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Lynnette D. Brown v. the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

January 29, 2013

LYNNETTE D. BROWN PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff, Lynnette Brown, filed suit against her former employer, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia ("CHOP") and two management employees of CHOP, alleging that her employment was terminated in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). *fn1

Plaintiff also alleges that her termination was in retaliation for a claim of racial discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 *fn2 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. *fn3 Defendants have moved for summary judgment on all claims. For the following reasons, the motion will be denied.

I. FACTS

A. Undisputed Facts Plaintiff, an African-American woman, was hired by CHOP in 2005 as an Outpatient Financial Counselor. *fn4 She was later employed as Office Administrator in the Emergency Department, and then, beginning on September 23, 2007, as one of four Office Coordinators in the Research Business Management Department ("Department"). *fn5 As an Office Coordinator, Plaintiff reported to Defendant Maria Cacciatore, a Department Manager; Ms. Cacciatore reported to Brigid Czyszczon, the Department's Assistant Director. *fn6

On October 28, 2008, Plaintiff requested intermittent FMLA leave to care for her father and the request was approved for the period from October 23, 2008 to April 23, 2009. *fn7 Plaintiff did take intermittent leave during this period. On March 18, 2009, Plaintiff applied for intermittent FMLA leave to care for her son and this second request was approved for the period from March 13, 2009 to September 12, 2009. *fn8

On April 27, 2009, Defendants Cacciatore and Czyszczon presented Plaintiff for the first time with a formal written memorandum that set forth specific instances in which they asserted there had been problems with Plaintiff's processing of documents and stating that if Plaintiff's performance did not improve within 30 days she would be terminated. *fn9 On May 12, 2009, Defendant Cacciatore issued a "Performance Improvement Plan" ("PIP") to Plaintiff, setting forth stated deficiencies with Plaintiff's performance and giving her 30 days to correct these deficiencies. *fn10 On May 15, 2009, Plaintiff filed a Complaint of Discrimination with the

Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations ("PCHR"); in a letter to the PCHR, CHOP stated that it received a copy of the complaint on June 2, 2009. *fn11 Plaintiff's employment was terminated on June 12, 2009. *fn12 The parties have stipulated that "Plaintiff admitted to making errors after being placed on the PIP" and that "Plaintiff admits to making some errors during her employment with CHOP." *fn13

B. Disputed Facts

1. Plaintiff's Performance Defendant Cacciatore testified that there were problems with Plaintiff's performance as Coordinator "[a]lmost immediately." *fn14 However, Plaintiff's only written evaluation was a mandatory six-month evaluation dated June 13, 2008 (nearly nine months after she began working in the Department). *fn15 In this evaluation, Plaintiff received a rating of "Fully Meets" goals and standards in eight of nine categories under the sections of performance and developmental goals and job responsibilities; the ninth category ("serve as customer service representative") was rated as "Partially Meets" the set standard. *fn16 In the section of core competency, Plaintiff received a rating of "Fully Effective" in all six categories. *fn17

In the comment section, the evaluation stated:

Employee's major strengths in the job Lynnette is very organized and timely in the processing of all RBO paperwork. She consistently meets specified deadlines of Research Finance to ensure timely reimbursement to the research community.

Focus areas for improvement Lynette needs further development in responding to customer questions and inquiries. More specifically identifying issues and resolving or directing customer to the appropriate resource. *fn18

The evaluation was signed by Plaintiff and Defendant Cacciatore. Defendant Czyszczon testified in deposition that the positive evaluation was "a mistake" given so as not to "ruin [Plaintiff's] chances" of transferring to a different ...


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