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Richard Klina v. the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority

October 3, 2011

RICHARD KLINA
v.
THE SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY



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

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Richard Klina ("Plaintiff") commenced this action for employment discrimination, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), ñ 2 et seq., 29 U.S.C.A. ñ 621 et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa. Stat. Ann. ñ 951 et seq., against his employer, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority ("SEPTA" or "Defendant"). Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 17). After oral argument, a review of the record, and upon consideration of Plaintiff's supplementary materials provided at the request of the Court, and for the reasons that follow, the Court will grant summary judgment to Defendant.

I. Factual History

A. Plaintiff's Employment with SEPTA

Richard Klina is a fifty-seven year-old Assistant Director of Railroad Services at SEPTA's Rail Transportation division. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 1 (; Pl.'s Resp to Facts at ¶ 1. Plaintiff began working for SEPTA on January 1, 1983 and was promoted to "Deputy Director" or "Assistant Director" in 1995. Def.'s Facts at ¶¶ 16-17; Pl.'s Resp to Facts at ¶¶ 16-17. According to SEPTA, it calls an employee in Plaintiff's position a SAM employee, which stands for "Supervisory, Administrative, or Management" employee and indicates an employee who is not in a collective bargaining unit. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 20 n. 2.

B. SEPTA's Salary Grade Policies

SEPTA has a salary structure based on "grades and ranges." Def.'s Facts at ¶ 6; Pl.'s Resp to Facts at ¶ 6; 2005 SAM Compensation Policy, Def.'s Ex. 3. According to SEPTA's 2005 SAM Compensation Policy document, SEPTA considers all jobs within a salary grade to be of equal value and have the same pay range. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 7; Def.'s Ex. 3 at 1. Each pay range has a minimum, midpoint, and maximum. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 8; Pl.'s Resp to Facts at ¶ 8; Def.'s Ex. 3 at 1-3. Between 1995 and 2000, Plaintiff, as all Deputy or Assistant Directors in Rail Transportation, was a "grade 14 Deputy Director." Def.'s Facts at ¶ 9; Pl.'s Resp to Facts at ¶ 9.

In 2001, at the advice of an outside consultant, the Hay Group, SEPTA restructured the grade numbering system, which resulted in the conversion of grade 14 positions to grade 41 and grade 13 to grade 40. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 10-11; Pl.'s Resp to Facts at ¶ 10-11; October 2001 Leary Memorandum, Def.'s Ex. 4; 2001 Consultant Compensation Study at 3, Def.'s Ex. 5. Of 671 positions evaluated, 40 positions were upgraded to fall into a grade with a higher midpoint salary, 141 positions were downgraded to a grade with a lower midpoint salary, and 490 positions remained the same. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 13; Pl.'s Resp to Facts at ¶ 13; Leary Memorandum at 3; Def.'s Ex. 4. The downgrading of positions affected approximately 700 employees. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 13; Pl.'s Resp to Facts at ¶ 13; Compensation Study at 26, Def.'s Ex. 5.

At the time that SEPTA implemented the new grade numbering system, it informed employees that it had "decided not to reduce the salary of any individual employee at SEPTA as a result of a 'downgrade.'" Leary Memorandum at 3; Def.'s Ex. 4. In the case of employees in positions being downgraded, SEPTA implemented a policy of grandfathering those employees at their current salary. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 13; Sept. 10, 2001 Memorandum at 1; Def.'s Ex. 7. These grandfathered employees were identified by a "G" in their job code. Id.

SEPTA explains the grandfathering policy in its 2005 SAM Compensation Policy manual as follows:

Grandfathered Incumbent/Grade:

Subject to the implementation policy of the HayGroup [sic] study results in 2001, certain positions were downgraded relative to peer positions. With this action, SEPTA decided not to reduce the salary or grade of any individual employee as a direct result of the HayGroup [sic] study downgrading the position grade. Employees remained in "personal" grades higher than the evaluated position grade. For example: the position of Transportation Manager, position number 2094, was evaluated to be grade 37. At that time, all employees within this classification were placed in grade 38, and employees were assigned the position number G2094.

Compensation Policy at 2, Def.'s Ex. 3; see Def.'s Facts at ¶ 20.

C. Plaintiff's Position and Grade

On or about September 24, 2001, Claire L. Parkes, SEPTA Director for Compensation and HRIS, sent a letter to Plaintiff informing him about his "grandfathered" status. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 18; Pl.'s Resp to Facts at ¶ 18; Sept. 24, 2001 Letter, Pl.'s Ex. O. The letter read, in relevant part:

SEPTA is now implementing the results of the Hay Group's findings and the new salary ranges for SAM employees. Please be advised that no SAM employee was downgraded as a result of the Hay Group's findings.

