COIA v. VANGUARD et al
MEMORANDUM AND/OR OPINION. SIGNED BY HONORABLE MARK A. KEARNEY ON 2/23/2017. 2/23/2017 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED.(sg, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
VERONICA ANN COIA
VANGUARD, et al
February 23, 2017
Unfortunately, a difficult personal relationship between a new supervisor and a longtenured disabled employee may lead to ending the employment and can, with facts and properly
drawn inferences, be traced to a hostile work environment, latent discrimination or retaliatory
motive. We are particularly concerned when the employer cannot show a history of reported
performance deficiencies. But to establish a federal claim warranting a jury's consideration, the
employee must adduce disputed material facts and not just· her distaste for a supervisor's
leadership style. Years of employer reviews raising performance concerns capped by admittedly
emotionally unstable responses support an employer's decision, based on violations of an
employer's policies, to end the employment relationship. Today, after reviewing the former
employee's years of laments about her supervisor and her catalogue of those laments under
several federal statutory employee protections, we still cannot find a kernel of a disputed fact
evidencing the employer's decision is pretext for discrimination, retaliation or hostile work
In the accompanying Order, we grant the employer's motion for summary
judgment and dismiss the former employee's claims for age and disability discrimination, hostile
work environment based on age and disability, and retaliation claims under the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 1 the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 2 the
Family and Medical Leave Act, 3 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"). 4
Facts in the light most favorable to Ms. Coia. 5
On October 6, 2003, Vanguard hired Veronica Ann Coia with responsibilities including
typesetting and proofreading fund reports and occasionally working on graphic design. Seven
years into her employment, Ms. Coia began reporting to Sallie Sharer.
Ms. Sharer reported to
her supervisor-Laura Chambers-from March 2013 up until Ms. Coia's termination on
November 18, 2015. Ms. Coia's issues focus on Ms. Sharer.
Ms. Coia's severe depression and borderline personality disorder.
In 2011, Ms. Coia told her supervisor and a Vanguard human resources representative she
suffers from depression. Ms. Coia elected short term disability for "very severe depression." 6 In
2013, a doctor diagnosed Ms. Coia with borderline personality disorder. If her condition is left
untreated, Ms. Coia described feeling as though "you're either with me or against me." 7
Vanguard never denied Ms. Coia short-term disability, FMLA leave, or intermittent
FMLA leave when she requested it. Vanguard never denied Ms. Coia's requests to leave work
early for a doctor's appointment.
Ms. Coia's performance issues beginning in 2011.
Ms. Coia received various performance reviews, including Midyear Updates and Year
End Reviews. The Year End Reviews use a five-level ratings system: "Distinguished," "Fully
Successful," "Further Development Needed," and "Does Not Meet Expectations." 8
On several occasions, Vanguard marked the category "demonstrates resilience and
composure" as a development area for Ms. Coia. 9 Vanguard criticized Ms. Coia on numerous
occasions for losing emotional control. For example, in Ms. Coia's 2011 Midyear Update, Ms.
Sharer noted Ms. Coia "becomes frustrated very easily and is vocal about her frustrations in open
settings such as huddles and meetings." 10 Ms. Sharer received "feedback from several of her
teammates that Veronica has been rude and disrespectful towards a teammate at two huddles
which I was absent." 11
Ms. Sharer also observed "Veronica tends to panic when she does not
understand something and voices her frustration until someone on the team helps her by doing
the work for her.
She then is relieved and happy but has damaged relationships with her
teammates during the process." 12
Ms. Sharer noted similar issues in 2012. In Ms. Coia's 2012 Midyear Update, Ms. Sharer
indicated Ms. Coia "struggled with retaining her composure at times at the start of the year," and
"becomes frustrated with the fund report automation process at times." 13 The Update resulted in
a discussion between Ms. Coia and Ms. Sharer about "relationships and how they take time to
build and can easily be negatively impacted." 14
In Ms. Coia's 2012 Year End Appraisal, Ms. Sharer noted Ms. Coia struggled to maintain
her composure and remain resilient, and she had been disruptive to others, which made it hard
for them to concentrate and be productive. 15 In the Appraisal, Ms. Coia wrote:
As hard as it may be to hear, I'm so appreciative to be given a
heads up when I do need to hear feedback; otherwise I'd be
unaware of how I affect others. I'm having less of these moments,
and, after the last conversation pertaining to this development area
of mine, I am finally turning a comer. I've gone through extensive
psychiatric, psychological, cognitive behavioral therapies, done a
lot of research, and am finding bibliotherapy to be the most
effective and affordable at this time, as I am changing how I react
to unexpected situations, and how I perceive things, and how I
In 2013, Vanguard issues negative reviews about Ms. Coia's performance,
absences, and ability to exhibit emotional control.
On March 20, 2013, Vanguard issued Ms. Coia a Verbal Warning. Ms. Sharer told Ms.
Coia her absence and frequent need to leave early affected her performance.
From April 16 until May 3, 2013, Ms. Coia took short-term disability leave. Shortly after
she returned from leave, Ms. Sharer provided Vanguard's 2013 Midyear Update finding Ms.
Coia had been "struggling with producing a positive personal impact on others"; her "absence
and frequent need to leave early is affecting her performance and is not producing a positive
impact on the rest of the team"; she "struggles with demonstrating the ability to exhibit
emotional control and maintaining focus despite changes or challenges in the work
environment"; and she "easily loses her composure when anything different or unexpected
happens." 17 Ms. Sharer also noted while Ms. Coia had improved her timeliness to huddles and
meetings, she still had been late for those meetings.
In her comments to the 2013 Midyear Update, Ms. Coia remarked, "The first quarter was
rough, and there are differing perceptions of what happened; however I'm taking responsibility
for how I handle things going forward." 18 Ms. Coia committed to attending cognitive behavioral
therapy twice a month, which would teach her how to perceive things less defensively, relearn
how to trust, and how to better handle her emotions. 19
In August 2013, Vanguard issued a Written Alert for deficient performance remaining in
effect for 60 days. In the Alert, Ms. Sharer wrote Ms. Coia had not been exhibiting the ability to
control her emotions and maintain focus despite changes or challenges in her work environment.
In October 2013, Ms. Sharer extended the Written Alert until December 2013 again citing
performance issues and Ms. Coia's inability to maintain emotional control. The Written Alert
instructed Ms. Coia to meet with her management team regularly to review and discuss the
progress being made to close the performance gaps.
In Ms. Coia's 2013 Year End Appraisal, Ms. Sharer rated Ms. Coia as "Further
Development Needed" and noted gaps in Ms. Coia's performance, including "inaccuracies in her
fund reports, not building or fostering relationships with her peers, not demonstrating the ability
to exhibit emotional control, not always being willing to think and act independently, and not
arriving to work on time." 20 Ms. Coia responded she had lost "a little bit of [her] emotional
control" because "people [were] lying to [her] and trying to ruin [her] life .... " 21
Vanguard issues positive reviews in 2014.
