Wakeley v. M.J. Brunner, Inc., 031116 PASUP, 392 WDA 2015

Docket Nº:392 WDA 2015
Opinion Judge:BENDER, P.J.E.:
Party Name:KATIE WAKELEY, Appellant v. M.J. BRUNNER, INC., Appellee
Judge Panel:BEFORE: FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., BENDER, P.J.E., and SHOGAN, J.
Case Date:March 11, 2016
Court:Superior Court of Pennsylvania
 
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KATIE WAKELEY, Appellant

v.

M.J. BRUNNER, INC., Appellee

No. 392 WDA 2015

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

March 11, 2016

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Order Entered February 18, 2015 In the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County Civil Division at No(s): GD 14-009877

BEFORE: FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., BENDER, P.J.E., and SHOGAN, J.

MEMORANDUM

BENDER, P.J.E.:

In this employment dispute, Katie Wakeley appeals from the order entered February 18, 2015, granting M.J. Brunner, Inc. ("Brunner") judgment on the pleadings. We affirm.

In 2011, Appellant worked as a project manager for an advertising agency in Dallas, Texas, earning $80, 000 annually.1 Appellant and her family, a husband and child, were settled in Dallas with no intention of leaving. Appellant's husband worked as a recruiter; their daughter was four-years-old.

In March 2012, a recruiter approached Appellant about a position with Brunner as a digital account director. The position was located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Appellant indicated that she was not interested unless the position paid more than her current position and offered opportunity for advancement. Following a series of interviews, Brunner offered Appellant the position at $90, 000 per year, plus benefits and a $4, 000 relocation allowance. In April 2012, Appellant accepted Brunner's offer and gave her Dallas-employer notice. However, five days later, Brunner rescinded its offer, citing an unexpected change in its business. Appellant was able to keep her job in Dallas.

In May 2012, the same recruiter again approached Appellant about another opening at Brunner, this time as an account director. This position offered the same salary and benefits as the previous one offered her. During her interview, Brunner executives disclosed that the position was available because the incumbent was taking maternity leave. However, Brunner assured Appellant that she would be assigned another, permanent position when the incumbent returned from leave. Brunner also promised Appellant that she would receive extensive training and work closely under a supervisor as she learned her new job responsibilities. Following her interview, Brunner increased the relocation allowance to $9, 000.

In June 2012, Appellant accepted Brunner's offer of employment, and her family relocated from Dallas to Pittsburgh. However, Appellant received little training and little guidance from her supervisor. Her only assistance came from an inexperienced subordinate. Following two mishaps - the first involving an unsuccessful conference call with a client, the second an email exchange with another client provider – Brunner executives were critical of Appellant's work performance. Shortly thereafter in September 2012, and only four days before the previous incumbent returned from maternity leave, Brunner fired Appellant.

In August 2014, Appellant commenced this action by filing a complaint asserting three counts: (1) breach of implied contract, (2) breach of express contract, and (3) fraudulent inducement. According to Appellant, she left a secure job, relocated her family, and assumed a 30-year home mortgage – and this additional consideration entitled her to employment with Brunner for a reasonable period. See Complaint at 9-10. Moreover, according to Appellant, Brunner breached an express promise to provide her with proper training, an experienced supervisor, and a comparable, permanent position. Id. at 10. Finally, based upon these express promises, Appellant asserted that Brunner knowingly and falsely induced Appellant to accept its offer of employment. Id. at 11.

Brunner filed an answer and new matter to which it attached two documents executed by Appellant: (1) an Application for Employment and (2) a Confirmation of Employment. See Answer and New Matter, Exhibits A ("Application for Employment, " 04/02/2012) and B ("Confirmation of Employment, " 06/06/2012) (collectively, "pre-hire documents"). Also attached was an introductory statement purported to be from Brunner's employee...

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