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Paula J. Makse v. Spirit Airlines

March 28, 2011

PAULA J. MAKSE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SPIRIT AIRLINES, INC. AND DONALD ELDON, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on defendants' motions for summary judgment on plaintiff's claims of sexual harassment and retaliation. For the reasons expressed below, defendants' motions will be granted.

BACKGROUND

For six years, from June 2001 through July 2007, plaintiff, Paula J. Makse, was the only female mechanic employed by defendant Spirit Airlines, Inc. in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In July 2007, plaintiff was fired for violating Spirit's attendance policy. Plaintiff claims, however, that during her employment Spirit fostered a hostile work environment, which her supervisor, defendant Donald Eldon, aided in perpetrating. She also claims that her termination was actually motivated by her gender, and was in retaliation for her complaints about the sexual harassment she experienced. Plaintiff claims that defendants' conduct has violated Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("NJLAD"), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to -49.

Defendants have moved for summary judgment on all of plaintiffs' claims. Spirit and Eldon contend that plaintiff's hostile work environment claims against them are time-barred. Spirit also argues that plaintiff's other claims for discrimination and retaliation are not supportable by the evidence. Plaintiff has opposed defendants' motions.

DISCUSSION

A. Jurisdiction

This Court has jurisdiction over plaintiff's federal claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(c), and supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

B. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate where the Court is satisfied that "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." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

An issue is "genuine" if it is supported by evidence such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is "material" if, under the governing substantive law, a dispute about the fact might affect the outcome of the suit. Id. In considering a motion for summary judgment, a district court may not make credibility determinations or engage in any weighing of the evidence; instead, the non-moving party's evidence "is to be believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Marino v. Industrial Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004)(quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).

Initially, the moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must identify, by affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. Thus, to withstand a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must identify specific facts and affirmative evidence that contradict those offered by the moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57. A party opposing summary judgment must do more than just rest upon mere allegations, general denials, or vague statements. Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 232 (3d Cir. 2001).

C. Analysis

As stated above, plaintiff asserts claims against Spirit for fostering a hostile work environment and for retaliating against her in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e et seq., and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("NJLAD"), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to -49. Plaintiff also claims that Eldon violated ...


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