United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER, CHIEF JUDGE
Christina Kastanidis (“Kastanidis”) commenced
this action against her employer asserting claims for sex
discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 42 USC § 2000e-2 (“Title VII”)
(See Doc 1) Defendant Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department
of Human Services (“Department”) moves for
summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56 (Doc 24)
Factual Background & Procedural
worked for several agencies of the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania in various capacities since 2001. The Department
first employed Kastanidis in November 2001 in the Lancaster
County Assistance Office. (Doc. 25 ¶ 1; Doc. 25-1 at 6).
On March 3, 2003, Kastanidis transferred to the Department of
Labor and Industry, Office of Adjudication, Workers'
Compensation. (See Doc. 25-2 at 28, 46; Doc. 25-3, Kastanidis
Dep. 13:25-15:1, Mar. 27, 2017 (“Kastanidis
Dep.”)). The Commonwealth maintains an anti-sexual
harassment policy applicable to all state employees. (See
Kastanidis Dep. at 202-03). When she began employment with
the Department of Labor and Industry in 2003, Kastanidis
acknowledged receipt of the Commonwealth's anti-sexual
harassment policy and grievance procedure and attended sexual
harassment training. (Doc. 25 ¶¶ 3-4; Doc. 25-2 at
February 11, 2012, the Department hired Kastanidis to serve
as administrative assistant to the director of the Bureau of
Juvenile Justice Services (“the Bureau”). (Doc.
25 ¶ 5). Andrew Snyder (“Snyder”) served as
the Bureau's director during Kastanidis' employment
therewith. (Id.) Kastanidis avers that the
Department failed to provide an anti-sexual harassment policy
to her when she assumed the position of administrative
assistant. (Doc. 30 ¶ 2). She also claims that she did
not sign an acknowledgment form concerning same.
(Id. ¶ 3).
approximately four weeks of employment by the Bureau,
Kastanidis claims there were multiple instances of
inappropriate workplace conduct that contributed to a hostile
work environment. The bulk of this conduct took the form of
inappropriate jokes and comments by Snyder. (See Kastanidis
Dep. 28:8-12). For example, Kastanidis and clerk typist Avery
Romain (“Romain”) walked to get lunch one
afternoon, (id. at 34:17-22; Doc. 25-4, Snyder Dep. 29:19-21,
July 31, 2017 (“Snyder Dep.”); Doc. 25-7,
Phillips Dep. 22:4-12, July 26, 2017 (“Phillips
Dep.”)), and Snyder drove by, honked his horn, and
shouted “are you two dating now? Are you two holding
hands?” (Kastanidis Dep. 35:1-12). On another occasion,
Snyder, Kastanidis, and a male Bureau field worker waited
together for the elevator to exit the building, and Snyder
asked Kastanidis and the field worker if they were leaving
together. (Id. at 35:16-36:4). When Kastanidis said
no, Snyder responded “does [he] need you to walk him to
his car? Are you his bodyguard now?” (Id. at
36:5-7). Again Kastanidis replied no, and Snyder allegedly
rejoined “[o]h, I'm sure he would want you guarding
his body.” (Id. at 36:7-8).
recalls hearing Snyder tell Michelle Phillips
(“Phillips”), the director of the Bureau's
Division of Health Services, not to “get [her]
underwear in a bunch.” (Id. at 36:21-23; Doc.
25-2 at 23). Snyder then purportedly said to Phillips
“[o]h that's right, you wear . . . those old granny
underwear.” (Kastanidis Dep. 36:23-25). Phillips
testified that Snyder and another director made the comment
about her “granny panties” when she reached for a
piece of paper and the top of her briefs were momentarily
exposed. (Phillips Dep. 67:14-68:3). Kastanidis was offended
by how Snyder spoke about other office employees. (Kastanidis
Dep. 37:5). Snyder allegedly demeaned male and female
coworkers frequently, and Kastanidis recalled him describing
multiple employees as “asshole[s]” and once
referring to a female employee as a “bitch.”
(Id. at 37:6-13). He frequently told a story about
facility financial manager Elizabeth Henry
(“Henry”) waking up wearing Snyder's pants
after an evening of drinking with him. (Id. at
135:2-14; Snyder Dep. 197:19-198:13).
ate lunch in the Bureau's breakroom intermittently.
(Kastanidis Dep. 29:15-19). One afternoon, Kastanidis,
Snyder, and Romain ate lunch in the breakroom as an episode
of “The Voice” played on the television.
(Id. at 29:19-24; Snyder Dep. 180:25). Kastanidis
commented that the show was “okay” and Snyder
reportedly responded “it doesn't matter what you
think because . . . [the hostess's] tits are right there
. . . they're right in your face the whole time.”
