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Eng v. Scranton UC Service Center

November 19, 2008

MERRYL SUE ENG, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SCRANTON UC SERVICE CENTER, PA DEP'T OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative for a More Definite Statement. (Doc. 13). For the reasons detailed below, Defendants' motion will be granted with respect to the motion to dismiss Plaintiff's claims brought pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act and will be denied with respect to the motion for a more definite statement.

The Court has jurisdiction in this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Meryl Sue Eng, appearing here pro se, is a former employee of the Scranton UC Service Center ("Scranton Service Center") located in Taylor, Pennsylvania, working at this facility in the position of UC Interviewer starting in November 2001. During the course of her employment at the Scranton Center, the Plaintiff filed numerous complaints with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission ("PHRC") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Five (5) of these PHRC complaints are relevant to the case currently before the Court.

In August 2005, Eng filed a complaint against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Labor ("PA DOL") and Industry and Scranton UC Service Center alleging that she had been harassed by co-workers due to her Jewish faith. (PHRC Compl. 200500669, Doc. 1, at 46-50.) In this complaint the Plaintiff alleged that she was subjected to threats of physical violence from Marie Jones, a co-worker, that the Plaintiff's supervisor, Andrea Matter, told Plaintiff that she could not discuss claimants with other co-workers, and that the Plaintiff was the recipient of literature urging her to convert from Judaism to Christianity. (Id.) On August 21, 2007, the PHRC notified Plaintiff Eng that this complaint had been dismissed for a failure to establish the probable cause required to credit the allegations of unlawful discrimination. (Aug. 21, 2007 PHRC Letter, Doc. 1, at 26-27.) On May 1, 2008, the EEOC notified Plaintiff Eng that the PHRC decision had been adopted, and notified Eng of her right to sue. (May 1, 2008 EEOC Notice, Doc. 1, at 38.)

In May 2006, Eng filed another complaint against the PA DOL and Scranton Service Center alleging workplace harassment due to her Jewish faith, along with a second claim alleging retaliation for her August 2005 complaint. (PHRC Compl. 200506664, Doc. 1, at 40-45.) In this complaint, Plaintiff Eng alleges that her supervisor, Andrea Matter, threatened Plaintiff with discipline and termination if the Plaintiff asked for help with cases or made requests for either training or counseling. (Id.) Plaintiff also alleges that she received a verbal warning from Matter and her manager, Joe Manley, in retaliation for her prior attempts to obtain help from Plaintiff's supervisor. In contrast to the other PHRC complaints that Plaintiff attached to her Complaint in this case, no documentation has been provided to the Court regarding any action taken on this claim by either the PHRC or EEOC.

In December 2006, Eng filed another PHRC complaint against PA DOL, alleging religious discrimination and retaliation for her earlier PHRC complaints. (PHRC Compl. 200601761, Doc. 1, at 51-57.) This complaint arose out of Plaintiff Eng's receipt of a disciplinary letter for poor performance. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that her non-Jewish co-workers also conducted poor phone interviews and were not similarly disciplined. (Id.) Plaintiff Eng also alleged in this complaint that she had received a performance review with an overall rating of "unsatisfactory" and that her non-Jewish co-workers similarly conducted poor phone interviews without receiving unsatisfactory performance reviews. (Id.) Given the timing of the disciplinary letter and poor performance review, Plaintiff Eng alleges that her manager and supervisor were retaliating for her prior PHRC activity. (Id.) On August 23, 2007, the PHRC notified Plaintiff Eng that this complaint had been dismissed for a failure to establish the probable cause required to credit the allegations of unlawful discrimination or retaliation. (Aug. 23, 2007 PHRC Letter, Doc. 1, at 28-29.) On March 24, 2008, and again on April 7, 2008, the EEOC notified Plaintiff Eng that the PHRC decision had been adopted and informed her of her right to sue. (April 7, 2008 EEOC Notice, Doc. 1, at 34; March 24, 2008 EEOC Notice, Doc 1, at 35.)

