United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
GERALD J. PAPPERT, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Oleksander Chernobai ("Chernobai") brings this action against his former employer, Hydraulax Products, Inc., ("Hydraulax"), alleging that he was wrongfully terminated because of his national origin. Chernobai is an "adult Ukrainian, Slavic individual." (Am. Compl. ¶ 3, Doc. 9.) Hydraulax moves to dismiss Chernobai's Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Dismiss is granted and Chernobai is given leave to amend the Amended Complaint.
Factual and Procedural Background
Chernobai was hired as a factory worker by Hydraulax's predecessor, Hydraulic Fittings Company, Inc., on September 17, 2012. ( Id. ¶¶ 7.) Hydraulax acquired Hydraulic Fittings Company on December 27, 2012. ( Id . ¶ 8.) "Defendant's management" subjected Chernobai to discriminatory treatment, including assigning him the most unfavorable and menial work, assigning him extra work, calling him "discriminatory names such as stupid Russian, '" and generally treating him in a rude and condescending manner. ( Id. ¶ 11.) An unidentified individual told Chernobai that he was required to speak English at work while other employees were permitted to speak Spanish. ( Id. ¶ 12.)
On September 23, 2013, an unidentified Hydraulax employee terminated Chernobai because he had missed too much work. ( Id ¶ 14.) Chernobai had not exhausted his sick leave and "was well within the time allotted to him" under Hydraulax's policy. ( Id. ¶ 13.) Other unidentified non-Ukrainian and/or non-Slavic employees were not terminated for using their allotted sick leave. ( Id. ¶ 16.) On that basis, Chernobai concluded that his termination for excessive absenteeism was a pretext and he was actually terminated because of his national origin. ( Id. ¶ 17.)
On October 17, 2013, Chernobai simultaneously filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission ("PHRC") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (Def.'s Mot. Dismiss, Ex. B, Doc. 12.) The complaint alleged national origin discrimination. ( Id. ) Chernobai exhausted his administrative remedies by waiting the mandatory year before filing this action. (Am. Compl. ¶ 21.)
On November 5, 2014, Chernobai filed a complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County alleging wrongful termination in violation of portions of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa. Const. Stat. §§ 951-963, relating to national origin discrimination and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 relating to race discrimination. (Not. of Removal, Ex. A, Doc. 1.) Hydraulax promptly removed the action to this Court. ( Id . at 1.)
On December 12, 2014, Hydraulax moved to dismiss the Complaint because it (1) failed to plead facts sufficient to demonstrate that the circumstances surrounding Chernobai's termination gave rise to an inference of discrimination; and (2) the hostile work environment claim and race claim pursuant to § 1981 were beyond the scope of Chernobai's PHRC complaint. (Def.'s Mot. Dismiss 1, Doc 3.) Rather than oppose the motion, Chernobai rendered it moot by amending his Complaint and replacing the § 1981 claim with a national origin claim pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 27-30.) The factual allegations in the Amended Complaint, however, remain essentially identical to those initially pled.
The Amended Complaint includes two counts of national origin discrimination. Count I alleges that Chernobai's termination violated the PHRA and Count II alleges that the termination violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e. For all practical purposes, the factual allegations supporting Chernobai's state and federal claims are identical.
Hydraulax moves to dismiss the Amended Complaint by again arguing that it (1) fails to plead facts sufficient to demonstrate that the circumstances surrounding Chernobai's termination create an inference of discrimination; and (2) the hostile work environment claim is outside the scope of the complaint filed with the PHRC. (Def.'s Mot. Dismiss, Doc. 12.) Hydraulax requests dismissal with prejudice. (Def.'s Reply 3-4, Doc. 17.) Chernobai responds by arguing that the Amended Complaint creates an inference of discrimination in two ways: by alleging discriminatory comments and disparate treatment. (Pl.'s Opp'n Mot. Dismiss 9, Doc. 13.) He does not request leave to amend.
The Court held oral argument on Hydraulax's motion to dismiss on February 12, 2015.
When considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), courts "consider only the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, and documents that form the basis of the claim." Lum v. Bank of Am., 361 F.3d 217, 221 n.3 (3d Cir. 2004), abrogated in part on other grounds, Bell Atl. Corp. v. Tombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007). The court must "accept all factual allegations as true" and "construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Warren Gen. Hosp. v. Amgen Inc., 643 F.3d 77, 84 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)). Legal conclusions, even those "couched as factual allegations, " may be disregarded. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
A pleading must set forth "a short and plain statement of the claim, " Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The complaint must allege more than plaintiff's entitlement to relief-it has to "show" this entitlement with facts. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 211 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). This requires "sufficient factual matter' to show that the claim is facially plausible." Id. at 210 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). A claim is facially plausible if it states "enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest the required element." Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). A motion to ...