Matthews v. Insinger Performance, Inc.
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry) re: 18 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by Insinger Performance, Inc. Signed by Honorable Matthew W. Brann on 9/11/2017. (jn)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
INSINGER PERFORMANCE, INC.,
SEPTEMBER 11, 2017
Defendant Insinger Performance, Inc., filed a motion for summary judgment
on Count I of Plaintiff Timothy Matthews’s complaint. For the reasons discussed
below, the motion is granted.
Insinger Performance, Inc. and Its Employees
Insinger Performance, Inc. (“the Company”) is a racing fuel distribution
service based in Dushore, Pennsylvania, that operates in several states including
Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland. 1 Bruce Insinger
owns the Company and has been its president since 1992. 2 Brenda Insinger –
Bruce Insinger’s wife – occasionally assists at the Company, although she is
ECF No. 18, Ex. B at 9-10, 44.
Id. at 8-9.
neither an employee, owner, or officer of it.3 In 2014, around the time of the
underlying events of this case, the Company employed five full-time employees. 4
Timothy Matthews has had his Commercial Driver’s License (“CDL”) since
1999 and has 7 years’ experience hauling fuel.5 He was hired by the Company as a
driver in August 2013 and was immediately assigned to its facility in Newark,
Delaware.6 There, he delivered bulk racing fuel, occasionally repackaged that fuel,
and managed inventory. 7
He was also responsible for answering the facility’s
phone, both to receive instructions from the Company and also to respond to
customer inquiries.8 His starting wage was $18.75 per hour, and in early 2014, he
began earning $19.75 per hour.9 He did not, however, receive health insurance
through the company’s health insurance policy. 10
At all relevant times, Mr.
Matthews was the Company’s only African-American employee. 11
While employed at the Company, Mr. Matthews became acquainted with
Stephen Rochacewicz, a fellow employee with more than 35 years’ experience in
Id. at 9; ECF No. 18, Ex. C at 9-12.
ECF No. 18, Ex. B at 10.
ECF No. 18, Ex. A at 19, 110.
Id. at 37, 40.
Id. at 43
Id. at 43-44.
Id. at 36.
Id. at 45.
ECF No. 18, Ex. B at 25.
racing fuels, lubes, and oils.12 Mr. Rochacewicz began working for the Company
as a driver at its New Jersey facility in 2009, when Mr. Insinger bought out Mr.
Rochacewicz’s previous employer of 21 years. 13 As part of this buyout, Mr.
Insinger signed a sales agreement stipulating that he would match the wage – $25
per hour – that Mr. Rochacewicz had been receiving from his previous employer.14
Until approximately 2011, Mr. Rochacewicz received health insurance through the
Company’s health insurance policy, but then, because that policy no longer
covered out-of-state employees, he had to individually procure his own health
insurance, for which the Company reimbursed him. 15
In early 2014, Mr.
Rochacewicz negotiated a raise with the Company and began earning $26 per
Mr. Matthews’s Complaint and Termination
Sometime in June or July of 2014, Mr. Matthews complained, or began
complaining, to Mr. Insinger about his workload – which he believed was too high
– and his pay – which he felt was too low. 17 At this time, he may also have asked
Mr. Insinger whether the alleged high workload and low pay were due to racial
ECF No. 18, Ex. A at 21, 50.
ECF No. 18, Ex. F at 8.
ECF No. 18, Ex. B at 20-21.
ECF No. 18, Ex. E at 19-22.
ECF No. 18, Ex. F at 8-10.
ECF No. 18, Ex. A at 103-04, Ex. B at 48-49.
discrimination – i.e., due to the fact that Mr. Matthews was African-American.
Evidence on this issue is disputed: Mr. Matthews claims that he questioned Mr.
Insinger about racial discrimination, but Mr. Insinger claims otherwise.
timing of these complaints is also unclear from the record: Mr. Matthews claims
that he first spoke to Mr. Insinger on these issues approximately “a month or so
before [he] was terminated” and also insinuates that there may have been more
than one conversation with Mr. Insinger on this topic after that initial discussion,19
whereas Mr. Insinger seems to suggest that there was only one conversation, and
that it took place in either June or July of 2014.20
For purposes of this motion, the Court will assume that Mr. Matthews
questioned Mr. Insinger about racial discrimination, and that that conversation took
place in July 2014, approximately one month before Mr. Matthews was terminated
in August 2014.
In any event, Mr. Insinger claims that he investigated Mr.
