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Cynthia Little v. the Chambersburg Hospital

March 28, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. John E. Jones III



Before the court in this employment discrimination matter is the Motion to Dismiss of the Defendant, The Chambersburg Hospital. (Doc. 13). The Motion has been fully briefed and is thus ripe for review. For all of the reasons detailed herein, we will grant the Defendant's Motion in its entirety and dismiss the Plaintiff's Amended Complaint with prejudice.


In accordance with the standard of review applicable to a motion to dismiss, the following facts are derived from the Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint and viewed in a light most favorable to the Plaintiff.

The Plaintiff, Cynthia Little ("Plaintiff"), is an adult female who began working for the Defendant, Chambersburg Hospital ("Defendant"), in August of 2008. (Doc. 8, ¶¶ 2, 17). The Defendant Hospital is an acute, not-for-profit hospital existing and operating under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶ 3). The Defendant maintains a sufficient number of employees to satisfy the jurisdictional and statutory requirements of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ("Title VII"), the Age Discrimination and Employment Act ("the ADEA"), and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("the PHRA"). (Id. ¶¶ 5-7).

Plaintiff commenced employment with the Defendant in August of 2008, when she was placed in the Defendant's newly-hired nurse orientation program for the Defendant's operating room. (Id. ¶ 17). On October 9, 2009, Greg Salazar, a surgical technician in the Defendant's employ, called Plaintiff an "old lady." (Id. ¶

30). In November 2009, the Defendant "denied Plaintiff an employment opportunity by complaining that he wanted a more experienced circulator in his [operating] room." (Id. ¶ 31). At some point thereafter, "Lori Andrews advised [Plaintiff] that Dr. Klinko preferred the younger nurses, and because Plaintiff was older, she did not 'go along' with his behavior like the younger nurses did." (Id. ¶ 33).

In December of 2009, Plaintiff witnessed Dr. Tajkarimi displaying posters mocking a West African male employee in the Defendant's computer room. (Id. ¶ 19). On December 3, 2009, in Plaintiff's presence, Dr. Tajkarimi asked a surgical technician, Courtney Soult, whether she had ever had sexual intercourse with another woman. (Id. ¶ 20). Plaintiff complained about the incident. (Id. ¶ 21). Plaintiff was, at some point thereafter, placed in a "bogus" performance improvement plan and switched to day shift. (Id.). Plaintiff was also demoted, although she does not state to what position, her pay was reduced, and she was "forced to work with a perceptor" and work variable hours. (Id. ¶¶ 22, 23).

On January 27, 2010, Plaintiff overheard Drs. Tajkarimi and Klinko ask a different female perceptor whether she had sexual intercourse the preceding evening. (Id. ¶ 24). Dr. Tajkarimi began to comment further, "but then stopped and said that he would continue to comment, but that he 'was reported to the union by that little jerkoff Cindy Little.'" (Id. ¶ 25). Dr. Tajkarimi asked Plaintiff why she had reported him, and then commented to Dr. Klinko that he did not want Plaintiff in his operating room. (Id. ¶¶ 26-27). Plaintiff reported this incident to the operating room manager, who took no responsive action. (Id. ¶ 27). As a result of these four incidents, Plaintiff "had no choice but to quit her employment with Defendant on February 24, 2010 because there was no improvement in the working condition." (Id. ¶ 36).

Prior to commencement of this action, the Plaintiff filed a timely written charge of discrimination with the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("the EEOC") alleging violations of Title VII, the ADEA, and the PHRA, and with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. (Id. ¶ 14). The EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue to the Plaintiff on June 30, 2011, and Plaintiff filed a timely initial Complaint in this Court on September 29, 2011. (Doc. 1). On December 27, 2011, the Plaintiff filed her First Amended Complaint. (Doc. 8). The Defendant filed the instant Motion to Dismiss on January 10, 2012, and on January 24, 2012, filed a brief in support of said Motion. (Docs. 13, 14). Plaintiff filed an opposition brief on February 10, 2012, and the Defendant filed a brief in response on February 24, 2012. (Docs. 19, 20). Accordingly, the instant Motion is fully briefed and ripe for review.


In considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), courts "accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Pinker v. Roche Holdings, Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)). In resolving a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court generally should consider only the allegations in the complaint, as well as "documents that are attached or submitted with the complaint, . . . and any matters incorporated by reference or integral to the claim, items subject to judicial notice, matters of public record, orders, [and] items appearing in the record of the case." Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006).

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the sufficiency of the complaint against the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a). Rule 8(a)(2) requires that a complaint contain 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 upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss need not contain detailed factual allegations, it must contain "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.' " Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. ___, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). To survive a motion to dismiss, a civil plaintiff must allege facts that "raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . ." Victaulic Co. v. Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 235 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Accordingly, to satisfy the plausibility standard, the complaint must indicate that defendant's liability is more ...

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