United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
sex discrimination case, plaintiff Michael Goodrich alleges
that defendants terminated his employment as a bartender on
the basis of his sex and replaced him with a female
bartender. The Complaint asserts sex discrimination claims
under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title
VII”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000(e) et seq.,
and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act
(“PHRA”), 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§ 951
et seq. Presently before the Court is
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons
that follow, defendants' Motion is granted.
was hired by defendant Tonelli's Pizza Pub
(“Tonelli's”) in May 2012 to work full-time
as a bartender. See Defs. SOF ¶¶ 11-12.
Tonelli's is operated by defendant Randa Enterprises,
Defs. Mem. Mot. Summ. J. 1 n.1.
times during his employment at Tonelli's, plaintiff
worked with between two and five other “main”
bartenders, a group that included men and women and full-time
and part-time employees. See Defs. SOF ¶¶
13, 14. There was some turnover of the bartending staff
during plaintiff's employment. For example, two part-time
male bartenders left Tonelli's during plaintiff's
employment-Mike Rose left to get married and Jeff Clark left
to move to Colorado. See Id. ¶ 15. According to
plaintiff, a female bartender, Jena Marshall, took over some
of Clark's shifts after his departure. See Defs.
Mot. Summ. J., Ex. A, Pl. Dep. 43:16-19. Plaintiff also
testified that another male bartender was fired, and
Tonelli's hired a female bartender to take his place.
Id. at 42:14-43:13.
end of his employment with Tonelli's, plaintiff was one
of two “primary bartenders” who typically evenly
split twelve of the fourteen weekly bartender shifts.
See Defs. SOF ¶ 16. The other “primary
bartender” was Marshall. Id.
was terminated on June 29, 2015. Defs. SOF ¶ 1; Pl. Opp.
Defs. SOF ¶ 1. He contends that he received a voicemail
on that date from the Tonelli's General Manager, Larry
Barksdale, stating that Tonelli's was “going in a
different direction.” Defs. SOF ¶ 84. Defendants
assert that plaintiff had to be sent home from work early on
June 29, 2015, “because of a bad attitude and
difficulties with the staff, ” culminating in an
argument with Barksdale in which plaintiff told Barksdale
“to just fire him.” Id. ¶ 87.
According to defendants, plaintiff's behavior on that
date was “the last straw after many previous instances
of rude behavior and poor performance.” Id.
¶ 88. Plaintiff summarily denies these allegations and
states that he was never subject to “any written
discipline” during his three years of employment. Pl.
Opp. Defs. SOF ¶¶ 87-90.
applied for unemployment benefits on the day of his
termination. Defs. SOF ¶ 1; Pl. Opp. Defs. SOF ¶ 1;
Pl. Dep. 23:23-24:4. As the reason for his termination,
plaintiff wrote “insubordination.” Defs. SOF
¶ 1; Pl. Dep. 25:5-6. When asked about this description
during his deposition, plaintiff testified, “The only
thing they would accept was insubordination. I had nothing to
put down. I had to put something down.” Pl. Dep.
testified that about one week after his termination, he
received a text message from Marshall, stating she had taken
over plaintiff's shifts. Defs. SOF ¶ 37. Plaintiff
claims that Marshall “replaced” him. See
Pl. Mem. Opp. Defs. Mot. Summ. J. (“Pl. Mem.
Opp.”) 6. Defendants maintain that after
plaintiff's termination Dan Lineberger, a male, was
trained to become a bartender and eventually took over many
of plaintiff's shifts. See Defs. SOF
¶¶ 31, 60.
filed a claim of sex discrimination with the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission on August 5, 2015, based on
the text from Marshall. See Pl. Dep. 53:10-25.
Plaintiff testified that thereafter, on two separate
occasions when he was interviewing with prospective
employers-Nabrasa and Bar Louie-the interviewers told
plaintiff that when they contacted Tonelli's for a
reference for plaintiff, Tonelli's told the interviewer
“[t]hat they were going with a new format and they
didn't want men behind the bar anymore.” See
Id. at 50:2-8. Defendants deny that Tonelli's had
such a policy. Defs. SOF ¶ 24.
filed the Complaint on December 21, 2017, asserting sex
discrimination claims under Title VII and the PHRA. On
February 18, 2019, defendants filed the pending Motion for
Summary Judgment (Document No. 11). Plaintiff responded to
the Motion on March 18, 2019 (Document No. 12) and filed
exhibits associated with his response on March 19, 2019
(Document No. 13). Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment is thus ripe for decision.
Court will grant a motion for summary judgment 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). A fact is
material when it “might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is