Matthews’s claims about his workload and pay, decided the claims were baseless,
and did not respond to them. 21
Compare ECF No. 18, Ex. A at 103-05 with ECF No. 18, Ex. B at 49.
ECF No. 18, Ex. A at 104 (“I was king of calling him and being a little more, hey, listen, we
need to talk about this and find out, is this a racial thing or not . . .”).
ECF No. 18, Ex. B. at 48-49.
Id. at 14, 48-50, 89.
In August 2014, Mr. Insinger drove to the Newark facility, gathered Mr.
Matthews’s belongings, and placed them outside the facility in a box.22 When Mr.
Matthews arrived, Mr. Insinger informed him that he was being terminated
immediately. 23 Mr. Matthews had not received any advance warning that Mr.
Insinger was going to terminate him, and, at the time it happened, Mr. Insinger did
not specify his reasons for doing so. 24
On September 30, 2015, Mr. Matthews instituted the instant action. 25 His
complaint alleged that he suffered various adverse employment consequences as a
result of his race, including an increased workload, a failure to receive health
insurance, lower pay, and his termination.26 It also alleged that his termination was
in retaliation for his complaints about this racial discrimination, and that all of
these actions constituted a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. 27
injunctive relief, damages, and costs and expenses. 28
ECF No. 18, Ex. A at 66-71, Ex. B at 78-81.
ECF No. 1.
Id. ¶¶ 14, 17, 20, 26.
Id. ¶¶ 28-31.
Id. at 7-9.
On September 9, 2016, after the completion of discovery, the Company filed
the instant motion for summary judgment.29 Several exhibits were attached to this
motion, including transcripts of the depositions of Mr. and Mrs. Insinger, Mr.
Matthews, David O’Donnell (one of the Company’s employees), and Timothy
Jessilonis (one of the Company’s customers).
Mr. Insinger, in his deposition, testified that he alone determines drivers’
pay rates and that he bases them on “experience,” which includes “[y]ears of CDL
driving, driving time, knowledge of the . . . race fuels or fuels that [the Company]
would use, [and] safety.” 30 He stated that new drivers start between $15 and $19
per hour, and that he did not pay Mr. Matthews’s replacement – Mr. O’Donnell –
more than $18.75 per hour when he was first hired.31
Mr. Insinger also testified that his decision to terminate Mr. Matthews was
based on a “series of things that took place . . . in the last two months of [Mr.
complaints,” unauthorized use of the Company’s vehicle on personal time, and
failure to restock the inventory at the Newark facility. 32 He admitted, however,
ECF No. 18.
ECF No. 18, Ex. B at 14, 19.
Id. at 20.
Id. at 43-45, 68.
that he kept no records about the issues he had with Mr. Matthews’s
Mrs. Insinger, in her deposition, testified that the Company’s health
insurance policy did not cover out-of-state employees like Mr. Matthews.34 She
noted, however, that such employees would be reimbursed for the cost of
purchasing their own health insurance, and that she had a conversation with Mr.
Matthews about this at a trade expo in January 2014, at which time she gave him
the phone number of an insurance broker who could assist him. 35
Mr. O’Donnell, in his deposition, testified that he was hired by the Company
as a driver in March 2015 to replace Mr. Matthews, several months after Mr.
Matthews’s termination.36 He stated that he has his CDL, that he has owned and
worked for “automotive performance” shops “all [his] life” and that, at the time he
was hired by the Company, was employed by one of the Company’s customers, a
drag racing facility in Maryland. 37 He also noted that he started as a part-time
employee at the Company making $20 per hour, but in February 2016, he was
made full-time and began making $21 per hour.38
Id. at 42.
ECF No. 18, Ex. C at 15.
Id. at 15-16.
ECF No. 18, Ex. E at 11.
ECF No. 18, Ex. D at 9-13, 20-21, 25.
Id. at 17, 24-25.
Mr. Matthews, in his deposition, claimed that Mr. Insinger gave him
permission to use the Company’s vehicle on personal time. 39 He also remembered
having a conversation with Mrs. Insinger about health insurance at the January
2014 trade expo, but stated that he did not understand why he did not receive
health insurance and that he did not call the number provided to him by Mrs.
Finally, Mr. Jessilonis, in his deposition, stated that he was a regular
customer of the Company, had dealt with Mr. Matthews on numerous occasions,
and that he “never had any problems” with Mr. Matthews’s performance. 41
Standard of Review
Summary judgment is granted when “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.” 42 A dispute is “genuine if a reasonable trier-of-fact could find in
favor of the non-movant,” and “material if it could affect the outcome of the
case.”43 To defeat a motion for summary judgment, then, the nonmoving party
ECF No. 18, Ex. A at 63.
