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Torres v. Deblasis

United States District Court, Third Circuit

August 5, 2013

ANNETTE TORRES, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SGT. ROBERT DEBLASIS, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

Anita B. Brody, J.

Plaintiffs Annette Torres and Patrick Boyle bring suit against Defendants Robert Deblasis, Anthony LaSalle, Alan Clarke, [1] and the City of Philadelphia. Torres and Boyle allege that Defendants subject them to employment discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”), 43 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 951 et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[2] Specifically, Torres alleges that she was subject to disparate treatment, retaliation and a hostile work environment because of her race, national origin, and gender. Boyle alleges that he has been subject to disparate treatment because of his interracial relationship with Torres.[3] I exercise federal question jurisdiction over Torres’ and Boyle’s Title VII and § 1983 claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and supplemental jurisdiction over Torres’ and Boyle’s PHRA claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, I will grant Defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

I. BACKGROUND[4]

Plaintiffs Annette Torres and Patrick Boyle are police officers employed by the Philadelphia Police Department (“PPD”). Both Torres and Boyle have been assigned to the 9thDistrict for their entire careers with the PPD. Torres and Boyle have been in a romantic relationship together since the middle of 2008. Defendant Robert Deblasis is a white male sergeant in the PPD who has been assigned to the 9th District since February 2004. Defendant Deblasis was not Torres’ and Boyle’s direct supervisor. However, Deblasis did supervise Torres and Boyle approximately six times per month throughout 2010. Defendant Anthony LaSalle is a white male lieutenant in the PPD who has been assigned to the 9th District since February 2010. At all times relevant to this suit, LaSalle was the direct supervisor of Deblasis. Defendant Alan Clarke is an African American male captain in the PPD who was assigned to the 9th District in October 2010, for a period of five to six months. As captain of the 9th District, Clarke had supervisory authority over Torres, Boyle, Deblasis, and LaSalle. Between November 2010 and January 2011, several allegedly discriminatory incidents occurred.

1. The November 2, 2010 Incident

On November 2, 2010, the 9th District had a “heavy day, ” which means that police officers from all platoons, approximately twenty-five to thirty police officers, were all required to work at the same time. Deblasis was in charge of officer assignments for the day. Deblasis assigned Torres to work with veteran police officer Donna O’Day-Dunbar because it was his general practice on heavy days to assign veteran officers to work with new officers. Upon learning of her assignment at 3:30 p.m., Torres approached her direct supervisor, Sergeant Dennis Gallagher, and asked him to change her assignment. Gallagher had only been in the 9thDistrict for two weeks, so he decided to discuss Torres’ assignment with Deblasis before making a decision. Deblasis told Gallagher that he had previously given Torres an assignment that she did not like and Torres had decided to call out sick. Based on the information provided by Deblasis, Gallagher decided not to change Torres’ assignment. Thereafter, Torres and O’Day-Dunbar went out on assignment together. While on assignment, O’Day-Dunbar told Torres that Deblasis had paired Torres with O’Day-Dunbar because he believed Torres needed to be retrained.

At approximately 7:30 p.m., Torres and O’Day-Dunbar returned to the 9th District headquarters. Torres approached Deblasis to ask him if he had a problem with her job performance. Deblasis yelled at and scolded Torres for leaving early when she was assigned to work with a veteran officer on a heavy day in 2009 and for wearing a short sleeve uniform when she was supposed to wear a long sleeve uniform the month before. Torres alleges that during this argument, Deblasis poked her in the face with a paper and chest bumped her.[5] During the incident, Torres told Deblasis, “I’m done with you.” Defs.’ Ex. 1 at 29:6-9. When Deblasis informed Torres that she could be disciplined for insubordination, Torres responded, “[D]o what you want.” Defs.’ Ex. 13.

2. Deblasis’ Request That Disciplinary Action Be Taken Against Torres

On November 2, 2010, shortly after the incident, Deblasis submitted a memorandum to Clarke requesting that disciplinary action be taken against Torres for insubordination. No disciplinary action was ever taken against Torres as a result of Deblasis’ request.

3. Torres’ Complaints Against Deblasis

On November 2, 2010, after her argument with Deblasis, Torres went to see Gallagher to notify him of the incident. Torres relayed the details of the argument to Gallagher. Gallagher suggested that Torres could speak to LaSalle about the incident or file an Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”) complaint.

On November 8, 2010, Torres went to the PPD EEO Unit. Torres submitted to the EEO Unit an informal written statement. In the statement, Torres recounted the details of the November 2, 2010 incident.

Torres never mentioned in either her verbal complaint to Gallagher or her written complaint that she believed Deblasis’ conduct was discriminatory. Nor did she ...


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