United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
A. RICHARD CAPUTO, District Judge.
Presently before the Court is Defendant MIQ Logistics, Inc.'s ("MIQ") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Omar Sharif's ("Sharif") Claims for Punitive Damages. (Doc. 12.) For the reasons that follow, the motion to dismiss will be denied.
The facts as set forth in the Amended Complaint are as follows:
Sharif is an African-American male. ( Am. Compl., ¶ 13.) Sharif was hired by MIQ through a staffing agency as a warehouse worker in Jersey City, New Jersey. ( Id. at ¶ 14.) MIQ controlled Sharif's daily work assignments and possessed the power to counsel, discipline, and terminate him. ( Id. at ¶ 15.)
During his employment, Sharif was repeatedly called racial slurs for African-Americans, such as "melanzana" and "eggplant", by his co-worker Dennis. ( Id. at ¶ 16.) Sharif asked Dennis to stop the derogatory comments, but Dennis refused. ( Id. at ¶¶ 17-18.)
Sharif repeatedly complained about the racial slurs to Supervisor Jose and General Manager Matt. ( Id. at ¶ 19.) On each occasion, Sharif was told that his complaints would be looked into. ( Id. at ¶ 20.) Nevertheless, MIQ never conducted an investigation or instituted remedial measures to stop Dennis' comments. ( Id. at ¶ 21.)
On November 5, 2011, MIQ relocated Sharif's work location to a facility in Tannersville, Pennsylvania. ( Id. at ¶ 22.) Dennis was also relocated to that facility, and MIQ promoted Dennis to a supervisory team leader position. ( Id. at ¶¶ 23-24.) Dennis became Sharif's team leader/direct supervisor. ( Id. at ¶ 25.) Dennis thereafter developed a pattern of continuous hostility towards Sharif. ( Id. at ¶ 26.) Sharif again complained to Supervisor Jose and General Manager Matt about Dennis' conduct, and he also requested that a mediation be scheduled to address the racially hostile work environment created by Dennis. ( Id. at ¶ 27.) Despite assurances that they would look into it, Supervisor Jose and General Manager Matt failed to do anything to stop the harassment. ( Id. at ¶¶ 28, 30-31.)
Shortly after becoming Sharif's team leader, Dennis began micro-managing his work and assigning him tasks unfairly. ( Id. at ¶ 32.) For example, Dennis assigned Sharif to unload delivery trucks without any assistance when such a task typically requires the assistance of two to three additional workers. ( Id. at ¶ 35.) Sharif was also regularly assigned to operate defective machinery. ( Id. at ¶ 36.) This was done out of racial animus and in retaliation for Sharif lodging complaints against Dennis. ( Id. at ¶ 33.) Again, despite complaints, MIQ failed to prevent Dennis from harassing and retaliating against Sharif. ( Id. at ¶ 34.)
On February 23, 2012, Sharif complained to General Manager Matt and requested a sit down to discuss Dennis' conduct towards him. ( Id. at ¶ 37.) General Manager Matt apologized to Sharif and indicated that he would talk to Dennis. ( Id. at ¶ 38.) Following his conversation with General Manager Matt, Sharif immediately contacted the staffing agency through which he had obtained employment with MIQ. ( Id. at ¶ 39.) The staffing agency responded that it was aware that "[MIQ] does not like him." ( Id. at ¶ 40.)
On February 26, 2012, Sharif was fired. ( Id. at ¶ 41.) MIQ refused to provide him with a reason for his termination. ( Id. )
Based on the foregoing and after exhausting all administrative remedies, Sharif commenced the instant action on December 12, 2013. (Doc. 1.) On March 4, 2014, Sharif filed a nine-count Amended Complaint. (Doc. 11.) The Amended Complaint asserts claims for violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Counts I-III), the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (Counts IV-VI), and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Counts VII-IX). Among other relief sought by Sharif, he seeks punitive damages for the purported violations of Title VII and § 1981. ( Am. Compl., Wherefore Clause (E).)
On March 18, 2014, MIQ filed the instant motion to dismiss. (Doc. 12.) MIQ seeks dismissal of Sharif's claims for punitive damages. Sharif filed a brief in opposition on April 3, 2014. (Doc. 14.) MIQ did not file a reply brief in further support of its motion. ...