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Smoke v. National Electric Carbon Products

February 9, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Munley


Before the court for disposition is the defendants' motion to dismiss Defendants Gary Johnson, Ashley Frances and Jack Carson from this case involving allegations of sexual and religious harassment in the workplace. The motion seeks to have the individual defendants dismissed. The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition. Background*fn1

Defendant National Electric Carbon Products, Inc. ("National") is a corporation located in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶ 2). Defendant hired plaintiff on December 17, 1973. (Compl. ¶ 16). National promoted plaintiff to Manager of Human Relations in 1994 and to Co-Site Director in January 2001. (Id.).

Plaintiff asserts that Gary Johnson, who served as Fabrication Manager of National, called him disparaging names and used lewd remarks knowing that, in light of plaintiff's religious beliefs, such language made him uncomfortable because of its sexual nature. (Compl. ¶ 19). Plaintiff requested that Johnson stop the remarks, but he did not. Plaintiff complained to his immediate supervisor Jack Carson. (Compl. ¶¶ 20-21).

Approximately two and a half months after complaining, plaintiff's superiors informed him that he and Carson would have to learn to work together. (Compl. ¶ 23). No further action was taken on plaintiff's complaint. (Id.).

At a management meeting attended by the plaintiff, sexist comments were made as well as comments/jokes regarding religion. (Compl. ¶¶ 25-26). Some of these comments were made by Defendant Ashley Frances, President of Brush Manufacturing and Defendant Johnson's direct supervisor. (Compl. ¶ 26). Defendant Frances made a comment degrading plaintiff's religion, that is Jehovah's Witness. (Compl. ¶ 27). Such comments continued at other meetings and in the workplace. Plaintiff advised Defendant Carson, director of Human Relations, that he was uncomfortable with the various conversations about sex and religion. (Compl. ¶ 32). Defendant Carson refused to take any action regarding the behavior. (Compl. ¶ 33).

Plaintiff was subjected to the harassment every day. Eventually, the harassment became so severe that it affected plaintiff's emotional and mental state. (Compl. ¶¶ 38-39). Plaintiff asserts that the harassment from Defendants Johnson and Frances affected his health to such a degree that he was thus forced to stop working involuntarily on June 14, 2004. (Compl. ¶ 40, ¶ 46).

Subsequently, plaintiff filed the instant cause of action seeking relief under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (hereinafter "PHRA"), 43 PENN. CONS. STAT. § 951, et seq. and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (hereinafter "Title VII").*fn2 The individual defendants have filed a motion seeking dismissal from this action pursuant to rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure bringing the case to its present posture.


As this case is brought pursuant to Title VII for employment discrimination we have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.") We have supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiff's state law PHRA claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

Standard of Review

When a 12(b)(6) motion is filed, the sufficiency of a complaint's allegations are tested. The issue is whether the facts alleged in the complaint, if true, support a claim upon which relief can be granted. In deciding a 12(b)(6) motion, the court must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and give the pleader the benefit of all reasonable inferences that can fairly be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997).


Defendants raise two issues in their motion to dismiss. First, they assert that the individual defendants should be dismissed because the plaintiff has not exhausted his administrative remedies with respect to them. Second, they argue that the individual defendants cannot be held liable under the PHRA because the plaintiff alleges no facts in support of his claim that these individuals aided or abetted acts of ...

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