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Mia Tyler v. Guardian Protection Services

October 10, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert F. Kelly, Sr. J.


Presently before the Court is Defendant, Guardian Protection Services' ("Guardian"), Motion for Summary Judgment filed against Plaintiff, Mia Tyler ("Tyler"). For the reasons stated below, we will grant the Motion in part and deny it in part.


Tyler filed the instant Complaint on January 31, 2011, for unlawful race and gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Tyler, an African-American female, asserts that she was employed by Guardian from July 2, 2008, until June 16, 2009, and that she was a highly successful employee. (Compl. ¶¶ 14-16.) Guardian's principal business is the provision of electronic commercial and residential security systems. (Id.) It has branch offices in various parts of the United States including Pennsylvania. (Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. at 3.) Within each of its branches, Guardian has a "Residential Division" and a "Builder Division." (Id.) The Residential Division handles the sale, installation, monitoring, and service of electronic security systems to individual homeowners. (Id.) The Builder Division handles the sale, installation, monitoring, and service of electronic security and other technology products and services during the construction of new homes built by residential developers who have exclusively partnered with Guardian. (Id.)

In July 2008, Guardian hired Tyler in the Residential Division of its Orlando, Florida branch office, but within two months Tyler requested a transfer to Guardian's Philadelphia branch. (Id. at 4.) At the Philadelphia branch, Tyler interviewed with Isadore Grant, Jr. ("Grant"), the Builder Division Sales Manager, General Manager, Joseph "Buzz" Ebner ("Ebner"), and District Manager, Jay Warnick. (Id.) Tyler was hired for a position called Builder Life Safety Consultant ("LSC"), and began work in the Philadelphia branch beginning September 2, 2008. (Id.) LSCs are sales representatives for the Builder Division, and each LSC is assigned a specific territory consisting of a number of communities under development by Guardian's builder partners. (Id.) The majority of the Philadelphia branch's business came from three major builder partners: Ryan Homes ("Ryan"), NV Homes ("NV"), and Berks Homes ("Berks"). (Id.) Tyler's job with Guardian was to sell residential security systems and other technologies to individuals who had contracted with Guardian's corporate clients to build new homes. (Id.)

Tyler alleges that after several months in this position, she "received a bogus evaluation which was pretextual in nature for allegedly making administrative mistakes." (Compl. ¶ 18.) Tyler further avers that Guardian intentionally discriminated against her as a result of her race and gender, and thereby denied her the benefits of "the contractual relationship she had entered with Guardian by disciplining her for pretextual reasons, subjecting her to harassment as a result of her race, and terminating her employment for pretextual reasons." (Id. ¶ 24.) After the filing of the Complaint, the parties were involved in lengthy discovery disputes.*fn1

Guardian filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on March 3, 2012. On March 20, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Motion for an Extension of Time to Complete Discovery asking for additional discovery time to conduct more depositions so as to be able to properly respond to the Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 46.) On March 23, 2012, we granted this Motion and set April 9, 2012, as the deadline for Tyler to respond to the Summary Judgment Motion. (Doc. No. 48.) On April 4, 2012, we held a telephone conference with the parties to discuss a Motion for a Continuance that Tyler was seeking for the purpose of taking five additional depositions of employees and former employees of Guardian. We granted this request and such depositions were conducted. Tyler, subsequently, filed a Response to Guardian's Summary Judgment Motion on July 24, 2012.*fn2 Guardian filed a Reply in support of its Motion on August 3, 2012.*fn3 (Doc. No. 76.) On September 28, 2012, we ordered Tyler to file a response to Guardian's assertion that she failed to file her Complaint within ninety (90) days after the EEOC issued a "Right to Sue Letter." (Doc. No. 78.) Tyler filed her Response on October 8, 2012. (Doc. No. 79.)


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) states that summary judgment is proper "if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." See Hines v. Consol. Rail Corp., 926 F.2d 262, 267 (3d Cir. 1991). The Court asks "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the jury or whether . . . one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). The moving party has the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for the motion and identifying those portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). "A fact is material if it could affect the outcome of the suit after applying the substantive law. Further, a dispute over a material fact must be 'genuine,' i.e., the evidence must be such 'that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor of the non-moving party.'" Compton v. Nat'l League of Prof'l Baseball Clubs, 995 F. Supp. 554, 561 n.14 (E.D. Pa. 1998).

Summary judgment must be granted "against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. Once the moving party has produced evidence in support of summary judgment, the non-moving party must go beyond the allegations set forth in its pleadings and counter with evidence that presents "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); see Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am. Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1362-63 (3d Cir. 1992). "More than a mere scintilla of evidence in its favor" must be presented by the non-moving party in order to overcome a summary judgment motion. Tziatzios v. United States, 164 F.R.D. 410, 411-12 (E.D. Pa. 1996).

If the court determines that there are no genuine issues of material fact, then summary judgment will be granted. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.


A. McDonnell Douglas Analysis

Title VII prohibits employment practices that result in disparate treatment (intentional discrimination) if the practices are based in any way on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e--2. This section states:

It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer-

(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or

(2) To limit, segregate or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

42 U.S.C. § 2000e--2(a).

The evidence Tyler sets forth in her Title VII claim is characterized as indirect evidence of discrimination, and therefore, will be analyzed using the well-established McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework. ...

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