's exhaustion of her remedies against the CJAC does not also serve as an exhaustion of her remedies against the MRC.

Summary judgment is also granted for the remaining defendant, the CJAC, on the plaintiff's pregnancy discrimination claims. The plaintiff has not met her burden to show that the CJAC's articulated reasons for her termination were pretext for intentional discrimination on the basis of her pregnancy.

I. The Summary Judgment Record

The Court will begin its discussion of the summary judgment record by describing the MRC and the CJAC and the relationship between the two entities. The Court then discusses Ms. Gorey's history at the CJAC and concludes by discussing the details of Ms. Gorey's discontinuance from the CJAC's program.

A. The Relationship Between the MRC and the CJAC

The MRC is an unincorporated labor union located in Philadelphia, PA. The MRC functions as a chartered council of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and is comprised of 17 local unions. One of the MRC's main functions is to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment for its local unions with certain employers or contractor associations. Individual union members do not join the MRC. Instead, they are members of their local unions, and those local unions are affiliated with the MRC. The union members pay their union dues to the local unions, not the MRC. Edward Coryell, Sr., is the MRC's Executive Secretary-Treasurer and Business Manager. His duties include servicing the membership, handling grievances, overseeing the budget and paying the staff.

The CJAC is a labor-management group composed of representatives from the MRC and the General Building Contractor's Association (the "GBCA"). The CJAC trains carpenter apprentices to become journeyman carpenters through classroom and hands-on instruction.

The CJAC is funded by a trust fund administered under Section 302 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 186(c)(5). The trust was formed by the MRC and GBCA. The CJAC and the MRC share no fiduciary connection. With the exception of government funding, the trust is funded exclusively by contributions from the employers who contract with the MRC. Those employer contractors are required to contribute to the fund forty-five cents for every man hour worked by an apprentice employee. The CJAC owns its own building, and it maintains its own insurance policies, bank accounts and payroll. The CJAC and MRC share no common employees.

The CJAC has a committee comprised of ten "labor side" members drawn from by the MRC and ten "management side" members supplied by the GBCA contractors. Mr. Coryell serves as the co-chairman of the committee's labor side. James Clemens serves as the co-chairman of the committee's management side. The two co-chairmen share equal authority, and each co-chairman appoints the remaining nine committee members from his respective sides.

The CJAC runs a training center for carpentry and related crafts in Philadelphia. The center almost exclusively trains MRC affiliated apprentices and journeymen.*fn1 The CJAC's program lasts four years, during which the apprentices work four days a week and attend the school on the fifth day. To enter the program, applicants must complete an application and pass an exam. After an applicant passes the exam, he is required to secure a sponsor in order to enter the program. The MRC, however, makes no recommendations to the CJAC as to the curriculum or length of the program.

The CJAC employs a director whose job functions include all components of the running of the CJAC. This includes determining whether an apprentice will be discontinued from the program. All managerial decisions at the CJAC are the province of either the CJAC's director or the committee. Joseph Durkin formerly served as the CJAC's director. He retired in the summer of 2007. Charles Brock, Mr. Durkin's replacement, began as the CJAC's director on August 6, 2007.

B. Ms. Gorey's History at the CJAC

Ms. Gorey enrolled in the CJAC in the Fall of 2003. She was sponsored by Penn Acoustics. On December 3, 2003, Penn Acoustics terminated Ms. Gorey for tardiness and poor attendance.

Because Ms. Gorey lost her sponsorship, she was forced to cease participation in the CJAC's program.

Ms. Gorey re-enrolled in the program in October 2004 and began her first year apprenticeship for the second time. Ms. Gorey missed her first day of class and was absent for five of the next twelve classes. Before her second absence, Ms. Gorey was called to James Brennan's office. Mr. Brennan was the assistant director of the CJAC at the time. He gave Ms. Gorey a "verbal warning" concerning getting to class on time.

After several other absences, Ms. Gorey met with Mr. Durkin on April 25, 2005, and was given one last chance to attend classes. Because her attendance record foreclosed the possibility of her graduating to the second year, Mr. Durkin permitted Ms. Gorey to drop out of the first year program and re-enroll for the fall 2005 semester.

Ms. Gorey began the first year of the apprentice program for a third time in October 2005. Ms. Gorey was absent from the first day of classes. She was absent for five out of twenty-four classes and was late to another four classes.

Because of her attendance record, Ms. Gorey was placed on probation on January 17, 2006. As part of the probation process, Ms. Gorey signed an acknowledgment stating that (1) her failure to make immediate progress may be considered in determining whether reasonable suspicion existed regarding possible drug use, and (2) any continued failure to comply with the CJAC's rules and regulations would result in further corrective actions, including the discontinuance of her apprenticeship. The form contained the following remarks: "Absent twice and late once in first 3 days. Poor report from jobs. If improve [sic] is not immediate apprenticeship will end." Notice of Probation Dated January 17, 2006, attached as Ex. 6 to the defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment ("Def. Mot.").

Ms. Gorey signed another probationary acknowledgment form on August 10, 2006. This form contained the following remarks: "Has poor attendance & low work hours STILL. In 2nd year dock 4 days pay for each day missed over one." Notice of Probation Dated August 10, 2006, attached as Ex. 7 to Def. Mot.

Ms. Gorey began the second year of the program in the fall of 2006. In that year, Ms. Gorey's fourth with the CJAC, Ms. Gorey was marked absent from four of eight classes. She met with Mr. Brennan again on January 17, 2007, and he presented a third probationary acknowledgment form. The form contained the following remarks: "Last & final chance. Miss one more day for any reason and apprenticeship ends." Notice of Probation ...

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