In 2014, Ms. Coia improved at controlling her emotions, which she attributed to Ms.
Sharer "being a lot nicer" to her and "not nitpicking or targeting" her. 22 In her 2014 Year End
Appraisal, Ms. Sharer rated Ms. Coia as "Fully Successful." 23 In response, Ms. Coia wrote,
"I've made great progress this year; ... I've greatly improved existing relationships and have
created new ones. I changed how I perceive many things, and changed how others perceive me .
In early 2015, Vanguard issues a Verbal Warning and Written Alert.
In January 2015, Ms. Sharer gave Ms. Coia a Verbal Warning. Ms. Sharer had been
receiving negative feedback from Coia's peers about her inability to do her job.
On February 24, 2015, Ms. Sharer issued Ms. Coia a Written Alert for Deficient
Performance, which noted gaps in Ms. Coia's performance:
Veronica struggles with the ever changing landscape with fund
report automation. She often needs the help of her peers to
overcome some of the obstacles. Veronica sometimes does not
think the process through clearly or refer to the job aids. At times,
she is not following job aids, not following processes, and has a
lack of attention to detail, which is having an effect on her
performance and is impacting the team. Less tenured crew are
coaching and helping her on an ongoing basis. With our work
changing and volumes increasing, there needs to be confidence in
Veronica's ability to cover the work. 25
Ms. Sharer also criticized Ms. Coia for not attending a meeting. Ms. Coia admits she missed the
meeting because at the time, she was speaking with her plumber.
Ms. Coia complains about discrimination.
The day after the Written Alert, Ms. Coia emailed Human Resources representative Lisa
Smith about her medical conditions, stating she recently switched doctors and medications and
claiming she felt discriminated against because of her "mental health issues. "
As a result, Ms.
Coia and Ms. Smith discussed Ms. Coia getting a physician's note if·Ms. Coia felt she needed
any accommodations for her depression and anxiety.
Around the same time period, Ms. Coia requested a lateral transfer. In response, Ms.
Chambers and Ms. Smith met with Ms. Coia and asked her what they could to do support her.
Ms. Coia stated she needs a fresh start because Ms. Sharer is the worst boss.
explained to Ms. Coia her graphic specialist role is so niche it is hard for Vanguard to move Ms.
Coia to other areas, and even if Vanguard could do so, Ms. Coia was not performing to the
standard of her current role.
On March 5, 2015, Ms. Smith told Ms. Coia she could not substantiate any discrimination
based on the information Ms. Coia provided but Vanguard would still consider her request for a
transfer. On March 10, 2015, Ms. Smith wrote Ms. Chambers and Andy Clarke had stated Ms.
Sharer is the only manager who supports the type of work Ms. Coia does and they could not
identify another Level D position which would fit Ms. Coia's skillset.
On March 12, 2015, Ms. Chambers and Ms. Smith met with Ms. Coia to discuss her
future with Vanguard. Ms. Coia became upset and said Vanguard discriminated against her. Ms.
Coia also said she was trying to get in touch with her therapist and told Ms. Chambers and Ms.
Smith, "Who knows.
I might even kill myself. ,m Ms. Coia left the office for the day on
approved paid time off, after which Ms. Smith called Ms. Coia on her cell phone. During the
call, Ms. Coia said she did not dispute her errors but disagreed with the way Ms. Sharer wrote
her up. Ms. Smith and Ms. Coia discussed the importance of Ms. Coia's health, and Ms. Smith
mentioned Ms. Coia's reference to harming herself concerned her. Ms. Smith eventually added a
Carebridge counselor on the line and hung up. 28
Ms. Coia files her first charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity
On March 2, 2015, Ms. Coia filed her first of three EEOC charges, alleging Vanguard
harassed and discriminated based on her age and disabilities.
According to Ms. Coia, the
discrimination included denying her training, having projects taken from her, Ms. Sharer being
disrespectful and annoyed when speaking to Ms. Coia, an inaccurate written alert, and being
denied opportunities for advancement.
In early April 2015, Ms. Coia told Ms. Smith, upon returning from leave, she did not feel
like she was progressing, she was not having a good year, she cannot trust anyone, and she does
not have a good relationship with her bosses. Ms. Coia also said she had lost her passion for her
work, lost her trust in the company, and could not trust anyone.
Ms. Sharer did not see any improvement in Ms. Coia's work. As a result, she extended
Ms. Coia's written alert for two weeks.
Ms. Sharer, Ms. Coia, and Ms. Smith met on April 16, 2015 and Ms. Coia told Ms. Sharer
she felt like a broken spirit and wanted the same opportunities to work on more creative projects
like everyone else who reported to Ms. Sharer.
The parties sign a settlement agreement.
On April 22, 2015, the parties mediated Ms. Coia's harassment and discrimination claim
before the EEOC. The mediation resulted in a Mediation Settlement Agreement signed on May
5, 2015. Vanguard agreed to four terms: (1) Vanguard will provide Ms. Coia "Adobe After
Effects" one-day training followed up with linda.com at-desk training; (2) a human resources
representative will facilitate all one-on-one meetings between Ms. Coia and Ms. Sharer until
December 31, 2015; (3) Ms. Chambers or her successor will meet with Ms. Coia on a monthly
basis until the end of 2015, beginning in May 2015; and (4) Ms. Chambers or her successor will
be present at Ms. Coia's mid-year and year-end appraisal meetings, and any meetings related to
performance alerts or warnings until the end of 2015.
"In exchange for Vanguard entering
into the" Mediation Settlement Agreement, Ms. Coia agreed to release all claims she could have
brought against Vanguard on or before May 4, 2015. 29 Vanguard met all of these obligations
except the Adobe After Effects training. Although Vanguard scheduled Adobe After Effects
training, it cancelled the training after it terminated Ms. Vanguard's employment in November
On the day before the settlement agreement, Ms. Coia told Ms. Chambers of her
depression and she did not trust herself to not do harm to herself. Carebridge recommended Ms.
Coia go to the hospital.
Ms. Coia's negative reviews persist in 2015, and she continues to complain
about Ms. Sharer.
On May 27, 2015, Ms. Sharer extended Ms. Coia's February 24, 2015 Written Alert until
August 30, 2015. On June 9, 2015, Ms. Coia called Ms. Smith and described Ms. Sharer as an
"evil boss who lies and has a personal agenda"; Ms. Sharer twists things around and lies; Ms.
Sharer and Ms. Chambers are liars; not approachable; and treat everyone like they are five year
On June 10, 2015, Ms. Coia received her 2015 Midyear Review, in which Ms. Sharer
rated Ms. Coia as "Off Course." 30 In response, Ms. Coia wrote she did not believe she received a
On July 13, 2015, Ms. Coia told Ms. Smith about independent contractor Lisa
Cooperstein speaking to her in a condescending manner, which had crushed her morale. Ms.
