United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
NITZAI. QUIÑONES ALEJANDRO, U.S.D.C. J.
Anthony Flores (“Plaintiff”) filed a civil
complaint against Defendants Andrew Charlton
(“Charlton”) and Citizens Financial Group, Inc.
“Defendants”), asserting claims of hostile work
environment and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e, et seq.; and state-law claims of
sexual harassment under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act
(“PHRA”), 43 P.S. §§ 951-963, negligent
infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of
emotional distress, and assault. Before this Court are
Defendants' motion for summary judgment on all of
Plaintiff's claims filed pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 56, [ECF 22],
Plaintiff's response in opposition, [ECF 23], and
Defendants' reply. [ECF 26]. The issues raised by the
parties have been fully briefed and are ripe for disposition.
For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted, and
judgment is entered in favor of Defendants.
their motion, Defendants attached a statement of undisputed
material facts which cites to the record, including
Plaintiff's deposition. Plaintiff, on the other hand,
attempts to cast doubt on Defendants' version of the
facts by asserting purportedly contrary (though frequently
inapposite) facts without citing to the record.
Notwithstanding, this Court is mindful that at this summary
judgment procedural stage, all record evidence and relevant
facts must be considered in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party, i.e., Plaintiff. See Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255
(1986). Thus, the relevant facts are summarized as follows:
On May 8, 2014, Plaintiff was initially hired by Citizens, a
retail and commercial bank, to work at a Citizens branch
inside an Acme supermarket in Newtown, Pennsylvania. In June
2015, Plaintiff was promoted to Assistant Branch Manager at
the Acme branch, and oversaw the branch's day-to-day
operations, with responsibilities that included
“ordering money, making sure audits were in place,
managing expectations for the other employees[.]” [ECF
22-2, Flores Dep., at 78:14-16]. Throughout his employment
with Citizens, Plaintiff reported directly to and was
supervised by Charlton, who divided his time between
Citizens' two branches in Newtown branch and had no set
schedule at either location. [Id. at 114:17-115:5].
Prior to March 2016, Plaintiff had no documented performance
issues. On March 10, 2016, however, Charlton issued Plaintiff
a verbal warning related to procedural deficiencies observed
during a review conducted by Citizens' Operations Manager
Lisa Welsh. [Id. at 105-06, 111-12]. In May 2016,
Citizens' Retail Director Jeff Pearlberg also reviewed
the Acme branch and identified several practice deficiencies.
[Id. at 129-30]. Shortly after Pearlberg's
visit, Charlton did not receive a desired promotion. On June
2, 2016, Charlton issued Plaintiff a Final Written Warning
for poor performance, the final step in Citizens'
progressive discipline model. [Id. at 133:17-19].
On June 14, 2016, Charlton conducted what was called a
“surprise cash audit” of Plaintiff's cash
inventory and found that $140 was missing from
Plaintiff's dye packs. Plaintiff called Citizens HR seeking
advice on how to proceed in light of the cash discrepancy,
and HR recommended that Plaintiff leave the premises. Later,
Plaintiff called Citizens' Employee Relations office and
asked to discuss Charlton's behavior as Plaintiff's
supervisor. Meanwhile, Plaintiff was placed on administrative
leave pending the investigation into the failed cash audit.
When Citizens investigators interviewed him regarding the
audit, Plaintiff elaborated on his complaints about
Charlton's behavior, telling the investigators, inter
alia, that his relationship with Charlton had worsened
following the May 2016 visit by Retail Director Pearlberg,
after which Charlton had failed to receive a desired
promotion. As a result, Plaintiff explained, Charlton
“had it out for” Plaintiff and had sought to
“get rid of” him. [Id. at 245-46].
Plaintiff did not have further contact with Employee
Relations regarding his relationship with Charlton.
[Id. at 186:8-14].
When deposed in this civil action, Plaintiff again described
a pattern of sexually inappropriate behavior by Charlton
which included, inter alia, Charlton's comment
while raising his leg in front of Plaintiff that he was
“waiting for [Plaintiff] to toss [his] salad;”
Charlton's text to Plaintiff of a link to a YouTube video
showing a naked man chasing other men; a text message
containing a character using a homophobic slur; and a remark,
made while standing behind Plaintiff with other Citizens
staff, about Plaintiff's “ass.” Plaintiff
also testified that Charlton would occasionally mimic
grabbing Plaintiff's buttocks. Plaintiff indicated that
some of these instances were witnessed by other Citizens
staff. However, Plaintiff also acknowledged that he never
made a formal complaint to Citizens regarding Charlton's
behavior and did not discuss Charlton's behavior with any
Citizens administrators prior to the failed cash audit. In
early July 2016, prior to the conclusion of the cash audit
investigation, Plaintiff resigned.
governs the practice of summary judgment motions.
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, 477 U.S. at 248-49. A party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law if the evidence is so one-sided
that one party must prevail. Id. at 251-52. As
noted, 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).
moving party has the initial burden of identifying evidence
that shows an absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
Conoshenti v. Pub. Serv. Elec. & Gas Co., 364
F.3d 135, 145-46 (3d Cir. 2004). Once the moving party has
shown that there is an absence of evidence to support the
non-moving party's claims, “the non-moving party
must rebut the motion with facts in the record and cannot
rest solely on assertions made in the pleadings, legal
memoranda, or oral argument.” Berckeley Inv. Grp.
Ltd. v. Colkitt, 455 F.3d 195, 201 (3d Cir. 2006);
see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324
(1986). Rather, to defeat a motion for summary judgment, the
non-moving party must point to “materials in the
record, including depositions, documents, electronically
stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations
(including those made for purposes of the motion only),
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). Further, a party may not defeat a
motion for summary judgment with evidence that would not be
admissible at trial. Pamintuan v. Nanticoke Mem'l
Hosp., 192 F.3d 378, 387 (3d Cir. 1999).
the nonmoving party must “do more than simply show that
there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts,
” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986), and a court should
grant summary judgment where the non-movant's evidence is
merely colorable, conclusory, or speculative.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249- 50. If the non-moving
party “fails to make a showing sufficient to establish
the existence of an element essential to that party's
case, and on which that party will bear the burden at trial,
” summary judgment is warranted. Celotex, 477
U.S. at 322. In deciding a motion for summary judgment, ...