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TAYLOR v. RODALE

May 27, 2004.

DAVID TAYLOR, Plaintiff
v.
RODALE, INC. and TOM BEUSSE, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: FRANKLIN VAN ANTWERPEN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff David Taylor filed a complaint against Defendants Rodale, Inc. ("Rodale") and Tom Beusse ("Beusse"), alleging employment discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 42 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), 43 P.S. § 951 et seq. Defendants now move to dismiss the PHRA claims against them for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated below, we grant Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.

I. Facts

  For purposes of this motion, we accept as true the facts as alleged in Plaintiff's Complaint. Plaintiff was hired by Defendant Rodale in August 1993 as Managing Editor of Rodale's Scuba Diving ("RSD") magazine. He was promoted to Executive Editor of RSD in April 1995. On February 28, 2000, Rodale hired Defendant Beusse as Senior Vice President/Managing Editor of the Sports Group. Beusse's duties included oversight of RSD. Plaintiff alleges that Beusse, and other Rodale employees acting at Beusse's direction, repeatedly harassed Plaintiff and made unfavorable employment decisions that culminated in his termination. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he was treated differently than younger colleagues, that he was subjected to an investigation by a human resources representative, that there were alterations to his incentive payment structure, and that he was terminated in favor of a younger employee. Plaintiff alleges that the harassment and unfavorable employment actions were motivated by his age, as evidenced by statements made by Beusse to other employees, as well as by the reasons offered by Rodale for the termination.

  It is significant that during the time of his employment, Plaintiff lived and worked in Savannah, Georgia. Beusse, on the other hand, worked in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, where Rodale has its principal place of business.

  II. Procedural History

  Following his termination, Plaintiff filed employment discrimination claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission (PHRC). Although neither agency took action on Plaintiffs behalf, he received a "right to sue" letter from each. Notably, the PHRC refused to accept his claim because it was "clearly not within the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission." (PL's Compl., Ex. 2.) Plaintiff now seeks relief under the ADEA and PHRA. Defendants move to dismiss the PHRA claims, on the grounds that the PHRA does not apply to their actions because Plaintiff lived and worked outside the state of Pennsylvania.

  III. Statement of Jurisdiction

  Under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, this court has jurisdiction to hear claims alleging violations of federal law. Count I of Plaintiff's complaint concerns an alleged violation of the federal ADEA. As for Plaintiffs claims under the PHRA, we exercise our supplemental jurisdiction to hear these claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a), since they arise out of the same case or controversy as the ADEA claim.

  IV. Standard of Review

  Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a court to dismiss a claim "for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." In reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept as true all the allegations set forth in the complaint and must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Ford v. Schering-Plough Corp., 145 F.3d 601, 604 (3d Cir. 1998). Dismissal is proper only if the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claims which would entitle him to relief. Id.

  V. Discussion

  Defendants argue that the PHRA claims should be dismissed because the PHRA does not apply extraterritorially to individuals working outside of Pennsylvania. Plaintiff, however, contends that extraterritorial application is not required because the alleged discriminatory practices occurred in Pennsylvania, where his supervising vice president, Beusse, was located.

  We note at the outset that the PHRC determined that it lacked jurisdiction over Plaintiff's complaint. This decision carries significant weight with this Court because Pennsylvania courts accord great deference to the interpretation of a statute by an agency charged with its execution. See Pennsylvania Ass'n of Rehabilitation Facilities v. Foster, 624 A.2d 270, 272 (Pa. Commw. 1993) ("The interpretation of a statute by the agency charged with the statute's administration is entitled to great weight and should not be disregarded unless it is clearly erroneous."). However, even ...


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