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Kathy Blackman v. Lincoln National Corporation

December 10, 2012

KATHY BLACKMAN
v.
LINCOLN NATIONAL CORPORATION, ET AL.



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

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court are Defendant Lincoln National Corporation's Motion for Partial Dismissal of Complaint (ECF No. 4) and Plaintiff's Opposition to Partial Dismissal, or in the alternative, Plaintiff's request for leave to amend the Complaint (ECF No. 6).*fn1 For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion for Partial Dismissal will be granted and Plaintiff's request to amend will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND*fn2

Plaintiff Kathy Blackman files this employment discrimination case against her former employers, Defendants Lincoln National Corporation and Lincoln Financial Group, LLC.*fn3

Defendant Lincoln National is an Indiana Corporation with its principal place of business in Radnor, Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 1.) Defendant Lincoln Financial is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Radnor, Pennsylvania. (Id. at ¶ 5.) Plaintiff is an Illinois resident, and previously worked for Defendants at Defendants' Illinois office from 2004 to 2009. (Id. at ¶¶ 1, 22, 35 & Ex. 1.)

Plaintiff alleges that she was subjected to discrimination on the basis of her sex and age by Defendants and that Defendants retaliated against her by terminating her employment in 2009. Plaintiff was hired by Defendants in June 2004 and was promoted to Divisional Sales Manager in June 2006. (Id. at ¶ 22.) After being demoted, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on May 20, 2008, alleging discrimination based on her sex. (Id. at ¶¶ 33-34 & Ex. 1.) The charge was cross-filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission ("PHRC").*fn4 (Id. at ¶ 18.) Plaintiff was notified in April 2009 that she would be terminated effective June 29, 2009. (Id. at ¶ 35.) On July 6, 2009, Plaintiff filed a second charge of discrimination with the EEOC alleging discrimination based upon her age and sex, and retaliation. (Id. at ¶ 19 & Ex. 2.) The second charge was also cross-filed with the PHRC. (Id.) On September 3, 2010, the EEOC issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights to Plaintiff regarding both of her charges of discrimination. (Id. at ¶ 20.) On September 28, 2010, the PHRC notified Plaintiff that her complaint had been closed "administratively." (Pl.'s Resp. Ex. C.)

Plaintiff commenced this action on November 29, 2010, alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. (Count I), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621, et seq. ("ADEA") (Count II), and the PHRA, 43 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 951, et seq. ("PHRA") (Count III). Defendant Lincoln National moves to dismiss Count III of the Complaint, arguing that the PHRA does not apply to individuals that neither reside nor work in Pennsylvania.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A complaint, or any part of a complaint, may be dismissed for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Courts need not accept "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements . . . ." Id. "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Id. at 1950. This "'does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage,' but instead 'simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the necessary elements." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) requires that leave to amend the pleadings be granted freely "when justice so requires." See also Long v. Wilson, 393 F.3d 390, 400 (3d Cir. 2004). A district court is justified in denying leave to amend a pleading if the amendment would be futile. Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 115 (3d Cir. 2000). "Futility" means that the "complaint, as amended, would fail to state a claim upon which relief could be granted." Id.

III. DISCUSSION

Defendant argues that Count III of the Complaint should be dismissed on the grounds that Plaintiff cannot state a claim for a violation of the PHRA. Specifically, Defendant argues that the PHRA does not apply to individuals like Plaintiff who neither live nor work in Pennsylvania. Defendant contends that the PHRA does not have "extraterritorial" application. Defendant relies on the case Taylor v. Rodale, Inc., which held that the PHRA does not protect nonresidents not working in Pennsylvania from discriminatory conduct by Pennsylvania actors. No. 04-799, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10078, at *12 (E.D. Pa. May 27, 2004). Plaintiff counters that 1) the language of the PHRA does not explicitly preclude protection for nonresidents of Pennsylvania, 2) the Taylor decision is distinguishable, and 3) the PHRA applies in this case because Pennsylvania is the location of Defendant's principal place of business and corporate headquarters. Finally, Plaintiff requests leave to amend the Complaint in order to set forth more specifically her claim under the PHRA.

A. Dismissal of the PHRA Claim (Count III)

In determining whether the PHRA protects individuals like Plaintiff who neither reside nor work in Pennsylvania, we first look to the statutory language. ...


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