United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM ORDER RE: DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS (DOC. NO. 12)
ARTHUR J. SCHWAB, District Judge.
Presently before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Lanxess Corporation ("Defendant") in response to allegations of Sexual Harassment/Hostile Work Environment (Count I) and Employment Retaliation (Count II). Doc. No. 12. Defendant contends that Plaintiff Lindsay Bombalski ("Plaintiff") insufficiently pled facts that would entitle her to relief and that both counts should be dismissed. For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 12) will be DENIED.
II. Factual Background and Procedural History
In ruling on a Motion to Dismiss, the Court must consider all factual allegations in the Complaint to be true. See Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008). The facts of this case, solely for the purposes of this Memorandum Order, are as follows:
Plaintiff was employed by Defendant as a temporary employee beginning in September of 2010. Amended Complaint, Doc. No. 10, ¶¶ 1, 5. She was hired by Defendant through the Belcan Agency on a six month assignment, which was extended due to the quality of her work. Id . ¶ 6. Plaintiff holds a doctorate degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Chemistry/Polymer Physics and worked in Defendant's Product Safety and Regulatory Affairs Department. Id. at ¶¶ 4, 5. Her supervisor was Sue Van Volkenburg ("Van Volkenburg"). Id. at ¶ 7.
On June 16, 2011, Van Volkenburg called Plaintiff into her office and told her that "her body was offensive to someone at work and although her clothing did not violate the Defendant's dress code, her breasts were too large for her attire." Id. at ¶ 8. Van Volkenberg also told Plaintiff that "she had smaller breasts than Plaintiff" and could not wear what Plaintiff wore. Id. at ¶ 9. Plaintiff was told she should no longer wear the offending outfit at work, as Defendant was a conservative company. Id. at ¶ 10. Despite her requests, Van Volkenburg did not share with Plaintiff any specific details about the complaint or the colleague who shared it. Id. at ¶¶ 11, 14. Other employees at Defendant frequently violate the dress code without any warning or repercussion. Id. at ¶ 14.
After Plaintiff's conversation with Van Volkenburg, Plaintiff repeatedly requested an apology from her for "making her feel like a physical object at work." Id. at ¶ 15. Plaintiff also repeatedly requested that Van Volkenburg require those who made comments apologize to Plaintiff "for making her feel like a physical object at work." Id. at ¶ 16. Defendant did not entertain either of Plaintiff's requests. Id. at ¶ 17.
For fear that she would be terminated from Defendant for reporting sexual harassment, Plaintiff reported the conversation with Van Volkenburg to the Belcan Agency Human Relations Department, who in turn reported the incident to Defendant. Id. at ¶ 19. Plaintiff was promised that Defendant would take no further actions against her. Id. at ¶ 20.
Plaintiff claims that the Defendant's failure to issue an apology caused her to fear future sexual harassment and constituted "additional worries and concerns... about who was looking at her inappropriately in the workplace." Id. at ¶ 32.
Plaintiff later applied for a permanent position with Defendant, but her employment was terminated several days later. Id. at ¶ 21. Plaintiff avers that she was "terminated after she raised allegations of harassment which Defendant was made aware of prior to her termination." Id. at ¶ 22. Plaintiff filed a Complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on August 18, 2011, and she received a Right to Sue letter from the EEOC on August 22, -. Doc. No. 1, ¶ 24.
Defendant contends that the above facts do not support a claim for sexual harassment/hostile work environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and moves this Court to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
III. Standard of Review
In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, Federal Courts require notice pleading, as opposed to the heightened standard of fact pleading. Federal Rule of Civil procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds on which it rests.'" Bell ...