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Sanders-Darigo v. Careersusa

March 1, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Anita B. Brody, J.


Plaintiff Michele Sanders-Darigo brings suit against Defendant CareersUSA alleging discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.; the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.; and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 951 et seq. Additionally, Sanders-Darigo brings a claim against CareersUSA for violation of the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq. I exercise federal question jurisdiction over Sanders-Darigo's ADEA, ADA, and FMLA claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and supplemental jurisdiction over her PHRA claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. CareersUSA has filed a Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Motion to Transfer. For the reasons set forth below, I will grant CareersUSA's motion to transfer.


A. Factual Background*fn1

Michele Sanders-Darigo is forty-three years old. She began working for CareersUSA as a Regional Director for the Feasterville, Pennsylvania and Cherry Hill, New Jersey branches of CareersUSA in February 2008.

On February 25, 2008, Sanders-Darigo entered into a Confidentiality and Non-Compete Agreement (the "Agreement") with CareersUSA. Def.'s Mot. Ex. D. Paragraph 17 of the Agreement provides:

This Agreement is being executed in, and its validity, interpretation, performance and effect shall be governed in accordance with the laws of the State of Florida. Any proceeding arising between the parties in any manner or related to this Agreement shall to the extent permitted by law be brought in Palm Beach County, Florida. Def.'s Mot. Ex. D.

In early 2008, Sanders-Darigo began having severe uterine bleeding that caused her to experience lethargy, headaches, urinary incontinence, heart palpations, hot flashes, depression, insomnia, severe pain, and a marked decline in energy.

In October 2008, Sanders-Darigo advised her supervisors that she needed to have a hysterectomy in November 2008 because she was experiencing severe uterine bleeding, and that the surgery would require her to be out of work for six to eight weeks. Immediately after Sanders-Darigo informed her supervisors of the surgery, they began treating he differently by doing such things as changing her job title, drastically reducing her commission structure, subjecting her to constant scrutiny, questioning her job performance, and undermining her authority with her subordinates. Additionally, Sanders-Darigo was assigned sales goals that were unreasonable and unobtainable, she was not reimbursed for her marketing expenses, and she was not given credit for her marketing ideas. As a result of this treatment, Sanders-Darigo chose to postpone her surgery until February 2009.

In February 2009, Sanders-Darigo requested leave under the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") due to her condition. Additionally, on February 2, 2009, Sanders-Darigo requested an accommodation of working less than full time. CareersUSA did not respond to her request. After her surgery, Sanders-Darigo requested an additional one week extension to her leave, which CareersUSA denied.

When Sanders-Darigo was on leave she was advised that she was the subject of an investigation and that her job was in jeopardy. However, she was never told why she was being investigated and the investigation never resulted in disciplinary action.

When Sanders-Darigo returned from leave, she was demoted, given extra job duties, advised that her job was in jeopardy, and accused of "bad mouthing" the company. Her base salary was reduced by 30%, even though other CareersUSA employees only received base pay reductions of between 4%-10%. Additionally, Sanders-Darigo was relocated from her office in Cherry Hill, New Jersey to an office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania despite the fact that her office location was a term of her employment with CareersUSA. This change in office location resulted in Sanders-Diego having to pay Philadelphia wage tax.

On May 22, 2009, Sanders-Darigo submitted a written complaint of discrimination to Vice President, Administrator Marnie Bauman. CareersUSA did not investigate her complaint.

In July 2009, Sanders-Darigo needed to undergo a second surgery for her condition; therefore, she requested FMLA leave. Additionally, she requested an accommodation of working less than full time when she first returned to work after the surgery. After these requests were made, CareersUSA harassed Sanders-Darigo. Despite complaints about this harassment to Bauman, the negative treatment continued.

During her second leave, Sanders-Darigo spoke with Bauman on a regular basis. Bauman informed her that her job would be available when she returned, and told her, "you may return to work when you are healthy." Compl. ΒΆ 40. At some point, Sanders-Darigo informed CareersUSA that she might be able to return to work on September 9, 2009. She was ...

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