Coia also said Ms. Cooperstein interrupted her and made incorrect assumptions which made Ms.
Coia look bad:
I feel I must document this, because THIS is what goes on too
often in this group. You ask a simple question, you won't receive
an answer, but you then get accused of not knowing your job, and
words get seriously twisted taken completely out of context, and
sometimes, like in this instance, words you never said are even put
into your mouth . . . . As a result, every day, I have to prepare a
defense justifying every word I say, and ensuring those words are
not shuffled around or otherwise twisted in a way that is used
against me. THIS kind of miscommunication has too often been
used against me, and I cannot allow that to happen again. 31
On July 20, 2015, Ms. Smith responded to Ms. Coia's July 13, 2015 email by suggesting
she discuss her concerns with Ms. Sharer in their next meeting, during which Ms. Smith offered
to be present. Ms. Coia agreed.
On July 20, 2015, Ms. Coia and Ms. Sharer met with Ms. Smith present. Following the
meeting, on July 22, 2015, Ms. Coia emailed Ms. Smith accusing Ms. Sharer of: a) lying during
the meeting; b) employing Machiavellian tactics; c) trying to twist things around to undermine
Ms. Coia so she could hire her friend, Ms. Cooperstein; d) putting Ms. Coia on the defensive to
the point of severe anxiety and depression; e) limiting Ms. Coia's finances and pushing her into
poverty; and f) nitpicking and targeting Ms. Coia. Ms. Coia also said three other employees
working under Ms. Sharer feared for their jobs and, in some instances, cried.
On July 28, 2015, Ms. Coia emailed Ms. Smith complaining about miscommunication
and conflicting information among her team, "[a]s I went about resolving the above
miscommunications with my team mates, they have stated that they, too, always worry
incessantly for their jobs. We are all in a constant state of fear, and for no good reason at all."32
Ms. Coia asked Ms. Smith to change her work hours and days because she "had begun to
experience pain in [her] hip and feet, as well as increased stress."33
The same day, Ms. Smith responded by welcoming Ms. Coia to provide a physician's
note to explain the reasonable medical accommodations she needs for her limitations. Ms. Coia
responded two days later acknowledging she is very sensitive and automatically in defense
mode. It is unclear whether Ms. Coia ever obtained a doctors' note regarding this requested
On August 4, 2015, before meeting Ms. Coia and Ms. Sharer, Ms. Coia emailed Ms.
Smith complaining her computer had been reimaged, making it more difficult to prepare reports
in a timely manner. Ms. Smith responded later that day, after the meeting, and offered her
impression Ms. Sharer was very understanding during the meeting. Ms. Coia disagreed, stating,
"My perception continues to remain that she is more intent on nitpicking than leading. " 34
On August 11, 2015, Ms. Coia emailed Ms. Smith complaining about Ms. Sharer for
taking Ms. Cooperstein's side and twisting Ms. Coia's words. Ms. Coia also previewed an
upcoming psychiatrist appointment. Ms. Smith responded:
The goal of feedback is to help you be fully proficient in your role.
It appears you have the tools and training materials ... to perform
your job. You have indicated that the more stressed and anxious
you are, the more your performance and concentration is impacted.
This is something I suggest you review with your physician at your
next appointment. It is important that you get the support from
your physician in aiding you in how to manage these health
On August 14, 2017, Ms. Coia complained to Ms. Smith she did not get paid, which Ms.
Coia believed constituted retaliation.
On August 18, 2015, Ms. Smith emailed Ms. Coia
explaining she did not receive her paycheck on time because a Transaction Specialist coded Ms.
Coia's leave incorrectly, which occurred when the employee tried to update Ms. Coia's leave
information based on new information from Ms. Coia's physician.
Ms. Sharer extends Ms. Coia's Written Alert and Ms. Coia responds by
accusing Ms. Sharer of retaliation, bullying, and creating a hostile work
environment, resulting in Vanguard's investigation.
On August 31, 2015, Ms. Sharer extended Coia's February 24, 2015 Written Alert to run
through October 30, 2015. During a meeting between Ms. Sharer, Ms. Coia, and Ms. Smith in
which Ms. Sharer informed Ms. Coia about the extension, Ms. Coia "got very upset and angry
and yelled at Sharer that Sharer was not a good leader, never treated Coia fairly, and that Coia
will never be successful if Sharer does not give her opportunities."36 Ms. Coia cried during the
meeting and accused Ms. Sharer of retaliating against her. After Ms. Sharer left the meeting, Ms.
Coia told Ms. Smith two other individuals feel the same way about Ms. Sharer.
On September 2, 2015, Ms. Coia complained to Ms. Smith of workplace bullying, double
standards, a hostile work environment, favoritism, unequal treatment, and Ms. Sharer had hired
her friends as contractors even though the crew did not have enough work. On September 9,
2015, Ms. Smith responded by requesting Ms. Coia provide examples of workplace bullying and
unequal treatment. The same day, Ms. Coia responded with a "defense statement," in which she
accused Ms. Sharer of repeating criticisms against Ms. Coia, slander, lying, discriminating
against Ms. Coia because of her mental illness (which she defined as Borderline Personality
Disorder, Severe Depression, Bipolar Disorder) and favoring those who Ms. Sharer personally
hired. In response to Ms. Sharer's criticisms, Ms. Coia wrote, "Oh PLEASE! EXAGGERATE
On September 16, 2015, Ms. Sharer, Ms. Chambers, Ms. Smith, and Ms. Coia met and
Ms. Sharer gave Ms. Coia a Written Alert extension.
Ms. Smith documented the meeting,
characterizing Ms. Coia's comments as "very unprofessional." 38
On September 22, 2015, Ms. Smith began a workplace investigation into Ms. Coia's
allegations of Ms. Sharer's workplace bullying. Two days later, Ms. Smith told Ms. Coia she
could not substantiate Ms. Coia's claims of workplace bullying or hostile work environment.
On October 2, 2015, Ms. Coia told Ms. Sharer she would be extending her intermittent
FMLA leave from October 2, 2015 until March 1, 2016. Vanguard approved this request.
In early October 2015, after a two consecutive meetings, Ms. Coia complained to Ms.
Chambers about not having the opportunity to work on a PowerPoint presentation.
Chambers responded Vanguard solicited volunteers but never heard from Ms. Coia. Ms. Coia
stated she must have been out, and told Ms. Chambers she felt very alone.
Ms. Coia files a second EEOC charge and complains about problems with
On October 15, 2015, Ms. Coia filed her second EEOC charge, alleging retaliation. On
October 21, 2015, Ms. Coia emailed Ms. Smith complaining about inaccuracies in three of her
paychecks. Ms. Coia requested she be given six extra days of compensation to make up for the
fact she had to spend some of her personal time handling the inaccurate and untimely paychecks.
Ms. Smith told Ms. Coia the issues with her paychecks had been fixed and Vanguard could not
give her six additional days off.
