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ACKAH v. HERSHEY FOODS CORP.

November 1, 2002

DANIEL ACKAH, PLAINTIFF
V.
HERSHEY FOODS CORP., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Jones, III, United States District Judge.

ORDER

PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

On October 16, 2001, Plaintiff Daniel Ackah ("Ackah"), an African American whose nation of origin in Ghana, initiated this action by filing a complaint against his employer, Defendant Hershey Foods Corp. ("Hershey"). The complaint contained several counts alleging numerous civil rights violations. The only remaining count in Plaintiff's complaint alleges "discriminatory treatment on the basis of [Ackah's] race, national origin and/or in retaliation for [Ackah's] prior protected activities . . ."

This is a motion for judgment on the pleadings, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c), brought by Hershey. Hershey urges this Court to dismiss any of Plaintiff's claims for the period after October 6, 1997 as untimely, to the extent that they are based on the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA").*fn1

FACTUAL BACKGROUND:

Plaintiff began his employment with Hershey in 1989. In June of 1997, Plaintiff completed an application for promotion which was ultimately denied by Hershey. In October of 1997, based on his belief that he was being denied training opportunities, interviews and ultimately promotions because of his race and national origin, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Committee ("PHRC") which was subsequently cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

On April 17, 2000, Plaintiff submitted a signed General Intake Questionnaire to the EEOC indicating that he was pursuing his discrimination claim on the basis of, inter alia, race, color, national origin and retaliation.

On August 27, 1999, while his charges of discrimination were still pending before the PHRC and EEOC, Plaintiff was terminated.

On October 9, 2000, a formal charge prepared by EEOC staff was signed and verified by Plaintiff. Within the charge, Plaintiff alleged that Hershey unlawfully retaliated against him for filing the October 6, 1997 complaint.

STANDARD OF REVIEW:

"After the pleadings are closed but within such time as not to delay the trial, any party may move for judgment on the pleadings." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). The standard used in analyzing a motion for judgment on the pleadings is identical to the standard applicable to a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Chovanes v. Thoroughbred Racing Association, No. CIV. A. 99-185, 2001 WL 43780, *1 (E.D. Pa. January 18, 2001); DeBraun v. Meissner, 958 F. Supp. 227, 229 (E.D. Pa. 1997). The primary difference is that while a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is filed before the answer, a Rule 12(c) motion is filed after the answer. Prima v. Darden Restaurants, Inc., 78 F. Supp.2d 337, 341-42 (D.N.J. 2000).

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) admits the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint but denies their legal sufficiency. Hospital Building Co. v. Trustees of the Rex Hospital, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976). In reviewing a motion to dismiss under 12(b)(6), the court must accept as true all factual allegations of the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Board of Trustees of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen Local 6 of New Jersey v. Wettlin Assoc., Inc., 237 F.3d 270, 272 (3d Cir. 2001) (citation omitted).

"A court may dismiss a complaint only if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proven consistent with the allegations." Ramadan v. Chase Manhattan Corp., 229 F.3d 194, 195-96 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Alexander v. Whitman, 114 F.3d 1392, 1398 (3d Cir. 1997)). "The issue [under Rule 12(b)(6)] is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the ...


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