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Gilbert L. West v. the Prudential Insurance Company

June 30, 2011

GILBERT L. WEST, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE COMPANY,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge

ELECTRONICALLY FILED

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This lawsuit initiated by pro se Plaintiff, Gilbert L. West, alleged that Defendant, The Prudential Insurance Company, violated The Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 ("ADAAA"), the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), and other state based statutes, when Defendant refused to hire Plaintiff for a job. See doc. no. 1. Plaintiff timely filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") claiming there, as here, that he was a qualified individual with a disability as defined by the ADAAA.

Plaintiff received his right to sue letter and he filed his Complaint with this Court within the proscribed time frame. Defendant has filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint claiming Plaintiff failed to raise a justiciable claim. Doc. no. 10. Plaintiff filed a Response to the Motion (doc. no. 12) and Defendant filed a Reply Brief after seeking and obtaining Court permission to do so. Doc. no. 18. The matter is now ripe for adjudication.

I. Factual Background*fn1

In his Complaint, Plaintiff indicates that on December 10, 2009 he responded to an online job offer posted by Defendant. Doc. No. 1, ¶ 12. A few days after he completed the application, he was contacted by Defendant and an initial interview was scheduled. Id. at ¶ 14.

During his initial interview, Plaintiff met with an agent of Defendant and completed a test which the interviewer administered. Id. at ¶¶ 15-16. The next day Plaintiff was contacted by Defendant and was asked to return for another interview. Id. at ¶ 17.

Plaintiff then met with a different agent of Defendant who discussed some additional insurance industry examinations. Id. at ¶18. During this meeting, Plaintiff was asked to compile a list of two hundred prospective clients; and from the list of two hundred, he was to designate fifty who were likely to do business with Plaintiff "sooner rather than later;" and from the list of fifty, he was to designate twenty who were ready to "buy now." Id. at ¶¶ 19-22. After Plaintiff timely completed this assignment, he was called by Defendant for a third interview. Id. at ¶¶ 23-25. During this interview, Defendant described the benefits available and asked Plaintiff about his felony conviction which Plaintiff had described in his application. Id. at ¶¶ 26-27.

Defendant‟s agent admitted Defendant‟s investigators could not find any evidence of Plaintiff‟s criminal conviction, so Plaintiff presented copies of various documents pertaining to his criminal history and rehabilitation. Id. at ¶¶ 27-30. Plaintiff was informed that Defendant would need time to review the new information. Id. at 31. Plaintiff contacted Defendant by telephone to inquire as to a start date, and in response received a letter from Defendant indicating that Defendant "decided not to hire" Plaintiff for a position based on information received as part of the "Pre-Hire process". Id. at ¶ 36.

Plaintiff filed this lawsuit primarily alleging that Defendant violated the ADAAA for failing to hire him due to his felony conviction. Id. at ¶¶ 37-38 and Count I, generally. Plaintiff also alleged that the actions taken by Defendant violated the PHRA.*fn2 See Count II, generally.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, federal courts require notice pleading, as opposed to the heightened standard of fact pleading. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only ""a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,‟ in order to "give the defendant fair notice of what the .claim is and the grounds on which it rests.‟" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).

Building upon the landmark United States Supreme Court decisions in Twombly, 550 U.S. 54 and Aschroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1947 (2009), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, recently explained that a District Court must take three steps to determine the sufficiency of a complaint:

First, the court must "tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1947 (2009). Second, the court should identify allegations that, "because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.‟ Id. at 1950. Third, "whe[n] there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief.‟ Id. This means that our inquiry is normally broken into three parts: (1) identifying the elements of the claim, (2) reviewing the complaint to strike conclusory allegations, and ...


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