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Leonard v. Bristol Township School Dist.

July 28, 2010


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


Currently pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for Failure to State a Claim. In her First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff seeks redress for various claims of employment discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000, et. seq.) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (43 PA. CONS. STAT § 951, et. seq.). For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is denied.


Plaintiff Charlene Leonard has worked as a custodian for Defendant Bristol Township School District ("Bristol" or "the School District") since 1996. (Am. Compl. ¶ 16.) Since July 2006, Defendant James Anders served as Plaintiff's immediate supervisor. (Id. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff's "second line supervisor" is Defendant Gerry Barcik, the "Business Manager." (Id. ¶ 17.) The remaining Defendants are high-level supervisors with Bristol Township. Defendant James White is the Operations, Safety, Environmental, and Training Coordinator, and Defendant Ellen Budman is the Bristol Township Superintendent of Schools. (Id. ¶ 17.)

In her First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Anders engaged in a wide range of repeated sex discrimination and harassment that was both "pervasive and severe," which began in the fall of 2006 and ran through January 2008. As Plaintiff specifically alleges, Defendant Anders's conduct, inter alia, consisted of, physically touching Plaintiff in an unwelcome manner on her inner thigh, her arm and shoulder while requiring her to ride with him in his truck to and from schools to perform mop duty on a daily basis when she could have driven herself, professing his love for her, speaking intimately to her about the details of his personal life and what he could do for her life, calling her repeatedly while at work and at home to discuss personal matters despite Plaintiff's protests about his non-work related calls, especially to her personal telephone, offering numbers of times to set her up in a furnished apartment to be with him if she would leave her husband, ordering her to do chores for him off the work premises during work hours and requiring her to periodically make breakfast for him, intimidating her physically and psychologically and distracting her from her assigned duties. (Id. ¶ 18.) During this same period, Plaintiff repeatedly told Anders that she was married and had no interest in a personal or romantic relationship. (Id. ¶ 19.)

In the Spring of 2007, White informed Plaintiff that the School District knew of Anders's conduct towards Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 20.) White further advised Plaintiff that Anders had acknowledged his inappropriate romantic interest in Plaintiff during a school management meeting, at which Defendants Barcik, Budman, and White were present. (Id. ¶ 20.) Despite their knowledge of the alleged conduct, Defendants Barcik, Budman, and White failed to reasonably investigate or take action regarding the situation. (Id. ¶ 20.)

Through 2006 and 2007, as well as from January 2008 to January 2009, Defendant Anders's alleged sexually discriminatory actions continued, as he would place his body close to Plaintiff's, watch and stand over Plaintiff without any work purpose, and require her to shop and cook for him and other supervisors. (Id. ¶¶ 25, 28.) In July 2007, as a result of Anders's actions, Plaintiff attempted suicide. (Id. ¶ 26.)

After her suicide attempt, Plaintiff returned to work. On or about September 15, 2008, Anders forced Plaintiff to change her work hours absent good cause and effective the next day. (Id. ¶ 30.) Following the change of her hours, "Anders threatened Plaintiff, through the Union, that she had best not try to file any charges against him." (Id. ¶ 31.)

On November 5, 2008, Plaintiff filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission ("PHRC") regarding the aforementioned conduct. (Id. ¶ 33.) Following the filing of Plaintiff's complaints, Defendant Anders "increasingly engag[ed] in physically and psychologically intimidating behavior, such as, approaching Plaintiff closely without speaking, standing still behind her without acknowledging his presence or without having reason to be present." (Id. ¶ 35.) On or about December 2008, Anders had an employee survey Plaintiff's co-workers to determine who would support him over Plaintiff in regards to her EEO claims. (Id. ¶ 37.)

By January 2009, as a direct result of Anders's actions and Barcik, Budman, and White's failure to intervene, Plaintiff left work on a disability leave of absence that was approved by the School District and continued at least up to the time Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint. (Id. ¶ 38.)


Plaintiff filed her initial Complaint on October 13, 2009. On December 16, 2009, Plaintiff filed her First Amended Complaint, which, as the Court determined in its December 23, 2009 Order, mooted Defendants' Motion to Dismiss of November 30, 2009. Subsequently, Defendants filed a second Motion to Dismiss on February 1, 2010. Plaintiff filed her Response in Opposition on February 17, 2010. Defendants' filed a Reply Memorandum on March 9, 2010, which was followed by Plaintiff's Sur-Reply Brief, filed on March 23, 2010.


A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the legal sufficiency of a pleading. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). The starting point in analyzing a pleading is Rule 8(a), which requires that a pleading, at a minimum, consist of "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a). Regardless of its exact form, however, a pleading "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face'" in order to withstand a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___ U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). When read in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, a pleading that provides sufficient facts to "allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged" meets the required level of "facial plausibility." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949; see also Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (according to the dictates of Iqbal, extending the 12(b)(6) standard of review established in Twombly to all civil pleadings). On the other hand, "[a] pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Taken together then, in evaluating a pleading's sufficiency in relation to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion ...

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