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Pasour v. Philadelphia Housing Authority

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

December 17, 2014

FREDERICK K. PASOUR, Plaintiff,
v.
PHILADELPHIA HOUSING AUTHORITY, Defendant

Page 684

For Frederick K. Pasour, ESQUIRE, Plaintiff: ALAN B. EPSTEIN, LEAD ATTORNEY, JENNIFER L. MYERS, SPECTOR GADON & ROSEN, PC, Philadelphia, PA USA.

For The Philadelphia Housing Authority, Defendant: ERIC J. SCHREINER, LORENA E. AHUMADA, STEVEN J. ENGELMYER, LEAD ATTORNEYS, KLEINBARD BELL & BRECKER LLP, Philadelphia, PA USA.

Page 685

MEMORANDUM

RONALD L. BUCKWALTER, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Currently pending before the Court is Defendant Philadelphia Housing Authority (" Defendant" )'s Motion for Summary Judgment as to the sole remaining claim asserted by Plaintiff Frederick K. Pasour (" Plaintiff" ). For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is denied.

I. FACTUAL HISTORY[1]

Plaintiff was hired by Defendant as labor counsel in June 2003. (Am. Compl. ΒΆ 15.)

Page 686

Defendant terminated Plaintiff's employment on May 27, 2011, at which time he was General Counsel for Labor and Employment. (Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 1; Ex. B, Deposition of Frederick K. Pasour (" Pasour Dep." ), 10:22-11:5, May 15, 2014.) Plaintiff had previously held the positions of Director of Labor and Employment and Acting General Counsel for Labor and Employment. (Id. at 11:14-12:2; Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 13, 19-20.) At various points throughout his employment with Defendant, Plaintiff's duties included the supervision of labor and employment matters handled by outside counsel, supervision of the Equal Employment Opportunity office, supervision of the worker's compensation program, provision of advice to his supervisors regarding labor and employment matters, and direct responsibility for enforcement of Defendant's sexual harassment policy. (Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 17, 19-20, 23.) Plaintiff testified at his deposition that while he was never formally given the title of Head of Human Resources, he acted in that capacity and oversaw all human resource issues, aside from payroll and recruitment. (Pasour Dep. 134:19-135:20.)

When Plaintiff was hired, Carl Greene (" Greene" ) was Defendant's Executive Director. (Am. Compl. ¶ 16.) In August 2010, a series of allegations regarding Greene were reported in newspapers and on television and radio broadcasts, including allegations that some of Defendant's former employees made sexual harassment claims against Greene, three of which were settled. (Id. ¶ ¶ 27, 28.) John F. Street (" Street" ), at that time the Chairman of Defendant's Board of Commissioners, conducted an investigation of those allegations which eventually led to the Board terminating Greene's employment as Executive Director on September 23, 2010. (Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 3.) In connection with the investigation, Street prepared an investigative report dated September 23, 2010 (" Street Report" ). (Am. Compl. ¶ 32.) Michael F. Kelly (" Kelly" ), Defendant's Interim Executive Director, was provided with a copy of the Street Report via email[2] three days before he

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appointed an acting director of human resources, who would be Plaintiff's supervisor. (Pl.'s Resp. Opp'n Summ. J. 6, Ex. 11, Email to Michael Kelly from Leigh Poltrock, Jan. 25, 2011; Pasour Dep. 26:7-29, Ex. 4.) One of Defendant's former employees " vaguely" recalled hearing from Street that he believed Plaintiff was responsible for not reporting matters concerning Greene to the Board. (Pl.'s Resp. Opp'n Mot. Summ. J. 4; Ex. 5, Deposition of Kafi Lindsay, Esq. (" Lindsay Dep." ), 37:9:38-5, June 13, 2014.) Street made the Street Report available to the press and it appeared in the media as a result. (Am. Compl. ¶ 34; Lindsay Dep. 36:14-24.) The Street Report stated that Plaintiff failed in his duty to Defendant and named Plaintiff as one of three individuals who engaged in a " deliberate conspiracy" to keep knowledge of the Greene settlements from the Board of Commissioners. (Pl.'s Resp. Opp'n Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 8, Street Report 3-7.) The Street Report also included the following statement: " Mr. Pasour engaged in a conspiracy to cover up the sexual harassment charges and settlements under duress knowing full well that failure to comply with Mr. Greene's directives would result in [his] immediate dismissal." (Id. at 11.) Street announced that Defendant and its Board would initiate an independent investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against Greene, but Street never spoke to Plaintiff in connection with any such investigation. (Am. Compl. ¶ 32; Pl.'s Resp. Opp'n Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 6, Deposition of John F. Street (" Street Dep." ), 53:13-19, June 11, 2014.)

In December 2010, Defendant hired Kelly as its Interim Executive Director. (Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 4, Ex. D, Deposition of Michael Kelly (" Kelly Dep." ), 11:16-23, 25:7-13, May 22, 2014.) On January 28, 2011, Kelly appointed Audrey Lim (" Lim" ) as Defendant's acting director of human resources. (Id. at 69:24-70:3.) Kelly appointed Lim as acting director because he was in the process of assessing Defendant's human resources department with a consultant, Paulette Campbell (" Campbell" ). (Id. at 41:3-14.) Kelly wanted Lim to serve in an acting capacity while working under Campbell so that she could assist in reorganizing the human resources department and in recruiting a full-time human resources director. (Id.) Kelly appointed Lim to serve as the acting human resources director until, based on discussions with Campbell, a permanent director could be hired. (Id. at 67:24-68:11.) Kelly did not ask Plaintiff to take on the role of acting human resources director because Plaintiff was the general counsel for labor and Kelly viewed Plaintiff's role " as being one of legal." (Id. at 42:19-43:1.) Plaintiff never held the title of director of human resources while employed by Defendant. (Pasour Dep. 134:16-22; 135:7-9.) Plaintiff testified at his deposition that, prior to January 2011, he " acted sort of in an HR/head of HR capacity" because he " ...


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