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Craig Jetter v. Rohm and Haas Chemicals

June 21, 2011

CRAIG JETTER,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROHM AND HAAS CHEMICALS, LLC, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Craig Jetter, currently proceeding pro se, has sued his former employer, Rohm and Haas Chemicals ("Rohm and Haas"), alleging that Rohm and Haas discriminated against him based upon age and race, unlawfully terminated his employment in retaliation for his having filed administrative discrimination charges against Rohm and Haas, and also interfered with his rights under the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA").*fn1

Mr. Jetter was born in 1962. He is African American. His nine-count Complaint asserts racial discrimination claims under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 42 U.S.C. §1981; age discrimination claims under the PHRA and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"); retaliation claims under the PHRA, Title VII and the ADEA; and a single claim under the FMLA.*fn2

Rohm and Haas has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment which would, if granted, dispose of the case in its entirety.*fn3 For the reasons set forth below, this Motion will be granted.

JURISDICTION

The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1367.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

For the purposes of this motion, the Court considers whether the record presents any genuine issues of material fact that would allow a reasonable jury to find for Mr. Jetter.*fn4 On that basis, the facts are as follows.

Mr. Jetter was hired by Rohm and Haas in 1988 as an entry-level technician. In 2002, after receiving a bachelor's degree in chemistry, Mr. Jetter was promoted to the position of laboratory scientist, the position that he held at the time of his 2007 termination.

Mr. Jetter alleges that during his tenure at Rohm and Haas, he was passed over for promotion on "numerous" occasions in favor of "less qualified, significantly younger white employees." He further alleges that Stephanie Bortko, who is white and was his supervisor from 2002 through the date of his termination, assigned him poor performance scores based upon "subjective standards" rather than his "objective" work performance. The record contains no unequivocal evidence of any particular instance in which Mr. Jetter was "passed over" for a promotion that was given to a similarly credentialed or experienced colleague who was younger or white. Likewise, the record does not contain evidence that Ms. Bortko ever mentioned Mr. Jetter's age or race, either in a review or in conversation. Indeed, Mr. Jetter could not say that any of his superiors at Rohm and Haas ever made any comments evincing age or racial bias.*fn5

Mr. Jetter particularly objects to a review of his work that Ms. Bortko prepared in December of 2006, in which she gave him the lowest possible performance score. Mr. Jetter asserts that this review contained "numerous" factual errors regarding his work performance. On January 26, 2007, not long after he received this review, Mr. Jetter filed administrative charges against Rohm and Haas with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission ("PHRC"), claiming that he had suffered age and race discrimination. Rohm and Haas terminated Mr. Jetter on February 13, 2007. On March 9, 2007, Mr. Jetter filed a second set of charges with the EEOC and PHRA, alleging that he had been fired in retaliation for having filed the first set of administrative charges.

Although Mr. Jetter's Complaint asserts "upon information and belief" that Rohm and Haas was aware of Mr. Jetter's first set EEOC and PHRC charges when he was terminated, the record provides no evidence that this is the case. These allegations prompted targeted discovery. In his deposition and at oral argument, Mr. Jetter acknowledged that he did not tell anyone at Rohm and Haas that he was planning to file an EEOC or PHRA charge, nor did he inform anyone at Rohm and Haas of the filing after the charges had been filed but before he was terminated. While the EEOC sent Rohm and Haas written notice of Mr. Jetter's first charge in a letter dated February 12, 2007, the record suggests that this letter was not received by Rohm and Haas until at least a week after Mr. Jetter's termination.*fn6 In addition, Ms. Bortko, the Rohm and Haas employee who was most directly responsible for Mr. Jetter's termination, has averred in an affidavit that she did not learn about the first set of administrative charges until several weeks after Mr. Jetter left the company.

The Complaint also contains a separate claim regarding an instance in 2005 in which Mr. Jetter allegedly asked his department manager, Jeremy Venter, about his eligibility for leave under the FMLA. Mr. Venter ...


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