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Jade Carter v. Biomat Usa

February 23, 2012

JADE CARTER,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
BIOMAT USA, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM

This is an employment discrimination case in which Jade Carter alleges that her former employer, Biomat USA, Inc., unlawfully discriminated and retaliated against her because of her race, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and unlawfully harassed and retaliated against her because of her sex, in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other applicable law. Biomat filed a motion for summary judgment on August 30, 2011. The plaintiff failed to respond to the motion within 21 days, as required under Local Rule of Civil Procedure 7.1(c). The plaintiff did not file a motion for an extension of time. Nonetheless, I issued an Order on January 4, 2012, allowing the plaintiff to respond to the defendant's motion by January 25, 2012.*fn1

Plaintiff did not file a response to the defendant's motion.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e)(2) allows me to consider the defendant's statement of uncontested facts undisputed because the plaintiff failed to properly address the defendant's assertions of fact as required by Rule 56(c). Nevertheless, I carefully examined the record in this case, including the exhibits attached to the defendant's motion for summary judgment. The defendant attached only the portions of the plaintiff's deposition that it cited in support of its motion. I asked the defendant to submit the entire deposition of the plaintiff, and the defendant subsequently filed that deposition. (Doc. No. 32.) I carefully read the transcript of the plaintiff's deposition. For the reasons set forth below, I will grant the defendant's uncontested motion for summary judgment in its entirety.

I. BACKGROUND*fn2

Carter applied for a position with Biomat on October 30, 2007. (Doc. No. 28*fn3 , ¶ 2.) The same day, Biomat offered plaintiff a position as a Phlebotomist in Biomat's facility in Reading, Pennsylvania. (Id.) Carter accepted Biomat's offer, the terms of which are memorialized in her offer letter:

[Biomat is] an "at-will" employer and operate[s] under the provision that employees have the right to resign their position at any time, with or without notice, and with or without cause. We, the employer, have the same right to terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without notice, and with or without cause. (Id.) Phlebotomists are responsible for, among other things, "stick[ing] [donors] with a needle and start[ing] the process" of plasmapheresis. (Id. at ¶ 3.) Carter was later transferred to the position of Plasma Processor where she "work[ed] in the lab" to "process[] the plasma." (Id.) Carter earned $9.00 per hour and reported to Corey Stein, then Facility Manager. (Id. at ¶ 4.)

On her first day of work, Carter received the documents listed in her New Hire Packet Checklist, including Biomat's "Policy Against Harassment" which provides employees with various channels through which they can raise concerns. (Id. at ¶ 5.) Carter read and signed the policy. (Id.) Carter also received Biomat's Handbook including the Workplace Violence Policy, which provides:

Biomat USA, Inc. has a zero tolerance for violent acts or threats of violence against our employees . . . We cannot tolerate fighting, threatening words or conduct . . . No employee should commit or threaten any violent act against a co-worker, applicant, client, or vendor. (Id. at ¶ 6.)

Carter received several warnings from her employer for various behaviors beginning in June 2008. (Id. at ¶ 7.) She received warnings for using her cell phone in the workplace, failing to follow established protocol respecting the handling of donated blood plasma, poor attendance, arriving late to work, and leaving work early. (Id. at ¶¶ 7-11.) Each of these behaviors were against established Company protocol and policy. (Id.)

On June 26, 2009, Carter spoke with other Biomat employees about Jodie Amato's personal life. (Id. at ¶ 12.) Amato was her then best friend and fellow Biomat employee. (Id.) Specifically, Carter told her co-workers that Amato was "sleeping with donors" and then showed her co-workers photographs of those donors with whom she believed Amato had sexual relations. (Id. at ¶ 13.) Later that day, Carter confronted Amato because "she was being a b*tch" and "had an attitude all day." (Id.) Amato responded by accusing Carter of spreading rumors. (Id.) Carter replied that she would not "have been talking about [Amato] . . . if [Amato] wasn't such a whore." (Id.) They continued their argument during work hours in the presence of co-workers. (Id.)

Carter then stormed outside after her verbal argument with Amato. (Id. at ¶ 14.) While she was describing the confrontation to two co-workers, Tabitha Shar and Tandy Smith, Amato also went outside. (Id. at ¶¶ 14-15.) Both remained on Biomat's premises. (Id.) While Carter was conferring with Shar and Smith, Amato "pushed" Carter out of the way to proceed around her. (Id. at ¶ 15.) Carter was offended and more arguing ensued. (Id.)

The dispute escalated quickly. (Id. at ¶ 16.) Carter pulled Amato's hair and punched her in the face. (Id.) Amato fought back. (Id.) During the chaos, Shar and Smith repeatedly shouted warnings to plaintiff and Amato to stop or they would be fired. (Id.) The fight ended when the police arrived. (Id.) Carter was arrested and taken away by the police. (Id. at ¶ 17-18.) Prior to the altercation, Carter "knew fighting was a terminable offense." (Id. at ¶ 17.)

After Carter was released by the police, she called Biomat's facility to inquire about her job status. (Id. at ¶ 19.) Steven Kline, then a manager at the facility, told her that her employment had been terminated "because of the fight[.]" (Id.) Carter "never had any difficulties with Kline" and has no "reason to believe he harbors any bias against [her]." (Id. at ¶ 20.) Carter later learned that Amato, who is Caucasian, had likewise been terminated for her violation of the workplace violence policy. (Id. at ¶ 21.) Carter acknowledges that she was terminated only because of her physical altercation with Amato on Biomat's premises in violation of Company policy. (Id. at ¶ 22.) Plaintiff testified:

Q: Now, Biomat terminated your employment June 26th, 2009.

Correct?

A: Yes.

Q: And you claim they fired you because of you and Ms. Amato being engaged in a physical altercation on the premises. Right?

A: Correct.

Q: And that's why you were fired. Correct?

A: Correct

Q: And then the two of you had a fight, a physical fight. Correct?

A: Yes.

Q: And after that day -- and the two of you were ...


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