YOUNG v. JOB SHERPA, LLC et al
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION. SIGNED BY HONORABLE HARVEY BARTLE, III ON 5/10/22. 5/10/22 ENTERED & E-MAILED.(fdc)
Case 2:18-cv-04805-HB Document 14 Filed 05/10/22 Page 1 of 10
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
JOB SHERPA, LLC, et al.
May 10, 2022
Plaintiff Autumn Martini brings this action under
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e
et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”),
43 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§ 951 et seq., against her former employer,
Job Sherpa LLC and Job Sherpa LLC doing business as DMVG
Staffing, for lost wages, emotional distress damages, and
Specifically, plaintiff alleges that she was
subjected to discriminatory comments on the basis of sex as a
pregnant person and was repeatedly harassed by her supervisor,
Plaintiff filed suit on November 6, 2018 and effected
service of the summons and complaint on Job Sherpa on January
Job Sherpa failed to enter an appearance or answer
The Clerk of Court entered default against Job
Plaintiff also brought suit against defendant Scott Shuster
who was never served. The court thereafter dismissed Shuster
from the case for lack of prosecution.
Case 2:18-cv-04805-HB Document 14 Filed 05/10/22 Page 2 of 10
Sherpa on March 26, 2019.
The court thereafter entered judgment
as to liability in favor of plaintiff and against defendant
Job Sherpa on April 5, 2022.
Before the court is the motion of plaintiff for entry
of default judgment with respect to damages pursuant to Rule
55(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
hearing at which plaintiff testified.
The court held a
The court now makes the
following findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Plaintiff began working at Job Sherpa in July 2016 as
a part-time job recruiter.
Job Sherpa recruits and finds for
employers staffing such as seasonal farm workers, accountants,
and warehouse workers.
at Job Sherpa.
In September 2016 she became full-time
As part of her offer-of-employment letter,
plaintiff received an employee handbook from Scott Shuster, her
supervisor and one of three owners of defendant.
includes an anti-harassment policy which prohibits “unwelcome
conduct that is based on” sex and gender.
The policy applies to
employees, supervisors, and managers of Job Sherpa.
handbook also states that Job Sherpa is an equal opportunity
Job Sherpa does not have a human resources
Plaintiff’s starting salary began at $673.07 per week,
for an annual amount of $35,000.
There were also opportunities
Case 2:18-cv-04805-HB Document 14 Filed 05/10/22 Page 3 of 10
to increase her salary with commissions.
Her salary later
increased in 2017 to $770 a week, or $40,040 a year.
In the fall of 2016, plaintiff found out during an
ultrasound that she was eight weeks pregnant with an anticipated
due date of June 11, 2017.
She was nervous to tell Shuster for
fear of how he would react and treat her once he knew she was
going to have a child.
In January 2017 she informed Shuster,
and, as expected, he reacted negatively.
He commented that she
would have “pregnancy brain” and would not be as fun now.
Plaintiff inquired about the possibility of obtaining
health insurance through her work, but Shuster told her to
He caused her fear and anxiety at work by
regularly making demeaning and discriminatory comments about her
For instance, Shuster told her she was
getting more stupid because she was pregnant.
She felt as if
she were walking on eggshells with her work because of the ways
he would criticize her.
because she was pregnant.
He told her she was just making excuses
He called her cell phone in the
evenings outside of work hours to harangue her about her work
and started demanding that she work late in the evenings and
come in on weekends.
She described this time at work as “horrible.”
Shuster made her pregnancy continuously stressful due to his
behavior toward her.
After telling Shuster that she was
Case 2:18-cv-04805-HB Document 14 Filed 05/10/22 Page 4 of 10
pregnant, she was always scared and anxious at work with a poor
mindset about herself and her performance.
She described the
job as a “nightmare job” and a time that she wished she could
Plaintiff spoke to her doctors about the stress she
was experiencing at work and sought out a therapist.
had told her she should get medication to fix herself.
made her feel worse.
Her doctors confirmed that medication
would be entirely inappropriate for her.
As a result of this stress at work, she had a panic
attack on March 22, 2017 when she was about seven months
pregnant and went to the hospital for which she had to miss
She informed Shuster via text message.
He demanded that
she come in to “fix her mess” after she missed work because of
her hospital visit.
Due to the strain she was experiencing and
on her doctor’s recommendation, plaintiff asked Shuster if she
could work forty hours a week rather than working overtime as
she had been doing.
While she was at a doctor’s
appointment, he texted her and said that if she did not return
to work then she would be deemed to have resigned her position.
On March 28, 2017, she received a notice of
termination letter from Shuster on company letterhead.
letter states that it was “written notice to you of your
termination of employment with the Company, effective
Case 2:18-cv-04805-HB Document 14 Filed 05/10/22 Page 5 of 10
The letter gave as its reason “job abandonment”
after she failed to report to work for three consecutive days
The letter was not truthful in asserting that
she had abandoned her job.
The letter was further evidence of
After she was terminated, plaintiff immediately
applied for unemployment compensation and began receiving
payments on April 8, 2017.
Job Sherpa challenged her
unemployment compensation application claiming that she had
A hearing occurred before the
Unemployment Compensation Board of Review on July 3, 2017.
unemployment referee found that plaintiff had not voluntarily
abandoned her job and that she was entitled to continue to
She received $374 a week in unemployment from April 8,
2017 through August 26, 2017.
During this time she was
continuously searching for a new job after her daughter was born
on May 30, 2017.