(Kastanidis Dep. 30:1-8). Snyder denies ever using that word
and avers that he actually said the hostess “needs to
cover up because it is hard to watch that TV show with as
much cleavage as she has out.” (Snyder Dep.
180:25-181:11). On another occasion in the breakroom,
Kastanidis inquired as to the proper attire for a meeting
Snyder asked her to attend. (Kastanidis Dep. 30:9-20). Snyder
allegedly turned to Romain, chuckled, and replied that she
should wear “buttless chaps.” (Id. at
30:20-24). Kastanidis claims that Snyder made racial slurs in
the breakroom and stated that she “never worked in a
professional environment” in which such expletives as
“bitch, ” “fuck, ” and “tits,
” were so “openly spoken.” (Id. at
31:5-15; Doc. 25 ¶ 10).
instructed Kastanidis to assist Romain in assembling
paperwork and packets of literature for a regional directors
meeting because Romain would “fuck it up.”
(Kastanidis Dep. 38:1-9). Some contributing employees failed
to submit their materials to Kastanidis on time.
(Id. at 38:11-15, 64:6-65:17). When Snyder
discovered mistakes in the way packets were assembled, he
became frustrated and asked Kastanidis “what's
wrong with you?” and said “even an idiot could do
this.” (Id. at 39:22-23, 40:1-2).
attended weekly conference calls about at-risk youth with
Snyder and various directors and facilities managers.
(Id. at 40:12-41:4). Following a report of alleged
sexual abuse of juveniles by facility personnel, Snyder
allegedly commented that “[t]hey were asking for
it.” (Id. at 41:12-42:2). On a separate
occasion, Kastanidis struggled to recall a name and stated
“it's on the tip of my tongue.” (Id.
at 43:16-24). Snyder responded “speaking of on the tip
of your tongue.” (Id. at 43:25-44:1).
Kastanidis was offended and disgusted by Snyder's
comment. (Id. at 44:1-10).
another incident, Snyder directed Kastanidis to purchase
dictation equipment worth several hundred dollars using the
Department credit card. (Id. at 51:15-24).
Kastanidis testified that Snyder said “if there's a
problem with approval or anything, you don't take no for
an answer . . . you're my girl and don't let anyone
tell you no.” (Id. at 51:25-52:2). She felt
that comment was inappropriate. (Id. at 52:8-10).
Snyder denies saying “you're my girl.”
(Snyder Dep. 181:15-18). Snyder once offered to drive
Kastanidis to her car. (Doc. 25 ¶ 12). Kastanidis felt
Snyder's offer was inappropriate and unnecessary since
she parked only a block from work, but recognizes it might
have been simply a kind gesture. (Kastanidis Dep.
45:16-46:10). Kastanidis felt uncomfortable with Snyder's
physical proximity to her personal space at least once, but
there is no evidence Snyder ever touched or placed his hands
on her. (Doc. 25 ¶¶ 6, 8, 25).
received an email early in her tenure as Snyder's
administrative assistant from Nick Barelet
(“Barelet”), a program specialist supervisor,
shortly before Barelet left the Bureau. (Kastanidis Dep.
32:2-9, 33:12-14, 34:4-9; Snyder Dep. 139:6-11). Barelet
allegedly offered to assist Kastanidis with directions around
the area in the event of a detour, accident, or traffic.
(Kastanidis Dep. 33:14-18). In describing what routes to
take, Barelet referenced traveling “under a
bridge” and offered to take Kastanidis for a ride to
show her the route. (Id. at 33:19-24). Kastanidis
forwarded Barelet's email to Snyder who allegedly told
Kastanidis that she “must have given [Barelet]
vibes.” (Id. at 33:25-34:3). When Kastanidis
denied giving Barelet “anything, ” Snyder replied
“well, you must have given him something . . . perhaps
an STD.” (Id. at 34:4-7). Snyder refutes
making this comment. (Snyder Dep. 181:12-14).
Kastanidis forwarded the email to Snyder, he responded by
email that he would “take care of [Barelet]” and
“take care of the situation.” (Kastanidis Dep.
42:11-14). Snyder forwarded the Barelet email to the director
of the Bureau's Division of Administration and Quality
Improvement. (Id. at 42:15-16; Doc. 25-2 at 23).
Kastanidis avers that Snyder brought the email up at the
weekly director's meeting and pointed out to everyone
that “[Barelet] wanted to take [her] under the
bridge” and that Kastanidis must have “done
something to encourage [Barelet to] com[e] back.”
(Kastanidis Dep. 42:17-24). She claimed that Snyder portrayed
the situation as “a rendezvous with [Barelet] under the
bridge.” (Id. at 42:24-43:1).
