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Standen v. Gertrude Hawk Chocolates, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

February 19, 2014

CAROL A. STANDEN, Plaintiff,
v.
GERTRUDE HAWK CHOCOLATES, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM

JAMES M. MUNLEY, District Judge.

Before the court is defendant's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 45). The motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

BACKGROUND

This Title VII sexual harassment hostile work environment claim arises from Plaintiff Carol A. Standen's (hereinafter "Standen") employment with Defendant Gertrude Hawk Chocolates, Inc. (hereinafter "defendant").[1]

Standen began working for the defendant in 1992 as a Candy Packer. (Doc. 46-1, Def.'s Statement of Material Facts (hereinafter "SOF") ¶ 1; Doc. 46, Ex. A, Dep. of Carol Standen (hereinafter "Standen Dep.") at 13). In 1993 or 1994, defendant promoted Standen to the position of Packaging Technician. (Standen Dep. at 13-14). Standen continued working as a Packaging Technician until 2008 when she took FMLA leave for eight (8) weeks. (SOF ¶ 53). While out on FMLA leave, Standen resigned from her position. ( Id. ¶ 54).

Prior to resigning in November 2008, Standen claims that from 2002 through 2008 she had been the victim of sexual harassment, numerous unwelcome and unwanted physical touchings and was subjected to a severe and pervasive sexually hostile work environment. ( Id. ¶ 7; Standen Dep. at 15). Specifically, Standen testified that three male employees sexually harassed her: (1) David Black (hereinafter "Black"); (2) Phil Calachino (hereinafter "Calachino") and (3) Jim Pope (hereinafter "Pope").

Black and Pope worked with Standen. (Doc. 46-4, Ex. C, Dep. of David Black (hereinafter "Black Dep.") at 5-6; Doc. 46-5, Ex. D, Dep. of James Pope (hereinafter "Pope Dep.") at 5, 17). Calachino was their supervisor. (Doc. 46-3, Ex. B, Dep. of Phillip Calachino (hereinafter "Calachino Dep.") at 5-6). Calachino, Black and Pope deny sexually harassing Standen. (Calachino Dep. at 8-9, 25, 33, 41; Black Dep. at 9; Pope Dep. at 17).

Standen further alleges that she filed numerous complaints with her supervisors up to and including defendant's Chief Executive Officer, David Hawk. (SOF ¶ 8). Specifically, Standen provided a "last chance" complaint to Hawk on November 11, 2008. ( Id. ¶ 9).

Standen also repeatedly registered verbal complaints of sexual harassment with Human Resources Manager David Garton (hereinafter "Garton"), on the following dates: early Easter 2004; October 20, 2004; March 24, 2005; July 15, 2005; November 15, 2005; February 6, 2006; June 30, 2008; August 25, 2008; September 3, 2008; November 3, 2008 and November 11, 2008. (Standen Dep. at 25, 27-28; Standen's Resp. to Def.'s Interrog. (hereinafter "Standen's Interrog. Resp.") ¶ 3(e)). Further, Standen complained of sexual harassment to Calachino on: March 23, 2005; February 2006; early Easter 2006; September 4, 2008 and November 11, 2008. (Standen's Interrog. Resp. ¶ 3(f)). The defendant, however, never took any corrective action. (Standen Dep. at 23-24, 29, 35; Standen's Interrog Resp. ¶¶ 22-23).

In response, Standen filed the instant lawsuit on October 25, 2011, (Doc. 1) and an Amended Complaint on February 21, 2012 (Doc. 12). In her Amended Complaint, Standen alleged claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2 (hereinafter "Title VII") and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (hereinafter "PHRA"). The court dismissed Standen's PHRA claim in its motion to dismiss order. The court allowed Standen's Title VII sexual harassment hostile work environment and retaliation claims to proceed. At the conclusion of discovery, the defendant filed the instant motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 45). The parties then briefed the issues bringing the case to its present posture.

JURISDICTION

Because this case is brought pursuant to Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1), the court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.").

LEGAL STANDARD

Granting summary judgment is proper "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'" See Knabe v. Boury , 114 F.3d 407, 410 n.4 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c)). "[T]his standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).

In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must examine the facts in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Int'l Raw Materials, Ltd. v. Stauffer Chem. Co. , 898 F.2d 946, 949 (3d Cir. 1990). The burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson , 477 U.S. at 248. A fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Id . Where the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the party moving for summary judgment may meet its burden by establishing that the evidentiary materials of record, if reduced to admissible evidence, would be insufficient to carry the non-movant's burden of proof at trial. Celotex v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the moving party satisfies its burden, the burden shifts ...


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