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Bellamy v. Waterfront Square Condominiums & SPA

United States District Court, Third Circuit

May 29, 2013

KAY BELLAMY
v.
WATERFRONT SQUARE CONDOMINIUMS & SPA, et al.

MEMORANDUM

THOMAS N. O’NEILL, JR., J.

Now before me is a motion by defendants Waterfront Square Condominiums & Spa, Waterfront Square Homeowners’ Association, Waterfront Square Condominium and Spa Master Association, GH Property Management, LLC and Miranda Milner to dismiss the amended complaint of plaintiff Kay Bellamy pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and for partial summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(c) (Dkt. No. 20) and plaintiff’s response thereto (Dkt. No. 21). For the reasons that follow, I will grant in part and deny in part defendants’ motions.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, an African-American female, alleges in her amended complaint that she “worked for Defendant Entities for approximately 9 months.”[1] Dkt. No. 17 at ¶¶ 16-17. During her employment, “Plaintiff worked in the management office.” Id. at ¶ 26. She asserts that defendant Milner, a Caucasian female and “a General Manager for Defendants, ” was her supervisor. Id. at ¶ 18. According to plaintiff, “[t]he only people who worked in the management office with plaintiff during her employment with Defendant Entities were Defendant Milner and a male co-worker.” Id. at ¶ 27. Milner is alleged to have been “a decision maker concerning terms and conditions of employment for employees (including Plaintiff) of Defendant Entities including but not limited to hiring, firing, and issuing discipline.” Id. at ¶ 12. Milner was “aware of” and “required to follow” defendants’ “anti-harassment policy indicating that no employee is to discriminate against another employee on the basis of his/her race or gender” and defendants’ “policy indicating that no retaliatory action is to be taken against an employee for complaining of discrimination.” Id. at ¶¶ 19-21. These policies were in a handbook maintained by defendants. Id. at ¶¶ 19-20.

Alleging gender discrimination and retaliation, plaintiff contends that “throughout [her] employment, Defendant Milner treated Plaintiff in a discriminatory and disparate manner as compared to her male co-worker who worked in the management office with her, including but not limited to, denying [her] access to certain benefits that her male co-worker received.” Id. at ¶ 28. Plaintiff alleges that the benefits she was denied “included but were not limited to allowing Plaintiff’s male co-worker to buy work clothes and get his work clothes dry cleaned at Defendant Entities’ expense.” Id. at ¶ 29. Plaintiff also asserts that “while under the supervision of Defendant Milner, [she] also witnessed Defendant Milner’s hostility towards other female co-workers. For example, . . . Plaintiff only ever witnessed Defendant Milner terminate female employees.” Id. at ¶ 30.

Plaintiff also contends that she was subjected to race-based discrimination, retaliation and a hostile work environment. She asserts that “[w]hile under the supervision of Defendant Milner, Plaintiff was treated in a demeaning and derogatory manner unlike Plaintiff’s non-black co-workers, including but not limited to being referred to as ‘you people’ on a frequent basis when speaking to Plaintiff and other black employees (as well as in other derogatory ways).” Id. at ¶ 22. She asserts that, “unlike [her] non-black co-workers, Defendant Milner would curse at and call Plaintiff and other black employees ‘idiots’ on a daily basis.” Id. at ¶ 23. Plaintiff alleges that she “witnessed Defendant Milner’s hostility towards black residents, as Defendant Milner refused to speak with black residents and instead directed their questions and concerns to Plaintiff or black employees of Defendants in general.” Id. at ¶ 24. She further alleges that “Milner also attempted to eliminate Martin Luther King Day as an observed holiday expressing contempt for its inclusion as a holiday, even though the Waterfront Square Employee Handbook states that it is an observed holiday.” Id. at ¶ 25.

Plaintiff contends that in or about April 2012, she complained to Milner and other managers “that she was being subjected to discriminatory treatment based on her race and gender and that she wanted same to cease.” Id. at ¶ 31. She asserts that defendants’ “management failed to investigate and/or resolve [her] complaints of gender and race discrimination.” Id. at ¶ 32. Plaintiff further alleges that after she registered her complaints, defendants’ “management, including but not limited to Defendant Milner, began to exhibit even more hostility towards Plaintiff and conspired to terminate plaintiff by interfering with her ability to successfully carry out her job duties.” Id. at ¶ 33. Plaintiff asserts that “[o]n or about May 18, 2012, shortly after complaining of race and gender discrimination to Defendant Entities’ management, including but not limited to Defendant Milner, Plaintiff was terminated by Defendants for allegedly ‘not getting along with’ Defendant Milner.” Id. at ¶ 34.

Plaintiff seeks relief including punitive damages for: gender discrimination/retaliation in violation of Title VII (“Against Defendant Company Only”) (Count III); race discrimination, retaliation and hostile work environment in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (against all defendants) (Count I); and race discrimination, retaliation and hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. (“Against Defendant Company Only”) (Count II).[2]

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a court to dismiss all or part of an action for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Typically, “a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, ” though plaintiff’s obligation to state the grounds of entitlement to relief “requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . on the assumption that all of the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. (citations omitted). This “simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of” the necessary element. Id. at 556. The Court of Appeals has made clear that after Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), “conclusory or ‘bare-bones’ allegations will no longer survive a motion to dismiss: ‘threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.’ To prevent dismissal, all civil complaints must now set out ‘sufficient factual matter’ to show that the claim is facially plausible.” Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009), quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The Court also set forth a two part-analysis for reviewing motions to dismiss in light of Twombly and Iqbal:

First, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated. The District Court must accept all of the complaint’s well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions. Second, a District Court must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a “plausible claim for relief.”

Id. at 210-11, quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. The Court explained, “a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff’s entitlement to relief. A complaint has to ‘show’ such an entitlement with its facts.” Id., citing Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234-35 (3d Cir. 2008). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged–but it has not ‘show[n]’–‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.’” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

DISCUSSION

I. Gender Discrimination and ...


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