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Walker v. Dep't of Revenue

October 1, 2010

MARY WALKER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Terrence F. McVerry United States District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Presently before the Court for disposition is the MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, with brief in support, filed by Defendant, Department of Revenue (Document Nos. 25 and 26, respectively), and the brief and response in opposition filed by Plaintiff, Mary Walker (Document Nos. 36 and 37, respectively).

The issues have been fully briefed and the factual record has been thoroughly developed via the Concise Statement of Material Facts filed by Defendant (Document No. 27) and the counter Concise Statement of Material Facts filed by Plaintiff (Document No. 38).

After careful consideration of the motion, the filings in support and opposition thereto, the memoranda of the parties, the relevant case law, and the record as a whole, the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant, Department of Revenue, will be granted in its entirety.

Procedural History

Plaintiff, Mary Walker, initiated this lawsuit on March 18, 2009, by the filing of a Complaint against Defendant, Department of Revenue ("DOR"), in which she alleges that she was subjected to a continuous and ongoing hostile work environment and disparate treatment because of her sex, age, race/reverse race, diverse family, and disability/perceived disability, harassment, discrimination, and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), the Age Discrimination Employment Act ("ADEA"), and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA").

Defendant filed the instant motion for summary judgment, in which it contends that Plaintiff is not able to establish a prima facie case on her Title VII claims. Additionally, Defendant argues that Plaintiff‟s discrimination claims brought under the ADA and the ADEA are barred by the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution and that Plaintiff‟s discrimination claims brought under the PHRA are barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Plaintiff has filed her response and brief in opposition to the motion for summary judgment and concedes that her ADA, ADEA, and PHRA claims are barred. Accordingly, the Court will address only Plaintiff‟s federal claims brought under Title VII.

Factual Background

The facts relevant to this discussion, and viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, are as follows. Plaintiff, a Caucasian female, was employed by DOR as a seasonal employee during the 2007 tax season, which ran from approximately February 6, 2007, through mid-May, 2007. DOR did not rehire Plaintiff for the 2008 tax season.

Plaintiff alleges that during her three-month period of employment with DOR, she was subjected to a hostile work environment, discriminated against, and retaliated against based upon her membership in numerous protected classes. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that her rights pursuant to Title VII, the ADA, the ADEA, and the PHRA were violated based upon her race and reverse race, her age, her gender, her disability, and her perceived disability.

Because Plaintiff concedes that her ADA, ADEA, and PHRA claims are barred, the following factual background primarily will focus on Plaintiff‟s claims under Title VII.

Plaintiff appears to allege that she was discriminated against based upon her race (white) and based upon the fact that she has a "bi-racial family." See Complaint at ¶¶ 8, 12. Plaintiff also alleges that she was discriminated against based upon her gender (female). Complaint at ¶ 8.*fn1

In April of 2007, Plaintiff applied for a permanent position as a Tax Account Collection Technician ("TACT"). Plaintiff was not hired for the TACT position and alleges that an unidentified male was hired instead of her. Plaintiff does not allege, however, that the male was less qualified for the position than she was nor does she indicate the race of this unnamed male person.

Plaintiff also alleges that although she received an "excellent" performance evaluation from her supervisor, George Dudek ("Dudek"), and although Dudek indicated on the performance evaluation that he would re-hire her for another season, her employment was not renewed for the 2008 year. Plaintiff does not allege that this failure to renew her seasonal employment was based upon her membership in any protected class, including those covered by Title VII.

Finally, Plaintiff alleges that she was retaliated against for complaints she made about the hostile work environment and disparate treatment she was allegedly experiencing. See Complaint at ¶ 12(j). Plaintiff does not allege what "complaints" she made, what the allegedly retaliatory acts were, or what person committed the allegedly retaliatory act(s).

Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which was cross-filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. Plaintiff received a "Right to Sue" letter and, thereafter, timely filed this lawsuit. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, declaratory judgment, compensatory damages, punitive damages, nominal damages, court costs, and attorney‟s fees.

Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). There is no issue for trial "unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The court is not to weigh the evidence, or make credibility decisions about the evidence. Josey v. John R. Hollingsworth Corp., 996 F.2d 632, 637 (3d Cir. 1993). "A defendant moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating there are no facts supporting the plaintiff‟s claim; then the plaintiff must introduce specific, affirmative evidence there is a genuine issue for trial." Holt Cargo Sys., Inc. v. Del. River Port Auth., 20 F. Supp.2d 803, 817 (E.D. Pa. 1998), aff'd, 165 F.3d 242 (3d Cir. 1999)).

Additionally, as the moving party, the defendant, is not required to refute the essential elements of the plaintiff‟s cause of action. Rather, the defendant need only demonstrate "the absence or insufficiency of the plaintiff‟s evidence offered in support of those essential elements. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). Further, the non-moving party cannot rely on unsupported assertions, conclusory allegations, or mere suspicions in attempting to survive a summary judgment motion. Distilled to its essence, the summary judgment standard requires the non-moving party to create a "sufficient disagreement to require submission [of the evidence] to a jury." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 251-52.

Discussion

I. Title VII Claims

Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer "to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex or national origin." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). Thus, a court's ultimate task in a discrimination case is to determine whether the plaintiff has carried his or her burden of showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the employer intentionally discriminated against him or her. Josey v. John R. Hollingsworth Corp., 996 F.2d 632, 637 (3d Cir. 1993); see Bellissimo v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 764 F.2d 175, ...


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