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Nereida Rosa v. Pocono Medical Center

April 29, 2011

NEREIDA ROSA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
POCONO MEDICAL CENTER, KATHLEEN E. KUCK, AND BETH KERN-SKRAPITS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (judge Caputo)

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Specifically, Defendants move to strike from the complaint any allegations of actions that took place beyond the three-hundred day (300) period provided for by Title VII and to strike Plaintiff's claim for punitive damages under Title VII. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

The facts alleged in the Complaint are as follows.

Plaintiff Nereida Rosa is a Hispanic female of Puerto Rican national origin and is a citizen of Pennsylvania. Plaintiff was an employee of Pocono Medical Center in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania from July 1989 until June 2009. Plaintiff was initially hired as an "Atlas Abstractor" and was eventually promoted to Lead Abstractor. Defendant Pocono Medical Center is a Pennsylvania corporation. Defendant Kathleen E. Kuck is a citizen of Pennsylvania who at the times relevant to this action was employed as President and CEO of Pocono Medical Center. Defendant Beth Kern-Skrapits is a citizen of Pennsylvania who at the times relevant to this action was employed as Director of Quality Management by Pocono Medical Center.

At all relevant times, Plaintiff maintained satisfactory work habits and job performance. Beginning around April 2005 and continuing through June 20009, employees and supervisors of Pocono Medical Center subjected the Plaintiff to intentional discrimination based on her ethnic\national origin, including: making derogatory comments about Plaintiff's nationality; telling Plaintiff she did not understand English; denying Plaintiff a promotion, despite her favorable job evaluations; reducing Plaintiff to a part-time position after she protested about discriminatory statements; forcing Plaintiff to work in basement while other employees with less seniority worked upstairs; and denying Plaintiff opportunity for advancement. Defendant Kern-Skrapits also refused to train or assign Plaintiff to the Quantros system of coding, and would often remark that Plaintiff couldn't be trained or promoted because of Plaintiff's "language barrier" or because of her "English." When Plaintiff complained about the discrimination to Defendants Kern-Skrapits and Kuck, the complaints were not addressed or investigated, rather, Plaintiff was further excluded, marginalized, and harassed. On January 9, 2009, after Plaintiff was demoted to part-time status as retaliation for her complaints by Defendant Kern-Skrapits, Defendant Skrapits told Plaintiff to "go home and have some wine the way your people do." On January 27, 2009, Plaintiff, through counsel, sent a letter to Pocono medical Center complaining of retaliation and discrimination. (Pl. Ex. "A"). On June 9, 2009, Plaintiff was terminated on false and pretextual reasons.

Plaintiff field a complaint jointly with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission("PHRC") on July 22, 2009.

After receiving a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC on October 12, 2010, Plaintiff filed her Complaint on January 5, 2011. The action was therefore filed within ninety (90) days of receipt of the right-to-sue notice, a necessary prerequisite to bringing suit in federal court under Title VII. Further, the suit was brought over one year after the filing with the PHRC, as required by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA").

In the instant suit, Plaintiff has brought the following claims: racial discrimination and hostile work environment under Title VII (Count I); retaliation under Title VII (Count II); racial discrimination and hostile work environment under the PHRA (Count III); retaliation under the PHRA (Count IV); aiding and abetting under the PHRA (Count V); and punitive damages. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on March 28, 2011. (Doc. 5.) The motion has been briefed and is ripe for review.

LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Dismissal is appropriate only if, accepting as true all the facts alleged in the complaint, a plaintiff has not pleaded "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), meaning enough factual allegations "'to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of'" each necessary element, Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); see also Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (requiring a complaint to set forth information from which each element of a claim may be inferred). In light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), the statement need only "'give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "[T]he factual detail in a complaint [must not be] so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant [with] the type of notice of claim which is contemplated by Rule 8." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 232; see also Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007).

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court should consider the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, and matters of public record. See Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). The Court may also consider "undisputedly authentic" documents when the plaintiff's claims are based on the documents and the defendant has attached copies of the documents to the motion to dismiss. Id. The Court need not assume the plaintiff can prove facts that were not alleged in the complaint, see City of Pittsburgh v. W. Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 263 & n.13 (3d Cir. 1998), or credit a complaint's "'bald assertions'" or "'legal conclusions,'" Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1429-30 (3d Cir. 1997)). "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009).

When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court's role is limited to determining if a plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence in support of her claims. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). The Court does not consider whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail. See id. A defendant bears the burden of establishing that a plaintiff's complaint ...


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