Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jones v. Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 29, 2019

KHALIA JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS JEFFERSON UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          Tucker, J.

         This case arises from the termination of Khalia Jones (“Plaintiff”) by Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (“Defendant”). Plaintiff claims that she was fired because she was pregnant and disabled. Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 65). In analyzing the Motion for Summary Judgment, the Court is also considering Plaintiff's Response in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 69), Defendant's Reply (ECF No. 72), Plaintiff's Reply (ECF No. 112), and Defendant's Sur-Reply (ECF No. 119). Upon consideration of the Parties' submissions and for the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

         Plaintiff's Motion for Relief and Leave to Supplement the Record (ECF No. 125) is also before the Court. Plaintiff's Motion for Relief and Leave to Supplement the Record is hereby DENIED.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff began working at the Defendant's Center City Campus as an endoscopy technician in October 2007. Am. Compl. ¶ 14, ECF No. 22; Answer ¶ 14, ECF No. 56. Plaintiff's responsibilities as an endoscopic technician included, among other tasks, preparing procedure rooms, assisting physicians during procedures, and cleaning and sterilizing instruments used during procedures. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 1, Pl. Dep. Vol. I 11:20-12:6, ECF No. 65. Endoscopic technicians are sometimes expected to assist with fluoroscopic procedure - a type of medical imaging that uses x-rays, thereby exposing patients and potentially medical personnel to radiation. During her tenure as an endoscopic technician, Plaintiff was supervised by Nurse Manager, Barbara Alpini (“Alpini”). Am. Compl. ¶ 19; Def.'s Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 2 ¶ 2.

         On January 22, 2010, doctors informed Plaintiff that she was approximately six weeks pregnant. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 3, JUP 20. In late January 2010, Plaintiff informed Alpini that she was pregnant and asked to no longer be assigned to participate in fluoroscopies so that she could avoid exposure to radiation. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 2 ¶ 15, Ex. 3 ¶ 27-28. Alpini did not guarantee that Plaintiff would not have to assist in some procedures that involved radiation, based on staffing needs. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 2 ¶ 15; Pl.'s Resp., Ex. F, 3-4, ECF No. 69. Plaintiff contends that in the ensuing months she was forced to perform “daily radiation-intensive endoscopy procedures, ” despite her request to not perform procedures involving radiation. Am. Compl. ¶ 61. Plaintiff further alleges that when assisting with procedures involving radiation, her supervisors did not provide her with a larger protective gear to cover her growing abdomen. Am. Compl. ¶ 53-56. As a result, Plaintiff claims to have experienced debilitating anxiety, terror, emotional distress, and depression. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 69, 82. Defendant, on the other hand, contends that Plaintiff did not assist with any fluoroscopic procedures after January 1, 2010. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 2 ¶ 18; Ex. 5 ¶ 3, Ex. 6 ¶ 5.

         The events between Plaintiff informing Defendant of her pregnancy and her ultimate termination on April 1, 2010 are contested. Defendant states that on March 24, 2010, Plaintiff was assigned to the cleaning room where she was responsible for cleaning equipment used in procedures and documenting the cleaning and sterilization of the equipment. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. 13. According to Defendant, on March 25, 2010, two endoscopic technicians informed Alpini that the procedure equipment's cleaning solution had failed testing and that there was no documentation regarding the efficacy of the cleaning solution from the previous day, March 24. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. 13. Plaintiff blames the lack of documentation from March 24 on her being reassigned from the cleaning room to a procedure by the charge nurse on duty, Cathy Walker (“Walker”). Def.'s Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 1, Pl. Dep. Vol I, 158:8-22. Plaintiff asserts that she had tested the cleaning solution, but did not document the testing. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. 14. According to Defendant, Walker told Alpini that Plaintiff was not reassigned on March 24. Def. Mot. Summ. J. 14. In addition, Defendant asserts that business records corroborate its account and indicate that Plaintiff did not participate in any procedures on March 24. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. 13. Hospital policy requires that business records document all personnel working on procedures. Def. Mot. Summ. J. 13.

