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Scheer v. Motorola

May 10, 2010

JUDITH SCHEER PLAINTIFF,
v.
MOTOROLA, INC. DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION................................................................. 2

II. BACKGROUND................................................................. 2

A. Judith Scheer's Relationship with Michael Welty................................ 2

B. The January 2007 Complaint and Motorola's Response........................... 5

C. The March 2007 Complaint and Motorola's Response............................ 7

E. Scheer's Suit Against Motorola.............................................. 11

III. LEGAL STANDARD............................................................ 11

IV. DISCUSSION.................................................................. 12

A. The Hostile Work Environment Claim........................................ 13

1. Severe or Pervasive Harassment........................................ 13

a. Nature of the Complained of Conduct............................. 15

(i) Motorola's March 2007 Investigation....................... 15

(ii) Nature of Welty's Conduct................................ 16

b. Factors Related to Severe or Pervasive Harassment.................. 19

(i) Frequency of Conduct................................... 19

(ii) Severity of Conduct..................................... 20

(iii) Physical Intimidation or Threats.......................... 21

(iv) Unreasonable Interference with Plaintiff's Job.............. 22

c. Evidence of Severe or Pervasive Harassment Viewed as a Whole....... 23

B. The Retaliation Claim...................................................... 25

1. Evidence related to Scheer's Retaliation Claim............................ 25

2. Adverse Employment Action........................................... 27

3. Causal Link......................................................... 29

V. CONCLUSION.................................................................. 32

I. INTRODUCTION

This is an employment discrimination case in which plaintiff, Judith Scheer, asserts that defendant, Motorola, Inc., violated federal and state law by subjecting her to a hostile work environment and by retaliating against her for complaining about her harasser. Presently before the Court is defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons stated below, the motion is granted.

II. BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted and are presented in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.

Scheer began working in July 2000 as an administrative assistant in the Horsham, Pennsylvania branch office of Motorola. (Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Statement of Material Facts and Plaintiff's Statement of Additional Facts That Preclude Summary Judgment in Favor of Defendant ¶¶ 10, 124; Defendant's Statement of Material Facts as to Which There is No Issue ¶ 10.) (hereinafter, "Def.'s Stmt." and "Pl.'s Stmt.") From July 2000 until 2005, she reported to the Director of Engineering Technology, Don Conrad, Sr. (Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 11; Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 11.) In either March or April of 2005, she began reporting to Livia McCleary, the Director of Engineering Services. (Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 11; Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 11.) And in August 2006, Scheer began reporting to Joe DiBiase, Manager of Compliance Engineering. (Pl.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 12, 128; Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 12.) The claims in this case arose during the time Scheer worked closely with her alleged harasser, Michael Welty, while in the DiBiase group.

A. Judith Scheer's Relationship with Michael Welty

Scheer first met Welty, an engineer in DiBiase's group, when she began working at Motorola in July 2000, but only started working closely with him upon her transfer in August 2006. (Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 31; Def.'s Stmt. ¶31.)

Initially, Scheer and Welty had a friendly relationship with one another. (Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 33; Def.'s ¶ 33.) Welty gave Scheer the nickname "Misty" and asked Scheer to call him by the nickname "Parker." In an August e-mail discussing nicknames, Scheer used the nickname "Sophia" but, after Welty responded by saying "I'm going to miss Misty," Scheer told Welty that "Misty can stay... sophia was just a fad...." (Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 34; Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 34.) Thereafter, Scheer and Welty often used their nicknames when e-mailing one another. (Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 34; Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 34.) Between August 2006 and January 2007, Scheer and Welty exchanged friendly e-mails in which they discussed personal matters and coordinated their gym schedules. (Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 41; Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 41; Def's Ex. M-31.)

Scheer and Welty shared a common interest in jokes about Italian stereotypes and e-mailed them to one another. For example, on August 25, 2006, Scheer sent Welty a picture of her cousin because he looked like an "Italian" New Yorker. (Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 91; Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 91; Def.'s Ex. M-22.)

Scheer and Welty also exchanged e-mails discussing genealogy, one of Scheer's hobbies. In an e-mail dated July 27, 2006, Scheer suggested that Welty could research his mother's family history as a nice surprise. (Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 36; Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 35; Def.'s Ex. M-5.) Later, in August 2006, Scheer asked for Welty's help reviewing her father's military records. (Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 38; Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 38.) Scheer spent one to three hours per week during the workday helping Welty with genealogy. (Pl.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 37, 39; Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 39.)

In October 2006, Welty gave Scheer an early birthday gift: a framed photograph of Scheer's father and his World War II squadron. Welty had found the photograph on the internet. (Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 57; Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 57.) Scheer thanked him for the gift. (Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 57; Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 57.)

That same month, Scheer returned from a vacation to Italy with gifts for her co-workers, including alcohol and lava rocks for Welty. (Pl.'s ...


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