On October 27, 2015, Ms. Smith, Ms. Sharer, and Ms. Coia met and Ms. Coia shared she
had tried to take her own life and her doctor suggested she take short-term disability. Ms. Sharer
offered feedback about concerns related to her arranging coverage for her work and failure to
communicate regarding attending training. Ms. Coia identified actions she could take to close
the performance gaps.
Vanguard issues a Formal Warning due to performance gaps, and Ms. Coia
On November 4, 2015, Ms. Sharer, Ms. Chambers, and Ms. Smith met with Ms. Coia to
update her February 24, 2015 Written Alert and inform her she had not closed performance gaps.
Vanguard then placed Ms. Coia on Formal Warning.
The Formal Warning identified
performance gaps in "not following department standards," ''Not taking accountability for you
compliance work," "Not demonstrating resilience and composure," and "Not following Fund
Report job aids processes."39
Ms. Coia became very angry and yelled directly at Ms. Sharer and Ms. Chambers. Ms.
Coia called Ms. Sharer the worst human being she has ever met, told Ms. Chambers she had lost
faith in her, and told them they are responsible for Ms. Coia's attempt to kill herself. On three
separate occasions during the meeting, Ms. Smith interrupted Ms. Coia to inform her it is not
acceptable to speak to Ms. Sharer and Ms. Chambers that way. Ms. Smith also informed Ms.
Coia they were there to discuss the Formal Warning and asked Ms. Coia to stay focused on the
warning itself. Despite notice, Ms. Coia continued to yell at Ms. Sharer and Ms. Chambers.
At the end of the meeting, Ms. Coia spoke with Ms. Smith alone and requested short-term
They called the appropriate person about short-term disability and received
instructions on next steps. Ms. Coia used intermittent FMLA leave for the remainder of the
week. On November 9, 2015, Ms. Coia informed Ms. Smith her doctors wanted her to try
different medications before taking short-term disability.
Ms. Coia requests a modified work schedule.
On November 9, 2015, Ms. Coia emailed Ms. ·Smith asking for a different work schedule
to work longer days and have a compressed workweek, which her doctor recommended. The
same day, Ms. Smith requested Ms. Coia get a doctor's note requesting the accommodation. Ms.
Coia believed her intermittent FMLA would cover the accommodation.
On November 11, 2015, Ms. Coia emailed Ms. Smith and requested a work schedule
where she would work three days from 9:30 am to 7:00 pm (plus lunch) and she would work on
the fourth day from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm. Ms. Coia indicated this schedule would allow her to
avoid traffic jams, work during quieter hours, help her save gas, and improve her work-life
balance. Ms. Smith responded the same day, asking Ms. Coia for a doctor's note, stating a note
would be necessary for a compressed schedule for medical/health reasons.
Ms. Coia never
provided the note.
Ms. Sharer rates Ms. Coia poorly at her Year-End Review, and Ms. Coia
writes a response causing her termination for violating Vanguard policies.
On November 12, 2015, Ms. Coia received a written copy of her 2015 Year-End Review.
Ms. Sharer rated Ms. Coia as "Did not meet expectations," the lowest of four possible ratings. 40
Among other things, Ms. Sharer wrote, "Since [your written alert extension], I have observed
minimal progress in closing the gaps, critical to your role, stated in both the initial and extended
Written Alerts. As a result, you were placed on a Formal Warning on November 4, 2014, which
will be in effect for 4 weeks. " 41
Ms. Coia responded at great length within hours:
Sallie, First off, may I suggest that you take a writing course so
that perhaps you may be able to add a lot more originality and
honesty into this joke of a review (biggest piece of campy fiction
I've read in my life; hahahahahahaHaHA!) Seriously! How many
times did you copy and paste "struggles with the ever changing
landscape of automation" this year? How lazy can you possibly be
in addition to spiteful and dishonest? We have to fill out how
many calendars for you to keep track of where we are? The
huddles: what do I ever miss in those 5 minutes?
Everyone goes around the room, says the same ol' same ol'
regarding what projects they're working on, and maybe 3 times a
year you actually have something useful to say. 95% of the time,
all you have to offer is a fake "ok, everyone, have a great day!" or,
you tell us "we are in the green! ("Let them eat cake!") The team
just voted to do away with the huddles since they are not at all
value added and a total waste of time (feels like roll call in grade
school). Half the time, you're not even at them!
Because of the nonstop bullying and targeting in which you have
subjected me to, more than a few times I tried to end my life the
past few months because you and this toxic environment that you
have created have triggered some major, severe depression as well
as extreme anxiety which are leading to a host of other stressrelated issues; and you really lay it on thick SPECIFICALLY after
I tell you of antidepressant medication changes I'm going through
with my doctors in order to deal with your nonsense. Ask every
doctor I have, including my dentist, about what the toxic
enforcement you have created is doing to my health. Ask my
family and friends, too!
The sad part? IT IS ALL SO UNNECESSARY!!!!! Before you
decided to start your little campaign to drive me insane and get rid
of me, I THRIVED during busy periods, because once upon a time,
no one was riding me about inconsequential non-issues (and
twisted lies). No one can do their best in a toxic environment with
a bully for a boss, especially an incompetent, narcissistic one who
is only about themselves and not at all about the subordinates.
Ever changing landscapes? WE ARE TALKING ABOUT VERY
UNNCECESSARILY TOO OFTEN. OR DUPLICATED STYLES
WITH 2 DIFFERENT NAMES! Pu-leeeaase! Your attempts at
dumbing me down, killing trees with your suggestion I print out
job aids to show you things I can do IN MY SLEEP is an insult.
Also an insult are the non-stop catch-22 situations you place me in,
the way you twist my asking a peer A SIMPLE QUESTION,
TRYING TO 1. OBTAIN A SIMPLE PIECE OF INFOR, OR
MORE ACCURATELY, 2. CONFIRM INFOR TO DO MY JOB
(and actually talk to my peers since I'm so isolated), into NOT
KNOWING MY JOB? Meanwhile, EVERY TIME you are
plotting your next attack against me, all I hear is your grating voice
asking Laura or Mike to help with doing YOUR job, (trust me, I
am not stupid, and I can always tell when you're about to throw
your next arrow at me by your extreme giddiness and veiled
comments to Laura prior to any of what I will now call "Defense
Sessions" because it's all it is now; me defending myself against
your lies). You are absolutely unapproachable, and quite full of
EVERY SINGLE TIME since you've been targeting me, ANY type
of project on which I've showed passion (in the past, since you
continue to shut me down), you've taken away. You are so
negative towards me, despite mastering fake cheerfulness in front
of others, you INVENT, exaggerate, outright LIE and have
completely shut me down on any attempt I have to made [sic] to
move forward HERE. You are also extremely clueless and
insulting my intelligence.