Id. at 45-47.
Id. at 7, 15.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a).
Lichtenstein v. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 691 F.3d 294, 300 (3rd Cir. 2012)
(citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248, 252 (1986).
must point to evidence in the record that would allow jury to rule in that party’s
favor. 44 When deciding whether to grant summary judgment, a court should draw
all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. 45
Discrimination Claims Under 42 U.S.C. § 1981
Section 1981 of Title 42 of the United States Code gives “[a]ll persons
within the jurisdiction of the United States . . . the same right in every State and
Territory to make and enforce contracts . . . and to the full and equal benefit of all
laws and proceedings . . . as is enjoyed by white citizens.” Among its other
functions, the statute “affords a federal remedy against discrimination in private
employment on the basis of race.”46
The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has recently
outlined the three-step procedure for analyzing these claims:
[Employment discrimination claims under § 1981] are subject to the
same analysis as discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964. Accordingly, a court reviews them under the
burden-shifting framework outlined in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v.
Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). Under that framework, a plaintiff first
must establish the requisite elements of his claim (called the prima
facie elements); if [he does] so, the burden then must shift to the
employer to articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for
the adverse employment action, and then the plaintiff bears the burden
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c)(1); Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citation
Roebuck v. Drexel University, 852 F.2d 715, 725 n.13 (3rd Cir. 1988) (quoting Johnson v.
Railway Express Agency, 421 U.S. 454, 459-60 (1975).
of establishing that the employer’s stated reason for the adverse action
was an excuse, or pretext, for why the action was actually taken. 47
The first step, then, is to consider whether a plaintiff has established a prima
facie case of racial discrimination, the elements of which “depend on the facts of
the particular case.”48 At the very least, however, a plaintiff must show that he was
a member of a protected class and that he suffered an “adverse employment action
. . . under circumstances that could give rise to an inference of intentional
At the second step, the defendant-employer must “articulate some legitimate,
nondiscriminatory reason for” the adverse employment action. 50 The employer
does this by
introducing evidence which, taken as true, would permit the
conclusion that there was a nondiscriminatory reason for the
unfavorable employment decision. The employer need not prove that
the tendered reason actually motivated [his] behavior, as throughout
this burden-shifting paradigm the ultimate burden of proving
intentional discrimination always rests with the plaintiff.51
Castleberry v. STI Group, 863 F.3d 259, 263 (3rd Cir. 2017) (internal quotation marks and
Jones v. School Dist. Of Philadelphia, 198 F.3d 403, 411 (3rd Cir. 1999).
Makky v. Chertoff, 541 F.3d 205, 214 (3rd Cir. 2008) (citing McDonnell Douglas Corp. v.
Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973).
Fuentes v. Perskie, 32 F.3d 759, 763 (3rd Cir. 1994) (quoting McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S.
Fuentes, 32 F.3d at 763 (3rd Cir. 1994) (emphasis in original) (internal citations omitted).
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Finally, at the third step, the plaintiff must “show by a preponderance of the
evidence that the employer’s explanation is pretextual.”52
When a court is
considering the matter at the summary judgment stage,
the plaintiff must point to some evidence, direct or circumstantial,
from which a factfinder could reasonably either (1) disbelieve the
employer’s articulated legitimate reasons; or (2) believe that an
invidious discriminatory reason was more likely than not a motivating
or determinative cause of the employer’s action. 53
Because the plaintiff, at this step, has already established the elements of his prima
facie case, he can defeat a motion for summary judgment
by either (i) discrediting the [defendant’s] proffered reasons, either
circumstantially or directly, or (ii) adducing evidence, whether
circumstantial or direct, that discrimination was more likely than not a
motivating or determinative cause of the adverse employment action.
Thus, if the plaintiff has pointed to evidence sufficiently to discredit
the defendant’s proffered reasons, to survive summary judgment the
plaintiff need not also come forward with additional evidence of
discrimination beyond his or her prima facie case. 54
This evidence, however, “must allow a factfinder reasonably to infer that each of
the employer’s proffered non-discriminatory reasons was either a post hoc
fabrication or otherwise did not actually motivate the employment action.” 55 It is
not enough for the plaintiff to “simply show that the employer’s decision was
wrong or mistaken, since the factual dispute at issue is whether discriminatory
Id. at 764. (emphasis in original).
