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Garges v. People's Light & Theater Co.

October 28, 2010

KATHERINE GARGES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE PEOPLE'S LIGHT & THEATER, CO., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM

INTRODUCTION

Katherine Garges, who is pro se, has sued her former employer, the People's Light & Theater Company ("the Theater"), alleging primarily that the Theater discriminated and retaliated against her in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA").*fn1 Ms. Garges' Complaint also sets forth a panoply of tort claims against the Theater and against three of her erstwhile co-workers, one of whom was her supervisor.

The Defendants have moved to dismiss four of Ms. Garges' tort claims against the Theater on the ground that they are barred by the exclusivity provision of the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act ("the PWCA"), and have moved to dismiss a fifth tort claim against all Defendants on the ground that Ms. Garges failed to plead facts upon which relief could be granted. For the reasons set forth below, each of the contested portions of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss will be granted in full.*fn2

JURISDICTION

The Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

For the purposes of this Motion to Dismiss, the facts alleged in Ms. Garges' Complaint are considered to be true. On that basis, the facts are as follows.

The Complaint states that Ms. Garges joined the Theater as a "sales representative" in 2002. Ms. Garges claims that she usually worked 12 to 15 hours per week, the maximum allowed for sales representatives, and was compensated under a commission system, which rewarded the sales representatives who did the most business. According to Ms. Garges, the Theater typically employed between eight and 10 sales representatives. There was a high turnover rate among representatives, "due in part to the high level of sales skill required to attain reasonable commission levels."

Ms. Garges describes the Theater as a rowdy and bohemian workplace, "with occasional nudity and frequent profanity on stage, and a freewheeling atmosphere offstage." She claims that employees of the sales department "exhibited disruptive, raucous behavior; ... used aggressive and profane language; conducted extensive personal business; and expressed vehement personal opinions among themselves." She further alleges that individual sales department employees "threw temper tantrums" and "frequently came to work noticeably intoxicated (on information and belief, with illegal drugs)," and she asserts that no sales department employee was ever terminated for this kind of behavior.

On the evening July 5, 2007, Ms. Garges was on the phone with a customer, when she became embroiled in a verbal dispute with her supervisor, Adria Charles, the Theater's Sales Director. According to Ms. Garges, Ms. Charles began to "intentionally harass" Ms. Garges by yelling out to her and interrupting her phone call. Ms. Garges responded: "I'll eat your ass if you want me to, but I have to make this phone call first." Ms. Charles immediately fired Ms. Garges, and -- according to Ms. Garges -- also assaulted her.*fn3 The termination was soon ratified by Ellen Anderson, the Theater's general manager, who refused to listen to Ms. Garges' version of events before arriving at her decision.

On June 16, 2009, Ms. Garges filed suit against the Theater, Ms. Charles, and two of her co-workers, John David Clemens, Jr. and Terence Echlin. Her lengthy Complaint presents a total of 28 claims against the Defendants. Most of these claims relate to Ms. Garges' assertion that the stated reason for her firing -- namely, insubordination -- was "fabricated," and that she was in fact fired for legally impermissible reasons related to her gender and in retaliation for various complaints that she had previously lodged against co-workers. She also brings claims for assault and battery; breach of contract; negligence in hiring and supervision; defamation; and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The Defendants have moved to dismiss Counts 22, 23, 24, and 28 of the Complaint in their entirety.*fn4 Count 22 alleges that the Theater ratified Ms. Charles' assault and battery; Counts 23 and 24 allege that the Theater was negligent in hiring and supervision, respectively; and Count 28 accuses all Defendants of intentionally inflicting emotional distress. Count 21 sets forth an assault and battery claim against the Theater and ...


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