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Heppard v. Solutions

United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

December 19, 2014

SHADEYA HEPPARD
v.
EDSI SOLUTIONS

MEMORANDUM OF LAW RE: DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Baylson, J.

I. Introduction This is an employment discrimination case. Plaintiff Shadeya Heppard, who is an African American woman, has alleged the following claims against her former employer, Defendant EDSI Solutions (“EDSI”):

1. Intentional Misrepresentation (Count I);
2. Intentional Nondisclosure (Count II);
3. Negligent Misrepresentation (Count III);
4. Discrimination under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”) (Count IV); and
5. Breach of Contract (Count V).[1]

The Court has diversity jurisdiction over this Pennsylvania state-law case, which EDSI removed from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. ECF 1. EDSI now moves for summary judgment.

II. Summary of Undisputed Facts

The parties do not dispute that Heppard worked at a Philadelphia center operated by EDSI called “West EARN, ” where she was promoted from “Data Entry Clerk” to “Quality Control Coordinator” (or “QCC”) in October 2009. The parties also do not dispute that at the time of Heppard’s promotion, she and EDSI discussed the possibility of a retroactive salary increase, although the parties’ interpretations of these discussions differ. The parties also do not dispute that Heppard’s promotion resulted in a change in job responsibilities.

The parties agree that Heppard never received a retroactive raise. Between the time of Heppard’s promotion and her resignation in January 2011, the parties agree that EDSI management told her EDSI could not provide a salary increase in connection with her promotion due to financial difficulties at West EARN that necessitated a wage freeze. Neither party disputes that one white employee, Meredith Lang, was promoted and received a retroactive salary increase during the time EDSI told Heppard a wage freeze was in effect, although the parties disagree about the significance of this fact. The parties also agree that Heppard received an approximately $1, 000 non-retroactive raise in December 2010 as part of a company-wide salary increase.

The parties further agree that West EARN was one of two centers EDSI operated in Philadelphia that provided education services to businesses and displaced workers under contracts with the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation (“PWDC”) and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In 2010, the PWDC awarded the contract to operate the second center, “South EARN, ” to another company. The parties do not dispute that rather than firing all South Earn employees, EDSI decided to transfer some South EARN employees to West EARN, and demoted or terminated staff from both centers. It is not disputed that 21 out of the 24 of the terminated employees were black, although the parties again dispute the significance of this fact.

The parties do not dispute that as a result of the transfer of South EARN employees to West EARN, Heppard was demoted from the QCC position. She was replaced in this position by Matthew Eisenhart, a white employee transferred from South EARN. The parties also agree that Eisenhart’s salary as QCC was $10, 000 higher than Heppard’s was in the same position, although they do not agree about the significance of Eisenhart’s higher salary.

It is undisputed that beginning in the fall of 2010, Heppard was criticized for her handling of the West EARN “master database, ” although the parties disagree about the validity of these criticisms. The parties also agree that Heppard resigned from EDSI the day that the black director of West EARN, Clifford Smith, was demoted and replaced by Meredith Lang, his white assistant. Heppard contends that Smith’s demotion was involuntary and racially motivated, thereby prompting Heppard to quit, but EDSI maintains that Smith’s demotion was voluntary. Since her 2011 departure from EDSI, the parties agree that Heppard ...


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