United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Decided: February 26, 2014.
For TAMEKA BARNES, Plaintiff: TIMOTHY M. KOLMAN, LEAD ATTORNEY, W. CHARLES SIPIO, KOLMAN ELY PC, PENNDEL, PA.
For NATIONWIDE MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, VICTOR M. VERBEKE, ESQUIRE, Defendants: JOSEPH J. CENTENO, OBERMAYER REDMANN MAXWELL & HIPPEL LLP, PHILADELPHIA, PA; LARAE N. CUNNINGHAM, OBERMAYER REBMANN MAXWELL & HIPPEL LLP, PHILADELPHIA, PA.
ANITA B. BRODY, J.
Plaintiff Tameka Barnes brings suit against Defendants Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company (" Nationwide" ) and Victor M. Verbeke. Barnes alleges that Defendants subject her to disparate treatment because of her race in violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (" PHRA" ), 43 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 951 et seq. , and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. I exercise federal question jurisdiction over Barnes' § 1981 claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and supplemental jurisdiction over Barnes' PHRA claim 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.
Plaintiff Tameka Barnes is African American. She began her employment
with Defendant Nationwide in 2002, working in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 2007, Nationwide transferred Barnes to Nationwide's Trial Division Office in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania to work as a legal secretary. In November 2012, Barnes applied for, and was offered, a position as a legal secretary in Nationwide's Trial Division Office in Harleysville, Pennsylvania. Barnes accepted the position and received a $2,500 salary increase. She is currently employed by Nationwide in the Harleysville office.
The alleged discrimination occurred during the five years that Barnes worked in the Conshohocken office. Barnes' direct supervisor at the Conshohocken office was Adrienne Oliphant, Business Legal Operations Supervisor. Defendant Victor M. Verbeke was the Managing Attorney of the Conshohocken office, and was responsible for monitoring and supervising the office. During her time at the Conshohocken office, Verbeke scrutinized and monitored several aspects of Barnes' job performance.
1) Verbeke Accessed Barnes' Folder on the F-Drive
Every attorney and legal secretary in the Conshohocken office has access to the f-drive on Nationwide's computer system. Within the f-drive, each individual has a folder with his/her name on it. Everyone has the ability to access each other's individual folders. It was routine for legal secretaries to go into the individual files of the lawyers they supported in order to look at documents. On more than one occasion, Verbeke accessed Barnes' folder on the f-drive and discovered that the folder contained personal documents, at least one of which used Nationwide's letterhead. Verbeke twice reported Barnes' storage of personal documents on the f-drive to Oliphant, Barnes' direct supervisor, because employees are prohibited from keeping personal documents on the f-drive and using firm letterhead for personal business. No disciplinary action was taken against Barnes for violating ...