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Paige v. Crozer Chester Medical Center

March 3, 2009

JOSEPH PAIGE, SR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
CROZER CHESTER MEDICAL CENTER, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gene E.K. Pratter, J.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Joseph Paige, a pro se plaintiff, brings claims of wrongful termination based on allegations of race discrimination, harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation and slander.*fn1 Mr. Paige's Complaint invokes 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), and Pennsylvania state law. Defendant Crozer Chester Medical Center ("Crozer"), Mr. Paige's former employer, filed a Motion to Dismiss all of these claims, which Mr. Paige opposes. For the reasons discussed below, the Court grants the Motion as to Mr. Paige's claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, the Fourteenth Amendment, and Pennsylvania state law, as contained in Counts I, III, IV, V, and VI his Complaint. The Court also grants the Motion as to Mr. Paige's claim of retaliation under Title VII, as contained in Count III of his Complaint. The Court denies the Motion, however, as to Mr. Paige's Title VII claims for wrongful termination, hostile work environment, and harassment, as contained in Counts I, III and IV of his Complaint.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

A. Mr. Paige's Administrative Charge of Discrimination

In his administrative Charge of discrimination before the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), Mr. Paige alleges that, even though he was qualified for his job, Crozer terminated him, a black male, because of complaints of sexual misconduct that had been made against him. See generally Compl.; Exhibit B to Compl.*fn2 ; Administrative Charge of Joseph Paige, Sr., Commonweath of Pennsylvania, Governor's Office, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, Exhibit A to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss.*fn3 Meanwhile, according to Mr. Paige, Crozer failed to investigate claims that white males had similar sexual harassment complaints pending against them, or had engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior. Id. Mr. Paige alleges that, unlike him, the white males were not disciplined or terminated for their alleged behavior. Id. Mr. Paige also alleges that the EEOC issued him a Notice of Right to Sue dated April 21, 2008, which was received by him on May 15, 2008. Compl. at ¶ 5. On August 12, 2008, 89 days after receiving his Right to Sue Notice, Mr. Paige filed his civil complaint.

B. Mr. Paige's Civil Complaint

In his Complaint, Mr. Paige alleges that on August 13, 2004, Mark Mungan, from Crozer's Department of Human Resources, informed Mr. Paige that a housekeeper assigned to Mr. Paige's unit claimed that Mr. Paige had made unwanted sexual advances toward her. Id. at ¶ 9. Mr. Paige denied the accusations, and stated that the housekeeper merely was trying to deflect attention from complaints about her poor housekeeping. Id. at ¶ 10. Nevertheless, on August 18, 2004, Mr. Paige was terminated from his position because of the complaints of sexual harassment. Id. at ¶ 11.

According to Mr. Paige, in contrast to the treatment visited upon him by Crozer, when Michael Ruskowski, a white supervisor at Crozer, was accused of sexual harassment, no investigation was conducted, and Mr. Ruskowski is still employed at Crozer. Id. at ¶ 12. Additionally, Gene Nestor, a white American Director of Environmental Services at Crozer, had an "illicit sexual relationship" with a manager, which was publicized at Crozer, but Crozer took no disciplinary action against Mr. Nestor. Id. at ¶ 13.

Mr. Paige also alleges that Mr. Nestor "often stated when he held [Mr. Paige's] position that he would create 'an all white janitorial service' at Crozer, once he became Director of Environmental Services." Id. at ¶ 14. As part of Mr. Nestor's "effort to eliminate African-American maids and janitors, Mr. Nestor routinely harassed, demeaned, degraded, and humiliated [Mr. Paige] and other African-American employees." Id. at ¶ 15. Accordingly, Mr. Paige alleges that Crozer's "stated reason for [Mr. Paige's] termination was a pretext, where white employees that engaged in similar alleged conduct were not subjected to adverse scrutiny by Management." Id. at ¶ 16.

Mr. Paige also alleges that Crozer treated him differently from similarly-situated white employees in the following ways: "(a) implemented and enforced policies and directives which gave white employees preferential treatment; (b) failed to provide proper training to its supervisors and managers so that they would treat all employees equally; (c) failed to discipline white employees and black employees the same for violating the same work rules; (d) failed to credit statements of black employees accused of work-related rule violations while always crediting statements of white employees accused of work-related rule variations; (e) used its sexual harassment policy as a pretext to fire black employees; and (f) other acts and/or omissions that will become apparent as a result of discovery." Id. at ¶ 19. Mr. Paige states that he was "told by his white supervisor that he 'was not part of the click [sic]' and that is why he was treated differently and subjected to a hostile environment at the work place," such as being "placed on a 'special shift' which started at 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. daily." Id. at ¶¶ 26-27. These actions were "designed to constructively terminate [him]." Id. at ¶ 28. Additionally, Crozer "fabricat[ed] write-ups and retaliat[ed] against [him] for complaining to the vice-president of the unlawful practices of its supervisors and managers, which resulted in the wrongful termination of his employment." Id. at ¶ 21.

Mr. Paige states that he has always been a "person of good name, credit and reputation" in his community, and that Crozer, knowing this and "intending to injure [Mr. Paige] and deprive him of his good name and reputation, conspired and did intentionally and illegally make and publish certain information and documents concerning [Mr. Paige] which were false, scandalous, defamatory and malicious writings and libel, which [have] already adversely affected [Mr. Paige] in his community and which will continue to adversely affect [Mr. Paige] in his community and future employment." Id. at ¶¶ 35-37. Crozer harassed Mr. Paige, "tormented him, and subjected him to a hostile work environment, all of which resulted in the termination of [Mr. Paige's] employment and manufacturing reasons to justify [his] discharge and placing this false information concerning [Mr. Paige] in his file to make it part of his permanent personnel record." Id. at ¶ 38.

As a result of Crozer's actions, Mr. Paige has "lost wages and other employment benefits," and has experienced severe emotional distress, for which he has sought psychological and psychiatric help. Id. at ¶¶ 32, 41-43.

Crozer's Rule 12(b)(6) motion raises a variety of arguments, which are discussed below. Mr. Paige opposes the Motion and has endeavored to marshal appropriate caselaw. The Court recognizes the challenges presented to a pro se litigant in such circumstances. The Court acknowledges that Mr. Paige has presented a respectful effort to "tell his story" by emphasizing the facts as he ...


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