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Miles v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

May 30, 2018

JAMIE MILES, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Timothy R. Rice U.S. Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Jamie Miles was terminated from her position as a Philadelphia police officer in October 2015. She has sued Defendants, the City of Philadelphia and former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey (collectively, the "City"), for: (1) discrimination, retaliation, and the creation of a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; and (2) violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The City seeks summary judgment, asserting Miles's claims are barred by a prior settlement agreement and release, time-barred, or not supported by the evidence. See S.J. Mot. (doc. 22).

         The City's motion is granted. Miles's Title VII claims are dismissed because: (1) any claims for discrete discriminatory or retaliatory acts that occurred before December 24, 2014 are barred by Miles's prior settlement agreement and release and Miles's failure to file a timely claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"); and (2) she has failed to present sufficient evidence to enable a reasonable jury to find that the City fired her for discriminatory reasons or subjected her to a hostile work environment. Miles's Equal Protection claims are dismissed because: (1) she has failed to show was fired because of a discriminatory policy or custom by the City; and (2) Commissioner Ramsey is entitled to qualified immunity.

         I. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate where "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The evidence and any inferences from the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Ray v. Warren, 626 F.2d 170, 173 (3d Cir. 2010). If reasonable minds could conclude that there are sufficient facts to support a plaintiffs claims, summary judgment should be denied. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.. 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). It should be granted if no "reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party" based on the evidentiary record. Reedy v. Evanson, 615 F.3d 197, 210 (3d Cir. 2010).

         II. Facts Most Favorable to Miles

         Miles began working for the Philadelphia Police Department in April 2003 and was initially assigned to the 23r Police District. See S.J. Mot., Ex. 3, Miles Service Record. In March 2008, Miles was transferred to the Community Relations Unit ("CRU"), where she was responsible for educating Philadelphia school students about the dangers of drugs and gangs. Id.; see also S.J. Mot., Ex. 1, 5/8/2013 AAA Award at 2-3.

         While working in the CRU, Miles alleged that she was sexually harassed by a supervisor and in June 2011, Miles sued the City, Commissioner Ramsey, and several other City employees for sexual discrimination and retaliation. See S.J. Mot., Statement of Facts ¶ l;[1] Resp. to Undisputed Fact (doc. 23-1) ¶ 1; Miles v. City of Phila.. E.D. Pa. 1 l-cv-4040 ("2011 Case"), Compl. (doc. 1). The case settled and Miles agreed to release the defendants from any claims she had as of July 24, 2013.[2] See S.J. Mot., Statement of Facts ¶ 4; Resp. to Undisputed Fact ¶ 4; 12/31/2013 Op.

         Around the same time Miles filed the 2011 Case, the Police Department charged her with conduct unbecoming an officer and neglect of duty for falsifying records about providing drug and gang avoidance programs at a Philadelphia school on various dates. Compl. ¶ 7; 5/8/2013 AAA Award at 1-4. Following a hearing, the Police Board of Inquiry ("PBI") concluded Miles was guilty and recommended she be dismissed or "transferred if not dismissed." 5/8/2013 AAA Award at 4. In November 2011, Commissioner Ramsey dismissed Miles. Id.

         The Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge No. 5 ("FOP") grieved Miles's dismissal as being unfair, inequitable, and disparate. Id. at 7. On May 8, 2013, an arbitrator determined Miles committed serious misconduct by deliberately falsifying records and lying about her whereabouts. Id. at 8. The arbitrator, however, also found that the City did not have just cause to terminate Miles because there was no evidence that the City had ever terminated a police officer for a single instance of falsifying records or similar conduct, such as "stealing time" by leaving work shifts early. Id. at 9. "After considering the totality of the circumstances [and] balancing the seriousness of the misconduct and the extenuating circumstances, " the arbitrator concluded that Miles "shall be reinstated to service with her time off treated as a disciplinary suspension without pay." Id. at 10. The arbitrator noted that the parties should confer about the best position for Miles and that Miles's "reinstatement [was] conditioned upon her satisfying all of the applicable certifications and requirements of her position." Id.

         On June 26, 2013, the Police Department reinstated Miles as a police officer in the 18lPolice District. See Miles Service Record. Miles contends that, following her return, she was subject to gender discrimination and retaliation as a result of her 2011 Case. Compl. ¶¶ 10-21. She testified that she had "a general fear" of going to work every day because [she] did not know what she was going to be charged with [or] written up for." S.J. Mot., Ex. 4, 10/26/2017 Miles Dep. at 75-76.

         Miles explained that, shortly after her reinstatement, she was charged with being absent without leave ("AWOL"), a disciplinary action previously imposed by a defendant in the 2011 Case. See Id. at 54-57. Although she retained an attorney to represent her on the AWOL charge, it was dismissed before a PBI hearing was held. Id. at 57-58.

         Miles also testified that her 18th District supervisor, Lieutenant Michael Reilly, sent officers to her home to check on her when she called out sick and had her sign two counseling memoranda stating she was not home when "sick checked." Id. at 5-9, 19-20. Miles said that, on one occasion, the Department knew she was sick because she was sent home sick the previous day. Id. at 6-8. The second time, she said she had called the Police Department and obtained permission to leave her home for an appointment. Id. at 13-14. Miles testified that she noted objections on at least one of the counseling forms, but she has not presented that form or any other evidence to support her claim that the sick checks were unwarranted. Id., at 20-21. The City has presented a December 2013 "sick leave violation" memorandum signed by Miles, without any written objections, and Captain Bellamy, rather than Lieutenant Reilly. S.J. Mot., Ex. 18, 12/14/13 Memorandum. Miles testified that she was never disciplined for the two sick leave violations. See 10/26/2017 Miles Dep. at 9.