In February 2007, Eng filed another PHRC complaint against the Scranton Service Center, once again alleging religious discrimination and retaliation for previous PHRC filings. (PHRC Compl. 200604531, Doc. 1, at 58-62.) This complaint was precipitated by Eng's receipt of a letter from the Department of Labor and industry notifying Eng that she had been given a "level 2 disciplinary action" for failure to communicate clearly and for providing poor customer service on telephone calls with clients in December 2006. (Id.) Plaintiff Eng alleged that this discipline amounted to discrimination against the Jewish faith because the Plaintiff's non-Jewish co-workers treated claimants horribly without receiving similar discipline. (Id.) The Plaintiff further alleged that the disciplinary notice constituted retaliation for her earlier complaints to the PHRC because her supervisors were aware of the earlier complaints and she was the only employee singled out for discipline. (Id.) On October 4, 2007, the PHRC notified Plaintiff Eng that this complaint would be dismissed because the facts fo the case did not establish the probable cause required to credit the allegations of unlawful discrimination. (Oct. 4, 2007 PHRC Letter, Doc 1, at 30-31.) On April 29, 2008, the EEOC notified Plaintiff Eng that the PHRC decision had been adopted and notified her of her right to sue. (April 29, 2008 EEOC Notice, Doc. 1, at 36.)

Finally, in April of 2007, Eng filed her most recent PHRC complaint against both PA DOL and the Scranton Service Center alleging retaliation for Eng's prior PHRC filings. (PHRC Compl. 20060228, Doc. 1, at 63-67.) This complaint was filed after Plaintiff Eng received notice that she was discharged from her employment at the Scranton Service Center effective April 10, 2007. (Id.) The Plaintiff feels that her termination was a retaliatory action for her prior PHRC activity. (Id.) The PHRC dismissed the complaint on August 23, 2007, noting that the facts of the case did not establish the required probable cause to credit the allegations of discrimination. (Aug. 23, 2007 PHRC Letter, Doc. 1, at 32-33.) On March 31, 2008, the EEOC issued a notice that the PHRC decision had been adopted and notified Plaintiff Eng of her right to sue. (March 31, 2008 EEOC Notice, Doc. 1, at 39.)

Plaintiff filed her pro se Complaint with this Court on June 26, 2008, alleging that Defendants violated her rights under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1991 ("Title VII"). (Doc. 1.) In this Complaint, the Plaintiff details her extensive filings with the PHRC and avers that these filings should have also presented claims for disability discrimination. (Id. at 3-7.) The Plaintiff continues by describing a pattern of discrimination and harassment due to Plaintiff's dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and hearing loss. (Id.) Plaintiff further alleges that her co-workers and supervisors at the Scranton Service Center failed to accommodate her alleged disabilities in spite of Plaintiff's numerous requests for such accommodations. (Id.) Because of this alleged discrimination, the Plaintiff asked this Court to award her thirty-five thousand dollars ($35,000) in back salary and forty-four thousand dollars ($44,000) in healthcare expenses. (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff also requests that any negative comments be removed from her employment records. (Id.)

On July 31, 2008, Plaintiff Eng filed a letter and medical records with the Court to supplement her Complaint. (Doc. 9.) In this letter, Plaintiff, for the first time in documents on file with this Court, avers that she has a history of heart problems that were an additional basis of discrimination at the Scranton Service Center. (Id. at 1.) According to Plaintiff, she asked her supervisors for help and accommodations so that Plaintiff would not feel stressed by the nature of Plaintiff's work or by the interpersonal difficulties that Plaintiff was experiencing with her co-workers. (Id. at 1-2.)

Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative for a More Definite Statement (Doc. 13) on September 16, 2008. Plaintiff filed a response to Defendants' motion on October 8, 2008. (Doc. 17.) In her response, Plaintiff, for the first time in documents on file with this Court, alleges that her physician diagnosed the Plaintiff with a neurological impairment and that Defendants were made aware of this impairment. (Id. at 1.) Plaintiff further states, for the first time, in her response that she has been found disabled due to reoccurring thyroid cancer that metastasized to the spine, bones and bone marrow, diabetic neuropathy, hypertension asthma, high cholesterol, and a ...


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