Mandia v. ARCO Chemical Co.

Decision Date30 September 1985
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 83-1529.
Citation618 F. Supp. 1248
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Stanley Stein, Pittsburgh, Pa., for plaintiff.

Charles Kenrich, Dickie McCamey & Chilcote, Jess Womack, Arco Chemical Co., Philadelphia, Pa., for defendant.


GERALD J. WEBER, District Judge.

Plaintiff filed an action against Defendant under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, specifically under Section 2000e-3(a) relating to unlawful discrimination in employment against an employee who has opposed discrimination in employment, or against an employee who has assisted or participated in any manner in an investigation or proceeding under Title VII.

Plaintiff's Complaint in ¶ 17 alleges that his termination:

... was solely the result of Mason-Mandia's filing of the EEOC claim against ARCO, as well as the result of Mandia's expressed opinion in support of his wife's claim, ...

(Mason-Mandia refers to plaintiff's wife).

The statute creates and the cases recognize two types of retaliation discharges under Section 2000e-3(a); the opposition clause, because "he has opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice by this Title," i.e. see Great American Federal Savings and Loan v. Novotny, 442 U.S. 366, 99 S.Ct. 2345, 60 L.Ed.2d 957 (1979), and the second, the participation clause, "because he made a charge, testified, assisted ... or participated in any manner in any investigation, proceeding or hearing under this Title."

The plaintiff has failed to carry the burden of proving that he is within the protected activity of the statute by opposing any unlawful employment practices. One of the functions of his job was to guard against, investigate, and report any such practices. He was well familiar with the concept of sexual harassment, he wrote the employee manual, he conducted a seminar on the topic, he was familiar with the EEOC procedure and was familiar with what an EEOC charge would produce. While he complained of employment practices within the company's plant at Beaver Valley, there is no evidence that he raised any question of sexual harassment.

With respect to the participation element, the evidence is clear that he participated, supported and aided his wife in the filing of the EEOC charge on November 3, 1982 with relation to sexual harassment. It is solely by reason of his wife's charge that he could be considered to have made any allegation of sexual harassment against his employer, and thus be engaged in a protected activity. We will concentrate on the evidence surrounding the claim that his discharge from employment arose out of the filing by his wife of a complaint under Title VII against her employer, the same employer as her husband's, the defendant here. This is retaliation against a third-party because of the filing of a Title VII complaint by a close relative. We conclude that Section 2000e-3 proscribes such retaliation. See De Medina v. Reinhardt, 444 F.Supp. 573 (D.D.C.1978) and Kornbluh v. Stearns and Foster Co., 73 F.R.D. 307 (N.D.Ohio 1976).

The wife's EEOC complaint against ARCO Chemical was filed November 3, 1982 and alleged sexual harassment by her supervisor at the ARCO Chemical Co. Beaver Valley Plant. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited in employment by Title VII. The prohibition "is violated when a supervisor, with the actual or constructive knowledge of the employer, makes sexual advances or demands toward a subordinate employee and conditions that employee's job status—evaluation, continued employment, promotion, or other aspects of career development—on a favorable response to those advances or demands, and the employer does not take prompt and appropriate and remedial action after acquiring such knowledge. Tomkins v. Public Service Electric and Gas Company, 568 F.2d 1044, 1048-1049 (3d Cir.1977).

This case presents a complex background, almost Byzantine in its involvements, and with enough characters and incidents to provide a full season of soap opera. The plaintiff, Richard Mandia, has a B.S. degree in psychology, an M.S. degree in behavioral science, with training and experience in psychological counseling. He was hired by ARCO Chemical Company in 1979 in Philadelphia, as Manager of Management Development and was transferred on September 22, 1980 to ARCO's Beaver Valley Plant as Manager of Employee Relations. His chain of command was to Carl Simmons, Manager of Employee Relations in Philadelphia; then to William Edmunds, Director of Employee Relations in Philadelphia, and finally to Jack Oppasser, Vice-President of Employee Relations in Philadelphia.

