Sharp v. Whitman Council, Inc.

2007 WL 2874058 (2007)

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Sharp v. Whitman Council, Inc.

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
2007 WL 2874058 (2007)

Facts

Janet DeGiovanni Sharp (plaintiff) was employed as the executive director of the Whitman Council, Inc. (defendant). Whitman Council was a nonprofit organization that provided activities and services such as community development and housing, for Whitman-area residents in South Philadelphia. Whitman Council had a board of directors that supervised the executive director. A Catholic pastor, Father Sharp, was a member of the board until August 2004, when he decided to leave the priesthood. The pastor also moved away, which meant he could not continue serving on the board. Janet and the former pastor became very close friends and subsequently married in June 2005. However, not long after Father Sharp left his ministry, Whitman Council began alleging that Janet was having an affair with the pastor and seeking grounds to fire her. Whitman Council asked Janet, members of the community, and church leaders questions about the couple’s intimate relationship, threatened to fire Janet if she did not respond, and even set up a committee funded with $2,000 to investigate Janet. Whitman Council publicized the opinion that the relationship between Janet and her husband violated Whitman Council’s employee policies and that both Whitman Council and the church were missing funds. At a church reunion that Janet and her husband attended not long after their marriage, people in attendance displayed T-shirts and badges that mocked the couple. After Janet felt she had no further administrative recourse for assistance, she filed suit listing multiple claims, which included invasion of her privacy via publication of private facts. Whitman Council filed a motion for summary judgment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Joyner, J.)

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