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Leonard v. Bristol Township School Dist.

July 28, 2010

CHARLENE LEONARD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BRISTOL TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT, JAMES ANDERS, GERRY BARCIK, JAMES WHITE, AND ELLEN BUDMAN, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM

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.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

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.)

II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

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 ...


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