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GRUVER v. EZON PRODUCTS
March 22, 1991
KAREN L. GRUVER, PLAINTIFF,
EZON PRODUCTS, INC., DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rambo, District Judge.
Before the court is defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) counts III and IV of
plaintiff's complaint. The issues raised have been fully
briefed, and the matter is ripe for consideration.
Plaintiff Karen L. Gruver had been a warehouse worker
employed by defendant Ezon Products. In her complaint, the
allegations of which must be taken as true for the purpose of
this motion, plaintiff states that during the course of her
employment with Ezon she was subjected to various forms of
sexual harassment by her supervisor, which, though reported to
the company, went unpunished. Gruver alleges that this conduct
led to an intolerable work environment, resulting in her
constructive discharge in April 1989.
In November 1990 Gruver brought suit against her former
employer, alleging that the company's conduct violated Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.
(hereinafter Title VII), and three pendent state law claims.
Count II of the complaint, the first of the state law claims,
posits that plaintiff's rights under the Pennsylvania Human
Relations Act, 43 Pa.Stat.Ann. §§ 951-963 (Purdon 1964)
(hereinafter "PHRA") were violated by the company's conduct. In
Count III, plaintiff argues that defendant, by allowing the
harassment to go unpunished, breached a provision of an
employment contract established by an employee handbook. Count
IV lists a claim for intentional infliction of emotional
Defendant brought this motion to dismiss the latter two
claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
I. Breach of Employment Contract Claim
In her complaint, plaintiff appears to be asserting that an
employee handbook circulated by defendant established an
employment contract with her. She does not appear to claim that
she was entitled to be discharged without just cause under the
contract, but rather that the company had breached one of the
contract's terms to plaintiff's detriment. The term in
question, excerpted from the handbook, reads:
It is the policy of Ezon Products Company to
provide a work environment free of sexual
harassment. Sexual harassment is defined as
"unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual
favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a
sexual nature" between any Ezon employees and
extends to those with whom we conduct business,
including outside vendors and customers.
Also, all management employees are strongly
advised to avoid any social relationships with
employees over whom they have supervisory control.
Sexual harassment will result in ...
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