Statewide Director's Meeting
Snyder's direction, Kastanidis attended a three-day,
statewide director's meeting in Danville, Pennsylvania in
early March 2012. (Doc. 25 ¶ 14; Doc. 30 ¶ 14).
Snyder and Kastanidis traveled together in his government
vehicle. (Doc. 25 ¶ 15). Snyder allegedly pointed out a
sign for the gentlemen's club Mustang Sally's to
Kastanidis during the drive to the meeting. (Kastanidis Dep.
86:18-23, 87:6-9; see also Doc. 25-8, Gregor Dep. 90:1-5,
June 8, 2017 (“Gregor Dep.”)). Snyder disputes
this allegation, adding that Mustang Sally's is not along
the route he and Kastanidis took to Danville. (Snyder Dep.
indicated during the car ride that at these conferences,
people usually get together in the evenings to drink and
socialize in the hotel rooms. (Kastanidis Dep. 82:3-7).
Snyder then shared a story about a past overnight conference
he attended with his former supervisor. (Id. at
81:22-82:12). Snyder stated that his supervisor invited him
to her hotel room and attempted to sleep with him.
(Id. at 82:12-83:4). Kastanidis claims that Snyder
said this kind of behavior is not uncommon at these overnight
meetings and that “bosses do sleep with their
assistants.” (Id. at 83:5-14). Snyder
allegedly said that he “could see that happening to a
very attractive woman like Ms. Kastanidis.” (Doc. 33 at
23). Kastanidis retorted that she wanted Snyder to be proud
of the work she did as his assistant but that she would not
sleep with him. (Kastanidis Dep. at 84:9-11).
disputes Kastanidis' claim that he was trying to seduce
her in the car. (Snyder Dep. 173:1-10). According to Snyder,
the Barelet email came up during the ride to Danville and
Snyder inquired whether Kastanidis wanted him “to go
anywhere with it.” (Id. at 138:5-12,
139:2-18). Snyder maintains that Kastanidis declined his
offer to help but agreed that Barelet's email was
inappropriate. (Id. at 138:7-15, 139:14-18).
Kastanidis also purportedly shared that she had been sexually
harassed almost every day at her previous job. (Id.
at 139:19-22). Snyder avers that he told the story of his
female supervisor sexually harassing him in the hotel room
years ago as a way to connect with Kastanidis. (Id.
at 138:16, 139:22-140:18). He allegedly explained to
Kastanidis that he struggled to work with his former
supervisor after that incident and that Kastanidis was
“going to be okay in this office.” (Id.
route to Danville, Snyder and Kastanidis stopped at a
facility for female juveniles for a meeting to secure
additional after-care program funding. (Kastanidis Dep.
88:16-89:18, 90:5-19). At the facility, Kastanidis overheard
Snyder speaking with two male managers about a female
juvenile who had been rehabilitated and reintegrated back
into her community. (Id. at 90:24-91:3). The men
were discussing the juvenile's report to her probation
officer that facility workers “forced . . . the female
juveniles . . . to perform oral sex and have sex with the
workers.” (Id. at 91:19-24). Snyder allegedly
joked to the male managers that “we don't pay them
to have sex with [the workers, ] [t]hey have sex with us for
free, ” referring to the female juveniles. (Doc. 25
arriving at the hotel, Kastanidis attended a retirement
dinner at a nearby restaurant for facility maintenance
manager Dean Fetterholf at Snyder's insistence.
(Id. ¶ 17; Doc. 30 ¶ 17; Doc. 25-2 at 25).
Snyder allegedly introduced Kastanidis by saying
“[s]peaking of naked women, Christina, come here, I
wanted to introduce you to [Mr. Fetterholf].” (Doc. 25
¶ 18; Doc. 30 ¶ 18 & n.6). Later that evening,
Russell Zemanek (“Zemanek”), director of the
Bureau's Division of Program and Employee Development,
beckoned Kastanidis to the restaurant's bar area.
(Kastanidis Dep. 103:16-104:5; Doc. 25-2 at 23). At the bar,
Snyder introduced Kastanidis to the Department's deputy
secretary, Richard Gold (“Gold”). (Kastanidis
Dep. 104:10-13; Snyder Dep. 216:21-217:6; Doc. 25-9, Lutinski
Dep. 90:12-15, Aug. 11, 2017 (“Lutinski Dep.”)).
Gold purportedly “walked around [Kastanidis] looking
her up and down” and exclaimed “holy fucking
shit. . . . What did you say when you saw her, Andy? Hire,
hire, hire.” (Gregor Dep. 75:9-13; Kastanidis Dep.
104:10-19; cf. Lutinski Dep. 90:15-19). Gold then said
“welcome aboard” to Kastanidis and informed her
that “[Snyder] is impotent.” (Kastanidis Dep.
105:2-4; Gregor Dep. ...