Id. (emphasis in original).
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animus motivated the employer, not whether the employer is wise, shrewd,
prudent, or competent.” 56
Instead, the plaintiff “must demonstrate such
weaknesses, implausibilities, inconsistencies, incoherencies, or contradictions in
the employer’s proffered legitimate reasons for its action that a reasonable
factfinder could rationally find them unworthy of credence, and hence infer that the
employer did not act for the asserted non-discriminatory reasons.” 57
Under this framework, the plaintiff bears an admittedly “difficult burden,”58
as he “must show not merely that the employer’s proffered reason was wrong, but
that it was so plainly wrong that it cannot have been the employer’s real reason.”59
This difficulty, however, is directly attributable to the “inherent tension between
the goal of all discrimination law and our society’s commitment to free
decisionmaking by the private sector in economic affairs.”60
Mr. Matthews claims that he was paid less than white workers because he is
nondiscriminatory reasons” for any pay differential that may exist, and because
Id. at 765.
Id. (emphasis in original) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
Atkinson v. LaFayette College, 460 F.3d 447, 454 (3rd Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted).
Fuentes v. Perskie, 32 F.3d 759, 765 (3rd Cir. 1994) (quoting Ezold v. Wolf, Block, Schorr
and Solis-Cohen, 983 F.2d 509, 531 (3rd Cir. 1992)).
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Mr. Matthews has failed to show that the Company’s explanations are pretextual,
Mr. Matthews’s claim of unequal pay must fail.
The parties do not dispute that Mr. Matthews, an African-American, is a
member of a protected class, or that unequal pay is an actionable adverse
employment action. However, when a plaintiff alleges unequal pay, he must show
that he was “performing work substantially equal to [those not in his protected
class] who were compensated at higher rates.”61 Mr. Matthews, then, must identify
employees (1) whose duties at the Company were similar to his and (2) who were
paid more than he was for performing those duties.
Mr. Matthews has arguably identified two such employees:
Rochacewicz and Mr. O’Donnell. 62 All three men were employed as drivers for
Aman v. Cort Furniture Rental Corp., 85 F.3d 1074, 1087 (3rd Cir. 1996) (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted).
Mr. Matthews attempts to compare his hourly wage to the wages of a host of other
employees that appear on an “Payroll Journal” attached to his Brief in Opposition to
Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 23, Ex. 4. In the first place, Mr.
Matthews fails to produce any evidence that any of these employees were “performing work
substantially equal” to the work he performed at the Company – i.e., were employed as
drivers at the Company. In the second place, even if we assume that all of these employees
were so similarly situated, the evidence cuts against Mr. Matthews’ wage discrimination
claim. Besides Mr. Matthews, Mr. Rochacewicz, and Mr. O’Donnell, the Payroll Journal
lists 12 other employees (Arrison, Gilbert, Highley, Jankowsky, Keiffer, Lewis, Milo,
Mosher, Mullen, Selleck, Snyder, and Todd – none of whom, according to the undisputed
evidence, were African-American) whose listed wages ($20, $14.50, $20, $20, $19, $16.58,
$18, $20, $22, $22, $17, and $22, respectively) average $19.26 per hour - $0.49 less per hour
than Mr. Matthews’ wage in 2014. In his Brief, Mr. Matthews attempts to avoid this
difficulty by plucking from this list the employees earning at least $20 per hour and
comparing them to Mr. Matthews’ wage of $19.75 per hour. As noted, however, there is no
evidence that any of the employees on the list were employed as drivers, so there is
necessarily no evidence that the carefully-selected employees were drivers, either.
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the Company, so they were all “performing . . . substantially equal” work. And it
is undisputed that Mr. Rochacewicz was earning more than Mr. Matthews; in 2014,
Mr. Rochacewicz was earning $26 per hour while Mr. Matthews was earning
$19.75. It is more difficult to compare Mr. O’Donnell’s wages to Mr. Matthews’s,
since they were never employed at the same time. When Mr. Matthews left the
Company in 2014, he was earning $19.75 per hour, and when Mr. O’Donnell
began working at the Company in 2015, he was earning $20. One may question
whether a $0.25 difference in wages (an increase of less than 1.27%) measured
across the span of nearly a year “give[s] rise to an inference of intentional
discrimination.” Nevertheless, this Court will proceed to the next analytical steps
on the assumption that Mr. Matthews has carried his initial burden.
