United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
PARADISE BAXTER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Kimberly Adams filed this civil action after she was
terminated from her position as Administrator of Bradford
Manor, a skilled nursing facility affiliated with the HCF
family of companies (collectively, "HCF"). At this
juncture, Plaintiffs only remaining claim is a wrongful
discharge claim asserted against Defendants HCF Management
and her former supervisor, Paul Lieber ("Lieber").
The Court's subject matter jurisdiction is predicated on
28 U.S.C. §1332, as there is complete diversity of
citizenship between Plaintiff and the Defendants.
before the Court is the Defendants' motion for summary
judgment. ECF No. 53. For the reasons that follow, the motion
will be granted, and summary judgment will be entered in
operates nursing homes in both Ohio and Pennsylvania.
CSMF¶3. Its Pennsylvania facilities include Bradford
Manor, Warren Manor, and Sweden Valley Manor. Id.
¶¶ 3, 4. From its corporate offices in Ohio, HCF
provides human resource services to its Pennsylvania nursing
homes. Id. ¶12.
Manor is a 115-bed skilled nursing facility located in
Bradford, Pennsylvania. CSMF ¶1. It employs a team of
approximately 135 to 140 individuals, including nursing,
housekeeping, dietary, maintenance, and administrative staff.
Manor and Sweden Valley Manor are respectively located
approximately 45 minutes and 90 minutes away from Bradford
Manor. CSMF ¶4. As a result of their relative proximity
to one another, these three facilities occasionally refer or
transfer residents to and among each other. Id.
member of the nursing home industry, Bradford Manor is
subject to the minimum staffing requirements of28 Pa. Code
§211.12(i). CSMF¶13. This regulation requires
facilities like Bradford Manor to average at least 2.7 hours
of "general nursing care" for each of its residents
during any 24-hour period. Id. ¶¶ 13-14. Due to
the difficulty of finding and retaining health care workers
(particularly nurse aides), the facilities in HCF's
Pennsylvania Region experienced ongoing challenges meeting
their minimum staffing-level requirements, particularly on
weekends. Id. ¶¶20, 23.
was hired by HCF in or around April 2014 as an
Administrator-in-Training for Warren Manor. CSMF ¶30.
She later became the facility's Administrator and then
became a "mobile" administrator who assisted other
Administrators within HCF's Pennsylvania region.
around the summer of 2016, Plaintiff applied for the position
of Administrator for Bradford Manor. CSMF ¶34. Lieber,
HCF's Regional Manager, interviewed Plaintiff but had
reservations about her candidacy because he believed that her
skills as an administrator were below average. Id.
¶35. Although HCF's President also expressed
reservations about Plaintiffs fitness for the job, Plaintiff
was ultimately hired based on the recommendation of Jeremy
Monroe, HCF's Vice President of Human Resources.
Id. ¶¶36-37. Monroe reasoned that, if the
company did not have faith that Plaintiff could succeed as an
administrator, they should cut ties with her rather than
keeping her in the "mobile" administrator role - a
position that HCF had created for Plaintiff. Id.
took over as Bradford Manor's Administrator in August
2016 and held the position until her termination in September
2017. CSMF ¶¶7, 39. As Administrator, Plaintiff was
the senior-most manager on site at Bradford Manor and was
responsible for overseeing the facility's daily
operations. Id. ¶8. Lieber was Plaintiffs
direct supervisor. Id. ¶¶9-10.
resident census and ensuring adequate staffing were both
aspects of Plaintiff s job responsibilities as Administrator
of Bradford Manor. CSMF ¶19. To assist in determining
whether the facility was meeting its staffing obligations,
Bradford Manor's scheduler utilized software known as
"OnShift." Id. ¶22. When the
projections revealed a potential staff shortage, the
scheduler would notify Plaintiff and other management
personnel. Id. ¶24.
ensure that Bradford Manor was meeting the required number of
general nursing care hours, HCF authorized Plaintiff to
direct nursing staff to come in and work a particular
weekend, when necessary. CSMF ¶26. As an incentive,
Plaintiff could request call-in bonuses for unscheduled
staff, although these requests were not always granted.
Id. ¶25. Another potential solution was for
Bradford Manor to refer residents to HCF's other nearby
facilities in order to bring the staffing ratio numbers into
compliance; however, this was not always a viable solution
because the other facilities also had staffing issues.
contend that, from the start of her tenure as Bradford
Manor's Administrator, Plaintiff demonstrated performance
deficiencies. According to Lieber, staff at Bradford Manor
contacted him with issues about Plaintiffs work attendance,
management style, personality, and knowledge. Lieber Depo. at
28-31; ECF No. 56 at 114-117.
December 5, 2016, Lieber placed Plaintiff on a Performance
Improvement Plan ("PIP"), with the approval of
HCF's human resources department. CSMF ¶¶41-42.
In the PIP, Lieber noted numerous problems with Plaintiff s
performance, including leadership issues, treating staff in a
rude and demeaning way, exceeding the staffing budget, and
attendance issues. CSMF ¶43.
met with Plaintiff again in January 2017 to discuss the PIP,
deliver her annual performance evaluation, and issue another
disciplinary action. CSMF¶44. In her performance
evaluation - her third to that point in time, Plaintiff
received her lowest scores. Id. ¶45. As a
result of ...