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Black v. Community Education Centers, Inc.

United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

March 4, 2014

SILVER BLACK, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMUNITY EDUCATION CENTERS, INC., also known as “George W. Hill Correctional Facility” or “Delaware County Prison, ” Defendant.

MEMORANDUM

DuBOIS, JAN E., J.

I. INTRODUCTION

This is an employment discrimination case in which plaintiff, Silver Black, alleges that her former employer, Community Education Centers, Inc. (“CEC”), also known as George W. Hill Correctional Facility or Delaware County Prison, is liable for terminating her employment under a myriad of theories, including wrongful termination, breach of contract, negligent supervision, emotional distress, and discrimination and harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”), 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 951 et seq.

Presently before the Court are Defendant CEC’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint and Defendant’s Motion to Strike. For the reasons set forth below, defendant’s Motions are each granted in part and denied in part.

II. BACKGROUND [1]

Plaintiff is an African American female who worked for CEC as a prison corrections officer beginning on November 1, 2004. Pl.’s Compl. ¶ 3. On March 26, 2012, plaintiff was fired for being late to work. Id. ¶ 3.

In 2009, 2010, and 2012, plaintiff went on medical leave for a back condition and maternity leave.[2] Id. ¶ 11. Medical notes submitted to defendant pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) stated that plaintiff would be late to work due to her ongoing conditions. Id.

Corrections officers create a bottleneck as they pass through security when entering the prison at the start of a shift. Id. ¶ 21. African American officers caught in that bottleneck are written up for being late, whereas their white counterparts are not. Id. Furthermore, on occasion white supervisors improperly used their personal watches rather than the official prison clock in order to write up black officers for being late, even when that determination was unwarranted. Id ¶ 25.

Plaintiff was written up for being late to work three times, including two times during 2011 when she was under FMLA protection. Id ¶ 12. When plaintiff informed the captain who had authorized those write ups that she was protected under the FMLA, the captain told her that the FMLA applies only when an individual is more than one hour late, not for periods of only fifteen minutes. Id.

Plaintiff was employed pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”). Article 11 of that agreement, entitled “GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE AND ARBITRATION, ” states:

It is the specific intention of the parties that the grievance and arbitration procedures set forth herein are the exclusive and sole mechanism for the resolution of any grievances, disputes, disagreements or claims made under or related to this Agreement or arising from employment at the facility. In cases where a statutory, non-contractual right is at issue, this provision does not prevent an Officer from pursuing an action in a court of law after first utilizing the grievance procedures stated herein. However, an Officer may not obtain or enforce an award more than once nor pursue a court action if an adverse arbitration award is entered. This provision does not obligate the Union or the Officer to pursue arbitration if, after full consultation, either decides not to pursue arbitration.

Def.’s Mot. to Dismiss Pl.’s Compl. Ex. C at 12.

On April 27, 2012, plaintiff dual-filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and PHRC (“EEOC charge”), stating that she believed her termination was the result of discrimination based on her race, sex, and disability. EEOC Charge, Def.’s Mot. to Dismiss Pl.’s Compl. Ex. B. On September 17, 2013, plaintiff filed her Complaint in this Court, alleging twelve causes of action in twelve counts: (1) Wrongful Termination; (2) Breach of Contract; (3) Breach of the Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing; (4) Negligent Misrepresentation / Fraud; (5) Unjust Enrichment; (6) Negligence; (7) Gross Negligence; (8) Respondeat Superior; (9) Harassment; (10) Emotional Distress; (11) Discrimination; and (12) Negligence per se.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that, in response to a pleading, a defense of “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted” may be raised by motion to dismiss. In analyzing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the Court “accept[s] all factual allegations as true, [and] construe[s] the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted).

“To survive a motion to dismiss, a civil plaintiff must allege facts that ‘raise a right to relief above the speculative level.’” Victaulic Co. v. Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 234 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). A complaint must contain “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). To satisfy the plausibility standard, a plaintiff’s allegations must show that a defendant’s liability is more than “a sheer possibility.” Id. “Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with’ a defendant’s liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.’” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

IV. DISCUSSION

Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss plaintiff’s Complaint. In that motion defendant included what is described as a Motion to Strike various paragraphs of plaintiff’s Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f). The Court addresses each motion in turn.

1. Motion To Dismiss

Defendant argues plaintiff’s Complaint should be dismissed in its entirety. The Court will address plaintiff’s contractual claims ...


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