The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. John E. Jones III
THE BACKGROUND OF THIS MEMORANDUM IS AS FOLLOWS:
Presently pending before the Court are the Motions for Summary Judgment of both Defendants. (Docs. 20, 22). The Motions have been fully briefed and are thus ripe for disposition. For the reasons fully articulated herein, we will grant both motions in their entirety and dismiss the Plaintiff's Complaint with prejudice.
Plaintiff Gary McKinley ("Plaintiff" or "McKinley") commenced the above-captioned action by filing a Complaint against Defendant Lycoming, A Textron Company ("Lycoming"), and Defendant UAW Local 787 ("Local 787" or "the Union"), collectively "Defendants," on April 30, 2010. (Doc. 1).*fn1 Local 787 filed its Answer and Affirmative Defenses on July 6, 2010 (Doc. 4) and Lycoming filed a separate Answer and Affirmative Defenses on July 8, 2010. (Doc. 5).
Following a period of discovery, both Defendants filed the instant Motions for Summary Judgment on September 1, 2011. (Docs. 20, 22). After numerous motions to extend the briefing period were granted, the Motions have been fully briefed and are thus ripe for the Court's review. (Docs. 21, 25, 37, 51, 52).
Summary judgment is appropriate if the record establishes "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Initially, the moving party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The movant meets this burden by pointing to an absence of evidence supporting an essential element as to which the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 325. Once the moving party meets its burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to show that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). An issue is "genuine" only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find for the non-moving party, and a factual dispute is "material" only if it might affect the outcome of the action under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986).
In opposing summary judgment, the non-moving party "may not rely merely on allegations of denials in its own pleadings; rather, its response must . . . set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). The non-moving party "cannot rely on unsupported allegations, but must go beyond pleadings and provide some evidence that would show that there exists a genuine issue for trial." Jones v. United Parcel Serv., 214 F.3d 402, 407 (3d Cir. 2000). Arguments made in briefs "are not evidence and cannot by themselves create a factual dispute sufficient to defeat a summary judgment motion." Jersey Cent. Power & Light Co. v. Twp. of Lacey, 772 F.2d 1103, 1109-10 (3d Cir. 1985). However, the facts and all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non- moving party. P.N. v. Clementon Bd. of Educ.,442 F.3d 848, 852 (3d Cir. 2006).
Summary judgment should not be granted when there is a disagreement about the facts or the proper inferences that a fact finder could draw therefrom. Peterson v. Lehigh Valley Dist. Council, 676 F.2d 81, 84 (3d Cir. 1982). Still, "the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; there must be a genuine issue of material fact to preclude summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48.
The following facts are derived from the record and viewed in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff in accordance with the standard of review applicable to a motion for summary judgment. The facts stated herein will be supplemented as necessary by additional facts throughout our analysis.
Plaintiff Gary McKinley ("Plaintiff") is an adult individual born November 24, 1950. (Doc. 23, ¶ 1). Defendant Lycoming, A Textron Company, ("Defendant Lycoming") is a Pennsylvania corporation with a principal place of business in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 22-1, ¶ 4). Defendant UAW Local 787 ("Defendant Union") is a labor union with a principal place of business located in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶ 1).
Plaintiff was hired as a replacement worker during a highly contested strike at Defendant Lycoming's manufacturing plant on or about June 1, 1998. (Id. ¶ 6; Doc. 23, ¶¶ 2-3). Plaintiff was initially hired as a Drafter but was promoted to Checker A on January 31, 2005. (Doc. 23, ¶¶ 4-5). Plaintiff was a member of the Defendant Union, and the relationship between the Defendant Union and Defendant Lycoming was governed by a Collective Bargaining Agreement. (Doc. 22-1, ¶ 7, Ex. 1; Doc. 23, ¶ 7; ).
Beginning early on in his employment and continuing throughout, Plaintiff was singled out by the other union members, all of whom were younger than him. (Doc. 37-1, ¶ 8). In his affidavit, Plaintiff states that the younger employees were treated favorably and got away with things, so he needed to be "on guard all day long due to the harassment" that the younger employees subjected him to. (Doc. 37-1, ¶ 8). He states that the work environment became unbearable, with the younger employees constantly harassing him. (Id.). He avers that he was cursed at, made fun of, "shoulder-bumped," given the finger, and that derogatory comments were made to third parties about Plaintiff. (Id.).
