The opinion of the court was delivered by: Yvette Kane, Chief Judge United States District Court Middle District of Pennsylvania
Before the Court is Defendant United Defense Industries' ("UDI") Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment as to the Claims Asserted in Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint. (Doc. No. 24.) The motion has been briefed and is ripe for disposition.
Plaintiff James A. Baker initiated this employment discrimination action on December 21, 2005, by filing a complaint with this Court. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on March 2, 2006. (Doc. No. 17.) In his amended complaint, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant UDI violated and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 612 et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. § 954 et. seq., when it discriminated against him because of his age and then retaliated against him after he filed an age discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").
The facts underlying Plaintiff's claims appear to be straightforward. Plaintiff worked for UDI from August 1991 to April 2005. While employed by UDI, Plaintiff routinely received exemplary performance evaluations up through 2003. On October 1, 2004, UDI informed Plaintiff that his employment would be terminated at some point in the future, but did not advise him of a precise termination date. Several months later, on April 8, 2005, Plaintiff's employment with UDI was terminated. Plaintiff alleges that he was replaced with one or more younger employees and that, prior to his termination, he was treated differently because of his age.
On March 8, 2005, one month before his employment with UDI was terminated, Plaintiff filed a written charge of age discrimination with the Philadelphia office of the EEOC, which was assigned an EEOC number of 170-2005-01618. Plaintiff alleges that UDI reacted to his initial EEOC charge by: (1) terminating Plaintiff's employment earlier than it would have had Plaintiff not filed with the EEOC; (2) excluding Plaintiff from meetings and refusing to communicate with him; and (3) failing to share essential employment-related information with him.
Approximately one month after his termination, on May 7, 2005, Plaintiff filed a second charge of discrimination with the EEOC for retaliation. (Doc. No. 24, Attachment B.) This complaint was assigned an EEOC number of 170-2005-02470, (id.), and a PHRC case number of 2005503166 (Doc. No. 31, Exhibit A). In his second EEOC complaint, Plaintiff alleged that UDI retaliated against him after his initial EEOC complaint and specifically referred to his April 8, 2005, termination as a retaliatory act. (Doc. No. 24, Attachment B.) Plaintiff did not mention, however, in the second charge UDI's alleged efforts to exclude Plaintiff from meetings or general withholding of employment-related information. (Id.)
In the motion to dismiss presently before the Court, UDI argues that Plaintiff's suit should be dismissed in its entirety.*fn2 First, UDI argues that Plaintiff's PHRA age discrimination claim is barred because he failed to exhaust state administrative remedies. UDI further argues that Plaintiff's failure to commence state proceedings on the initial EEOC charge prevents the Court from entertaining his ADEA claim of age discrimination. Finally, UDI argues that the facts alleged by Plaintiff fail, as a matter of law, to state a retaliation claim under either the PHRA or the ADEA. These arguments are addressed in turn below.
Defendant UDI moves to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.*fn3 A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). When considering a motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all factual allegations contained in the complaint and views them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. United States Express Lines Ltd. v. Higgins, 281 F.3d 383, 388 (3d Cir. 2002). The plaintiff is required to "set forth sufficient information to outline the elements of his claim or to permit inferences to be drawn that those elements exist." Kost, 1 F.3d at 183 (citations omitted). A court should grant a motion to dismiss only if it appears the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief. Wisniewski v. Johns-Manville Corp., 759 F.2d 271, 273 (3d Cir. 1985) (citations omitted). Morever, given the early stage of the proceedings, the Court should not "inquire whether the plaintiffs will ultimately prevail." Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996). Rather, the Court should only inquire as to whether Plaintiff is "entitled to offer evidence to support [his] claims." Id.
A. Plaintiff has Exhausted State Administrative Remedies for his PHRA Age Discrimination Claim
The PHRA provides that it is an unlawful practice for any employer to discharge from employment or otherwise discriminate against an employee on several proscribed bases, including age. 43 P.S. § 955(a). The PHRA also establishes the procedures for enforcing this statutory right to be free from discrimination. 43 P.S. § 959; see Clay v. Advanced Computer Applications, Inc., 559 A.2d 917, 919 (Pa. 1989). Thus, before a plaintiff may initiate a judicial proceeding under the PHRA, he must pursue the administrative process set forth in the statute. Vincent v. Fuller Co., 616 A.2d 969, 974 (Pa. 1992); Clay, 559 A.2d at 918-19, 921; see also 43 P.S. § 962(c)(1) (Only after receiving notice of a PHRC conciliation agreement or the PHRC's dismissal of the complaint, "the complainant shall be able to bring an action in the courts . . . based ...