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YOUNG v. PENNSYLVANIA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 18, 1998

PEDDRICK M. YOUNG, SR., Plaintiff
v.
PENNSYLVANIA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, REPUBLICAN CAUCUS, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CALDWELL

 Plaintiff, Peddrick M. Young, Sr., alleges that Defendant, the Republican Caucus of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, terminated his employment in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-34 ("ADEA"). Before us is Defendant's motion to dismiss.

 I. Background

 Plaintiff was employed by Defendant from 1986 until his termination in 1996. At the time of his discharge, Plaintiff was sixty years old. Plaintiff alleges that he was replaced with a younger employee, and that his termination was due to his age. Plaintiff subsequently brought this action, alleging violation of his rights under the ADEA and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 951-63 ("PHRA"). *fn1"

 Defendant has moved for dismissal of the complaint, arguing that as an arm of the state, it is immune from suit in federal court under the Eleventh Amendment. Defendant's argument requires us to consider whether Congress' abrogation of the states' Eleventh Amendment immunity in the ADEA is unconstitutional.

 II. Standard of Review

 When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) "all facts alleged in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from them must be accepted as true." Malia v. General Elec. Co., 23 F.3d 828, 830 (3d Cir. 1994). The motion must be denied unless the plaintiff cannot prove any facts in support of the claim which would entitle it to relief. Rocks v. Philadelphia, 868 F.2d 644, 645 (3d Cir. 1989).

 III. Discussion

 Under the Eleventh Amendment, a state may not be sued in federal court absent either a waiver of immunity by the state or an abrogation of immunity by Congress. *fn2" Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, , 116 S. Ct. 1114, 1122-23, 134 L. Ed. 2d 252, 265-66 (1996); Sacred Heart Hosp. of Norristown v. Pennsylvania (In re Sacred Heart Hosp. of Norristown), 133 F.3d 237, , 1998 WL 3627 at *4 (3d Cir. 1998). For Congress to abrogate a state's Eleventh Amendment immunity, it must unequivocally express an intent to do so, and it must act pursuant to a valid exercise of power. Seminole Tribe, 517 U.S. at , 116 S. Ct. at 1123, 134 L. Ed. 2d at 266; Sacred Heart, 133 F.3d 237, at , 1998 WL 3627 at *4

 The parties agree that Congress unequivocally acted to abrogate the Eleventh Amendment immunity of the states when it amended the ADEA in 1974. Under the 1974 amendment, the ADEA's definition of "employer" includes "a State or political subdivision of a State and any agency or instrumentality of a State or a political subdivision of a State. . . ." 29 U.S.C. § 630. Such an unequivocal reference to the states as potential defendants indicates Congressional intent to abrogate the states' Eleventh Amendment immunity. Blanciak v. Allegheny Ludlum Corp., 77 F.3d 690, 695 (3d Cir. 1996); see also EEOC v. Wyoming, 460 U.S. 226, 243, 103 S. Ct. 1054, 1064, 75 L. Ed. 2d 18, 33 (1983); Gregory v. Ashcroft, 501 U.S. 452, 467, 111 S. Ct. 2395, 2404, 115 L. Ed. 2d 410, 428 (1991); Seminole Tribe, 517 U.S. at , 116 S. Ct. at 1124, 134 L. Ed. 2d at 267.

 At issue in this case is whether the 1974 amendment to the ADEA was enacted pursuant to a valid exercise of Congressional power. The Supreme Court ruled in Seminole Tribe that the only basis upon which Congress may act to abrogate the states' Eleventh Amendment immunity is Section Five of the Fourteenth Amendment. *fn3" 517 U.S. at , 116 S. Ct. at 1131-32, 134 L. Ed. 2d at 273; Sacred Heart, 133 F.3d 237 at , 1998 WL 3627 at *4-5; College Sav. Bank v. Florida Prepaid Postsecondary Educ. Expense Bd., 131 F.3d 353, 358 (3d Cir. 1997).

 We must therefore consider whether the 1974 amendment was a valid exercise of Congress' power under Section Five of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Fourteenth Amendment protects individuals from state action which deprives them of due process or denies them equal protection. U.S. Const. amend. XIV § 1. Section Five provides that: "Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article." Id. § 5. Congress' power under Section Five is remedial, extending only to the enforcement of the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment; Congress may not use Section Five to define Fourteenth Amendment rights. City of Boerne v. Flores, U.S. , , 117 S. Ct. 2157, 2164 & 2167-68, 138 L. Ed. 2d 624, (1997); Sacred Heart, 133 F.3d 237 at , 1998 WL 3627 at *4.

 The Supreme Court has declined to decide whether Congress acted under Section Five in enacting the 1974 amendment to the ADEA. EEOC v. Wyoming, 460 U.S. 226, 243, 103 S. Ct. 1054, 1064, 75 L. Ed. 2d 18, 33-34 (1983); see also Gregory v. Ashcroft, 501 U.S. 452, 467-70, 111 S. Ct. 2395, 2404-2406; 115 L. Ed. 2d 410, 428-30 (1991). The issue has been examined by a number of lower courts, with mixed conclusions. See Hurd v. Pittsburg State Univ., 109 F.3d 1540, 1546 (10th Cir. 1997) (Fourteenth Amendment); Mete v. New York State Office of Mental Retardation & Dev. Disabilities, 984 F. Supp. 125, , 1997 WL 698033, at *5-*8 (N.D.N.Y. 1997) (Fourteenth Amendment); Simpson v. Texas Dep't of Crim. Justice, 975 F. Supp. 921, 925-27 (W.D. Tex. 1997) (Fourteenth Amendment); Gehrt v. University of Ill., 974 F. Supp. 1178, 1182-83 (C.D. Ill. 1997) (Fourteenth Amendment); Humenansky v. Board of Regents, 958 F. Supp. 439, 443 (D. Minn. 1997) (Commerce Clause); Teichgraeber v Memorial Union Corp., 946 F. Supp. 900, 906-907 (D. Kan. 1996) (Fourteenth Amendment); MacPherson v. University of Montevallo, 938 F. Supp. 785, 788-89 (N.D. Ala. 1996) (Commerce Clause); see also Hodgson v. University of Texas, 953 F. Supp. 168 (S.D. Tex. 1997) (Fourteenth Amendment); Pietraszewski v. Buffalo State College, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11194, 1997 WL 436763 (W.D.N.Y. Aug. 1, 1997) (Fourteenth Amendment); Ullman v. University of Virginia, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3172, 1997 WL 134557, at *3-*4 (W.D. Va. March 12, 1997) (Fourteenth Amendment); Young v. University of Kansas Med. Ctr., 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4090, 1997 WL 150051 (D. Kan. Feb. 26, 1997) (Fourteenth Amendment). *fn4" In light of ...


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