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Nardella v. Philadelphia Gas Works

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

January 30, 2014


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Presently before the Court is Defendant Philadelphia Gas Works's Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 42.) For the following reasons, the Motion will be granted.


A. Procedural Background

Plaintiff Deborah Ann Nardella filed a grievance with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ), and received a Notice of Right to Sue in September 2009. (Am. Compl. Ex. 1, ECF No. 12.)[1] On November 25, 2009, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court. The case was assigned to the Honorable Mitchell Goldberg. Judge Goldberg addressed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint, dismissing several counts and granting Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint. (Order on Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 11.) Judge Goldberg concluded that Counts II, III, IV, V, and VI of the Complaint failed to state a claim. (Mem. on Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 10.) Plaintiff filed the Amended Complaint on July 26, 2010. (ECF. No. 12.) Defendant Philadelphia Gas Works (" PGW" ) filed a partial motion to dismiss on August 25, 2010, seeking to dismiss Counts II, III, IV, V, and VI of the Amended Complaint. (ECF. No. 14.) Ultimately, Judge Goldberg recused and the case was reassigned to this Court. (Order Reassigning Case, ECF No. 30.)

On April 3, 2012, we granted Defendant's motion in part and denied it in part. ( See Mem. on Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 31; Order on Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 32.) We granted Defendant's motion with regard to Count V (ridicule, harassment, and psychological harassment) and Count VI (violation of the Equal Pay Act of 1963). ( Id. ) We denied Defendant's motion with regard to Count II (reverse racial discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964), Count III (hostile work environment based on Plaintiff's gender), and Count IV (hostile work environment based on Plaintiff's race). ( Id. )

On October 13, 2012, Defendant filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment on the remaining claims. (Def.'s Mot., ECF No. 42.) Plaintiff filed a pro se response opposing summary judgment on November 5, 2012. (Pl.'s Resp., ECF No. 46.)[2]

B. Factual Background

Plaintiff was hired by PGW on April 7, 2003, to work as a Secretarial Assistant 2 in the Customer Service Department. (Ex. A, Def.'s Ex. List, ECF No. 43.) Plaintiff worked for the Director of Labor, Thomas Murphy until February of 2006. (Ex. U, Def.'s Ex. List.) As of January 1, 2003, PGW operated under an Anti-Harassment/Sexual Harassment policy that provides that " [a]ll employees and managers have a clear responsibility to do all that is necessary to maintain a work environment that is free of racial, ethnic heritage, disability, sexual orientation, religious or sexual harassment or intimidation." (Ex. I, Def.'s Ex. List.)

1. Evaluations Under Murphy[3]

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During the course of her employment, Plaintiff was evaluated on several occasions. On September 1, 2004, Murphy completed a Union Exempt Employee Annual Performance Appraisal for Plaintiff evaluating her performance from September of 2003 through September of 2004. (Ex. M, Def.'s Ex. List.) Plaintiff received a middle rating of 3 for her competency in each category and an overall rating of 3 as an " employee whose performance meets expectations." ( Id. ) Plaintiff was reviewed again on August 25, 2005 for her performance from September 1, 2004 to August 31, 2005. (Ex. L, Def.'s Ex. List.) Plaintiff once again received a middle rating of 3 for her competency in each category and an overall performance rating of 3.29 as a " proficient" employee who " consistently meets and sometimes exceeds all relevant performance standards." (Ex. L.) On August 25, 2005, Plaintiff received an inter-office memorandum from PGW informing her of a $1,560.91 salary increase effective September 3, 2005. (Ex. K, Def.'s Ex. List.) The next day, Plaintiff wrote a response thanking Murphy for the review and for her salary increase, but indicating that she was disappointed in the amount of the pay increase. (Ex. L.)

2. Evaluations Under Jordon

In February of 2006, Plaintiff began reporting to Steven Jordon, a black male who had recently taken the position as Director of Labor. (Ex. U; Def.'s Statement of Facts ¶ 43, ECF No. 42; Jordon Dep. 6, Def.'s Dep. Trs., ECF No. 44.) Jordon completed an appraisal for Plaintiff for the period of September 1, 2005 through August 31, 2006. (Ex. S, Def.'s Ex. List.) The overall performance rating for this period was 2.25. ( Id. ) The appraisal comment read: " [Plaintiff] seems to have a good attitude, however, there seems to be some continuous miscommunication regarding standards, requirements processes and the overall expectations and requirements." ( Id. ) As a result, Plaintiff was placed on a performance improvement plan (" PIP" ). ( Id. ; Ex. J, Def.'s Ex. List.) Plaintiff filed a written response to the appraisal stating that " these comments are slanderous to my performance and the statements [sic] pure LIBEL and I do not appreciate someone making statements about my work that isn't [sic] true, especially robbing me from my raise in the process." (Ex. S.) Plaintiff said that she was " appalled" by the comments in the review, lamented PGW's decision not to give her a raise, and indicated that she believed she was being discriminated against for a reason that was not known to her. ( Id. )

3. Plaintiff is Placed on PIPs

The PIP contained goals for Plaintiff to achieve by the end of a ninety-day period. (Ex. J.) Among other things, Plaintiff was to " [p]repare and produce all meeting contacts and minutes grammatically and factually correct [sic]." ( Id. ) Plaintiff refused to sign the PIP. ( Id. ) The PIP reflected that after the thirty-day reassessment, on December 18, 2006, Plaintiff was making progress. ( Id. ) On December 18, 2006, Plaintiff met with Jordon and Gary Gioiso, Director for Organizational ...

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