Mr. Insinger testified that he alone determines drivers’ pay rates and bases
them on “experience,” which he defines to include “[y]ears of CDL driving,
driving time, knowledge of the race fuels or fuels that [the Company] would use,
[and] safety.” Mr. Insinger also testified that Mr. Rochacewicz’s initial wage at
the Company was contractually determined by a sales agreement. Mr. Matthews
does not dispute that these are, facially at least, legitimate, nondiscriminatory
reasons for any wage difference. He does, however, argue that these reasons are
pretextual. The evidence in the record, however, does not support his argument.
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There is evidence that Mr. Rochacewiz and Mr. O’Donnell have superior
“experience,” as defined by Mr. Insinger: Mr. Matthews hauled fuel for only 7
years, while Mr. Rochacewicz has worked in the field for more than 35 years and
Mr. O’Donnell has worked in it “all [his] life.”
Rather than focus on this
experience factor, however, Mr. Matthews points to inconsistencies in the
deposition testimonies of Mr. Insinger and Mr. O’Donnell. Mr. Insinger claimed
to pay Mr. O’Donnell less than $18.75 per hour while Mr. O’Donnell claimed to
have earned $20. 63 Mr. Insinger also claimed that Mr. Matthews’s allegations of
unequal pay in June or July of 2014 were baseless, while it is undisputed that at
least one driver – Mr. Rochacewicz – was earning more than Mr. Matthews at that
These inconsistencies, however, are minor, and not “weaknesses,
implausibilities, inconsistencies, incoherencies, or contradictions” that would allow
a jury to disbelieve the Company’s rational for the unequal pay. Mr. Matthews has
not shown that rationale to be “so plainly wrong that it cannot have been the
employer’s real reason,” and his claim of racially discriminatory unequal pay,
Mr. Matthews also claims that his termination from the Company was due to
Again, because the Company has offered “legitimate,
The “Payroll Journal,” mentioned supra, supports Mr. O’Donnell’s testimony.
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nondiscriminatory reasons” for Mr. Matthews’s termination, and because Mr.
Matthews has failed to show that the Company’s explanations are pretextual, Mr.
Matthews’s claim of racially discriminatory termination must fail.
In sum, the parties do not dispute that Mr. Matthews, an African-American,
is a member of a protected class, or that termination is an actionable adverse
employment action. This Court will also assume that this “adverse employment
action” occurred “under circumstances that could give rise to an inference of
intentional discrimination” – i.e., it will assume that Mr. Matthews has established
his prima facie case.
Mr. Insinger testified that his decision to terminate Mr. Matthews was based
on a “series of things that took place . . . in the last two months of [Mr.
complaints,” unauthorized use of the Company’s vehicle on personal time, and
failure to restock the inventory at the Newark facility. Mr. Matthews does not
dispute that these are, facially at least, legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for his
termination. He does, however, argue that these reasons are pretextual. Just like
with the unequal pay claim, however, the evidence in the record does not support
In his attempt to assail the Company’s stated rationale as pretextual, Mr.
Matthews points to various pieces of evidence in the record. He notes that Mr.
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Insinger admitted to keeping no records about any issues he may have had with
Mr. Matthews’s work performance – i.e., he kept no records about Mr. Matthews’s
alleged “continued tardiness” or the “customer complaints” about him. At the time
of the termination, however, the Company employed only five full-time
employees; it is unsurprising that such a small business did not keep detailed,
written records of its employees affairs.
Mr. Matthews also points to Mr. Jessilonis’s testimony that he “never had
any problems” with Mr. Matthews. The fact that a single one of the Company’s
customers failed to complain about Mr. Matthews’s work performance, however,
sheds no light on how other customers felt, especially when there is no evidence in
the record as to how many other customers the Company had or what percentage
of the Company’s business was due to Mr. Jessilonis’s purchases.
Finally, Mr. Matthews points to his own testimony indicating that Mr.
Insinger gave him permission to use the Company’s vehicle on personal time.
Even if this Court were to resolve this factual dispute in Mr. Matthews’s favor, that
fact – even in combination with other evidence he points to on this issue – is
insufficient to allow a jury to disbelieve each of the Company’s stated rationales
for Mr. Matthews’s termination, especially since Mr. Matthews has pointed to no
evidence that disputes Mr. Insinger’s claim that Mr. Matthews failed to restock the
inventory at the Newark facility.
