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Juliana Flora v. the Wyndcroft School

February 25, 2013

JULIANA FLORA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE WYNDCROFT SCHOOL, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM

Currently pending before the Court is the Partial Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of Defendant The Wyndcroft School. For the following reasons, the Motion is granted without prejudice.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

According to the facts set forth in the Complaint, Plaintiff Juliana Flora, a Caucasian female, was hired by Defendant The Wyndcroft School ("Wyndcroft") through its head of school-Kathleen Wunner-in 2007. (Compl. ¶¶ 11--12.) Plaintiff was originally employed as a substitute teacher. (Id. ¶ 12.) From 2007 through 2009, Plaintiff served as a part-time substitute teacher and taught students in all grades from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. (Id. ¶ 13.) In January 2010, Plaintiff was employed by Defendant as a full-time substitute teacher for fifth and sixth grade. (Id. ¶ 14.)

In or around March 2010, Plaintiff and Dr. Wunner, acting on behalf of Wyndcroft, signed a contract wherein Defendant agreed to employ Plaintiff as a full-time Pre-kindergarten Teacher for the 2010--2011 school year at a salary of $34,000 per year plus private health insurance, life insurance, and long-term disability insurance. (Id. ¶ 16.) During the 2010-2011 school year, Plaintiff taught pre-kindergarten students, as well as one class of fifth grade social studies in the afternoon. (Id. ¶ 17.) As a result of Plaintiff's performance, Dr. Wunner, on behalf of Defendant, offered Plaintiff another contract for the 2011-2012 school year. The contract, which was signed by both Plaintiff and Defendant, agreed to employ Plaintiff as a full-time Pre-kindergarten Teacher for the 2011--2012 school year at a salary of $35,360, plus provide private health insurance, life insurance, long term disability insurance, and pension benefits. (Id. ¶ 20 & Ex. B.) At the time Plaintiff entered into this contract with the Defendant, Defendant was aware that Plaintiff was pregnant and due to deliver on or about August 31, 2011. (Id. ¶ 21.) Defendant also knew that Plaintiff would be on maternity leave during part of the fall semester of the 2011 school year. (Id.)

Around the same time that Plaintiff signed her contract with Defendant for the 2011--2012 school year, Defendant hired four other individuals with no prior service to the school as full-time teachers. (Id. ¶ 22.) One individual was hired to teach first grade, one was hired to teach fourth grade, one was hired to teach fifth grade, and the last was hired to teach drama. (Id.) Plaintiff had previously taught first, fourth, and fifth grade at Defendant's school and, prior to signing the latest contract, had expressed to Dr. Wunner her interest in teaching such grades. (Id. ¶¶ 23, 24.) Dr. Wunner, however, advised Plaintiff that the positions were not being offered to Plaintiff because of her pregnancy and pending absence during the school year. (Id. ¶ 24.)

Dr. Wunner retired in July 2011 and was replaced by Gail Wolter as Head of School. (Id. ¶ 25--26.) In August 2011, during a meeting between Plaintiff and Ms. Wolter, Plaintiff was advised that her contract would not be honored by Defendant. (Id. ¶ 27.) Ms. Wolter explained that the Defendant was only offering one pre-kindergarten class for the 2011--2012 school year and thus had to eliminate Plaintiff's full-time teaching position. (Id.) During the same meeting, Ms. Wolter advised Plaintiff that she had three options in lieu of her contract: (1) Plaintiff could take the entire 2011--2012 school year off and resume as a full-time pre-kindergarten teacher for the 2012-2013 school year; (2) Plaintiff could be a substitute teacher for the 2011--2012 school year with an enhanced pay of $20 more per day; or (3) Defendant would get a long term substitute teacher during Plaintiff's maternity leave (September, October, and November of 2011) and Plaintiff could return in December 2011 as a full-time pre-kindergarten teacher per the contract. (Id. ¶ 28.) Plaintiff elected the third option. (Id. ¶ 29.)

Following this meeting, however, Plaintiff was advised that the Defendant's Board of Directors did not approve of the option elected by Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 30.) Plaintiff was told by Ms. Wolter and, subsequently, by letter dated August 8, 2011, that she would be granted her maternity leave up to November 27, 2011 and, as of November 28, 2011, she would be employed as a full-time preferred substitute teacher at $120 per day. (Id. ¶ 31.) Defendant also agreed to provide healthcare benefits to Plaintiff at Defendant's cost during the school year. (Id.) Finally, the letter indicated that Plaintiff would be given "preferred status" for staffing at Wyndcroft for the following year and that Plaintiff would be "first in line" for the anticipated opening for the 2012--2013 school year. (Id. ¶ 32.)

Plaintiff returned to work on November 28, 2011 from her maternity leave and was called to teach approximately six times from that date until the end of December 2011. (Id. ¶ 33.) Because of the lack of substitute teaching opportunities provided by Defendant, Plaintiff filed for unemployment compensation benefits in January 2012. (Id. ¶ 34.) Ms. Wolter attempted to persuade Plaintiff not to file for such benefits. (Id.)

On February 2, 2012, Plaintiff filed a claim of gender discrimination against the Defendant with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). (Id. ¶ 35.) In March 2012, Defendant renewed the employment contracts for the school year 2012--2013 of several other teachers' employed by Defendant. (Id. ¶ 36.) Defendant also entered into new employment contracts for the 2012--2013 school year with individuals who had not previously been employed by Defendant. (Id.) Defendant did not contact Plaintiff to discuss a contract for the 2012--2013 school year. (Id. ¶ 37.) Plaintiff believes that Defendant currently has two pre-kindergarten classes, with two separate teachers, for the 2012--2013 school year and that these classes began in September 2012. (Id. ¶ 38--39.)

For the entire 2011--2012 school year, Plaintiff earned total wages of approximately $4,642.81 as a "preferred" substitute teacher for Defendant. (Id. ¶ 40.) Since the end of the 2011--2012 school year, Defendant has not provided any compensation or benefits to Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 41.)

On November 15, 2012, Plaintiff initiated the current civil action against Defendant setting forth four counts for relief: (1) violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act based on Defendant's discrimination of Plaintiff due to her pregnancy; (2) violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA") based on Defendant's discrimination of Plaintiff due to her gender and pregnancy; (3) retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the PHRA based on Defendant's failure to offer Plaintiff any employment opportunities for the 2012--2013 school year; and (4) breach of contract based on the 2011-2012 school year contract entered into between Plaintiff and Defendant. Defendant moved for partial dismissal on January 22, 2013 based on Plaintiff's alleged failure to exhaust administrative remedies, and Plaintiff responded on February 1, 2013. The Motion is now ripe for judicial consideration.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under Rule 12(b)(6),*fn1 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 ...


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