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Rachuna v. Best Fitness Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

May 5, 2014



ROBERT C. MITCHELL, Magistrate Judge.

Presently before the Court is a partial motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), filed by the Defendants, Best Fitness Corp., Best Fitness and B.F. of Erie, Inc., seeking to dismiss Counts I and II of the Amended Complaint (the sex discrimination and hostile work environment claims). For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted with respect to Count I and denied with respect to Count II.

Plaintiff, Salvatore Rachuna, brings this action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17 (Title VII) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. §§ 951-63 (PHRA), alleging that Defendants, Best Fitness Corp., Best Fitness and/or B.F. of Erie, Inc., [1] discriminated against him on the basis of his sex (male) by tolerating sexual harassment, created or tolerated a hostile working environment and retaliated against him for complaining about discrimination when it terminated him from his position as a Fitness Specialist on September 9, 2012.


Defendants hired Plaintiff on April 18, 2008, as a personal trainer in its Tonawanda, New York location. (Am. Compl. ¶ 13.)[2] On or about September 1, 2008, Plaintiff was promoted to Fitness Director and relocated to the Erie, Pennsylvania location. Plaintiff was again promoted to Personal Training Sales Director and Fitness Director and relocated back to the Tonawanda location. In December 2011, Plaintiff was asked to move back to Erie and serve as the Operations Manager and Personal Training Sales Director. He continued as Operations Manager of the Erie location until April 2012, when he was asked to return to the Fitness Specialist position. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 14-17.)

As a Fitness Specialist, Plaintiff was responsible for personal training sales and personal training. He alleges that he was asked to accept the Fitness Specialist position to boost sales, because sales in Erie were low and he was known for his exceptional sales building skills and creativity. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 18-19.)

In February 2012, Eric Taylor was hired as the Membership Manager at the Erie location. As Membership Manger, Taylor oversaw Plaintiff's position in a supervisory role. Plaintiff alleges that, during day-to-day operations and at frequent meetings, Taylor would often make lewd, inappropriate and unwelcome sexual remarks directed to Plaintiff about various health club members and employees. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 20-22.)

Taylor spoke and acted in a sexually loose and promiscuous manner, often making sexually advancing comments about members and employees. Plaintiff alleges that Taylor had an expectation that, because he was male, he would fit the same "male" gender stereotype of being sexually loose, promiscuous and predatory. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 23-24.)

Specifically, Plaintiff cites the following examples of Taylor's behavior:

a. While Plaintiff was standing at the front desk in the entrance way of the gym, during business hours, Mr. Taylor commented to Plaintiff, "See that guy right there? He has the biggest cock I have ever seen. His hog is fucking huge." Mr. Taylor then described in details that were repulsive to Plaintiff what his life would be like if his penis were that big and what he would do with it.
b. At a work fundraising function, Mr. Taylor made a sexual advance on club member, Katie Hersch, slapping Ms. Hersch on the butt and asking her to go home with him that night. During this advance, Mr. Taylor told Ms. Hersch that "one time on his tongue and she would be begging for more."
c. As Plaintiff and other employees started a managers' meeting, Mr. Taylor commented to the group that he had just seen the smallest penis in his life in the locker room.
d. On another occasion, Mr. Taylor in front of Plaintiff asked another employee if she had a good birthday on the previous day and if her husband had "given it to her real good" for her birthday.
e. Mr. Taylor made frequent, continuous comments to Plaintiff about what the sex between another employee, who was a close friend of Plaintiff's and her husband "must be like" and how Mr. Taylor would "love to get in on the action of those two."
f. Mr. Taylor made a comment to Plaintiff about a 14-year-old member about how big his feet were and that he "must be really hung."
g. One day, Mr. Taylor announced that one of the male managers at a Management Retreat had gone skinny dipping and he felt sorry for him because "he had a small penis."
h. Mr. Taylor made frequent and continuous sexual comments about underage girls in front of Plaintiff and other management members. On one occasion, Mr. Taylor was talking about a young girl's "ass." Another staff member told Mr. Taylor that sexual jokes about underage girls are intolerable, as the staff member had a daughter the same age as the girl that Mr. Taylor was commenting on. The conversation turned into a heated ...

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