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Evans v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

March 28, 2018

MICHELE EVANS Plaintiff
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NITZA I. QUINONES ALEJANDRO, U.S.D.C. J.

         INTRODUCTION

         This matter is an employment action based on allegations of race, gender, and disability discrimination, brought by Plaintiff Michele Evans ("Plaintiff), pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12112 et seq., against the City of Philadelphia, ("Defendant"). Before this Court are Defendant's motion for summary judgment filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56, [ECF 17], and Plaintiffs response in opposition thereto and cross-motion for leave to file a second amended complaint. [ECF 19].[1] The issues presented in the motion for summary judgment and in the cross-motion to amend have been fully briefed by the parties and are ripe for disposition. For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted, and Plaintiffs cross-motion for leave to file a second amended complaint is denied.

         BACKGROUND

         On August 10, 2016, Plaintiff, represented by counsel, filed the operative complaint (the "amended complaint") against Defendant and essentially averred that the Philadelphia Police Department, an agency of Defendant, discriminated against her in violation of Title VII and the ADA over the course of her career. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant discriminated against her by denying her requests to transfer to other police districts, suspending her, and later terminating her employment after she tested positive in a random drug test. [ECF 5].[2] The primary focus of Plaintiffs discrimination claims is her suspension and the subsequent termination of her employment.

         Discovery ensued and was completed. On May 15, 2017, Defendant filed the instant motion for summary judgment and a Statement of Undisputed Material Facts. [ECF 17, 17-1]. In her response, Plaintiff briefly addresses the requirements for a motion for summary judgment before devoting the remainder of the memorandum to her cross-motion for leave to file a second amended complaint. [ECF 19]. Plaintiff also filed a response to Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Facts, in which she admits to facts identified in the first ten paragraphs of Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Facts but disputes the remaining facts set forth therein. [ECF 21].

         In ruling on Defendant's motion for summary judgment, this Court will consider the evidence presented in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, i.e., Plaintiff. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The facts relevant to the disposition of Defendant's motion for summary judgment are summarized as follows:[3]

Plaintiff is an African American female who was employed by the Philadelphia Police Department (the "PPD") as a police officer from 1996 until September 5, 2013, when her employment was terminated. (SOF at ¶¶ 1, 16). Plaintiffs initial assignment was with the 16th District. In 2003, Plaintiff filed a sexual harassment charge against her then-supervisory sergeant, and was reassigned to the 35th District. (Pltf. Dep. 19:18-20:19). During her career, Plaintiff was transferred several times. At her deposition, Plaintiff testified that she was subjected to harassing conduct by colleagues and supervisors at each assigned district. (Id. 24:5-28:2).
In March 2010, Plaintiff transferred to the 3rd District from the 4th District. (SOF at ¶ 5). Plaintiff alleges that, during her tenure at the 3rd District, she requested a transfer on three separate occasions, and that each transfer request was denied. (Id. at ¶ 6).
Sometime in 2010, Plaintiff suffered a work-related injury. In 2012 and 2013, Plaintiff was placed on restricted duty and assigned to the Differential Police Reports ("DPR") unit while receiving treatment for a number of physical injuries and ailments sustained both on and off duty, which included a wrist injury and migraine headaches. (Id. at ¶ 7).
On July 18, 2013, Plaintiff and approximately 220 other police officers were required to submit to a random drug test pursuant to PPD Directive 55 ("Directive 55"). (Id. ¶ 10). Directive 55 provides, inter alia, that "all sworn personnel, " including PPD officers, are subject to random drug testing, either by urinalysis and/or hair testing, (see Directive 55 [ECF 17-2] at § II.C, II.E), and that a positive result will result in dismissal. (See Id. at § IX.A.1). A positive result is defined, in part, as "a finding that indicates the presence of illegal drugs." (Id. at § III.D). Police officers who test positive for drugs have the option of requesting and submitting to a second drug test (a "reconfirmation test"). (Id. at § XIA.).[4]
On August 1, 2013, the PPD's Internal Affairs Unit received a notification that Plaintiffs hair sample had tested positive for cocaine. (SOF ¶ 11). Plaintiffs supervisor informed Plaintiff of the test results on the same day and immediately placed her on thirty-day suspension with intent to dismiss. (See Pltf. Dep. 54:19-56:13).
Plaintiff requested, and on August 5, 2013, submitted to a reconfirmation test. (SOF ¶ 14). The reconfirmation test result was negative for cocaine. (Id.). On September 5, 2013, Plaintiffs employment was terminated. (Id. ¶ 16). Plaintiff received notice of her termination on September 6, 2013. (Id.).
On June 2, 2014, Plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, ("EEOC"), alleging discrimination and retaliatory termination on the basis of her race, gender, and/or disability. (Id. ¶ 20). Plaintiff also filed a charge with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations ("PCHR"). (Id.).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56 governs the summary judgment motion practice. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Specifically, this rule provides that summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Id. A fact is "material" if proof of its existence or non-existence might affect the outcome of the litigation, and a dispute is "genuine" if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Under Rule 56, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Galena v. Leone, 638 F.3d 186, 196 (3d Cir. 2011).

         Rule 56(c) provides that the movant bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for the motion and identifying those portions of the record which the movant "believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 638 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). This burden can be met by showing that the nonmoving party has "fail[ed] to make a showing ...


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