United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
P. HART, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
action, plaintiff Viji Naidu has sued her former employer,
Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. (“Teva”), alleging
discrimination on the basis of sex and national origin under
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), and the
Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. She alleges that she was
subjected to a hostile work environment and retaliation, and
that she was wrongfully terminated.
has now filed a motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal
of all claims. For the reasons set forth below, its motion
will be denied.
Standard for Summary Judgment
judgment is warranted where the pleadings and discovery, as
well as any affidavits, 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. Fed. R. Civ. Pr. 56. The
moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence of
any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In response, the
non-moving party must adduce more than a mere scintilla of
evidence in its favor, and cannot simply reassert factually
unsupported allegations contained in its pleadings.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249
(1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, supra at
325; Williams v. Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d
458, 460 (3d Cir. 1989).
ruling on a summary judgment motion, the court must construe
the evidence and any reasonable inferences drawn from it in
favor of the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, supra at 255; Tiggs Corp. v. Dow
Corning Corp., 822 F.2d 358, 361 (3d Cir. 1987).
Nevertheless, Rule 56 “mandates the entry of summary
judgment ... against a party who fails to make a showing
sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential
to that party's case, and on which that party will bear
the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, supra, at 323.
parties agree that Viji Naidu is a woman who was born in
India and moved to the United States in 1998. Naidu
Deposition, attached to Teva's Motion for Summary
Judgment (“Motion”) as Exhibit A at 8-10. She is
married and has three children. Id. at 12-15.
December, 2006, Teva hired Naidu to work as a database
administrator. Id. at 16-17. Naidu was subsequently
promoted to senior database administrator, and then senior
manager. Id. at 25-6. In August, 2013, she was
promoted to Associate Director of Database and Applications.
Id. at 26. At around that time, Kumar Venugopal
became interim Associate Director of U.S. Infrastructure,
taking over a position vacated by Naidu's former
supervisor, Eric Shapiro. Id. at 30-32. That
appointment was later made permanent. Venugopal Deposition,
attached to Motion as Exhibit B at 26.
relevant time, the individuals directly reporting to
Venugopal were all men, except for Naidu. Teva's Exhibit
B at 12-13. They included Steven Gingolaski, Alan Wodarski
and Jason Dow. Id.
also undisputed that, at Naidu's 2013 work evaluation -
which took place in January, 2014 - Venugopal rated Naidu at
“Meets Expectations.” 2013 Performance Review,
attached to Response as Exhibit K. However, at her 2014
evaluation, which took place in January, 2015, Venugopal gave
Naidu only a “Mostly Meets” overall score, with a
“Below Expectation” score on collaboration and
influencing. 2014 Performance Review, attached to Naidu's
Response (“Response”) as Exhibit L. As a result,
Venugopal placed Naidu on a 90-day performance improvement
plan (“PIP”). Performance Improvement Plan,
January 29, 2015, attached to Response as Exhibit M. Earlier
evaluations conducted by Eric Shapiro had rated Naidu highly,
praising her leadership skills and relations with peers and
customers. Performance Reviews from 2007-2012, attached to
Response as Exhibits E-J.
response to concerns raised by Naidu, the PIP was revised on
February 23, 2015. Performance Improvement Plan, February 23,
2015, attached to Response as Exhibit N. It included
“action items deliverable”, i.e., projects to be
completed and presented to Venugopal, on March 13, 2015, and
April 10, 2015. Id. Also in February, 2015,
Teva's Human Resources department investigated
Naidu's complaint against Venugopal for discrimination on
the basis of gender and ethnicity. Jessica Graybill
Deposition, attached to Response as Exhibit C at 49. Human
Resources found the complaint to be unsubstantiated.
Id. at 63.
about April 9, 2015, Venugopal notified Naidu that her
employment with Teva was terminated. Plaintiff's
Responses to Defendant's First Set of Interrogatories,
attached as Exhibit 14 to Teva's Exhibit A, at Admission
interactions between Naidu and Venugopal are otherwise in
dispute. According to Naidu, during the entire period that
they worked together, Venugopal made comments about her
status as a working mother, asking how she managed, why she
had to work, and whether it was because her husband did not
make enough money. Exhibit A to Motion, at 64-69, 74-75. He
made similar remarks about Heather Ems, another working
mother in the office, who was Venugopal's ...