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Bloom v. Congregation Beth Shalom

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

January 31, 2014



MAUNCE B. COHILL, Jr., Senior District Judge.

Sandee Bloom commenced this action against Defendant, Congregation Beth Shalom, in the Court of Common Pleas ofAllegheny County on June 11, 2013. Defendant was served with the original Complaint on September 16, 2013, and an Amended Complaint on September 17, 2013. The Amended Complaint asserts claims arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000(e), the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.c. 206(d), and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. The case was timely removed to this court on October 4, 2013.

Plaintiff sets forth six claims for relief. Plaintiff first claims that the Defendant paid wages to her at rates less than the rates it paid males for equal work on jobs requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility, in violation of the Equal Pay Act (Count 1). Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant treated her differently and less favorably in her terms, conditions, rights and privileges ofemployment, than similarly-situated males in violation of Title VII and the PHRA (Count 3 and 5). She also asserts analogous claims of Retaliation in violation of the Equal Pay Act, Title VII, and the PHRA based on Defendant's termination of her after she complained of the unequal pay and disparate treatment (Counts 2, 4, and 6).

Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Strike Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 12(f) or, in the Alternative, Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated herein we will grant Defendant's motion in part and deny it in part.

I. Relevant Factual Background

The Amended Complaint in this case is lengthy containing 249 paragraphs and 113 pages and goes far beyond Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), which requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Much of what is set forth in the Amended Complaint is narrative in nature and unnecessary to comply with Rule 8(a). Therefore, we will briefly set forth only the relevant facts alleged in the Amended Complaint necessary to resolve the instant motion.

Plaintiff Sandee Bloom alleges that she was not paid wages equal to those paid to similarly-situated males because of her sex, and that she was terminated in retaliation for her complaints about such unequal pay. She was employed in a variety of positions by Congregation Beth Shalom from June 2000 through October 20, 2010. Her first position was as the rabbinic assistant to the Senior Rabbi. In July 2005 she was promoted to Office Manager, maintaining her duties as rabbinic assistant until the Senior Rabbi retired.

In November 2008, she was promoted to Assistant Executive Director by the then-Executive Director, Lee Levitt, while maintaining her duties as Office Manager. Mr. Levitt also had an administrative assistant.

The Congregation had approved a budget for 2010 that included a salary of $95, 000, plus additional benefits, for the Executive Director. However, Mr. Levitt declined the offer to continue employment as of December 31, 2009.

On January 4, 2010, the President of the Congregation infonned Plaintiff that her responsibilities would increase in the absence of an Executive Director. On January 18, 2010, the President infonned the Congregation's employees at a staff meeting that Plaintiff was in charge of the day to day operations and any questions should be directed to her. The President also infonned the employees that Plaintiff was not the Acting Executive Director, nor was she the Interim Executive Director.

In late January 2010, Plaintiff's compensation was increased by $1000.00 per month. In April 2010, Plaintiffwas given the title Acting Executive Director. In June 2010, she was awarded a bonus of $5000.00. Following a search for a new Executive Director, Plaintiff was offered the position of Executive Director with a salary of $73, 500.00. She was not offered the previously-approved budget salary of $95, 000.00 plus benefits. At that time, Plaintiff protested that the offered salary was too low, and questioned why she was not being offered a salary similar to that of her predecessors. Plaintiff accepted the position at a salary of $73, 500.00.

Before accepting the position Plaintiff sought assurances that she would have the necessary funds to hire an administrative assistant. She was assured that she would have the authority and budget to hire an administrative assistant. A budget of $35, 000 was set aside for an administrative assistant, and although steps were taken at various times in furtherance of hiring an administrative assistant for Plaintiff, the Congregation refused to pennit her to hire an administrative assistant. The Congregation also did not pay for membership in the two national organizations of synagogue directors as they had done for past Executive Directors and they abolished the position of Assistant Executive Director.

On September 27, 2010, Plaintiff was informed that she was failing in her performance. She was terminated on October 20, 2010. In terminating Plaintiff, the Congregation ...

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