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Rene Saeler v. Eat 'n Park Hospitality Group

December 14, 2011

RENE SAELER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
EAT 'N PARK HOSPITALITY GROUP, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David Stewart Cercone, United States District Judge

Electronic Filing

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, Rene Saeler ("Saeler" or "Plaintiff"), filed an Amended Complaint alleging violations of her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (the "ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (the "PHRA"), 43 PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. § 951 et seq., by Defendant, Eat'n Park Hospitality Group, Inc. ("ENP" or "Defendant"). ENP has filed a motion for summary judgment, Saeler has responded and the matter is now before the Court.

II. STATEMENT OF THE CASE

Saeler is currently forty-eight (48) years old and has been employed as a server for the Eat'n Park Restaurant located in the Clearview Mall ("Clearview ENP") in Butler, Pennsylvania since May of 1983. Defendant's Statement of Material Facts ("Def. SMF") ¶¶ 5 & 6. During her employment with ENP, Saeler was subjected to two (2) formal disciplinary actions which form the bases for this lawsuit. Def. SMF ¶ 7.

The first incident occurred on or about February 3, 2008, when Mike Valent ("Valent")*fn1 entered the Clearview ENP lobby, asked to speak to a manager, and accused Saeler of throwing tomatoes at Dana Powers' ("Powers") car. Def. SMF ¶ 9. When Valent entered the restaurant, Saeler was in in the bakery area adjacent to the lobby. Def. SMF ¶ 16. Saeler testified that she saw Valent through the window of the bakery door and she: . . . went out and I was filling the pan of cookies because it was right there at the bakery. . . [Valent] saw me and he just let off that I threw tomatoes at Dana's car and I did all this damage. And I did not.

Saeler Deposition p. 17. When Valent saw Saeler at the cookie tray, Brianne Ray, the ENP manager on duty at that time, had to restrain Valent. Def. SMF ¶ 20. Ray made Valent leave the restaurant. Id. Saeler called the police and, when they arrived at the restaurant, she filed a report against Valent. Def. SMF ¶ 21.

After the incident, Jeff Sellers ("Sellers"), the General Manager of the restaurant was directed by Anthony White ("White"), the Director of Employee Relations, to speak to the managers on duty and the employee involved. Def. SMF ¶ 22. Sellers and White then contacted Jim Bann ("Bann"), the District Manager, to discuss the incident. Id. It was decided that Saeler would not be terminated, but she was suspended for one (1) week without pay. Id., Plaintiff's Response to Statement of Material Facts ("Pl. RSMF") ¶ 22. In the disciplinary notice Sellers stated: "[Saeler] got into a verbal confrontation in the lobby. Although [Valent] was in the wrong, [Saeler] also violated policy by getting into the mix instead of walking away. . ." Def. SMF ¶ 23.

Saeler believed that co-workers, Dana Powers ("Powers") and Debi Brown ("Brown"), should have been suspended over the Valent incident because "they told [Valent] to come in and do that." Def. SMF ¶ 29. Saeler also believed that her age was a motivating factor for her suspension "because [Powers is] so much younger." Def. SMF ¶¶ 31 & 32.

Saeler was involved in another incident that led to a suspension in June of 2009. Def. SMF ¶ 65. On June 23, 2009, the manager on duty at the Clearview Mall restaurant, Kimber Large-Campbell ("Kimber"), told Saeler that she was going to hold off "cutting the floor*fn2 ." Def. SMF ¶ 66. Shortly thereafter, Powers announced that they were cutting the floor. Id. Saeler and Powers then became involved in a verbal confrontation, and Kimber had to intervene. Def. SMF ¶¶ 66-69. After listening to "both sides" of the story and consulting another manager, Kimber instructed both Saeler and Powers to leave the restaurant. Def. SMF ¶¶ 70 & 72.

Kimber and General Manager Brendon Scheaffer then discussed the incident with White to determine what action was appropriate in response to the Saeler-Powers incident. Def. SMF ¶ 73. Although Saeler was under a written warning of termination as a result of the Valent incident, the decision was made to issue Saeler another warning instead of terminating her employment. Id. Saeler was suspended without pay for three (3) days while the incident was investigated and received the following written warning of termination:

[Saeler] and [] Powers were involved in a verbal conflict on 6/23/09 around noon time. The argument was witnessed by several team members in pantry area. There was a question raised as to how the service floor was cut and an argument followed bringing up past personal conflict involving an incident that occurred in February 2008. Confrontational behavior disrupts the daily operation of the restaurant. It affects other employees and guests.

Def. SMF ΒΆ 75. Powers was also suspended without pay for three (3) days without pay while the incident was investigated and received a written warning similar to the ...


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