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Robert A. Mariotti, Sr v. Mariotti Building Products

July 8, 2011

ROBERT A. MARIOTTI, SR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
MARIOTTI BUILDING PRODUCTS, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is defendant Mariotti Building Products, Inc.'s ("MBP") motion to dismiss plaintiff Robert Mariotti's amended complaint. (Doc. 22.) Mr. Mariotti essentially claims that MBP officers and directors harassed and ultimately fired him because of his religious affiliation in violation of federal and state antidiscrimination laws. MBP contends that this a family dispute, not a legal one. Specifically, it argues that the complaint should be dismissed for three reasons. First, Mr. Mariotti was not an employee under Title VII. Second, he has failed to adequately allege a "hostile work environment." Third, the Court should not exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims. The Court agrees and will grant MBP's motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

Mr. Mariotti's amended complaint alleges the following.

Mr. Mariotti's father, Louis S. Mariotti, founded MBP under the name Locket Lumber in August 29, 1947. Mr. Mariotti and his two brothers joined the business in the 1960s. Over the subsequent forty years, MBP's annual sales grew from less than two-hundred and fifty-thousand dollars ($250,000.00) to over sixty-million ($60,000,000.00). In his over forty-five years with the MBP, Mr. Mariotti developed a number of MBP's business areas. He trained staff in the day to day management of several product lines. He also principally managed the manufactured housing sales division, as well as customer credit, bill paying, purchasing, and the inbound transportation of product lines. As one of MBP's "founders" who "built the business," Mr. Mariotti served on the Board of Directors until August 6, 2009, and held the positions of Vice President and Secretary.

In 1995, after experiencing a "spiritual awakening," Mr. Mariotti began participating in the religious activities "Our Father's Divine Work" -- a Roman Catholic lay ministry founded by Mary Ellen Lukas. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Mariotti switched Church affiliations. He began attending mass at St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church and stopped going to St. Mary's, the Mariotti family church. Subsequently, MBP officers and directors continually teased and taunted Plaintiff about his new spiritual orientation. They frequently referred to Mr. Mariotti as "Reverend Bob," and often insinuated that Ms. Lukas' lay ministry was a cult controlling Mr. Mariotti. MBP also stopped providing "Our Father's Divine Work" with special pricing, a favor routinely granted to charities and non-profit organizations. MBP officers were also openly hostile to Ms. Lukas. After Mr. Mariotti's wife passed away, Mr. Mariotti's sister-in-law told Ms. Lukas she was not welcome at the funeral despite Mr. Mariotti's wishes.

The tension over Mr. Mariotti's involvement with "Our Father's Divine Work" erupted in January 2009 at the funeral of Mr. Mariotti's father. Plaintiff's brother Eugene Mariotti Sr. made derogatory comments about Catholicism and also yelled at Mr. Mariotti for traveling separately to the service. Mr. Mariotti's heavily religious eulogy angered his family members. Shortly after the service, Mr. Mariotti received text messages from upset family members deriding his remarks. A few days later, a fax informed Mr. Mariotti that the shareholders had called an emergency meeting and unanimously voted to terminate him.

Mr. Mariotti then brought this suit after filing complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission. In his amended complaint, Mr. Mariotti brings the following claims: religious discrimination and hostile work environment under Title VII (counts I and II); religious discrimination under the Pennsylvania Human Rights Act ("PHRA") (count III); breach of employment agreement (count IV); unlawful termination (count V); and ultra vires action without proper notice (count VI). MBP then filed its motion to dismiss. The motion has been fully 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).

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 fails to state a claim. See Gould Elecs. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000).

DISCUSSION

I. Mr. Mariotti's Title VII Religious Discrimination Claim

The Court will dismiss Mr. Mariotti's Title VII religious discrimination claim because he was not an "employee" at the ...


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