Again, Mr. Matthews has not shown the
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Company’s rationale for his termination to be “so plainly wrong that it cannot have
been the employer’s real reason,” and his claim of racially discriminatory
termination, therefore, fails.
Unequal Benefits and Workloads
Finally, Mr. Matthews claims that he was denied health insurance and given
an increased workload because of his race. Both of these claims fail.
The evidence is undisputed that the Company did not provide health
insurance to Mr. Matthews because he was an out-of-state employee, not because
he was African-American. Both Mrs. Insinger and Mr. Matthews testified about a
conversation to this effect at a January 2014 trade expo, and Mr. Rochacewicz –
another out-of-state employee – testified that he did not receive health insurance
from the Company and had to purchase his own. Although Mr. Matthews claims
that he did not understand this arrangement, the record neither establishes a prima
facie case of racial discrimination on this claim nor tends to show that the
Company’s stated policy for out-of-state employees was pretextual.
Mr. Matthews seems to have abandoned his argument that he was subject to
an increased workload because of his race. In any event, he points to no evidence
in the record supporting this claim, and a careful reading of the record reveals
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Retaliation Claim Under 42 U.S.C. §1981
In addition to prohibiting racial discrimination in private employment, 42
U.S.C. § 1981 also bars employers from retaliating against employees who voice
concerns about such discrimination. 64
Such retaliation claims are, like
discrimination claims, analyzed under the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting
framework. 65 To establish a prima facie case of retaliation, a plaintiff must prove
(1) that he engaged in protected activity, (2) that he suffered an adverse
employment action, and (3) that a causal connection exists between the protected
activity and the adverse employment activity. 66 To show the requisite causal
connection, a plaintiff can show that the temporal proximity between the protected
activity and the adverse employment action is “unusually suggestive”; a plaintiff
may also point to “circumstances as a whole, including any intervening antagonism
by the employer, inconsistencies in the reasons the employer gives for its adverse
action, and any other evidence suggesting that the employer had a retaliatory
animus when taking the adverse action.”67
For purposes of this motion, the Court will assume that Mr. Matthews was
engaged in protected activity when he raised his work-related complaints with Mr.
Estate of Oliva ex rel. McHugh v. New Jersey, 604 F.3d 788, 798 (3rd Cir. 2010) (citing
CBOCS West, Inc. v. Humphries, 553 U.S. 442 (2008)).
Daniels v. School Dist. of Philadelphia, 776 F.3d 181, 193 (3rd Cir. 2015).
Id. at 196.
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Insinger in June or July of 2014, and that he suffered an adverse employment
action – i.e., he was terminated – after making those complaints. Mr. Matthews,
however, fails to establish the third prong of his prima facie case, the causal
connection between those two events. The timing between them is not unusually
suggestive; even accepting Mr. Matthews’s version of the events as true, there was
a one-month gap between his complaint and his termination. 68
There are no
glaring “inconsistencies” in the reasons given by Mr. Insinger for Mr. Matthews’s
termination; the minor issues that Mr. Matthews has with those proffered reasons
have all been discussed and rejected supra in § II.B.2.69 And Mr. Matthews points
to no other evidence showing any “intervening antagonism” or “retaliatory
animus” on Mr. Insinger’s behalf.
Furthermore, even if Mr. Matthews had established the requisite causal
connection, he still fails at step three of the McDonnell Douglas analysis – i.e., he
has failed to show that the Company’s proffered explanation for his termination is
pretextual – for the reasons stated supra in § II.B.2.
See, e.g., Alers v. City of Philadelphia, 919 F.Supp.2d 528, 552 (E.D. Pa. 2013) (holding that
a one-month gap is not unusually suggestive); Thomas-Taylor v. City of Pittsburgh, 605
Fed.Appx. 95, 99 (3rd Cir. 2015) (unpublished opinion) (same).
As another “inconsistency,” Mr. Matthews claims that Mr. Insinger was untruthful when he
found Mr. Matthews’ pay complaint baseless. This argument has been discussed and
rejected supra in § II.B.1.
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Mr. Matthews has failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination as
it relates to his alleged unequal workload and his failure to receive health insurance
from the Company, and has failed to established a prima facie case of retaliation.
He has also failed to establish that the Company’s explanations for his pay and his
termination were pretextual.
Therefore, his claim of discrimination and of
retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 fails, and the Company’s motion for
summary judgment is granted.
An appropriate Order follows.
BY THE COURT:
s/ Matthew W. Brann
Matthew W. Brann
United States District Judge
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