Plaintiffs bring this action against defendant Philadelphia Electric Co. ("PECO"), Ronald Price's employer since 1977. The complaint alleges violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et. seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa. Const. Stat. Ann. § 951, et. seq.. Plaintiffs aver that Mr. Price was the victim of racially discriminatory and retaliatory conduct. A number of state law claims are also asserted. Presently before the court is PECO's Motion to Dismiss Counts III-IX of the Amended Complaint.
II. STANDARD OF LAW
In deciding defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a cognizable claim, the court must accept as true all of the plaintiff's factual allegations and draw from them all reasonably favorable inferences. D.P. Enterprises, Inc. v. Bucks County Community College, 725 F.2d 943, 944 (3d Cir. 1984). A case should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it clearly appears that no relief can be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the plaintiff's allegations. See Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73, 81 L. Ed. 2d 59, 104 S. Ct. 2229 (1984).
A. The PHRA claims
Counts III and IV of the complaint allege that Ronald Price was the subject of racially discriminatory and retaliatory conduct in violation of the PHRA. To present a cognizable PHRA claim, a plaintiff must first exhaust all remedies under the statute. See Clay v. Advanced Computer Applications, 522 Pa. 86, 90-91, 559 A.2d 917, 919-20 (1989); Esmonde v. TV Guide Magazine, Civil No. 90-7376, slip op. at 13 n.5 (E.D. Pa. March 30, 1992); James v. International Business Machines, 737 F. Supp. 1420, 1426-27 (E.D. Pa. 1990). If the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission ("PHRC") does not act upon a complaint within one year of its filing, exhaustion has occurred.
In this case, plaintiffs did not exhaust their PHRA remedies before instituting this action. Ronald Price filed complaints with both the PHRC and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on November 23, 1990.
The PHRC had not acted upon that complaint and one year had not elapsed by September 17, 1991, the date plaintiffs commenced this suit. That plaintiffs filed a claim with the PHRC does not mean that PHRA's remedies had been exhausted. See Esmonde, supra, at 13 n.5. In the absence of exhaustion, a cause of action under the PHRA is fatally flawed from the moment it is filed. See James, 737 F.Supp. at 1427.
The one year required for PHRA exhaustion, however, has elapsed while this litigation has been pending. Under such circumstances, the court would ordinarily permit amendment of the complaint to allege exhaustion and properly state PHRA claims. See Esmonde, supra, at 18 n.6 (granting leave to amend to allege exhaustion of remedies when one year period elapses during pendency of federal court litigation); McBride v. Bell of Pennsylvania, Civil No. 89-0243, 1989 WL 71545, at *2 (E. D. Pa. June 27, 1989) (same). Plaintiff Ronald Price, however, filed another complaint with the PHRC in November 1991 for the same discriminatory conduct at issue in this case.
Under these circumstances, plaintiffs cannot be found to have exhausted their PHRA remedies.
Accordingly, counts III and IV will be dismissed.
B. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Defendants seek dismissal of Ronald Price's claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Defendants contend that the Pennsylvania Worker's Compensation Act ("WCA"), 77 Pa. Const. Stat. Ann. §§ 411, et. seq., provides the exclusive tort remedy against an employer, even for intentional acts. Even if the WCA is not completely exclusive, defendants argue alternatively that the complaint does not state a cognizable claim.
In most cases, the WCA is the exclusive source of an employer's liability to an employee for any injury arising in the course of his or her employment. See 77 Pa. Const. Stat. Ann. §§ 481(a) and 411(1); see also Poyser v. Newman & Co., Inc., 514 Pa. 32, 522 A.2d 548 (1987) (holding that WCA is exclusive remedy for common law intentional torts arising during scope of employment relationship). The statute, however, excepts from its scope employee injuries caused by the intentional conduct of third parties for reasons personal to the tortfeasor. In relevant part, the exception reads:
the term 'injury arising in the course of his employment,' as used in this article, shall not include an injury caused by the act of a third person intended to injure the employee because of reasons personal to him, and not directed against him as an employee or because of his employment.