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HICKS v. ARTHUR

January 31, 1994

Schree Hicks, Angelique Giddings, Sandra White, Lea M. Millner, Willie Mae Lewis, Jordan White and Nathaniel White, Plaintiffs,
v.
Robert Arthur, Marsha O'Hara, Robert Fishman, Sheryl Moyer, and Resources For Human Development, Inc., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BY THE COURT; J. CURTIS JOYNER

 JOYNER, J.

 The instant civil action is presently before the Court for disposition of the motion of Defendants Robert Arthur, Marsha O'Hara, Robert Fishman, Sheryl Moyer and Resources For Human Development, Inc. ("RHD") to dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and for lack of subject matter jurisdiction over certain claims. The Court must also address the Defendants' motion for a more definite statement of those claims which are not dismissed. Jurisdiction is premised on a federal question pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 28 U.S.C. § 1367 for pendant state claims. For the reasons set forth below, the motion to dismiss is granted in part and denied in part, and the motion for a more definite statement is denied.

 BACKGROUND

 Briefly stated, the pertinent facts underlying this case are as follows. Plaintiffs, Schree Hicks, Sandra White, Angelique Giddings, Lea M. Millner and Willie Mae Lewis, are adult Black American female citizens and have been employed by Defendant Resources for Human Development, Inc., hereinafter RHD. In addition, Jordan White, an infant son of Sandra White, and Nathaniel White, the parent and guardian of Jordan White, are also plaintiffs in this action. Defendant, RHD, is a corporation serving a variety of human social needs with offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The individual defendants, Robert Arthur, Marsha O'Hara, Robert Fishman and Sheryl Moyer, are management employees of RHD.

 The Complaint, filed on June 11, 1993, alleges that Hicks, Giddings, White, Millner and Lewis were terminated from their employment at RHD on account of their race, and also, in certain cases, because of pregnancy or sexual orientation. The causes of action underlying the Complaint include violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5. Moreover, the employee-plaintiffs seek compensatory damages for wrongful discharge, intentional infliction of emotional distress and for injuries suffered under Article 1, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Also, Plaintiffs, Sandra White, Jordan White and Nathaniel White claim negligence on the part of RHD, Moyer and Fishman for the alleged wrongful discharge of Sandra White which caused the premature birth of and subsequent physical and mental injuries to Jordan White.

 By way of the motion to dismiss which is presently before this Court, Defendants argue that the eight counts in the Complaint fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or fail to establish subject matter jurisdiction. In addition, Defendants request this Court to direct Plaintiffs to provide a more definite statement of those claims which remain. Plaintiffs respond that the Complaint does allege violations of Title VII and § 1981 and that the state claims are pled with factual and legal sufficiency.

 DISCUSSION

 I. Standards Governing Motions to Dismiss

 It is well-settled that the issue of legal sufficiency of a claim may be raised by the filing of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or by a motion for a more definite statement under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e). In determining whether to grant a 12(b)(6) motion, the court must accept as true all the matters pleaded in the Complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Markowitz v. Northeast Land Co., 906 F.2d 100, 103 (3rd Cir. 1990). Unless it appears beyond a doubt that the claimant can prove no facts which would support the relief requested, dismissal is inappropriate. Jones v. Arbor, 820 F. Supp. 205, 206 (E.D. Pa. 1993). While the plaintiff is not required to set out in detail the facts upon which a claim is based, he must allege sufficient facts and must, either through direct allegations or inferences, state all the material elements for recovery under the relevant legal theory. Charles A. Wright & Arthur Miller, 5 Federal Practice and Procedure, § 1216 at 154-59 (1990); Toberman v. Copas, 800 F. Supp. 1239, 1243 (M.D. Pa. 1992).

 II. Section 1981

 Section 1981 provides that all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States are guaranteed the same freedom enjoyed by white citizens of the United States, including the freedom to make and enforce contracts. 42 U.S.C. § 1981. This protection applies only to discriminatory conduct "at the initial formation" of a contract or "which impairs the right to enforce contract obligations through legal process." Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U.S. 164, 179-80, 109 S. Ct. 2363, 2374, 105 L. Ed. 2d 132 (1989). However, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 extended the protection of § 1981 to post-formation conduct, including the termination of contracts. Jones, 820 F. Supp. at 206. It should be noted that the majority of the courts in this Circuit which have considered the question have held that the additional protection provided by the Civil Rights Act of 1991 does not apply retroactively to cases which seek redress under § 1981 for conduct occurring prior to its enactment date of November 21, 1991. Jones, 205 F. Supp. at 207-08; Thompson v. Prudential Ins. Co. of America, 795 F. Supp. 1337, 1349 (D. N.J. 1992); Rogers v. Mount Union Borough by Zook, 816 F. Supp. 308, 313 (M.D. Pa. 1993). Therefore, termination of an employment contract for reasons of racial discrimination prior to November 21, 1991 does not establish a cognizable § 1981 claim. Jones, 820 F. Supp. at 206.

 A § 1981 cause of action in the employment context which is based on racial discrimination must set forth facts to establish that the allegedly disparate treatment was the result of "intentional" or "purposeful" discrimination. Weldon v. Kraft, 896 F.2d 793, 796 (3rd Cir. 1990); Armstrong v. School District of Philadelphia, 597 F. Supp. 1309, 1312 (E.D. Pa. 1984). A § 1981 plaintiff cannot satisfy the "purposeful" criterion with "vague and conclusory allegations" in the complaint, Armstrong, 597 F. Supp. at 1312; and "absent direct evidence," intent may be proven through the framework established in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S. Ct. 1817, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668 (1973). Weldon, 896 F.2d at 796; Lewis v. University of Pittsburgh, 725 F.2d 910, 914 (3rd Cir. 1983).

 Under the McDonnell framework, the employee must plead and prove a prima facie case of unlawful discrimination. Weldon, 896 F.2d at 793 (citing Texas Dept. of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 250-252, 101 S. Ct. 1089, 1092-93, 67 L. Ed. 2d 207 (1981)). A prima facie case may be established by showing that the employee (1) belongs to a racial minority; (2) was qualified for the job from which he was discharged; and that (3) others not in the protected class were treated more favorably. Weldon, 896 F.2d at 797. However, a prima facie case is not limited to one set of criteria and may be established in other ways. Lewis, 725 F.2d at 914 ...


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