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GIORDANO v. WILLIAM PATERSON COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY

October 23, 1992

MARIE GIORDANO, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM PATERSON COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ALFRED M. WOLIN

 WOLIN, District Judge

 Plaintiff, Marie Giordano ("Giordano"), brings this Title VII suit against defendant, William Paterson College of New Jersey (the "College"), based on charges of sexual discrimination. The alleged violations include termination of employment and sexual harassment by male coworkers including Sergeant Robert Jackson ("Jackson"), Acting Chief Peter Ryerson, ("Ryerson") and Lieutenant Michael Seaman ("Seaman"). For consideration before the Court is defendant's motion for summary judgment, which is decided on the written submissions of the parties pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons expressed below, the Court will grant defendants' motion in part and deny defendant's motion in part.

 BACKGROUND

 A. Giordano's Work History

 Giordano also experienced a variety of illnesses while a member of the College's staff. In the summer of 1986, Giordano had surgery for an ovarian cyst and a bladder operation. These illnesses caused her to miss much of her job training and required her to take "a lot of sick time," including "many times [when she] had to take half a day off sick leave in the middle of the day." Cagnina Aff. Exh. B at 2. In addition, plaintiff suffered from ulcers, a spastic colon and depression. Complaint P 10.

 B. Giordano's Allegations of Sexual Harassment

 On September 28, 1987, Giordano filed a formal complaint with the Affirmative Action Office ("AAO") at the College, charging that then chief Jackson had sexually harassed her. She alleged that this behavior began in March 1985 when she applied for the dispatcher job and continued unabated until the date of her complaint. Cagnina Aff. Exh. B at 1. Jackson hired Giordano and served as her supervisor.

 According to Giordano, Jackson conditioned her employment as a dispatcher on sexual favors. She claims she submitted initially "because he told [her] that was the only way [she] could get the job," id., and throughout her first year on the job, when the demands continued, because of her provisional status and comments from Jackson such as "you can always find another job at [another] Security Agency." Id. Once she became a permanent employee in August 1986, however, Giordano no longer cooperated with Jackson. As a result, she claims, Jackson would remain in the radio room while she was on duty, talking about sex and making obscene gestures. Id. at 2. Finally, Giordano reports, after an argument in June 1987, Jackson no longer would speak to her, but instead "continued to harass [her] with written memos and reprimands concerning [her] job performance." Id.

 Jackson denied ever approaching or propositioning plaintiff. After plaintiff filed her complaint, Jackson was demoted to Sergeant and no longer supervised plaintiff. Nevertheless, in written memoranda dated December 2, 1987 and February 19, 1988, Giordano again complained to the AAO of continued harassment by Jackson. In addition, on February 24, 1988, Giordano similarly accused Ryerson and Seaman through an informal complaint.

 C. Defendant's Response to Giordano's Sexual Harassment Allegations

 In response to Giordano's September 28, 1987 complaint against Jackson, Robbie Cagnina ("Cagnina"), the AAO officer at the College, conducted an investigation. She interviewed Giordano and Jackson as well as twenty-one other College employees, twenty of whom worked in the security department. In addition, Cagnina reviewed a tape recording of a January 1987 conversation between Giordano and Jackson which Giordano made. During the investigation, Jackson temporarily was suspended.

 Cagnina reported her findings on November 6, 1987. She found evidence of an intimate relationship between the parties, but no evidence of coercion or retaliation in response to Giordano's rejection of Jackson's advances. Further, Cagnina concluded, the reprimands Giordano received were not related to harassment and in fact paralleled penalties given to other employees for similar offenses.

 Cagnina criticized the work environment in the security department as "less than professional," but found that Giordano "may have contributed to this atmosphere." As a result of this finding, she recommended that all security department employees attend a sexual harassment workshop. Ten days after Cagnina reported her findings, Jackson accepted the rank of Sergeant.

 Cagnina also investigated Giordano's two informal complaints against Jackson, again finding no evidence of harassment. Finally, in response to Giordano's February 24, 1988 informal complaints regarding the inappropriate behavior of Ryerson and Seaman, Cagnina spoke "to all parties" and concluded from Giordano's failure to pursue a formal complaint that she "appeared to accept that her informal complaint was resolved." Cagnina Aff. P 18.

 DISCUSSION

 A. The Standard For Granting Summary Judgment

 Summary judgment shall be granted if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Hersh v. Allen Products Co., 789 F.2d 230, 232 (3d Cir. 1986). In making this determination, a court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmovant. Meyer v. Riegel Products Corp., 720 F.2d 303, 307 n.2 (3d Cir. 1983), cert. dismissed, 465 U.S. 1091, 104 S. Ct. 2144, 79 L. Ed. 2d 910 (1984). "At the summary judgment stage the judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986). Summary judgment must be granted if no reasonable trier of fact could find for the nonmoving party. Id.; Radich v. Goode, 886 F.2d 1391, 1395 (3d Cir. 1989).

 When the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party's burden can be "discharged by 'showing'--that is, pointing out to the District Court--that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2554, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). If the moving party has carried its burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S. Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538 (1986). When the nonmoving party's evidence in opposition to a properly-supported motion for summary judgment is merely "colorable" or "not significantly probative," the Court may grant summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50, 106 S. Ct. at 2511; Radich, 886 F.2d at 1395. Thus, a party opposing summary judgment must set forth specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial and may not rest upon mere ...


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