The opinion of the court was delivered by: (judge Richard P. Conaboy)
Here we consider Defendant, Pocono Medical Center's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Doc. 13) filed on August 30, 2012, and accompanied by a supporting brief (Doc. 14). Plaintiff filed Plaintiff's Brief in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Her First Amended Complaint (Doc. 11) on September 28, 2012, after being granted an extension of time within which to do so (Doc. 21). Defendant did not file a reply brief and the time for doing so as passed. Therefore, this matter is ripe for disposition.
With this motion, Defendant seeks dismissal of all claims in Plaintiff's First Amended Civil Action Complaint which contains four counts: Count I - Title VII National Origin Discrimination; Count II - ADEA Age Discrimination; Count III - Title VII Retaliation; and Count IV - Wrongful Discharge. (Doc. 11.) The Court has accepted the parties' stipulation that Plaintiff is withdrawing her Wrongful Discharge claim, Count IV of her Amended Complaint. (See Docs. 22, 23.) Therefore, we will address the remaining three claims in this Memorandum. For the reasons discussed below, we grant the motion in part and deny it in part.
Plaintiff is over forty years of age and is originally from the United Kingdom. (Doc. 11 ¶ 16.) She began her employment with Defendant as a registered nurse in the emergency room in February 2002. (Doc. 11 ¶ 17.)
In May of 2011, Plaintiff was called into "a so-called 'informal meeting'" with her director, Edward Knuth, Pat Casole, and Pat Watkins and was questioned about her name being in a patient's chart. (Doc. 11 ¶ 19.) The patient was a hospital employee admitted to the emergency room on April 25, 2011. (Doc. 11 ¶ 24.) Plaintiff was accused of violating HIPAA by allegedly accessing the patient's chart. (Doc. 11 ¶ 20.) Plaintiff was not involved in the patient's care. (Doc. 11 ¶ 21.) Plaintiff avers that she had never reviewed the chart and had no knowledge as to how her name was in the chart. (Doc. 11 ¶ 22.) She also avers that there are many ways someone else could have used Plaintiff's computer "or initiated some other mechanism by which Plaintiff's name was involuntarily placed in the patient's chart." (Doc. 11 ¶ 23.) At the meeting, Plaintiff said she knew nothing about the patient and denied accusations of "snooping" in the chart. (Doc. 11 ¶ 25-26.)
Several weeks later, Plaintiff was called to a formal meeting with Everett Saunders, Clinical Supervisor for the night shift, and Karen Giaquinto, Director of Compensation and Benefits. (Doc. 11 ¶ 28.) Plaintiff's union representative accompanied Plaintiff to this meeting. (Doc. 11 ¶ 29.) Plaintiff again denied allegations of wrongdoing. (Doc. 11 ¶ 30.) Plaintiff was not given an option to see where her name appeared in the chart. (Doc. 11 ¶ 33.)
At her termination hearing on May 30, 2011, Plaintiff learned that her name had not appeared in the body of the chart but was in the lab results section. (Doc. 11 ¶ 34.) She also learned that approximately 25 names appeared on the chart and only four people (three nurses and a secretary) were disciplined. (Doc. 11 ¶ 35.)
All of the individuals disciplined and terminated as a result of their names appearing in the chart were over forty years of age. (Doc. 11 ¶ 37.) Upon information and belief, Plaintiff avers that her replacement was under the age of forty and not from the United Kingdon. (Doc. 11 ¶ 38.)
Plaintiff also alleges that she was improperly targeted because of a previous incident where she refused to criminally alter medical records. (Doc. 11 ¶ 42.) In the earlier incident, Plaintiff was terminated for accusing management of requesting that Plaintiff make an alteration to a medical record, something she asserts she had refused to do. (Doc. 11 ¶ 39.) Pursuant to an arbitration award, Plaintiff got her job back and received sufficient back pay to make her whole. (Doc. 11 ¶ 40.) Plaintiff avers that her return to work in December 2010 caused management "significant consternation." (Doc. 11 ¶ 41.) Deb Racke, a night clinical supervisor, was the individual who accused Plaintiff of falsely accusing management and was also involved in the accusations related to the patient's chart which resulted in Plaintiff's second termination. (Doc. 11 ¶ 43.)
A. Motion to Dismiss Standard
In a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the defendant bears the burden of showing that no claim has been presented. Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc., 926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991)).
When reviewing a complaint pursuant to a defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim filed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court does so in the context of the requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) which requires only "a short and plain statement of the claims showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." The "short and plain statement" must be sufficient to "give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it ...