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Stefano Kiniropoulos v. Northampton County Child Welfare Service

January 10, 2013


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


This motion filed by Defendant, Northampton County Child Welfare Service, seeks to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. Plaintiff claims discrimination in the termination of his employment. For the reasons set forth below, I will grant in part and deny in part Defendant's motion to dismiss.


Plaintiff's Amended Complaint states that he was born in Greece. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 22). Plaintiff was employed by the Defendant as a Caseworker from October of 2005 until his termination in October of 2010. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 3, 20). His employment was governed by a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). (Amend. Compl. ¶ 61). Throughout his employment with the Defendant, Mr. Kiniropoulos received performance evaluation reviews that were satisfactory or commendable. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 5). Plaintiff's immediate supervisor was Ms. Schienholz ("Schienholz").

On May 24, 2010, Plaintiff told his supervisor that he sustained a significant injury to his leg, which would require him to walk with a cane.*fn1 (Amend. Compl. ¶¶ 7-8, 30). As a result of his injury, Plaintiff was ordered by his doctor to limit any activity with the injured leg.*fn2 (Amend. Compl. ¶ 9). The next day he informed the supervisor that he had difficulty walking and could not perform his three (3) scheduled court hearings on May 26, 2010. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 11). The County offered to provide transportation to the scheduled hearings.*fn3 (Amend. Compl. ¶ 12). After that date, however, Plaintiff e-mailed Defendant on June 2, 2010, regarding his medical condition and his inability to work.*fn4

(Amend. Compl. ¶ 13). Defendant never responded to the e-mail. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 14).

On June 10, 2012, Plaintiff contacted Gary Ruschman ("Ruschman"), the Defendant's Director, regarding Plaintiff's medical health and his need for medical leave under the FMLA.*fn5 (Amend. Compl. ¶ 15). The following day, June 22, 2010, Ruschman informed Plaintiff that there was an issue with the Plaintiff work documentation, notably several alleged infractions and alleged misconduct regarding the Plaintiff's cases. (Amend. Compl. ¶¶ 16-17). Plaintiff was suspended on June 14, 2010, without pay and told to contact his Union Representative with any questions. (Amend. Compl. ¶¶ 18-19).

Plaintiff was terminated on October 20, 2010. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 20). On November 23, 2010, Plaintiff filed Charges of Discrimination with the EEOC and PHRC and was issued a right to sue letter. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 26). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant regarded him as being disabled and violated the ADA and PHRA based on Defendant's believe that Plaintiff suffered from a disability. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 39). Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant discriminated against Plaintiff on the basis of his national origin and treated him differently from those employees born in the United States. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 39). Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant took an adverse employment action against him for requesting Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") leave and interfered with his right to take FMLA leave. Finally, Plaintiff argues that his termination violated procedural due process because he was not provided proper representation or a hearing.

II.Procedural History

Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a six-count Complaint, against Northampton County Child Welfare Service on October 21, 2011. Following Defendant's first motion to dismiss (Doc. No. 7), Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on April 11, 2012. (Doc. No. 9). The Amended Complaint alleges the Defendant unlawfully terminated his employment in violation of the following laws: Count I: Violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 4 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq.; Count II: Violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), 43 P.S. § 951, et seq.; Count III: Violation of Federal Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.; Count IV: Violation of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) -- Retaliation, 29 U.S.C. § 2615; Count V: Violations of Procedural Due Process, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On April 30, 2012, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss in response to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. (Doc. No. 13). Plaintiff then filed a motion in opposition on May 29, 2012 (Doc. No. 15), and Defendant filed a reply on June 12, 2012. (Doc. No. 16).

III.Standard of Review

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) examines the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). The factual allegations must be sufficient to make the claim for relief more than just speculative. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Pursuant to Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), my inquiry is two-fold: "First, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated. [I] must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions. Second, [I] must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a 'plausible claim for relief.'" Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).*fn6

In deciding a motion to dismiss, courts generally consider only the allegations contained in the complaint, any exhibits attached to the complaint, and matters of public record. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. v. White, 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir.1993). However, "a court may consider a document that is 'integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint' without converting the motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment." In re Burlington Coat Factory Securities Litigation, 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir.1997). For instance, a court may consider a document attached to a motion to dismiss, provided that its authenticity is undisputed and that plaintiff's claims are based on the document. Rogan v. Giant Eagle, Inc., 113 F. Supp. 2d 777, 781 (W.D. Pa. 2000) (citing Pension Benefit, 998 F.2d at 1196).


A.ADA and PHRA (Counts I and II)*fn7

The ADA*fn8 makes it unlawful for an employer to "discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment." 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a). To discriminate "on the basis of disability" includes "not making reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability." 42 U.S.C. § 12112(b)(5)(A). Consistent with the duty to reasonably accommodate, an employer must "engage the employee in the interactive process of finding accommodations." Taylor v. Phoenixville Sch. Dist., 184 F.3d 296, 319 (3d Cir. 1999); see also Conneen v. MBNA Am. Bank, N.A., 334 F.3d 318, 329 (3d Cir. 2003).

To make out a prima facie case of disability discrimination, a plaintiff employee must show "(1) he is a disabled person within the meaning of the ADA; (2) he is otherwise qualified to perform the essential functions of the job, with or without reasonable accommodations by the employer; and (3) he has suffered an otherwise adverse employment decision as a result of discrimination."*fn9 Gaul v. Lucent Technologies, Inc., 134 F.3d 576, 580 (3d Cir. 1998).

Plaintiff alleges Defendant violated the ADA by terminating him based on the perception that Plaintiff suffered from a disability. Defendant counters that Plaintiff cannot prevail on any of these theories because he has not plausibly alleged that he is "disabled," that he is a "qualified individual," that Defendant failed to provide a reasonable accommodation, or that he ever requested an accommodation covered under the ADA.

Plaintiff does not contend he is actually disabled under § 12102(2)(A); rather, he alleges he was "regarded as" having a disability under § 12102(2)(C).*fn10 Defendant contends Plaintiff is not disabled under any section, including the "regarded as prong."*fn11

I find that Plaintiff has not pled sufficient facts to show he was regarded as disabled within the meaning of the ADA. I will grant Defendant's motion ...

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