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Greene v. MPW Industrial Services

October 4, 2006

SHANNON GREENE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MPW INDUSTRIAL SERVICES, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ambrose, Chief District Judge.

OPINION and ORDER OF COURT

SYNOPSIS

Plaintiff contends that his employer discharged him because of his race and retaliated against him because he complained about a racially hostile work environment. He asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The Employer seeks the dismissal of both claims. The Motion is granted in part and denied in part. The discrimination claim is dismissed without prejudice and the retaliation claim survives the 12(b)(6) challenge.

OPINION

Plaintiff, Shannon Greene ("Greene"), an African American, worked for Defendant MPW Industrial Services ("the Employer") for a period of seven months during 2005. He was fired on October 17, 2005. He contends that he was fired both because of his race and in retaliation for having complained of race discrimination. Accordingly, he asserts two claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 - one for discharge based on race and one for retaliation. The Employer seeks the dismissal of both claims. See Docket No. 22. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted in part and denied in part.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND*fn1

The Employer hired Greene in May of 2005. On or about October 4, 2005, a co-worker informed Greene that another employee had made a joke approximately one month earlier about "nigger rigging" equipment.*fn2 On that same day, Greene and others confronted a supervisor about the comment and about the Employer's inaction with respect to the same. Greene contends that, despite this confrontation, the co-worker who made the offensive remark was not punished. Greene was then fired on October 17, 2005.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In deciding a Motion to Dismiss, all factual allegations, and all reasonable inferences therefrom, must be accepted as true and viewed in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Colburn v. Upper Darby Twp., 838 F.2d 663, 666 (3d Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1065 (1988). I may dismiss a complaint only if it appears beyond a reasonable doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claims which would entitle him to relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45 (1957). In ruling on a motion for failure to state a claim, I must look to "whether sufficient facts are pleaded to determine that the complaint is not frivolous, and to provide the defendants with adequate notice to frame an answer." Colburn, 838 F.2d at 666.

While a court will accept well-pleaded allegations as true for the purposes of the motion, it will not accept legal or unsupported conclusions, unwarranted inferences, or sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations. See Miree v. DeKalb County, Ga., 433 U.S. 25, 27 n.2 (1977). Moreover, the plaintiff must set forth sufficient information to outline the elements of his claims or to permit inferences to be drawn that these elements exist. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(2)(a) and Conley, 355 U.S. at 45-46. Matters outside the pleadings should not be considered. This includes "any written or oral evidence in support of or opposition to the pleadings that provides some substantiation for and does not merely reiterate what is said in the pleadings." Charles A. Wright and Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 1366 (West 1990).

ANALYSIS

I. Race Discrimination*fn3

Greene alleges that he was fired "because of his race" in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. See Amended Complaint, ¶ 11. Section 1981 states in relevant part:

[a]ll persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens and shall be subject to like ...


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