Your current position title is: DEPUTY DIRECTOR RAILROAD Your current position is: G7193 If your position number has a "G" as the first character, this indicates that you were "grandfathered" in your salary grade and salary range with the new SAM structure. This means that your salary grade and salary range was converted directly from the old structure to the new structure.) According to the Hay Group, all new incumbents entering into your position will be assigned to a lower salary grade. You will, however, maintain the salary grade described below.

Your old salary grade was: 14

Your new salary grade is: 41 Your new salary range for your position effective November 25, 2001 is 52494.00 69992.00 84006.00 Sept. 24, 2001 Letter, Pl.'s Ex. O. The letter does not make the distinction, as does the 2005 SAM Compensation Policy, between "personal grades" and "position grades." However, since 2001, all Assistant and Deputy Director positions within Rail Transportation have been graded as a 40 and no new positions within Rail Transportation has been graded as a 41. Def.'s Facts at ¶ 29; Def.'s Ex. 11; Organizational Charts, Rail Transportation Div., 2001 -- 2010.

D. Determination of Midpoint Placement

On or about September 15, 2003, David A. Schweibenz, SEPTA Director of Compensation, distributed the SAM FY 2004 Merit-Employee Communication Memorandum ("FY 2004 Memorandum") to all SAM employees, including Plaintiff. Def.'s Facts at ¶¶ 22-23; Pl.'s Resp to Facts at ¶¶ 22-23. The FY 2004 Memorandum informed SAM employees that SEPTA had approved a "performance matrix" that provided a different range of percentage increases for employees whose salary was below a position's midpoint than for employees whose salary was above a position's midpoint. Def.'s Facts at ¶¶ 24; Pl.'s Resp to Facts at ¶¶ 24; FY 2004 Memorandum, Def.'s Ex. 7; David A. Schweibenz Dep. at 30; Def.'s Ex. 8. The Memorandum stated that SAM employees whose performance was assessed as "Exceeds Expectations" would receive percentage increases between 3.0 and 5.0% if their salaries were above the position's midpoint and between 4.0 and 6.0% if their salaries were below the position's midpoint. FY 2004 Memorandum, Def.'s Ex. 7. SAM employees whose performance was assessed as "Meets Expectations" would receive percentage increases between 2.0 and 4.0% if their salaries were above the position's midpoint and between 2.0 and 5.0% if their salaries were below the position's midpoint. Id.

The FY 2004 Memorandum informed employees that "[f]or grandfathered positions, the 'un-grandfathered' grade range midpoint [in Plaintiff's case -- 40] will be used to determine the midpoint placement, not the employee's grandfathered grade midpoint [in Plaintiff's case -- 41]." The Merit-Employee Communication memoranda for fiscal years 2006 through 2011 contain identical language and were received by Plaintiff. Def.'s Facts at ¶¶ 26-27; Pl.'s Resp to Facts at ¶¶ 26-27. Plaintiff disputes SEPTA's interpretation and asserts it was contradicted by a SEPTA official.

E. Plaintiff's Performance and Merit Increases

SEPTA's performance ratings are broken down into 13 categories related to job skills and management, each of which is evaluated based on ratings of "Below Expectations," "Meets Expectations," and "Exceeds Expectations." Pl.'s Ex. to Supp. Br. S; 2003-2010 Performance Reviews. Each year between 2001 and 2010, Plaintiff has received overall performance ratings of "Meets Expectations." Def.'s Facts at ¶¶ 30; Pl.'s Resp to Facts at ¶¶ 30; see also Pl.'s Ex. to Supp. Br. S. Between 2003 and 2010, the years for which Plaintiff placed his performance reviews into the record, Plaintiff consistently received performance ratings of "Exceeds Expectations" in between 2 and 5 out of the 13 areas. See generally Pl.'s Ex. to Supp. Br. S.*fn1 In the comments, Plaintiff was often also noted to be a "solid team player" and an "asset;" to show an "outstanding job overseeing contracts related to station cleaning;" and "provide[] excellent oversight." Id. Plaintiff has also been recognized with a Congressional commendation, as well as numerous commendations from customers for his performance. Pl.'s Ex. T.

Between 2001 and 2010, Plaintiff has received merit salary increase between 2.5% and 4.0%, with the exception of 2004 and 2009, when merit increases were not awarded to any SAM employee. Id. During 2004 and 2009, Plaintiff received ...


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