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United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

October 15, 2014

UNITED STATES EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY, FIFTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA, Defendant

Page 429

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 430

For UNITED STATES EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff: Jeffrey A. Stern, LEAD ATTORNEY, United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Cleveland, OH.

For COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania, Defendant: Caroline Liebenguth, LEAD ATTORNEY, Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, Pittsburgh, PA.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION

Nora Barry Fischer, United States District Judge.

I. Introduction

The instant action involves allegations that an elderly individual was unlawfully deprived of an employment opportunity because of her age. Defendant has moved for the dismissal of this action on the ground that it is barred by the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution.[1] ECF No. 8. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion to dismiss will be denied.

II. Background

On February 7, 2012, a staffing agency assigned Carolyn J. Pittman (" Pittman" ) to work on a scanning project at the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania (" Court of Common Pleas" ). ECF No. 1 at ¶ ¶ 8, 16. Pittman, who was seventy years old, commenced

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her duties on February 14, 2012. Id. at ¶ 9. Lisa Moore (" Moore" ), an employee of the Court of Common Pleas, was responsible for training and supervising Pittman. Id. at ¶ 10. During the ensuing six-week period, Moore allegedly complained that Pittman was " too old" to perform her assigned tasks. Id. at ¶ 11. Some of Moore's comments suggested that Pittman could not " see well enough" to do her job. Id. At some point, Moore told managers employed by the Court of Common Pleas that Pittman was making too many mistakes. Id. at ¶ ¶ 12-14.

An employee of the Court of Common Pleas contacted the staffing agency on March 28, 2012, and advised that Pittman needed to be removed from her job. Id. at ¶ 15. Later that day, an employee of the staffing agency told Pittman that the scanning project had concluded, and that she would no longer be working at the Court of Common Pleas. Id. at ¶ 16. The scanning project evidently continued after Pittman's departure. Id. at ¶ 17. It is alleged that Pittman was eventually " replaced by at least one much younger worker." Id. at ¶ 18.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ) commenced this action on July 8, 2014, alleging that the Court of Common Pleas had violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (" ADEA" ) [29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.] by discharging Pittman because of her age. ECF No. 1. The Court of Common Pleas filed a motion to dismiss on August 28, 2014, contending that this action was barred by the Eleventh Amendment. ECF No. 8. The EEOC filed a Brief in Opposition on September 22, 2014. ECF No. 11. ...


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