Uh, After Effects in a huge
ANIMATION software, I will drop my lessons into your User
Drop Box, although you're not going to be able to tell how far I've
come, since the lessons thus far all look the same, and if you are
unfamiliar with it like I'm sure you are, you won't be able to tell
what exactly you're looking at. It also gets really hard to focus
because every single meeting, every time I hear your voice, I
cringe. I get so disgusted by your lame attempts to destroy my
progress that it has affected my entire life. Honey, if you REALLY
want to see me lose my composure? Come talk to me during my
commute (also held against me) and for an hour after I get home,
ESPECIALLY after EVERY MEETING with you. I am the
EPITOME of composed by way of comparison.
How can anyone possibly move forward under your direction
unless they are one of your "pets"? (Let's be clear here, YOU
SHOW MAJOR FAVORITISM!). You nit pick, you micromanage
to the point of ridiculousness, and you LIE. You are a liar on so
many instances that all I can do now is LAUGH! The truth hurts
you, but it sets me free!
A true leader ENCOURAGES her subordinates, not bullies and
targets them to the point of outright LIES that no [sic] only lead to
bad health, but loss of faith. Congratulations! thanks to your [sic],
for the first time since working here, I lost a bit of faith in the
company I work for, because, unfortunately, I have a
megalomaniac for a boss. You continue to LIE about my telling
you my software training plans, you TOTALLY and
COMPLETELY set me up AND LIED NONSTOP regarding the
MRFP reports that you [sic] BFF helped you to set me up to set me
up to fail. (You know, the contractor we really didn't need who
has been overtaking all of my projects, and even some I'd never
even heard of.) OR, do you just take any piece of feedback and
twist it around so badly that you pit people against each other? I
suspect that is more the case with you. Fact it [sic], you are not a
May I suggest (strongly urge) you to read Mr. Bogie's book,
"Enough," specifically the chapter regarding "Too much
management, not enough leadership"? Because your leadership
style goes against the very core of what Mr. Bogle intended when
he founded Vanguard. Most of the time, you rudely rush others
along with an incessant "uh'huh, u-huh, uh-huhmmm-hmmmm" or
you just repeat what Laura says in the meetings. WHAT VALUE
DO YOU ADD?
The only silver lining to having you as a boss is that I did finally
find the right psychiatrist and therapist, which, yes, I needed for
past traumas as well; but they've helped me tremendously to
realize how smart, talented and creative I am, a big dose of selfawareness (one of your opportunity areas), and my psychiatrist
says: "you have skills-our boss obviously is trying very hard to get
rid of you, and you're still there," and most importantly, writing
and documentation skills. In addition, they have helped me to find
a better mindset to achieve things at home on my own time.
Meanwhile, you have not one encouraging thing to say EVER
about anything from my web page to anything else related to my
I bet you also think you 're being so cute moving my year-end to
Friday the 13th, don't you. WHATEVER. I am so over you and I
have zero respect for you. Sorry-not-sorry, but I do not respect
megalomaniacal liars, I don't care who you are or what your title
is- you are just another human on this planet, same as me. You
have a complete inability to relate to anyone whose lifestyle does
not mirror yours; you show zero diversity regarding personalities,
upbringings, etc. You may be able to obtain all the degrees in the
world, but you'll never acquire heart, soul, or common sense. I
feel sorry for you. 42
At 10:26 the same evening, after submitting the above response, Ms. Coia told Ms. Smith
of filing an EEOC Charge a few weeks beforehand, alleging retaliation.
Ms. Coia also
complained about her Year End Review, referring to it as "a hatchet job" and "nothing but
outright lies and exaggeration."
The next day, Ms. Sharer told Ms. Smith about Ms. Coia's written comments. After
reviewing the comments, Ms. Smith recommended to Ms. Sharer she not meet with Ms. Coia
regarding the year-end appraisal. Ms. Smith explained to Ms. Coia she would postpone the
meeting due to the content of Ms. Coia's comments and her unprofessionalism. Ms. Smith told
Ms. Coia she could go home the rest of the day at full pay.
On November 18, 2015, Vanguard decided to terminate Ms. Coia for violating its
Professional Conduct and Fair Treatment Policies, as well as her Formal Warning, due to abusive
and unprofessional conduct. Vanguard's Fair Treatment Policy provides, among other things,
"You are responsible for ensuring that all of your work relationships are based on mutual trust
and respect for human dignity. You should treat all those with whom you work as valued and
respected colleagues. "44
Vanguard's Professional Conduct Policy provides, in pertinent part, employees "are
expected to adhere to the highest ethical and professional standards of behavior." 45 The policy
provides examples of unprofessional actions and behavior including "treating . . . fellow crew
members in a manner that is malicious, obscene, threatening, or intimidating, or that might
constitute harassment or bullying."46
On November 18, 2015, Vanguard told Ms. Coia they were terminating her employment
for violating its policies. Vanguard set December 2, 2015 as Ms. Coia's official last day to allow
her to meet with physicians for medical care. However, on November 20, when Ms. Coia tried
to fill prescriptions at CVS Pharmacy, CVS allegedly told Ms. Coia her coverage was
terminated. Vanguard did not pay Ms. Coia through December 2, 2015.
On February 22, 2016, Ms. Coia filed a Third EEOC Charge. In this charge, Ms. Coia
alleged Vanguard fired her in retaliation for filing her Second EEOC Charge.
While at Vanguard, Ms. Coia never heard anyone express bias toward another based on
his or her age, and no one ever told Ms. Coia they heard a supervisor at Vanguard express bias
toward older workers. Ms. Coia admits Ms. Smith, Ms. Sharer, and Ms. Chambers never said
anything expressing a bias against people with disabilities.
She could not recall anyone at
Vanguard saying anything to her suggesting a bias against her for requesting or taking FMLA
leave or for requesting an accommodation.
Ms. Coia, acting prose, sued Vanguard for age and disability discrimination, hostile work
environment based on age and disability, and retaliation claims under the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act of 1967, 47 the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990,48 the Family and
Medical Leave Act, 49 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"). 50 Ms. Coia also
sued Sallie Sharer, Laura Chambers, and Lisa Smith under the Pennsylvania Human Relations
Act for age and disability discrimination, hostile work environment based on age and disability,
and retaliation. Vanguard moves for summary judgment arguing Ms. Coia's claims fail as a
matter of law. 51 We agree.
Ms. Coia released claims arising on or before May 4, 2015.
Vanguard argues Ms. Coia released all claims which she could have been asserted on or
before May 4, 2015 by entering into a Settlement Agreement with Vanguard. Ms. Coia argues
Vanguard breached the Settlement Agreement, rendering it null and void.
