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William Dove v. Community Education Centers Inc.

November 5, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Buckwalter, S.J.


Currently pending before the Court is Defendant Community Education Center's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint. For the following reasons, the Motion is denied.


This suit arises from the alleged hostility Plaintiff William Dove faced and his eventual termination from his position as a prison guard at Defendant George W. Hill Correctional Facility. (Compl. ¶¶ 10, 19, 23.) According to the facts set forth in the Complaint, Mr. Dove was hired by Defendant in or about early May, 2010. (Id. ¶ 11.) From early 2010 through early 2011, Dove was recognized as doing his job well, and he was rewarded with placement in a guard unit overseeing some of the most dangerous offenders in the prison, including convicted murderers. (Id. ¶ 13.)

In or about February, 2011, Mr. Dove informed his management that he was dealing with depression and seeing a psychiatrist. (Id. ¶ 14.) He also informed management that he needed to take some time off from work for health reasons. (Id.) He missed two weeks of work during February of 2011, but provided management with medical documentation indicating the need for light duty on a temporary basis. (Id. ¶ 15.) From March, 2011 through June, 2011, Mr. Dove requested intermittent time off from work to deal with his health issues, which included depression, anxiety, and bi-polar disorder. (Id. ¶¶ 16, 18.) At the same time, he confided in management about his medical treatment and complained about discriminatory treatment he received as a result of his health problems. (Id. ¶ 18.) The type of hostility included (1) being subject to unfair, inaccurate, and disparate discipline; (2) being subject to disparaging comments about his mental health problems, including being openly referred to by his management as "crazy;" (3) being given inferior work assignments even when light duty was unnecessary; (4) being told he would never work in his prior unit again; and (5) being treated in a hostile and demeaning manner "in many other ways." (Id. ¶ 20.)

Plaintiff was terminated on July 1, 2011, allegedly for failing to keep a control room door secured on or about June 27, 2011. (Id. ¶ 21--22.) Dove alleges that other guards had engaged in similar conduct but were not terminated from their positions. (Id. ¶ 24.) He claims the real reason for his termination was because of his health problems, his complaints of discriminatory treatment, and for his requests for short-term and intermittent leave. (Id. ¶ 25.)

Plaintiff brought suit on August 2, 2012, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et. seq., the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et. seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. § 951 et. seq. Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's FMLA claims on October 1, 2012.

Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition on October 15, and Defendant filed a Reply on November 1, making this matter ripe for consideration.


Under Rule 12(b)(6), a defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that the plaintiff has not stated a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P.12(b)(6); see also Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). In Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), the United States Supreme Court recognized that "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 555. Following these basic dictates, the Supreme Court, in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), subsequently defined a two-pronged approach to a court's review of a motion to dismiss. "First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. at 678. Thus, although "Rule 8 marks 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." Id. at 678--79. Second, the Supreme Court emphasized that "only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. at 679. "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will, as the Court of Appeals observed, be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. A complaint does not show an entitlement to relief when the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct. Id.; see also Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232--34 (3d Cir. 2008) (holding that: (1) factual allegations of complaint must provide notice to defendant; (2) complaint must allege facts suggestive of the proscribed conduct; and (3) the complaint's "'factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level'") (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555)).

Notwithstanding these new dictates, the basic tenets of the Rule 12(b)(6) standard of review have remained static. Spence v. Brownsville Area Sch. Dist., No. Civ.A.08-626, 2008 WL 2779079, at *2 (W.D. Pa. July 15, 2008). The general rules of pleading still require only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief and need not contain detailed factual allegations. Phillips, 515 F.3d at 233. Further, the court must "accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006). Finally, the court must "determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Pinkerton v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002).


Plaintiff brings suit under the FMLA for (1) interference with his FMLA rights and (2) retaliation for exercising those rights. ...

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