Under Mandia at the Beaver plant were Fernand Price, Supervisor of Salaried Personnel; and A.L. Rice, Supervisor of Labor Relations.

Mandia received competent (3+) performance evaluations on May 2, 1981 and March 4, 1982. He received merit salary raises in 1980, 1981 and 1982.

Cheryl Mason (later Cheryl Mason-Mandia) was a registered nurse who was hired as a part-time nurse at the Beaver Valley Plant in January 1981. She was interviewed by Richard Mandia at that time and they became good friends. She was hired as a full time nurse in September 1981. Mandia was giving her psychological counseling during 1981 because of the effects on her of the mental instability of her husband, Paul Mason, who committed suicide on October 14, 1981. Mandia had separated from his second wife in 1981. Thereafter Cheryl Mason and Richard Mandia dated each other, attended the company Christmas party together in 1981, became lovers and were married in April 1982.

On May 21, 1982, Cheryl Mason submitted her letter of resignation to ARCO Chemical and it was accepted June 11, 1982. She filed a claim for Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation and testified at a hearing that she was forced to leave her employment because she was being harassed, but she did not mention sexual harassment.

Dr. Jack Kerns was the medical director of the Beaver Valley Plant from January 1981 through July 1982. He is the supervisor that was the target of Mrs. Mason's harassment complaint to the EEOC. She testified to being bothered by being touched, by lewd jokes, by calls to her at home. She testified that she was offered the position of head nurse with a suggestion of sexual favors in return, but the post went to another nurse. She testified this head nurse got favorable treatment, and that she was assigned to menial and clerical duties. She also blamed the new head nurse for harassment.

She made specific complaints within the company. The first concerned the action of Dr. Kerns in docking her for four days pay in October 1981 for absence without calling in. In this matter she consulted Mandia who turned the matter over to Fernand Price, Supervisor of Salaried Personnel. It was resolved by a reimbursement.

In 1982 she was evaluated below average in competence by Dr. Kerns and wrote to him asking reconsideration and review by Dr. Lippin, Kern's superior in Philadelphia. A meeting was held on the matter at a company conference in Philadelphia.

During the period in 1981 Cheryl Mason was involved in psychological counseling with Richard Mandia. Mandia testified that she was referred to him for this, but Dr. Kerns denies this because the company had full scale psychiatric counseling available to employees and would not refer anyone to Mandia, whose academic credentials he did not regard highly.

While Cheryl Mason may have told her friend, counselor, lover and husband that she was a victim of sexual harassment by Dr. Kerns there is no recorded evidence of a specific recorded complaint of sexual harassment either by Cheryl Mason or by her husband Richard Mandia in any of the many documents entered as exhibits here.

On March 1, 1982, Cheryl Mason wrote to Dr. Kerns objecting to her 3 minus rating and mentioning problems with a co-worker. (Defendant's Exhibit 109).

On May 21, 1982, Cheryl Mason wrote a letter of resignation to ARCO, which does not mention sexual harassment as a reason for leaving. (Defendant's Exhibit 3).*

On September 27, 1982, Cheryl Mason testified before the Pennsylvania Unemployment Commission as to the reasons for her leaving employment. When asked to explain her claim of harassment she did not claim sexual harassment.

On October 4, 1982, Cheryl Mason wrote to the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Commission that she resigned because of harassment by her superior, head nurse Judy Warwick. (Defendant's Exhibit 32).

Similarly there is no record that plaintiff Richard Mandia ever recorded a specific complaint of sexual harassment by Cheryl Mason. Mandia testified that he was familiar with the meaning of sexual harassment, that he had prepared the employee's handbook covering such complaints, that he had given a training program on sexual harassment, furnished by the company, and that it was his duty to report complaints of sexual harassment to his superiors in the chain of command.

Nowhere in the evidence is there any formal report of any complaint of sexual harassment of Cheryl Mason. Mandia had referred...

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