Under Pennsylvania law, we interpret general releases by the rules of contract
construction. 52 According to our Court of Appeals, if the consideration for a release of claims
consists of only the promise to perform, which is unfulfilled, the releasing party cannot
reinstitute the claims. 53 In such cases, the proper remedy would be a suit sounding in breach of
contract, not reinstitution of the breached claims. 54 If, however, the consideration for a release of
claims consists of performance of the settlement agreement, "only substantial performance of the
obligor's duties under the agreement will extinguish the prior claim." 55
Whether consideration for a release constitutes performance or the mere promise to
perform depends on the intent of the parties as manifested in the language of the settlement
For example, in Capek v. Mendelson, paying the settlement amount-the
performance--constituted consideration for the release because the settlement agreement
provided "if ... all of the $330,000 settlement fund is not fully paid within ninety days, any
monies paid will be returned, and there will be no settlement .... " 57 Similarly, in Weinberg v.
Thyssenkrup Budd Co., an agreement between the parties made settlement contingent upon
successful closing of a transaction: "Promptly following the successful Closing of the transaction
herein contemplated, Seller will terminate the Lawsuits with prejudice. " 58 Also, in Melendez v.
Horizon Cellular Tel. Co., the court found "no question" consideration for the plaintiff's release
of discrimination claims constituted his employer's performance of the settlement agreement:
"[i]n exchange for the satisfactory fulfillment by [Defendant] of the promises contained in
paragraph (3) of this Agreement, [Plaintiff] agrees not to institute a lawsuit with respect to the
above-referenced charge". 59 By contrast, in Dugan v. O'Hara, the promise to pay the settlement
constituted consideration for the release where the settlement agreement provided "consideration
of $15,000 in exchange for a general release, including all employment and civil liability
claims. " 60
We find Vanguard's promise to perform four obligations constituted consideration for Ms.
Coia's release. In exchange for Ms. Coia's release of claims, Vanguard agreed to four terms: (1)
Vanguard will provide Ms. Coia "Adobe After Effects" one-day training to be followed up with
linda.com at-desk training; (2) a human resources representative will facilitate all one-on-one
meetings between Ms. Coia and Ms. Sharer until December 31, 2015; (3) Ms. Chambers or her
successor will meet with Ms. Coia on a monthly basis until the end of 2015, beginning in May
2015; and (4) Ms. Chambers or her successor will be present at Ms. Coia's mid-year and yearend appraisal meetings, and any meetings related to performance alerts or warnings until the end
The settlement agreement does not condition release of Ms. Coia's claims on
Vanguard's performance of these promises. Although Vanguard did not fulfill its promise to Ms.
Coia, Ms. Coia's remedy is filing a lawsuit for breach of the settlement contract in state court,
not reinstitution of federal and state discrimination claims.
We grant summary judgment dismissing Ms. Coia's hostile work
environment claims under the ADEA, the ADA, and the PHRA. 61
Vanguard argues Ms. Coia fails to satisfy the elements of a hostile work environment. To
prove hostile work environment based on disability, Ms. Coia must prove (1) she is a qualified
individual with a disability under the ADA; (2) she was subject to unwelcome harassment; (3)
the harassment was based on her disability or a request for an accommodation; (4) the
harassment was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of her employment; and
(5) Vanguard knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to take prompt effective
remedial action. 62 To prove hostile work environment based on age, Ms. Coia must prove (1) she
suffered intentional discrimination because of her age; (2) she suffered severe or pervasive
discrimination; (3) the discrimination detrimentally affected her; (4) the discrimination would
detrimentally affect a reasonable person in similar circumstances; and (5) the existence of
respondeat superior liability. 63
For summary judgment purposes, Vanguard contests the severity or pervasiveness of the
discrimination. To determine whether an environment is severe or pervasive, we must consider
the totality of the circumstances, including "the frequency of the discriminatory conduct; its
severity; whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and
whether it unreasonably interferes with an employee's work performance." 64 "It is well-settled
that being closely supervised or watched does not constitute an adverse employment action that
can support a hostile work environment claim, and that having one's work micromanaged may
be unpleasant but does not give rise to a hostile environment claim." 65 "[T]he 'conduct must be
extreme to amount to a change in the terms and conditions of employment. "' 66 This analysis
"must concentrate not on individual incidents, but on the overall scenario." 67
Ms. Coia failed to cite specific evidence following May 4, 2015 demonstrating she
suffered severe or pervasive harassment based on disability or age.
Ms. Coia must support
factual assertions by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record. " 68 Pro se litigants are
held to this same standard as other litigants. 69 Ms. Coia on occasion cites to evidence, but fails
to point us to the evidence demonstrating severe or pervasive harassment occurring after May 4,
2015. Much of the evidence she cites relate to events preceding May 4, 2015. At best, Ms. Coia
demonstrates an environment where her supervisor-Ms. Sharer--closely supervised her work
performance. Interpreting the facts in the light most favorable to Ms. Coia, Ms. Sharer allegedly
did not like her and did not meet her view of leadership.
Ms. Sharer offered critical reviews.
But we have no evidence of severe or pervasive hostility based on age or disability in the
In view of the undisputed facts, a reasonable jury could not conclude Ms. Coia suffered
severe or pervasive harassment during the applicable time period. We grant summary judgment
dismissing Ms. Coia's disability and age-based hostile work environment claims.
We grant summary judgment dismissing Ms. Coia's claims Vanguard denied
her a reasonable accommodation under the ADA or PHRA.
To establish a prima facie case of discrimination under the ADA, Ms. Coia must show
she: (1) is disabled; (2) qualified to perform the essential functions of the job, with or without
reasonable accommodations; and (3) has suffered an otherwise adverse employment decision as
° Failure to provide a reasonable accommodation can constitute an
a result of discrimination. 7
adverse employment action. 71
To prove a failure to accommodate claim, Ms. Coia must
demonstrate: (1) Vanguard knew of her disability; (2) she requested an accommodation; (3)
Vanguard did not make good faith efforts to assist; and (4) Ms. Coia could have been reasonably
accommodated but for Vanguard's lack of good faith. 72
As to the good faith element, at least one court has found an employer's request for
medical documentation in support of a requested accommodation is consistent with the good
faith requirement. 73 There, the employer accommodated the employee's earlier accommodation
by allowing her to report to an on-call location closer to her home. 74 Later, the employee
requested an accommodation to be removed from the on-call schedule altogether. 75 In response,
the employer requested another doctor's note to determine whether the employee's condition had
The court held "[n]o reasonable fact-finder could conclude based on all the
circumstances that Defendants did not make a good faith effort to accommodate Plaintiffs
disability. The mere fact that they did not immediately acquiesce to Plaintiff's demand to be
removed from on-call duties and instead requested additional medical documentation" does not
indicate bad faith. 77
Ms. Coia argues Vanguard did not accommodate Ms. Coia's disabilities because it did not
allow Ms. Coia the same opportunity to work at home when her depression or anxiety flared up.
Ms. Coia requested an accommodation to work a four-day workweek.
Consistent with its
obligation to respond to an accommodation request in good faith, Ms. Smith requested Ms. Coia
provide a physician's note for Ms. Coia's requested accommodation, but Vanguard fired Ms.
