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Hoy v. Angelone

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

February 3, 1998, Argued ; November 24, 1998, Decided

No. 120 M.D. Appeal Docket 1997, No. 121 M.D. Appeal Docket 1997


 [*137]   [**746]  OPINION


In this appeal, we address important issues regarding sexual harassment litigation under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (the  [**747]  Act) 1 and under the common law tort of the intentional infliction of emotional distress. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the decision of the Superior Court and  [*138]  remand this matter for final disposition consistent with this opinion.

 [***2]  We granted allocatur to address four issues. The first issue involves the availability of punitive damages under the Act. The second and third issues raise the propriety of the award of counsel fees and costs to a prevailing plaintiff under the Act, and the relevance of weighing the financial resources expended by a defendant as a factor in denying the award of such fees. The final issue is whether it is proper to consider the absence of retaliatory conduct when evaluating a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

A brief recitation of the facts is necessary to resolve the issues raised in this appeal. Appellant, Ms. Louise Hoy, was employed by Appellee, Village Super Market, Inc. d/b/a Shop-Rite of Easton (Shop-Rite), as the only female meat wrapper in the store's meat department. Appellant's tenure with Shop-Rite began in September of 1972 and continued through August of 1994, when the store closed. Appellee Dominick Angelone's (Angelone) employment with Shop-Rite began in 1972. Angelone was first employed as a meat cutter and, in 1980, was promoted to the position of "chief journeyman." He also held the title of "meat manager." Defendant, Gregory Thomas, 2 became [***3]  the store manager of Shop-Rite in 1980 and remained in that position at all times relevant to this case. Thomas' responsibilities included supervision of the meat department.

The testimony at trial established that Angelone subjected Appellant to various forms of abusive treatment. Such behavior included sexual propositions, vile and filthy language, off-color jokes, physical contact with the back of Appellant's knee, and the posting of sexually suggestive pictures. Angelone did not disagree that the conduct occurred, rather, he asserted that such behavior was accepted and welcomed by Appellant.

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554 Pa. 134 *; 720 A.2d 745 **; 1998 Pa. LEXIS 2517 ***; 78 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 681; 74 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P45,637


Prior History:  [***1]  Appeal from the Orders of the Superior Court dated March 12, 1997 at 1567PHL96 and 1568PHL96 affirming and reversing in part the Order of the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas dated March 29, 1996 at No. 1993- C-4118 456 Pa. Super. 596, 691 A.2d 476 (1997); 456 Pa. Super. 615, 691 A.2d 485 (1997). JUDGES BELOW: CCP - Hon. Richard D. Grifo, SJ / SUPERIOR - MCEWEN, PJ, CAVANAUGH, TAMILIA, JJ.

Disposition: The decision of the Superior Court is hereby affirmed. The matter is hereby remanded to the trial court for consideration of the award of attorney's fees and costs under the Act.


punitive damages, the Act, costs, intentional infliction of emotional distress, trial court, affirmative action, of the Act, outrageous, sexual, emotional distress, sexual harassment, remedies, meat, equitable relief, attorney's fees, prevailing plaintiff, counsel fees, retaliation, award of punitive damages, award of counsel fees, backpay, picture, courts, award of attorney's fees, reinstatement, interpreting, propositions, retaliatory, decisions, hiring

Labor & Employment Law, Affirmative Action, Discrimination, Torts, Employers, Activities & Conditions, Intentional Torts, Business & Corporate Compliance, Labor & Employment Law, Court & Government Imposed Plans, Wrongful Termination, Remedies, Reinstatement, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Discrimination, General Overview, Title VII Discrimination, Civil Procedure, Damages, Punitive Damages, Voluntary Plans, Punitive Damages, Availability, Employers, Types of Damages, Affirmative & Equitable Relief, Commercial Law (UCC), Application & Construction, Damages, Measurement of Damages, Statutory Requirements, Costs & Attorney Fees, Attorney Fees & Expenses, Basis of Recovery, Statutory Awards, Civil Rights Law, Protection of Rights, Procedural Matters, Costs & Attorney Fees, Prevailing Parties, Statutory Attorney Fee Awards, Appeals, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Clearly Erroneous Review, Intentional Torts, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Elements, Harassment, Sexual Harassment