United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
Stewart Cercone, Senior United States District Judge
matter is before the court upon a Motion for Summary Judgment
filed by Defendant Washington Health System
(“Defendant” or “Washington
Hospital”) (ECF No. 32). Also before the court is a
Partial Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff Debra
Jurik Jones (“Plaintiff” or “Jones”)
(ECF No. 30). For the reasons that follow, Defendant's
Motion will be granted and Plaintiff's Motion will be
November 1, 1982 through June 30, 2014, Defendant employed
Plaintiff as a nurse anesthetist. Defendant's Concise
Statement of Material Facts (“Def. CSMF”) (ECF
No. 33) ¶ 1; Plaintiff's Concise Statement of
Material Facts (“Pl. CSMF”) (ECF No. 38) ¶
1. In 2014, Defendant entered into a contract with Keystone
Anesthesia (“Keystone”) to provide anesthesia
services. Def. CSMF ¶ 3; Pl. CSMF ¶ 9. Although
Plaintiff was offered continued employment with Keystone, she
declined, resulting in her termination. Def. CSMF
¶¶ 5-6; Pl. CSMF ¶ 9. As of the date of her
termination - June 30, 2014 - Plaintiff had accumulated 576
hours of sick time and was 57 years old. Def. CSMF
the course of Plaintiff's employment, Defendant offered
guidance to employees in the form of an Employee Handbook.
The preamble to each relevant version of Defendant's
Employee Handbook states:
The policies stated in this handbook are guidelines only and
are subject to change at the sole discretion of the Hospital.
This handbook should not be construed as and does not
constitute a contract guaranteeing employment for any
specific duration. Although we hope that your employment
relationship with us is long-term, either you or the Hospital
may terminate this relationship at any time, for any reason.
Def. CSMF ¶ 11; ECF No. 42 at 6.
respect to sick time, the Employee Handbook in effect at the
time of Plaintiff's termination permitted employees to
earn up to 96 hours of sick time per year and to accumulate
up to 608 hours of sick time. Def. CSMF ¶¶ 13-14;
Pl. CSMF ¶ 5. Prior to 2009, employees were also
permitted to “buy back” sick time pursuant to a
“Buy Back Sick Time Policy.” Def. CSMF ¶ 19;
Pl. CSMF ¶ 6. Pursuant to that policy, Defendant agreed
to “buy back” portions of an employee's sick
time upon request, provided the employee satisfied a number
of conditions. Def.
¶¶ 23-24. However, the Buy Back Sick Time Policy
was eliminated in 2009 and was not included in Employee
Handbooks issued after that date, including the handbook in
effect at the time of Plaintiff's termination. Def. CSMF
¶¶ 21, 41; Pl. CSMF ¶ 8.
Standard of Review
judgment may only be granted where the moving party shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and
that a judgment as a matter of law is warranted. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the
court must enter summary judgment against a party who fails
to make a showing sufficient to establish an element
essential to his or her case, and on which he or she will
bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In evaluating the
evidence, the court must interpret the facts in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party, drawing all reasonable
inferences in his or her favor. Watson v. Abington
Twp., 478 F.3d 144, 147 (3d Cir. 2007). The burden is
initially on the moving party to demonstrate that the
evidence contained in the record does not create a genuine
issue of material fact. Conoshenti v. Pub. Serv. Elec.
& Gas Co., 364 F.3d 135, 140 (3d Cir. 2004). A
dispute is “genuine” if the evidence is such that
a reasonable trier of fact could render a finding in favor of
the nonmoving party. McGreevy v. Stroup, 413 F.3d
359, 363 (3d Cir. 2005). Where the nonmoving party will bear
the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may meet its
burden by showing that the admissible evidence contained in
the record would be insufficient to carry the nonmoving
party's burden of proof. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S.
at 322. Once the moving party satisfies its burden, the
burden shifts to the nonmoving party, who must go beyond his
or her pleadings and designate specific facts by the use of
affidavits, depositions, admissions or answers to
interrogatories showing that there is a genuine issue of
material fact for trial. Id. at 324. The nonmoving
party cannot defeat a well-supported motion for summary
judgment by simply reasserting unsupported factual
allegations contained in his or her pleadings. Williams
v. Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460 (3d Cir.
contends that she is entitled to payment for her unused sick
days pursuant to the Pennsylvania Wage Collection Law, 43
P.S. § 260.2(a) (“WPCL”), and the Fair Labor
Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq
(“FLSA”). Plaintiff relies exclusively on the
Employee Handbooks issued by Defendant, arguing that those
handbooks created an express and/or implied contractual right
to payment for unused sick time upon her termination.
Defendant counters that the Employee Handbooks explicitly
disclaim any contractual ...