Coia before she could provide a physician's note. Ms. Coia does not provide evidence Vanguard
failed to make good faith efforts to assist Ms. Coia with her accommodation prior to terminating
her for an unrelated reason. The undisputed facts demonstrate Vanguard granted all of Ms.
Coia's requests for short-term disability, FMLA, and intermittent FMLA leave, modified her
work schedule to allow her to leave early for doctors' appointments, and offered her counselors.
There is no evidence Ms. Coia obtained a physician's note but Vanguard disregarded the note.
We grant summary judgment as to Ms. Coia's failure to accommodate claim.
We grant summary judgment dismissing Ms. Coia's age and disability
discrimination claims under the ADEA, ADA, and the PHRA.
Vanguard argues Ms. Coia cannot demonstrate a prima facie case of age or disability
discrimination. Vanguard also argues Ms. Coia cannot demonstrate Vanguard's reasons for its
adverse employment actions were pretextual.
Under the familiar McDonnell Douglas framework, if Ms. Coia establishes a prima facie
case, the burden shifts to Vanguard to proffer evidence of legitimate non-discriminatory
reasons for its adverse employment actions. 78 '"The defendant satisfies its burden at this step
'by introducing evidence which, taken as true, would permit the conclusion that there was a
nondiscriminatory reason for the unfavorable action.'" 79 Once satisfied, Ms. Coia must then
show, by a preponderance of the evidence, Vanguard's explanation is "pretextual."80 In other
words, Ms. Coia must adduce evidence allowing a factfinder to disbelieve Vanguard's reasons,
or point to evidence allowing a factfinder to believe an invidious discriminatory reason more
likely than not constituted a "motivating or determinative cause" of Vanguard's conduct. 81
Ms. Coia does not cite evidence demonstrating Vanguard's decision to terminate Ms.
Coia on the basis of violating Vanguard policies constitutes pretext for age or disability
discrimination. Nor does Ms. Coia demonstrate Vanguard's decisions to issue Ms. Coia a
Formal Warning or to extend her Written Alerts were merely pretextual. The undisputed facts
confirm Ms. Coia failed to demonstrate resilience, composure, and emotional control on a
number of occasions by, for example, calling Ms. Sharer the "worst human being" Ms. Coia
ever met during a business meeting. Ms. Coia's failure to maintain emotional control and her
performance issues were consistently documented in her Mid-Year Updates and Year-End
professionalism and respect for coworkers through her response to her final Year-End Review.
Ms. Coia has not presented competent evidence demonstrating Vanguard's decision to
terminate her did not relate to her policies violations.
Because no reasonable jury could find Vanguard's conduct constitute pretext for age or
disability discrimination, we grant summary judgment as to Ms. Coia's age and disability
We grant summary judgment dismissing Ms. Coia's retaliation claims under
the ADA, the ADEA, the FMLA, and the PHRA.
Vanguard argues Ms. Coia fails to demonstrate a causal connection for the purposes of
establishing a prima facie case of retaliation. Vanguard also argues Ms. Coia cannot demonstrate
"A 'pretext' claim of illegal retaliation follows the familiar burden shifting analysis of
Title VII claims set forth in McDonnell Douglas." 82 In such cases, "a plaintiff must show: (1)
protected employee activity; (2) adverse action by the employer either after or contemporaneous
with the employee's protected activity; and (3) a causal connection between the employee's
protected activity and the employer's adverse action. " 83
If Ms. Coia establishes a prima facie case, "the burden of production of evidence shifts
to the employer to present a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for having taken the adverse
action." 84 The burden then shifts back to Ms. Coia to prove "the employer's proffered
explanation was false, and that retaliation was the real reason for the adverse employment
action. " 85
In the context of Title VII, our Court of Appeals instructs "an employee may not insulate
herself from termination by covering herself with the cloak of Title VIl's opposition protections
after committing non-protected conduct that was the basis for the decision to terminate." 86 In
Curay-Cramer, a Catholic school teacher engaged in pro-choice advocacy by, among other
things, lending her name to a pro-choice newspaper advertisement. 87 The school decided to fire
her but gave her an opportunity to resign before doing so. 88 Before the school fired her, she
informed the school they could not legally fire her for opposing the school's illegal employment
practices. 89 After the teacher refused to recant her support of the advertisement, the school fired
her. 90 Our Court of Appeals held, "an employer need not refrain from carrying out a previously
reached employment decision because an employee subsequently claims to be engaging in
protected activity." 91 If such conduct could prevent an employer from going through on its
decision to terminate the employee, "employers would be placed in a judicial straight-jacket not
contemplated by Congress. "92
Ms. Coia appears to argue her negative performance reviews, Written Alert extensions,
and termination constitute retaliation. Ms. Coia fails to cite evidence suggesting the underlying
reasons for these actions were merely a pretext for retaliation. Ms. Coia has a well-documented
history of performance issues and failing to exercise emotional control, resilience, and
composure, and Ms. Coia has not demonstrated these reasons are merely a pretext for retaliation.
As to Ms. Coia's termination, Ms. Coia engaged in protected activity within a week of
her termination by sending Ms. Smith an email informing Ms. Smith she had filed an EEOC
charge. This protected activity, however, occurred after Ms. Coia engaged in conduct violating
Vanguard's policies and accordingly cannot be used to insulate Ms. Coia from termination. 93
We grant summary judgment as to Ms. Coia's retaliation claims because no reasonable
jury could find Vanguard's actions were merely a pretext for retaliation.
Ms. Coia fails to adduce evidence necessary to create a genuine issue of material fact as
to her claims of age and disability discrimination, hostile work environment based on age and
disability, and retaliation under the ADA, the ADEA, and the PHRA. In the accompanying
Order, we grant Vanguard's Motion for summary judgment.
29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.
29 U.S.C. § 2611 et seq.
43 P. S. § 951 et seq.
We consider the "underlying facts and all reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most
favorable to" Ms. Coia, "the party opposing the motion." Slagle v. Cnty. of Clarion, 435 F.3d
262, 264 (3d Cir. 2006) (citations omitted). Our Policies require a Statement of Undisputed
Material Facts be filed in support of a Rule 56 motion, as well as an appendix of exhibits.
Vanguard filed its Statement of Undisputed Material Facts at ECF Doc. No. 23-3. Vanguard filed
an appendix at ECF Doc. Nos. 23-4 through 23-7. Ms. Coia responded to Vanguard's Statement
of Undisputed Material Facts at ECF Doc. No. 73. Ms. Coia added documents to the Appendix
at ECF Doc. Nos. 27 through 61. References to the exhibits in the appendices shall be referred
to by bates number, for example, "Appx. l."
Id. at 2.
Id. at 363.
Id. at 2.
Id. at 3.
Id. at 4.
Id. at 5.
Id. at 6, 87.
Id. at 382-84.
Id. at 404.
Id. at 7, 112.