         Miles said Reilly continuously checked on her while she was on duty, denied her overtime for not buying tickets to the FOP Thrill Show, marked her late when she had received approval to use vacation time for her delay, and threatened to ticket her car for an expired inspection sticker. Id. at 10-11, 15-16, 23-24. Miles has not presented any evidence of this conduct beyond her testimony and inadmissible hearsay statements by others. See 10/26/2017 Miles Dep. at 14 (she was told by another officer that Reilly had said he was going to ticket her car for an expired inspection), 15 (someone told her that Reilly said she was denied overtime for not buying Thrill Show tickets).

         In October 2013, Sergeant McCoy presented Miles with a counseling memorandum that stated she was late on nine dates between August 6 and October 30, 2013, and explained that her attendance needed to be rectified immediately or formal discipline could result. See S.J. Mot, Ex. 17, 10/30/2013 Counseling Form. Miles was marked late numerous times after October 30, but she did not receive another counseling memorandum or any discipline for being late. See S.J. Mot, Ex. 5, Miles DARS Listing; 10/26/2017 Miles Dep. at 25.

         Miles contends that Officer Burns, a male officer in the 18th District, was frequently late, but not marked late like she was. See 10/26/2017 Miles Dep. at 31. She believed this based on "conversations with him, other co-workers, and just knowing the-the common practice that's- that's applied every single day." Id. Burns's attendance records for June 26, 2013 to August 16, 2013, show he was marked late once during that time period. See S.J. Mot., Ex. 6, Burns DARS Listing. There is no evidence, other than Miles's testimony, that these records are inaccurate.

         In November 2013, Miles submitted a hardship memorandum to her Commanding Officer, requesting a new work shift. See S.J. Mot., Ex. 16, Hardship Memorandum. Miles explained that she was experiencing problems traveling the 25 miles from her home in the 8th Police District to work in the 18th District and she believed that a different work shift would resolve the issue. Id. This request was denied with a notation that Miles did not meet the criteria for a shift change after the bidding had ended. Id.

         Around the same time, Miles was involved in an incident while she was off-duty that resulted in a civil rights lawsuit being filed against her. See S.J. Mot., Exs. 19, 20. The Internal Affairs Department ("IAD") investigated the matter and notified Miles in September 2014 that: (1) she was exonerated from allegations of false arrest by the complainant; (2) the complainant's allegations of missing property were unfounded; and (3) the Department violations for not calling 911 regarding the situation based on her off-duty status were sustained. See S.J. Mot., Exs. 19, 20; 10/26/2017 Miles Dep. at 72. Miles testified that she later received a letter from IAD sustaining the complainant's allegations of false arrest and missing property. 10/26/2017 Miles Dep. at 72-75. She called IAD and was told that the letter may be a mistake and never received any other information or discipline about the matter. Id.

         On January 24, 2014, Miles suffered a work-related injury and was placed on injured-on-duty status for approximately four months. See S.J. Mot., Statement of Facts ¶ 6; Resp. to Undisputed Fact ¶ 6. On June 2, 2014, Miles returned to unrestricted duty in the 2nd Police District. See S.J. Mot., Statement of Facts ¶ 6; Resp. to Undisputed Fact ¶ 6. Around that time, she tried to make a citizen complaint against her boyfriend, fellow police officer Michael Winkler, for domestic abuse. 10/26/2017 Miles Dep. at 42-43. An officer in the IAD told Miles that he could not accept her complaint because she was a police officer and needed to go through her captain and supervisors. Id. at 43-44.

         In September 2014, Miles reported the domestic issues with Winkler to her supervisor, who referred the matter to the IAD. Id. at 47-49. She was interviewed by the IAD, but they limited the interview to one incident. See 10/26/2017 Miles Dep. at 47-48, 64.

         In March 2015, Miles sent a memorandum to her Commanding Officer, alleging she had been retaliated against and subject to a hostile work environment since returning to work in 2013 and seeking permission to file EEOC claims. See S.J. Mot., Ex. 14 at CITY2441. After interviewing Miles about her allegations that same month, the IAD initiated an investigation into her claims against Winkler. See id; S.J. Mot., Ex. 7, 10/02/15 Internal Investigation IAD #15-1038 at CITY2249. The investigation included a review of evidence produced by Miles, interviews with Miles and Winkler, and attempts to obtain information from other potential witnesses. See id. In October 2015, the IAD concluded that Miles's allegations against Winkler could not be sustained because they could not be proved or disproved. Id. at CITY2258-2259.

         In September 2015, a PBI hearing was held on charges that Miles had again engaged in conduct unbecoming a policy officer by knowingly and willingly making a false entry on a department record or report and abusing her authority. See S.J. Mot., Ex. 8, 12/5/2016 AAA Award at 2. The Board found Miles not guilty of abusing her authority, but guilty of knowingly and willingly making a false entry on a department record or report, and recommended she be suspended for 20 days. See Resp., Ex. E, 9/8/2015 PBI Hearing Findings. Upon review, Commissioner Ramsey found Miles guilty of both charges and imposed a 30-day suspension ...


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