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Nardella v. Philadelphia Gas Works

July 12, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Goldberg, J.


Before the Court is Defendants, Philadelphia Gas Works (hereinafter "PGW"), Steven Jordon and Gary Gioioso's, motion to dismiss Plaintiff's pro se Title VII complaint, which raises claims for gender and racial discrimination. For the reasons discussed below, the motion is denied in part and granted in part.


Plaintiff, Deborah Ann Nardella, was employed as a secretary with PGW from April, 2003, until she was terminated on June 26, 2008. While it is somewhat unclear from the complaint, it appears that both Defendants Jordon, who was the Director of the Customer Response Department, and Gioioso, the Director of the Organizational Department, acted as Plaintiff's supervisors during her employment. Plaintiff worked as a secretary for Jordon, but both Jordon and Gioioso participated in her performance reviews.

Generally, Plaintiff alleges that beginning in 2006 and continuing until her termination in June, 2008, Defendants harassed and discriminated against her based on her gender and race. Plaintiff claims that this conduct began when Jordon was assigned to work in her department in January, 2006. Plaintiff asserts that she was unfairly given negative evaluations, placed on a personal improvement plan and denied a raise and that her termination was effectuated in retaliation for a Title VII complaint she filed with PGW.

The specifics of the complaint, viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, are as follows: Sometime around November, 2006, Plaintiff spoke to a supervisor about what she considered discrimination. The complaint does not specify the exact conduct that was discriminatory. The supervisor suggested that Plaintiff file a formal complaint if she was concerned, however, Plaintiff did not do so at that time. (Compl., p. 5.)

In November, 2007, Plaintiff applied for two (2) open jobs at PGW, each with a higher pay rate than her position. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff had a confrontational meeting with Jordon where he loudly and condescendingly suggested she did not want to be at PGW. Plaintiff alleges Jordon followed her from his office to her desk and that a dispute resolution supervisor witnessed the incident and expressed fear for Plaintiff's safety. (Compl., pp. 6-7, 12.)

Around that time, Plaintiff met with Gioioso regarding the incident. During the meeting, Plaintiff reminded Gioioso that she applied for two (2) jobs. Three (3) days later, Plaintiff alleges Defendants gave her a second negative evaluation. Thereafter, the jobs for which Plaintiff applied were subsequently filled by two (2) men. Plaintiff alleges the harassment and unfair criticism continued, and on November 16, 2007, she filed a complaint with PGW's human resources department, alleging discrimination and harassment. On January 25, 2008, Plaintiff received correspondence from Gioioso informing her that the PGW legal department considered her complaint baseless. On June 26, 2008, Defendants presented Plaintiff with a letter of termination, effective immediately. (Compl., pp. 6-7, 12.)

Plaintiff filed her complaint with this Court on November 25, 2009, alleging gender and racial discrimination in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq., retaliation in violation of Title VII and violation of the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206 (hereinafter "EPA"). Plaintiff alleges she completed the process necessary to exhaust her administrative remedies under Title VII. (Compl., p. 13.) Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to set forth a claim upon which relief can be granted.


When considering a motion to dismiss, the Court must assume the veracity of well-pleaded factual allegations, construe them in a light most favorable to the Plaintiff, and "then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009) (reaffirming Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)); Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008). The Court may only look to the facts alleged in the complaint and its attachments when deciding a motion to dismiss. Jordan v. Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994). Here, the Court will also liberally construe the complaint because the Plaintiff is pro se. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).


A. Form of the Complaint

Defendants have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint on a number of grounds. First, Defendants argue that the complaint should be dismissed because Plaintiff failed to format her complaint in compliance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendants argue that Plaintiff's claims are not set ...

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