Id. at 7.
Id. at 8.
Id. at 66.
Carebridge is a firm which excels in person-to-person support.
Id. at 184.
Id. at 175.
Id. at 175-76.
Id at 170-71.
Id. at 168.
Id. at 22. At the outset of this case, Ms. Coia stipulated this fact is undisputed. ECF Doc. No.
13. "Factual stipulations are binding and conclusive ... , and the facts stated are not subject to
subsequent variation." Christian Legal Soc. Chapter of the Univ. of California, Hastings Coll. of
the Law v. Martinez, 561 U.S. 661, 677 (2010) (quoting 83 C.J.S., Stipulations § 93 (2000))
(brackets omitted). To the extent this or other stipulated facts conflicts with Ms. Coia's evidence,
Ms. Coia's stipulated facts control. See id
Id. at 217.
Id at 258-61.
Id. at 29.
Id at 238-240.
Id. at 1081.
Id. at 33.
Id. at 34.
29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.
29 U.S.C. § 2611 et seq.
43 P. S. § 951 et seq.
Summary judgment is proper when there is no genuine dispute of material fact and the movant
is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A dispute as to a material fact is
genuine if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). On a motion for summary
judgment, the court must consider the "underlying facts and all reasonable inferences therefrom
in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Slagle, 435 F.3d at 264 (citations
omitted). If the movant carries its initial burden of showing the basis of its motion, the burden
shifts to the non-moving party to go beyond the pleadings and point to "specific facts showing
that a genuine issue exists for trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). In
other words, the non-moving party "must present more than just bare assertions, conclusory
allegations or suspicions to show the existence of a genuine issue." Podobnik v. US. Postal Serv.,
409 F.3d 584, 594 (3d Cir. 2005) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Summary
judgment must be granted against a non-moving party who fails to sufficiently "establish the
existence of an essential element of its case on which it bears the burden of proof at trial." Blunt
v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 767 F.3d 247, 265 (3d Cir. 2014).
Hull v. Welex Inc., No. 02-7735, 2002 WL 31887043, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 30, 2002) (citing
Bickings v. Bethlehem Lukens Plate, 82 F.Supp.2d 402, 405 (E.D.Pa. 2000)).
Polish American Machinery Corporation v. R.D. & D. Corp., 760 F.2d 507, 511 (3d Cir. 1985);
see also Dugan v. O'Hara, 125 F. Supp. 3d 527, 538 (E.D. Pa. 2015); Capek v. Mendelson, 821
F. Supp. 351, 359 (E.D. Pa. 1993).
Dugan, 125 F. Supp. 3d at 538.
Polish American Machinery Corporation, 760 F.2d at 511.
See Capek, 821 F. Supp. at 359 (brackets omitted).
Weinberg v. Thyssenkrup Budd Co., No. 05-6213, 2008 WL 834387, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 27,
Melendez v. Horizon Cellular Tel. Co., 841 F. Supp. 687, 692 n.8 (E.D. Pa. 1994).
Dugan, 125 F. Supp. 3d at 533, 538.
"[T]he PHRA is to be interpreted as identical to federal antidiscrimination laws except where
there is something specifically different in its language requiring that it be treated differently."
Jones v. Se. Pa. Transp. Auth., 796 F.3d 323, 327 (3d Cir. 2015) (quoting Fogleman v. Mercy
Hosp., Inc., 283 F.3d 561, 567 (3d Cir. 2002)). The parties do not point to specific language
requiring different treatment.
Walton v. Mental Health Ass 'n. ofSe. Pennsylvania, 168 F.3d 661, 667 (3d Cir. 1999).
See Slater v. Susquehanna Cty., 465 F. App'x 132, 138 (3d Cir. 2012) (assuming standards for
age-based discrimination are the same as the Title VII hostile work environment standards);
Mandel v. M & Q Packaging Corp., 706 F.3d 157, 167 (3d Cir. 2013) (setting for the standard for
hostile work environment under Title VII).
Id. at 168 (quoting Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 23 (1993), overruled on other
grounds by Burlington N & Santa Fe Ry Co. v. White, 548 U.S. 53 (2006)).
Ciecka v. Cooper Health Sys., No. 15-4075, 2017 WL 656727, at *10 (D.N.J. Feb. 14, 2017)
(quoting McKinnon v. Gonzales, 642 F. Supp. 2d 410, 423 (D.N.J. 2009)) (brackets omitted).
Caver v. City of Trenton, 420 F.3d 243, 262 (3d Cir. 2005) (quoting Faragher v. City of Boca
Raton, 524 U.S. 775, 788 (1998)).
Mandel, 706 F.3d at 168 (quoting Caver, 420 F.3d at 262-63).
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see also Doeblers' Pennsylvania Hybrids, Inc. v. Doebler, 442 F.3d 812,
820 n.8 (3d Cir. 2006) ("Judges are not like pigs, hunting for truffles buried in the record.")
(quotation marks omitted).
Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (stating pro se litigants
"cannot flout procedural rules-they must abide by the same rules that apply to all other
litigants"); see also Schock v. Baker, No. 16-1678, 2016 WL 6276048, at *3 (3d Cir. Oct. 27,
2016) (affirming entry of summary judgment against pro se plaintiff because plaintiff did not cite
to specific parts of the record).
Williams v. Philadelphia Hous. Auth. Police Dep't, 380 F.3d 751, 761 (3d Cir. 2004) (Taylor v.
Phoenixville Sch. Dist., 184 F.3d 296, 306 (3d Cir. 1999)).
Taylor, 184 F.3d at 312.
Alotto v. ECSM Util. Contractors, Inc., No. 09-lf44, 2010 WL 5186127, at *3 n.12 (D.N.J.
Dec. 15, 2010).
Anderson v. Wachovia Mortg. Corp., 621 F.3d 261, 271 (3d Cir. 2010) (citation omitted).
Id. (quoting Fuentes v. Perskie, 32 F.3d 759, 763 (3d Cir.1994)).
Willis v. UP MC Children's Hosp. of Pittsburgh, 808 F.3d 63 8, 645 (3d Cir. 2015) (quoting
Fuentes, 32 F.3d at 764).
Shellenberger v. Summit Bancorp, Inc., 318 F.3d 183, 187 (3d Cir. 2003) (citing McDonnell
Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973)).
Daniels v. Sch. Dist. of Philadelphia, 776 F.3d 181, 193 (3d Cir. 2015) (citing Marra v. Phila.
Haus. Auth., 497 F.3d 286, 300 (3d Cir. 2007)).
Id. (citing Marra, 497 F.3d at 300).
Curay-Cramer v. Ursuline Acad. of Wilmington, Delaware, Inc., 450 F.3d 130, 137 (3d Cir.
Id. at 132.
Id. at 133.
Id. at 137 (citing Clark County Sch. Dist. v. Breeden, 532 U.S. 268, 272 (2001)).
Id. at 137.
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