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STINSON v. DELAWARE RIVER PORT AUTH.

August 2, 1996

PHYLLIS STINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
DELAWARE RIVER PORT AUTHORITY, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ORLOFSKY

 ORLOFSKY, District Judge:

 Defendants, Delaware River Port Authority ("DRPA"), International Union of Operating Engineers, AFL-CIO ("International Union"), and International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 716, AFL-CIO ("Local Union"), have moved for summary judgment on Plaintiff's complaint, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.

 The issues presented by the Defendants' motions raise the following questions: (1) whether the DRPA's termination of Plaintiff's employment was in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. ; (2) whether the Plaintiff is an "employee" and the DRPA is an "employer" within the meaning of the Labor-Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 141 et seq. ; and (3) if the Plaintiff is an "employee" and the DRPA is an "employer" within the meaning of the LMRA, whether the DRPA, the Local Union, or the International Union, violated any duties owed to the Plaintiff under the LMRA.

 The resolution of questions two and three above depends, in turn, upon whether the DRPA is a "political subdivision" within the meaning of the LMRA, an issue of first impression in the Third Circuit. For the reasons that follow, I conclude that the DRPA is a "political subdivision" within the meaning of the LMRA, and Plaintiff has failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination under Title VII. Therefore, Defendants' motions for summary judgment will be granted.

 I. Facts and Procedural History

 The material facts presented to the Court in the summary judgment record are largely uncontested. Plaintiff, Phyllis Stinson, was employed by the DRPA as a toll collector from September, 1980, until her discharge in March, 1993. (Deposition of Phyllis Stinson ("Stinson Dep.") at 6, attached to International Union of Operating Engineers AFL-CIO's Brief in Support of Summary Judgment ("Union's Brief") as Exhibit 4).

 On February 23, 1993, Plaintiff was absent from work at the DRPA, allegedly due to illness. (DRPA Memorandum, dated February 24, 1993, attached to DRPA's Brief in Support of Summary Judgment ("DRPA's Brief") as Exhibit E). The DRPA requires that employees absent due to illness, injury, or other medical condition provide a physician's note documenting the reason for the absence. Pursuant to this policy, Plaintiff's supervisor, Senior Lieutenant Mary L. Johnson ("Johnson"), requested a physician's note from Plaintiff when she returned to work on February 24, 1993. (Id.) In response to Johnson's request, Plaintiff stated that she had left her physician's note in her car and would retrieve the note and bring it to Johnson later that day. (Id.)

 Plaintiff did provide Johnson with a physician's note from the offices of Lockart, Chao, Rashid, and Knox, an obstetrician and gynecological office. The note, allegedly signed by Dr. Knox, stated that Plaintiff suffered from and was treated for symptoms of influenza. (See DRPA's Brief, Exhibit C). The note, however, was dated October 23, 1993, a date eight months into the future. (Id.)

 Because of this discrepancy, Johnson telephoned Dr. Knox's office and was told not only that the Plaintiff had not been treated by Dr. Knox on February 23, 1993, but that she had never been a patient of Dr. Knox, or any other physician in that office. (Id. ; see also letter from Dr. Knox's office, dated February 25, 1993, attached to DRPA's Brief as Exhibit D).

 The DRPA then commenced an investigation regarding the authenticity of the physician's notes submitted by Plaintiff during the preceding year. In an interview with the DRPA on March 4, 1993, Plaintiff admitted that she had falsified at least one of the thirteen physician's notes. (DRPA Interview of Phyllis Stinson at 10, attached to DRPA's Brief as Exhibit H). On March 10, 1993, after completing the investigation and concluding that the Plaintiff had submitted thirteen false physician's notes in an attempt to justify absences from work at the DRPA, the DRPA discharged Plaintiff for violation of DRPA Work Rule 3B(11). (DRPA Employee Termination Report, attached to DRPA's Brief as Exhibit I).

 At the time of Plaintiff's employment with the DRPA, DRPA Work Rule 3B(11) provided in relevant part that:

 
Offenses for which an employee may be subject to immediate dismissal include . . . Fraud or Falsification of DRPA records, including any reports oral or written required of any employee by the DRPA; knowingly giving false information to a supervisor or assisting others to do so in any way.

 (Letter dated March 11, 1993 from George Warrington to Phyllis Stinson, attached to DRPA's Brief as Exhibit N).

 During her employment at the DRPA, Plaintiff was a member of Defendant, Local Union, and was covered by a collective bargaining agreement between the DRPA and the Local Union. As a member of the Local Union, Plaintiff was also a member of the International Union. (Stinson Dep. at 6-7).

 After the DRPA's termination of her employment, the Local Union filed three levels of grievances on behalf of Plaintiff, contesting her discharge, and was unsuccessful at each grievance level. (Stinson Dep. at 24-29). Dissatisfied with the Local Union's representation during the grievance proceedings, Plaintiff sought representation by someone from the International Union. (Affidavit of James Van Dyke ("Van Dyke Aff."), Exhibit C). By letter dated May 27, 1993, International Union President Hanley informed the Plaintiff that the International Union could not intervene in this instance, as the International Union was not a party to the collective bargaining agreement between the DRPA and the Local Union. (Id., Exhibit D).

 Plaintiff filed her initial complaint in federal court solely against the DRPA on April 26, 1994, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. *fn1" Pursuant to the DRPA's motion for a change of venue, this action was transferred to this Court. In her original complaint, Plaintiff alleges that in terminating her employment, the DRPA discriminated against her "gender wise" in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. Complaint P3. Plaintiff also contends in her original complaint that her discharge was in violation of the Labor-Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 141 et seq. (Id.).


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