Plaintiff complained to his supervisor that younger employees were not receiving proper training, but when he asked management for permission to train the employees, his request was denied. (Doc. 23, ¶ 19; Doc. 37-1, ¶ 19). Plaintiff repeatedly states that jobs that should have been given to him were given to younger employees and that he was denied training opportunities made available to younger employees, although he offers no evidence to support this claim. (Doc. 37-1, ¶¶ 16-18). In his affidavit, Plaintiff states that "[y]ounger employees were always being sent to school out West" and that he was denied this opportunity. (Doc. 37-1, ¶ 6). Plaintiff explained that he did not present these issues to the union as grievances because he did not believe that it would get him anywhere because the union representatives were younger employees. (Doc. 37-1, ¶ 9).
Throughout his employment, Plaintiff kept detailed daily notes tracking the actions of the younger union employees. The record contains hundreds of pages of the Plaintiff's personal notes, documenting the younger employees' actions during the work day. (See Doc. 23, ¶ 21; Doc. 37-1, ¶ 21). The record includes extensive documentation, to the minute, of co-workers' daily activities, noting, in addition to allegedly harassing behaviors, for example: co-worker belching (Doc. 24-11, p.2), the time of day that specific co-workers would exit and enter the room (e.g., Doc. 24-11, p. 2), and observing and commenting upon particular employees' attire. (Doc. 24-11, p. 5). Plaintiff admits that he was keeping notes "almost from the start of [his] employment" and that other employees did too, although not to the same extent. (Doc. 44, Plaintiff's Exhibit DDD, ¶ 61).
Plaintiff's friend and former co-worker, Walter Cacko, stated in his affidavit that he "personally witnessed the harassment and hostile work environment that Plaintiff was subjected to." (Doc. 37-1, ¶ 29). He explained that the younger union employees would loudly crunch paper on certain days and slam their desk drawers in order to annoy others. (Cacko Aff.,¶¶ 7-8). Cacko also explained that he was personally disliked merely for associating with the Plaintiff. (Doc. 37-1, ¶ 29). He stated that he and Plaintiff had been to Detroit for training but that "they never received the same training that the younger employees received," pointing out that the younger employees would get "play time" on the computers while he and Plaintiff continued to work. (Doc. 37-1, ¶ 16). He also stated that he learned from another employee that the reason that the other employees disliked Plaintiff and treated him poorly was because "[Plaintiff] is a scab and [the other employees] don't like scabs." (Doc. 37, Ex. C, ¶ 17).
Edward Bohart, Jr., another former employee of Defendant Lycoming, stated that like Plaintiff, he kept notes of incidents at work, but was never told that he could not do so. (Doc. 37-1, ¶ 21). In his affidavit, Bohart stated that the younger union employees seemed to get away with things that they should not have and that Plaintiff took the "brunt" of their behavior. (Doc. 37-1, ¶ 9).
In the summer of 2007, Defendant Lycoming discovered that Plaintiff was keeping daily logbooks chronicling work place events. (Doc. 23, ¶ 21; Ex. F, K). On July 23, 2007, Suzette Snyder, Defendant Lycoming's Human Resources Director, issued Plaintiff an Employee Discipline Record for violation of company rules, specifically for non-productive behavior, verbally reprimanded him, and instructed him to cease using work time to "observe, notate, and report on co-workers' behavior." (Doc. 23, ¶¶ 22-24). Plaintiff continued to keep notes, and between August 20 and 27, 2007, he submitted a series of complaints to Defendant Lycoming's management regarding co-workers. (Doc. 23, ¶ 25). On August 28, 2007, Plaintiff was issued a Performance Improvement Plan and Last Chance Agreement and referred to Employee Assistance Program counseling. (Doc. 23, ¶ 26). Plaintiff submits in his affidavit that these actions had nothing to do with nonproductive behavior but were instead retaliatory actions for his complaints about the younger union employees. (Doc. 37-1, ¶ 23-24). On September 25, 2007, Plaintiff submitted a resignation letter and two-weeks notice, citing "other opportunities" as the reason for his resignation. (Doc. 23, ¶¶ 27-28; Doc. 37-1, ¶¶ 27-28).
Prior to his last day of work, Plaintiff submitted to Defendant Lycoming an exit interview form, with supplemental pages attached, again documenting his complaints. (Doc. 23, ¶ ¶ 31-33). In this document, Plaintiff does not list age discrimination as a concern, but does state that he believes certain younger union members were not disciplined as they should have been, that the company has failed to adequately respond to the Plaintiff's complaints about younger employees' behavior, and that supervisors and managers were not doing a satisfactory or efficient job of running the department. (Doc. 23, ¶ 33). In that same letter, Plaintiff cited "other opportunities" as the grounds for his resignation. (Doc. 23, ¶ 28). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested unemployment compensation benefits and filed an unfair labor charge with the National Labor Relations Commission; ...