         Following the conflicting accounts of Plaintiff's work assignment on March 24, Alpini held a meeting with both Plaintiff and Walker on March 30, during which there was a confrontation between Plaintiff and Alpini. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. 13. Plaintiff believed Alpini was giving her a hard time because of Plaintiff's unwillingness to perform fluoroscopic procedures. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. 13. Following the confrontation, Alpini instructed Plaintiff to speak with Human Resources, which was located in another building on Defendant's campus. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. 13. Plaintiff claims she went to Human Resources and spoke with Randy McLaughlin (“McLaughlin”) on March 30. Pl.'s Resp. 42. Plaintiff further contends that when she returned from Human Resources near the end of her shift, she sought the permission of the managing nurse, Marilyn LeBron (“LeBron”), prior to leaving work about ten minutes before the scheduled end of her shift. Am. Compl. ¶ 94. According to Defendant, Alpini was told that Plaintiff never visited McLaughlin in Human Resources on March 30, and that Plaintiff did not return to work that day. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. 15. Alpini therefore concluded that Plaintiff opted to leave work on March 30 after their contentious meeting. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. 15. As a result, Defendant suspended Plaintiff as an employee the following day, March 31, 2010, and formally terminated her employment on April 1, 2010. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 2 ¶ 35.

         On July 25, 2013, Plaintiff commenced this action in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Compl., ECF No. 1. Plaintiff filed her First Amended Complaint on December 9, 2013 which sets forth the claims currently pending before the Court. Am. Compl. Plaintiff makes claims of discrimination and retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”), and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”). Am. Compl. 24-33. Plaintiff also initially named Alpini and Dr. Anthony DiMarino, a physician who oversaw medical care in the Defendant's endoscopy unit, as Defendants. Am. Compl. 24-33. The Court dismissed Alpini and DiMarino as Defendants in this case on February 6, 2015. Order, ECF No. 94. On April 18, 2014, Defendant filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J.

         Following the resolution of several discovery disputes and supplemental briefing submitted to the Court by both parties, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is now ripe for the Court's ruling. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is GRANTED as to all remaining claims.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A court should grant summary judgment only 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). Factual disputes must be both material and genuine to defeat summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986) (emphasis added). Materiality depends on the applicable substantive law; a fact is material if it may affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Id. at 247-248. A genuine dispute allows a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id. at 248.

         When considering a motion for summary judgment the court must construe all evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Santini v. Fuentes, 7953d 410, 416 (3d Cir. 2015). The moving party bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If the moving party meets that burden, the nonmoving party must do more than merely rest on the allegations stated in her pleadings and must identify specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Garges v. People's Light & Theatre Co., 529 Fed.Appx. 156, 160 (3d Cir. 2013). The court must be mindful that “[t]he mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         The Court finds that Defendant met its burden of proving that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Further, Plaintiff has failed to identify specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.

         III. DISCUSSION

         The Court will first explore the events giving rise to Plaintiff's pregnancy discrimination claims and analyze the evidence which corroborates Defendant's stated reason for terminating Plaintiff. The Court will then examine the evidence regarding Plaintiff's disability discrimination claim which does not sufficiently establish Plaintiff's purported disability.

         A. Pregnancy Discrimination

         In Counts I and III, Plaintiff alleges discrimination and retaliation in violation of the PDA. Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 104-128. The PDA prohibits discrimination “on the basis of pregnancy, child birth, or related medical conditions.” Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Pub. L. No. 95-555, 92 Stat. 2076 (codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (1991)). The PDA contains two clauses. The first clause amends Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), providing that discrimination on the basis of “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions” is a form of unlawful sex discrimination. The second clause provides that “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions” have a right to be treated the same as those “not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k). Courts analyze PDA claims as sex discrimination under Title VII. Solomen v. Redwood Advisory Co., 183 F.Supp.2d 748, 752 (E.D. Pa. 2002).

         Counts II and IV of Plaintiff's Complaint allege pregnancy discrimination and retaliation in violation of the PHRA. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 111-117, 129-134. The PHRA prohibits employers from discriminating based on the sex of an employee. 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 951 et seq. This includes a prohibition on discrimination based on pregnancy. Cerra v. East Stroudsburg Area Sch. Dist., 299 A.2d 277, 279-80 (Pa. 1973). When a plaintiff alleges violations of the PDA and PHRA, both claims are subject to the same Title VII analysis. See Kelly v. Drexel Univ., 94 F.3d 102, 105 (3d Cir. 1996); Smith v. Pathmark Stores, Inc., No. 97-1561, 1998 WL 309916, at *3 (E.D. Pa. June 11, 1998) (“Courts have uniformly interpreted the PHRA consistent with Title VII.”). Accordingly, Plaintiff's pregnancy discrimination claim under the PHRA is properly analyzed under the same standard as her pregnancy discrimination claim under the PDA.

         1. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.