She eventually started at Avalon Flooring on
November 20, 2017 as an administrative assistant.
an hour, which is less than she made at Job Sherpa.
She made $15
2018, plaintiff found a new position that paid more than
She now seeks the differential in pay between what
she made at Job Sherpa and what she received in unemployment
benefits and at Avalon Flooring.
She also seeks compensatory
Case 2:18-cv-04805-HB Document 14 Filed 05/10/22 Page 6 of 10
damages for the emotional distress she endured and punitive
damages for Shuster’s behavior.
Title VII prohibits discrimination by an employer on
the basis of sex.
See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a).
discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.
See 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e(k); Young v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 575 U.S. 206,
Compensatory and punitive damages are allowed for
claims of intentional discrimination under Title VII.
42 U.S.C. § 1981a(a)(1).
under Title VII.
Accrual of back pay is also permitted
See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(g).
It is similarly
unlawful under the PHRA for an employer to discriminate against
an individual on the basis of sex.
See 43 Pa. Cons. Stat.
Back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages
are all available under the PHRA.
See 43 Pa. Cons. Stat.
§ 962(c); Clarke v. Whitney, 975 F. Supp. 754, 758 (E.D. Pa.
By failing to answer or appear, Job Sherpa has
conceded plaintiff’s allegations in her complaint and the
discrimination she experienced from Shuster on the basis of sex
in violation of Title VII and the PHRA.
The court therefore turns to the issue of damages.
Plaintiff seeks the difference between what she was making at
Job Sherpa, that is $770 a week, and what she received in
Case 2:18-cv-04805-HB Document 14 Filed 05/10/22 Page 7 of 10
unemployment benefits and at Avalon Flooring.
is $7,920 for the period of April 2017 through August 2017 while
she was receiving unemployment benefits at a rate of $374 a
Plaintiff also seeks $9,463 in lost wages for the period
of August 2017 through November 2017 when she obtained a job
with Avalon Flooring.
Finally, plaintiff seeks the pay
differential from when she started her job at Avalon Flooring up
to her start at a new job in June 2018 which paid more than her
job at Job Sherpa.
For this period she lost $4,688.60.
Plaintiff is entitled to back pay in the amount of $22,071.60.
Plaintiff also seeks this same amount in compensatory
damages for the emotional distress she endured while working at
Job Sherpa and subjected to Shuster’s harassment and
discriminatory comments based on her pregnancy.
finds that plaintiff is entitled to $22,071.60 in compensation
for the emotional distress she experienced while working for Job
Finally, plaintiff seeks punitive damages for
Shuster’s discriminatory conduct.
Punitive damages are
permitted under Title VII “if the complaining party demonstrates
that the respondent engaged in a discriminatory practice . . .
with malice or with reckless indifference to the federally
protected rights of an aggrieved individual.”
An employer’s misconduct need not be
Case 2:18-cv-04805-HB Document 14 Filed 05/10/22 Page 8 of 10
“egregious,” rather it must involve “malice” or “reckless
indifference,” that is “knowledge that it may be acting in
violation of federal law.”
Kolstad v. Am. Dental Ass’n, 527
U.S. 526, 535 (1999).
Agency principles limit vicarious liability for
punitive damages against an employer for an employee’s conduct.
Id. at 539.
A principal may be liable for punitive damages if
“ʽthe agent was employed in a managerial capacity and was acting
in the scope of employment.’”
Id. at 542-43 (citing Restatement
(Second) of Agency § 217(C)).
An employee acts within the scope
of his employment when he performs work of the kind he is
employed to perform within authorized limits.
Id. at 543.
However, where discriminatory employment decisions are “contrary
to the employer’s ‘good-faith efforts to comply with Title VII’”
the employer may not be held vicariously liable.
Id. at 545-46.
Plaintiff has sufficiently demonstrated through her
testimony that Shuster’s conduct was done with malice and with
reckless indifference to her federally protected rights.
He repeatedly made comments about her pregnancy
status at work and criticized her ability to do her job because
she was pregnant.
He harassed her for her work and demanded she
work extra hours while pregnant.
He did not heed the advice of
her doctors that she work a regular forty-hour work week and to
The court finds plaintiff credible and her
Case 2:18-cv-04805-HB Document 14 Filed 05/10/22 Page 9 of 10
testimony credible that she endured significant amounts of
stress and anxiety at work because of Shuster’s actions towards
her due to her pregnancy.
His comments and actions reflect
malicious intent and also reflect a reckless indifference to her
right to be free from discrimination while at work.
is recognized in the employee handbook that he personally gave
to plaintiff when she started her employment with Job Sherpa.
There is no question that Job Sherpa can be held
vicariously liable for Shuster’s discriminatory conduct in this
As her supervisor and as a part owner, Shuster was
employed in a managerial capacity.
His comments and actions
toward her were about her work and as her boss related to her
He was therefore acting within the scope of his
There is nothing to indicate that Job Sherpa made any
good faith efforts to comply with Title VII.
It did nothing to
enforce its anti-harassment policy in its handbook.
no human resources department to which plaintiff could report
The discriminatory actions were done
by a part owner of the company and the one who was responsible
for providing the employee handbook and its anti-discrimination
Case 2:18-cv-04805-HB Document 14 Filed 05/10/22 Page 10 of 10
As such, this court finds that punitive damages in the
amount of $22,000 are appropriate to compensate plaintiff for
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