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Graham v. Avellaarea School District

June 14, 2006

PAULETTE GRAHAM, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE AVELLA AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, THE AVELLA AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION, AND MICHAEL YANOSKO, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Terrence F. McVerry United States District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF COURT

Presently before the Court for disposition is the MOTION PURSUANT TO 12(b)(6) OF THE FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE (sic) FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM UPON WHICH RELIEF CAN BE GRANTED, with brief in support, filed by Defendants The Avella Area School District, The Avella Area School District Board of Education, and Michael Yanosko (Document Nos. 9, 10, and 15, respectively) and the RESPONSE IN OPPOSITION, with brief in support, filed by Plaintiff, Paulette Graham (Document Nos. 13 and 14, respectively). The matter has been fully briefed by the parties and is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants will be granted in part and denied part.

BACKGROUND

On September 27, 2005, Plaintiff Paulette Graham ("Plaintiff") filed this lawsuit in which she alleges that her former employer, The Avella Area School District ("School District"), and the Avella Area School District Board of Education ("Board of Education") discriminated against her based on her gender and age, that these Defendants retaliated against her when she made complaints of gender / age discrimination, and that Board Member Michael Yanosko defamed her by publicly commenting on her incompetency, her alleged misuse or theft of School District funds, and an alleged sexual affair that Plaintiff had with another District Administrator.

In Count I of her Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that the School District and the Board of Education discriminated and/or harassed her in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e), et seq. ("Title VII"), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq. ("ADEA").

In Count II of her Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that all the Defendants "[b]eginning in November of 2000 and continuing to the present, . . ., intentionally created a hostile work environment and intentionally harassed and discriminated against Plaintiff because of her sex/gender, age, and in retaliation for her complaining about the unlawful treatment" in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986. Complaint at ¶ 19.

In Count III of her Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that all the Defendants "engaged in unlawful employment practices . . . in violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. § 951, et seq." ("PHRA"). Complaint at ¶ 33.

In Count IV of her Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that defendant Michael Yanosko ("Yanosko") violated the PHRA by aiding and abetting in the discriminatory practices of the School District and in Count V, Plaintiff alleges a common law defamation claim against defendant Yanosko.

As noted above, Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss. The request of Defendants School District and Board of Education is limited to Plaintiff's allegations brought against them under Title VII, the ADEA, and the PHRA. (Counts I and III). The request of Yanosko is limited to the allegations brought against him under the PHRA (Counts III and IV) and the claim for state law defamation (Count V).

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When considering a motion to dismiss the court accepts as true all well pleaded allegations of fact. Pennsylvania Nurses Ass'n v. Pennsylvania State Educ. Ass'n, 90 F.3d 797, 799-800 (3d Cir. 1996), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 1110 (1997). In addition, the court construes all reasonable inferences from those allegations in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id. The complaint will be dismissed only if there is "no set of facts" which would entitled the plaintiff to relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957).

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require detailed pleading of the facts on which a claim is based, they simply require "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," enough to "give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2); see also Conley, 355 U.S. at 47.

Generally, "to the extent that [a] court considers evidence beyond the complaint in deciding a 12(b)(6) motion, it is converted to a motion for summary judgment." Anjelino v. New York Times Co., 200 F.3d 73, 88 (3d Cir.1999). However, in resolving a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court may look beyond the complaint to matters of public record, including court files and records, and documents referenced in the complaint or essential to a plaintiff's claim which are attached to a defendant's motion. Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). Under this standard, administrative filings, such as the record of the case before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), may be considered by the court without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. See Pension Ben. Guar. Corp., 998 F.2d at 1196-97; Arizmendi v. Lawson, 914 F. Supp. 1157, 1160-61 (E.D. Pa.1996).

Attached to the motion to dismiss filed by Defendants are copies of a number of documents from the files of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") with regard to the administrative complaint filed by Plaintiff. Because these documents are referenced in the Complaint and are essential to Plaintiff's claim, the Court has considered these documents without the necessity of converting ...


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