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Harris v. Harley-Davidson Motor Co. Operations

November 10, 2010

STEPHANIE HARRIS, PLAINTIFF
v.
HARLEY-DAVIDSON MOTOR COMPANY OPERATIONS, INC., DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Chief Judge Kane)

MEMORANDUM

Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to compel discovery.*fn1 (Doc. No. 26.) Both parties have submitted briefs, and the motion is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's motion to compel discovery will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

In her complaint, Plaintiff alleges employment discrimination on the basis of race and gender pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §2000e-2; claims under the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 for breach of contract and as a companion to her Title VII claims; and discrimination on the basis of race and gender under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 P.S. §951, et seq. (Doc. No. 18.) Plaintiff claims she was treated less favorably than similarly situated non-African-American employees and similarly situated male employees. (Id. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff avers that, beginning around July 2007, she was harassed by a fellow employee. (Id. ¶¶ 17-24.) Plaintiff made several complaints to Defendant regarding this behavior. Id. However, Defendant told her not to contact Human Resources again and intentionally failed to respond to the fellow employee's actions. (Id. ¶¶ 25, 26.)

On May 14, 2010, Plaintiff sought discovery in the form of interrogatories and document requests. (Doc. No. 26 at 1.) Defendant objected to Interrogatories 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 17, 18, and 26 as overly broad, unduly burdensome, and not likely to lead to discovery of relevant information. (Doc. No. 27, Ex. A.) On June 28, 2010, Defendant supplemented its initial discovery responses with limited responses to the disputed interrogatories. (Id.) Specifically, Defendant limited the scope of its responses to information regarding African-American assemblers working on the third shift at Defendant's York facility between September 2006 and March 2009. (Id.) Defendant also objected to Document Request 6, which asked for the personnel files of the employees named in response to Interrogatories 2, 6 and 17. (Id.) At a telephone conference on July 15, 2010, the parties brought the ongoing dispute to the Court's attention, and the Court ordered briefing on the issue. (Doc. No. 25.)

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

"It is well-established that the scope and conduct of discovery are within the sound discretion of the trial court." Marroquin-Manriques v. Immigration and Naturalization Serv., 699 F.2d 129, 134 (3d Cir. 1983). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permit discovery of "any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Discovery is not limited solely to admissible evidence but encompasses matters which "appear[ ] reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 allows a party who has received evasive or incomplete discovery responses to seek a court order compelling additional disclosure or discovery. The party seeking the order to compel must demonstrate the relevance of the information sought. Goodman v. Wagner, 533 F. Supp. 255, 258 (E.D. Pa. 1982). The burden then shifts to the opposing party, who must demonstrate in specific terms why a discovery request does not fall within the broad scope of discovery or is otherwise improper. Id.

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff seeks to compel a response to Interrogatories 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 17, 18 and 26. Plaintiff also seeks to compel production of documents in response to Document Request 6. The Court will address the disputed interrogatories and the discovery request in turn.

A. Interrogatories

As a preliminary matter, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant failed to completely answer Interrogatory 9 because it did not provide the last known address and telephone number of every person identified. (Doc. No. 26 at 1.) Defendant contends that it provided this information for each individual that Plaintiff sought to depose. (Doc. No. 27 at 2.) Assuming that Plaintiff did not receive the address and telephone number of every individual listed, the Court finds that Defendant shall fully respond to Interrogatory 9 with the requested information.

Plaintiff's remaining disputed interrogatories request information relating to the identity of certain persons employed by Defendant, as well as information regarding claims made with or against Defendant alleging various forms of harassment. Specifically, Interrogatories 2 and 3 request the identity, "dates of employment, and reasons for separation" of all persons employed by Defendant as assemblers "from 2003 through 2008 who were of African, African-American, or Hispanic ethnicity/heritage." (Doc. No. 26 Ex. A.) Interrogatories 6, 7 and 8 request the identity of "each and every employee who has complained of general harassment, sexual harassment, ethnic harassment, or being made to feel uncomfortable by another employee's actions or words" from July 9, 2002 through 2008, as well as the complaining employee's race, the accused person's identity and race, details of the complaint, and Defendant's response to the complaint.*fn2 (Id.) Interrogatories 17 and 18 request the identity of "any employee of African, African-American, or Hispanic ethnicity/heritage that was disciplined or terminated for behavior that made other employees uncomfortable, racial harassment, sexual harassment, or general harassing behaviors" and a complete description of the behavior and resulting discipline. (Id.) Finally, Interrogatory 26 requests information regarding any complaint "filed with Defendant, its partners or affiliates, or in any agency, including EEOC and PHRC, against Defendant, its partners or affiliates alleging disparate treatment, discrimination, harassment or wrongful termination since 2003." (Id.)

Defendant objects to these requests as overly broad, unduly burdensome, and not likely to lead to admissible evidence. Defendant argues that the temporal and geographical scope of Plaintiff's interrogatories should be limited. (Doc. No. 27 at 3, 4.) Defendant also asserts that discovery should be tailored to Plaintiff's ...


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