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BROWN v. ST. LUKE'S HOSP.

February 18, 1993

DENISE BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
ST. LUKE'S HOSPITAL, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DANIEL H. HUYETT, 3RD

 HUYETT, J.

 This is a civil rights case in which plaintiff alleges that her employer violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 Pa. C. S. § 951 et seq. ("PHRA"). Plaintiff also alleges a cause of action for wrongful discharge. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys' fees. Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss certain claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and (7). For the reasons stated below, defendant's motion to dismiss shall be GRANTED.

 I. INTRODUCTION

 In her complaint, plaintiff alleges that she was employed by defendant St. Luke's Hospital as a store room clerk where she was harassed by other employees who referred to her as the "black bitch" and referred to her work duties as "nigger work."

 In May of 1989, plaintiff's employment was suspended without pay when she reported to defendant that she had been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Shortly before that, on April 28, 1989, plaintiff had requested admission into defendant's Drug Rehabilitation Program, but was ultimately denied admission because of her suspension status. Plaintiff was terminated on May 16, 1989.

 Plaintiff claims that defendant terminated her because of her race and that its given reason -- that she had distributed controlled substances during work hours while in the performance of her duties -- was pretextual. Plaintiff alleges that other, white employees who used and stole drugs were not disciplined and were permitted entry into the drug rehab program.

 Defendant seeks the dismissal of plaintiff's claim under Section 1981 and her claim for wrongful termination. In addition, defendant moves to strike plaintiff's request for compensatory damages for emotional distress and punitive damages.

 II. DISCUSSION

 A. Standard of Review

 In resolving a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept as true all the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable interpretation of the pleadings, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief. Estate of Bailey by Oare v. County of York, 768 F.2d 503, 506 (3d Cir. 1985); Helstoski v. Goldstein, 552 F.2d 564, 565 (3d Cir. 1977) (per curiam). A complaint should not be dismissed "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957).

 B. Plaintiff's Wrongful Termination Claim

 Defendant contends that plaintiff's allegation of wrongful discharge fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because (1) the exclusive remedy for discriminatory termination in Pennsylvania is an action under the PHRA, Clay v. Advanced Computer Applications, Inc., 522 Pa. 86, 559 A.2d 917 (1989), and (2) there is no specific intent to harm exception to the at-will ...


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