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Sherry Dupont v. the Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

January 11, 2012

SHERRY DUPONT,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE SLIPPERY ROCK UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA, ET AL.
DEFENDANTS.



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

ELECTRONICALLY FILED MEMORANDUM OPINION RE: DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS COUNTS III AND IV (DOC. NO. 4)

I. Introduction

Presently before the Court is the Motion of Defendants William Williams, Robert M. Smith, and C. Jay Hertzog ("individual Defendants") to Dismiss Counts III and IV of Plaintiff Sherry DuPont's ("Plaintiff's") Complaint. Doc. No. 4. The parties' dispute centers on The Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania ("Slippery Rock") denying Plaintiff's application for promotion from associate professor to full professor. On September 30, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission ("PHRC") alleging discrimination based on her age and sex. Doc. No. 5, Ex. A. The individual Defendants were not named or mentioned in the Complaint.*fn1 Id. On August 12, 2011, the EEOC issued a right to sue letter to Plaintiff. Doc. No. 1, ¶ 8.

On November 10, 2011, Plaintiff filed suit in this Court based on the federal questions involved and this Court's supplemental jurisdiction. Doc. No. 1, ¶ 6. Count I of the Complaint alleges that Slippery Rock violated Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., by discriminating against her on the basis of age. Id. ¶¶ 57-64. Count II of the Complaint alleges that Slippery Rock violated Title IX, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., by discriminating against her on the basis of sex. Id. ¶¶ 65-75. Count III of the Complaint alleges that the individual Defendants violated the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa.C.S. § 951 et seq., by discriminating against her on the basis of sex. Id. ¶¶ 76-85. Count IV of the Complaint alleges that the individual Defendants violated the PHRA, 43 Pa.C.S. § 951 et seq., by discriminating against her on the basis of age. Id. ¶¶ 86-95. On December 15, 2011, the individual Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the PHRA counts (Counts III and IV) in Plaintiff's Complaint asserting that she failed to state a claim for which relief can be granted because the individual Defendants were not named in the EEOC Complaint. Doc. No. 4; Doc. No. 5. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 4) will be GRANTED.

II. Factual Background

When reviewing a Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court accepts all factual allegations in the Complaint as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the Plaintiff. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). Taking the Plaintiff's factual allegations to be true for the purposes of this Memorandum Opinion, the facts of this case are as follows:

Plaintiff is a 56-year-old female associate professor in the Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education. Doc. No. 1, ¶¶ 1, 11; Doc. No. 5, Ex. A. She has taught in the department for over 20 years. Doc. No. 1, ¶ 9. Plaintiff has applied for promotion to full professor every year since 2001. Id. ¶ 41. She has been recommended for promotion every year from 2001-2010 by her department chair and her department's promotions committee. Id. ¶ 36. The Dean of Slippery Rock's College of Education has recommended her for promotion every year since 2004. Id. ¶¶ 37-39. Plaintiff was recommended for promotion by the university-wide promotion committee in 2001 and 2002. Id. ¶ 40. She has not been recommended by that committee since 2002. Id. ¶ 41.

Applicants for tenure at Slippery Rock are evaluated on effective teaching and fulfillment of professional responsibilities, continuing scholarly growth, and service to the University. Id. ¶ 16. Plaintiff has excelled in all three of these areas during her time at the University. Id. ¶¶ 21-34. Faculty members who are male and/or younger than the Plaintiff have been promoted to full professor during the time period Plaintiff has been denied promotion to full professor. Id. ¶ 47. Some of these professors do not have the same scholarly record as the Plaintiff. Id. ¶¶ 48, 51. Plaintiff has had her applications for promotion to full professor denied every year since 2001. Id. ¶ 41. The individual Defendants have participated in the decision not to promote her to full professor. Id. ¶ 55. These decisions have been based on her age and sex. Id. ¶ 56.

III. Standard of Review

A.Rule 12(b)(6)

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), civil Complaints must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." A Complaint may be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) if it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.544, 570 (2007)).*fn2

To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a claim for relief now "requires more than labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1948 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While Rule 8 was "a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era," it does not "unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950.

Building upon the landmark United States Supreme Court decisions in Twombly and Iqbal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit 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." Second, the court should identify allegations that, "because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." 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." 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 then (3) looking ...


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