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Carswell v. UPMC/UPMC Braddock Hospital

United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania

February 11, 2014




I. Recommendation

It is respectfully recommended that the motion for summary judgment filed on behalf of the remaining defendants, UPMC and UPMC Braddock Hospital (ECF No. 39), be granted.

II. Report

Plaintiff, Tonya Carswell, brings this pro se action alleging a claim of retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17 (Title VII), against Defendants, UPMC and UPMC Braddock Hospital.[1] She alleges that, after she filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in October of 2008, she was discharged from her position as a Patient Business Service Representative at UPMC Braddock Hospital on April 3, 2009.

Presently pending before the Court is a motion for summary judgment, filed by the remaining Defendants. For the reasons that follow, the motion should be granted.


Plaintiff was hired by UPMC Braddock Hospital as a part-time Patient Verification Interviewer on October 6, 1999. (Carswell Dep. at 34.)[2] Her job duties included verifying insurance benefits for hospital stays, skilled nursing facility nursing and rehabilitation services in the Admissions Department. (Carswell Dep. at 43.) In 2005, she moved to a full-time position in the Outpatient Department where she registered patients who needed outpatient services, including bloodwork, x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, PET scans, speech therapy and physical therapy. (Carswell Dep. at 45, 48.) There were two other full-time employees in the Outpatient Department in 2005, Jean Durik and Karen Scavincky. (Carswell Dep. at 46.)

Plaintiff’s immediate supervisor throughout her employment was Flora Franzetta. (Carswell Dep. at 49; Franzetta Dep. at 8.[3]) The Department Manager from the time of her hire until approximately 2005 was Joseph Mikulski. (Carswell Dep. at 49.)

Plaintiff admits that she has a chronic tardiness problem. (Carswell Dep. at 68.) During her employment at UPMC Braddock Hospital, Plaintiff was often late, stating “I was always late so many times” and “I’ve always been late coming to work, so this has always been an issue for me.” (Carswell Dep. at 41, 68.) She was late regardless of which shift she worked. (Carswell Dep. at 90.)

Early in her employment, Plaintiff worked a 3:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. shift. It was then changed to a 1:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. shift and after some time, to a 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. shift. The 10:00 a.m. shift was moved to a 9:00 a.m. start time and eventually to a 9:30 a.m. start time. (Carswell Dep. at 73-75.) She also worked, either on a part-time or occasional basis, a variety of other shifts, including 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., 12:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (Carswell Dep. at 76.) She did not request to move her shifts; rather, her shift was moved throughout her employment to accommodate the needs of the Department (Carswell Dep. at 76.)

Plaintiff was late regardless of the shift she was working. She testified “if you’re concluding that it didn’t matter what time I was scheduled to work, I was always late, then yes … it’s accurate.” (Carswell Dep. at 90.)

When she was hired, Plaintiff signed an acknowledgment of receipt of the UPMC Braddock Employee Handbook. (ECF No. 41-1 Tab C at UPMC00171.) The UPMC Policy and Procedure Manual included a Corrective Action and Discharge Policy. (Carswell Dep. Ex. 2.) She was familiar with the policy, which detailed the disciplinary process. (Carswell Dep. at 39.) UPMC Braddock Hospital also had an Absenteeism and Tardiness policy, which Plaintiff acknowledged applied to her. (Carswell Dep. at 40.)

On November 12, 1999, approximately one month after Plaintiff was hired, Franzetta warned her that she was expected to show up at work on time. (Carswell Dep. Ex. 5.) Franzetta told her that it was important to be on time, not just because of the departmental and system rule but also because it was necessary to be at her station for her scheduled time.

Despite being cautioned about the importance of punctuality as early as 1999, Plaintiff continued to arrive late. As a result, she received disciplinary actions from Mikulski, the Department Manager, as follows:

• 1st quarter of 2000 (23 instances of tardiness) (ECF No. 41-1 Tab C at UPMC00236).
• 2nd quarter of 2000 (26 instances of tardiness) (Id. at UPMC00235).
• 3rd quarter of 2000 (8 instances of tardiness) (Id. at UPMC00233).
• 4th quarter of 2000 (5 instances of tardiness) (Id. at UPMC00232).
• 4th quarter of 2001 (13 instances of tardiness) (Id. at UPMC00231).
• 4th quarter of 2002 (23 instances of tardiness) (Id. at UPMC00213).
• 1st quarter of 2003 (17 instances of tardiness) (Id. at UPMC00211).
• 2nd quarter of 2003 (26 instances of tardiness) (Id. at UPMC00208).
• 3rd quarter of 2003 (27 instances of tardiness) (Id. at UPMC00206).
• 4th quarter of 2003 (31 instances of tardiness) (Id. at UPM 00204).
• 1st quarter of 2004 (9 instances of tardiness) (Id. at UPMC00202). In the first quarter of 2004, Plaintiff received a suspension. (Carswell Dep. at 82-97.)

Mikulski disciplined Plaintiff by monitoring her tardiness every quarter. Tardiness in each quarter would result in one disciplinary action, a verbal or written warning or suspension, regardless of how many times she had been tardy that quarter. (Carswell Dep. at 83, 87-89; ECF No. 41-1 Tab C at UPMC00202-36.) According to Plaintiff, Mikulski showed her some compassion and courtesy because he knew that she had personal problems at home and because, other than her tardiness problem, she was a good employee. (Carswell Dep. at 94-95.) ...

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