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Oumar Abdallah v. Allegheny Valley School et al

February 1, 2011

OUMAR ABDALLAH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ALLEGHENY VALLEY SCHOOL ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Petrese B. Tucker, U.S.D.J.

MEMORANDUM Tucker, J. January 2011

Presently before this Court is Defendant Defendant Allegeheny Valley School's Motion To Dismiss Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Doc. 8) and Plaintiff Oumar Abdallah's Response in Opposition thereto (Doc. 9). Upon review of the parties submissions and for the reasons set forth below, the Motion will be denied in part and granted in part.

I. BACKGROUND

The following facts are alleged in the Complaint. Defendant Staffing Plus Inc. is a staffing agency that places employees with employers in the greater Philadelphia area. (Compl. ¶8.) Plaintiff, a "Black male who was born in Africa and raised Muslim" was hired by Defendant Staffing Plus and placed for employment with Defendant Allegeheny Valley School. ("AVS") (Compl. ¶¶ 13-14.) Defendant AVS is an entity that operates group homes for individuals with developmental disabilities. (Compl.¶ 7.) These group homes provide these individuals with an opportunity to live with peers in homes located in the greater Philadelphia area. (Compl.¶ 7.)

For approximately one (1) year, Plaintiff was employed as a residential aide at Defendant

AVS's Tremont Avenue facility. (Compl. ¶¶15-16.) While Defendant was employed there, AVS treated Plaintiff as an employee, directed his daily responsibilities and required that he adhere to its policies and directions during his tenure there. (Compl. ¶ 10.) Defendant Staffing Plus hired Plaintiff and placed him in AVS's employee. (Compl. ¶ 9.) Additionally, Defendant Staffing Plus paid Plaintiff's salary and also required him to follow its directions. (Compl. ¶ 9.)

In accordance with his religious beliefs, Plaintiff regularly prays at different occasions throughout the day. (Compl. ¶17.) His prayers last three to five minutes. (Compl. ¶17.) Plaintiff avers that while employed by Defendants he used his breaks to engage in his prayers. (Compl.¶ 18.) According to Plaintiff, his immediate supervisors knew of this practice. (Compl. ¶18.) On or about August 4, 2009, while Plaintiff was praying in an empty and unutilized room, Monica (last name unknown), a director at Defendant AVS's facility directed Plaintiff to stop praying immediately and leave the room. (Compl. ¶19-21.) Subsequently, another supervisor gave Plaintiff permission to use another area for his prayers. (Compl. ¶ 21.) Monica again saw Plaintiff completing his prayers and became visibly upset. (Compl.¶ 22.) Consequently, Plaintiff informed Monica that other supervisors allowed him to engage in his daily prayers. (Compl. ¶23.) At this point, Plaintiff was terminated for insubordination. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Monica "made discriminatory remarks towards him stating that Christians, such as her, do not pray during workdays." (Compl. ¶24.)

Plaintiff avers that he was terminated because of his religion and/or because of his request for religious accommodation. (Compl. ¶26.) He further alleges that Defendants unlawfully denied him a religious accommodation that was reasonable and not an undue burden. (Compl. ¶¶27.) Plaintiff further contends he was wrongfully terminated because of his race, ethnic characteristics, and/or ancestry. (Compl.¶ 34.)

Count I of the Complaint alleges that Defendants discriminated against Plaintiff because of his Muslim religion, denied him a religious accommodation and ultimately wrongfully terminated him in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C.§ 2000e et seq. Count II of the Complaint alleges that Defendants discriminated against Plaintiff because of his Muslim religion, denied him a religious accommodation and ultimately wrongfully terminated him in violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 Pa Const. Stat § 955(a). Count III of the Complaint alleges that Defendants discriminated against Plaintiff and wrongfully terminated him because of his race, ethnic characteristics and/or ancestry, as his religion is part of the same in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

For the reasons explained herein, the Court will deny Defendant Allegheny School's Motion as to Count I and will grant the Motion as to Count III.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Federal Rule 12(b)(6)

On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), the court is required to accept as true all allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and to view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 (3d Cir. 1994). A complaint should be dismissed only if the alleged facts, taken as true, fail to state a claim. See In re Warfarin Sodium Antitrust Litig., 214 F.3d 395, 397-98 (3d Cir. 2000). The question is whether the claimant can prove any set of facts consistent with his or her allegations that will entitle him or her to relief, not whether that person will ultimately prevail. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); Semerenko v. Cendant Corp., 223 F.3d 165, 173 (3d Cir. 2000).

While a court will accept well-pled allegations as true for the purposes of the motion, it will not accept bald assertions, unsupported conclusions, unwarranted inferences, or sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations. Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). The United States Supreme Court has recognized that "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly et.al., 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). In Twombly the Court made clear that it would not require a "heightened fact pleading of specifics," but only "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. A "pleader is ...


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