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Degroat v. Pennsylvania Dep't of Transportation

March 24, 2009

DONNA DEGROAT AND GARY CLARK, PLAINTIFFS
v.
PENNSYLVANIA DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION, CHARLES DEFEBO, ERIN SODEN AND ROBERT COLLINS, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge James M. Munley United States District Court

(Judge Munley)

MEMORANDUM

Before the court disposition is the defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

Background

Plaintiffs Donna DeGroat and Gary Clark are employees of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (hereinafter "PennDot"). (Doc. 1, Complaint ¶ 1). The plaintiffs are engaged to be married. (Id.). PennDot employed plaintiff since December 1988. (Id. at ¶ 19). In the spring of 2005, plaintiff and others wrote a letter to the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania regarding PennDot's disregard for public safety and complaining about mismanagement of local and regional PennDot functions by Defendant Robert Collins, the Pike County Maintenance Manager. (Id. at ¶ ¶ 8, 20). In August 2005, DeGroat confronted Defendant Collins regarding his sexual harassment of a college intern. (Id. at ¶ 21). Eventually, DeGroat was disciplined for the sexual harassment. (Id. at ¶ 22).

Defendant DeFebo, the Pike County Roadway Programs Coordinator and plaintiff's supervisor, wrote plaintiff up for being late in October 2005, although plaintiff was not late. (Id. at ¶ ¶ 9,23). DeFebo asserted that his superiors prompted him to wrongfully accuse Plaintiff DeGroat of lateness. (Id. at ¶ 24). Other employees who actually were late were not counseled or disciplined. (Id. at ¶ 25). Other actions that DeGroat complains of are, inter alia, the moving of her desk to a position right next to the men's room, the denial of overtime and zealous overseeing of her work. (Id. at ¶ ¶ 26 -29). Eventually, plaintiff sought medical attention for the stress, anxiety and other problems she experienced because of the defendant's treatment of her. (Id. at ¶ 30). In February 2006, plaintiff filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (hereinafter "EEOC") complaining of the treatment she was receiving. (Id. at ¶ 31). The adverse actions against her continued. Eventually, Plaintiff Clark complained to Defendant DeFebo regarding the treatment of Plaintiff DeGroat. (Id. at ¶ 43). Plaintiffs assert that defendants retaliated against Clark for this confrontation. (Id. at ¶ 44). Plaintiffs assert that the treatment that they received from the defendants caused them to endure financial damages, as well as emotional suffering, embarrassment, humiliation, inconvenience and expense. (Id. at ¶ 57).

Plaintiffs accordingly instituted the instant action against the defendants. The complaint asserts deprivation of plaintiffs' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as violations of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (hereinafter "PHRA") and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and for lack of subject matter jurisdiction bringing the case to its present posture.

Jurisdiction

As this case is brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1983 ("section 1983") and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. for unlawful 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 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).

Discussion

Defendants' motion raises three issues that we will ...


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