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Riley v. St. Mary Medical Center

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 23, 2014

DENISE RILEY, Plaintiff,
v.
ST. MARY MEDICAL CENTER and SUSAN SNYDER, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

J. CURTIS JOYNER, District Judge.

Before the Court are Defendants' Motion To Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint For Failure To State A Claim (Doc. No. 10), Plaintiff's Response in Opposition thereto (Doc. No. 12), and Defendants' Reply in further support thereof (Doc. No. 13). For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Denise Riley brings the present action against her former employer, St. Mary Medical Center ("SMMC"), and one of its managers, Susan Snyder. In her First Amended Complaint ("Complaint")(Doc. No. 8) she alleges violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA").

Plaintiff was employed by SMMC for over ten years as a registered nurse. (Complaint at ¶ 11). She rarely received negative performance reviews during this time period. Id . ¶ 12. In 2009, Defendant Susan Snyder became Plaintiff's supervisor. Id . ¶ 13.

Plaintiff is 62 years old, id. ¶ 6, and has a history of colitis, anxiety, insomnia, and other cognitive disabilities. Id . ¶ 30. These disabilities have, at times, limited Plaintiff's abilities to sleep, concentrate, communicate, and think, among other things. Id . ¶ 33.

Beginning in 2009, Plaintiff experienced discipline, harassment, and mistreatment at the hands of Defendant Snyder and another nurse, Nina Mailey. Id . ¶ 14-6. Mailey made comments to Plaintiff that she "couldn't keep up, " that she "was too slow, " and "was not smart enough to work with patients or staff." Id . ¶ 16. Mailey also "nearly hit Plaintiff with a chair" and was not disciplined for doing so. Id . ¶ 17.

On or about November 9, 2009, "among other occasions, " Plaintiff discussed her disabilities with the Defendants. Id . ¶ 31. On or about November 10, Plaintiff made Defendant Snyder aware of Mailey's comments. Id . ¶ 18. Snyder admonished Plaintiff, not Mailey, for the incidents. Id . ¶ 19. On March 27, 2010, Plaintiff informed SMMC of the situation between Plaintiff, Mailey, and Snyder. Id . ¶ 20. That same year, Plaintiff's temporary manager Jim Gentile told Plaintiff that she was a "rat" for making a human resources complaint, and told her to "play nice in the sandbox." Id . ¶ 21.

In June 2011, Plaintiff received a very poor annual evaluation from her newest manager Joyce Roman. Id . ¶ 22. The evaluation consisted largely of inaccurate information. Id . ¶ 23. That same month, "Plaintiff complained that she believed the selective discipline and overall mistreatment was a result of age discrimination." Id . ¶ 24. In August 2011, Plaintiff was one of the few employees, or only employee, not to receive a raise. Id . ¶ 25. In late 2011, Plaintiff was gradually scheduled for fewer shifts as the Charge Nurse. Id . ¶ 26. Instead, the position was assigned more frequently to a 26-year-old employee. Id . One week before Plaintiff was terminated from her position at SMMC, SMMC hired a younger, non-disabled nurse who was placed into Plaintiff's position. Id . ¶ 28. On January 3, 2013, Plaintiff was terminated from her position at SMMC. Id . ¶ 27. Plaintiff was told that she was terminated for her poor performance. Id . ¶ 29. Plaintiff "had expressed concerns of discriminatory treatment leading up to her termination." Id . ¶ 29.

On or about February 15, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), and requested that it be dual-filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission ("PHRC"). (Def. Ex. A). On April 29, 2013, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under Rule 8, a pleading must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Although this pleading standard does not require "detailed factual allegations, " it does demand "more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Thus "[a] pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do... [n]or does a claim suffice if it tenders naked assertions' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Id . (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 556, 557, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)).

Indeed, "[t]he touchstone of the pleading standard is plausibility." Bistrian v. Levi , 696 F.3d 352, 365 (3d Cir. 2012). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ethypharm S.A. France v. Abbott Laboratories , 707 F.3d 223, 231 n. 14 (3d Cir. 2013)(quoting Sheridan v. NGK Metals Corp. , 609 F.3d 239, 262, n. 27 (3d Cir. 2010)). A court determining the sufficiency of a complaint should take note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim, identify the conclusions that are not entitled to the assumption of truth, and "where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief." Connelly v. Steel Valley School District , 706 F.3d 209, 212 (3d Cir. 2013)(quoting Burtch v. Milberg Factors, Inc. , 662 F.3d 212, 221 (3d Cir. 2011)).

IV. ANALYSIS

The Court analyzes Plaintiff's claims of unlawful discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment under the ADA, ADEA, and PHRA. The Court addresses below the timeliness of Plaintiff's claims, followed by the sufficiency of Plaintiff's allegations.

A. Timeliness

Defendants contend that Plaintiff's claims are untimely because she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies prior to commencing a lawsuit in federal court.

1. Age Discrimination, Disability Discrimination, and Retaliation under the ADA and ADEA

The enforcement section of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 2117, adopts the procedures for claims set forth in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). Accordingly, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5 sets forth the administrative remedies that must be pursued prior to filing an ADA lawsuit in federal court. See 42 U.S.C. §2000e-5. For Plaintiff's claims to be timely, she must have filed a Charge of Discrimination within 300 days of when the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred. 42 U.S.C. § ...


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