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Krawczyk v. Roaring Brook Township

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

July 6, 2015



A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge

Presently before the Court is Defendant Roaring Brook Township’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 7) Plaintiff Robert Krawczyk’s Complaint (Doc. 1) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff alleges that he was terminated from employment with Defendant because of his age. Because the Complaint contains sufficient facts to state a plausible claim that Defendant discriminated against Plaintiff on the basis of age, in violation of federal and state law, and that this discrimination was willful, Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 7) will be denied.

I. Background

A. Factual Background

As alleged in the Complaint (Doc. 1), the facts are as follows: Plaintiff is an adult resident of Pennsylvania. (Id., ¶ 8.) Defendant Roaring Brook Township (“the township, ” “Roaring Brook”) is organized as a Second Class Township. (Id., ¶ 9.) Defendant is governed by a Board of three (3) elected supervisors. (Id., ¶ 11.) In 2013, the supervisors were Eric Schield, Robert Farischon, and Anthony Jordan. (Id., ¶¶ 12-14.)

Roaring Brook Township Police Department (“the Police Department”) is the police department for Defendant Roaring Brook and adjacent municipality Elmhurst. (Id., ¶¶ 10, 17.) In 2013, Donald Hickey was the Chief of the Police. (Id., ¶ 16.) At all times in the complaint, Defendant’s agents were acting within the scope of authority. (Id., ¶ 18.) Plaintiff Krawczyk was born on December 11, 1958. (Id., ¶ 21.) He was hired by the Roaring Brook Police Department as a part-time officer in October 2003. (Id., ¶ 23.) At all times during his employment, Plaintiff was over forty (40) years of age. (Id., ¶ 24.) Plaintiff believes that he was the oldest officer employed by Defendant. (Id., ¶ 34.)

In or about November 2007, Town Supervisors informed Plaintiff that he was going to become a full-time officer. (Id., ¶ 25.) Around the same time, Plaintiff had a conversation with Supervisor Eric Schield about his employment. (Id., ¶ 26.) Supervisor Schield is “substantially younger” than Plaintiff. (Id.) Supervisor Schield asked Plaintiff how old he was, and replied “how old?” in “disbelief or surprise” when Plaintiff responded. (Id., ¶ 27.)

After this discussion, Plaintiff was told that he was no longer going to become a full-time officer. (Id., ¶ 28.) However, Plaintiff was going to receive medical insurance and vacation time, benefits otherwise reserved for full-time officers. (Id., ¶ 29.) Plaintiff received these benefits until he was terminated. (Id., ¶¶ 30-31.)

In 2010, Donald Hickey, who is younger than Plaintiff, was the only full-time officer. (Id., ¶ 32.) Hickey was promoted to Police Chief in early 2010. (Id., ¶ 33). Plaintiff statesthat after becoming Chief, Hickey openly expressed a desire to have a younger police force, and frequently made comments about hiring “new guys” and getting “younger blood.” (Id., ¶ 35.) In late 2010 and 2011, the Township hired two part-time officers in their mid-twenties: Luke Olzar, who was approximately twenty-five (25) years old, and Doug DiPalma, who was approximately twenty-four (24) years old. (Id., ¶¶ 36-37.)

In or about January 2012, Plaintiff saw that Chief Hickey wrote “I can’t take it anymore” in the daily patrol log, and Chief Hickey told Plaintiff to report to a meeting with the Township Supervisors the next morning. (Id., ¶¶ 38-39.) At the meeting, Chief Hickey gave Plaintiff a letter dated January 12, 2012, listing complaints with Plaintiff s performance dating back to 2010. (Id., ¶ 40.) Prior to this letter, Plaintiff had never been disciplined, reprimanded, or approached about his performance by the Supervisors or the Chief. (Id.) Plaintiff asserts that he provided explanations for several of the listed incidents, but was told that he would still be receiving a letter of reprimand in his file. (Id., ¶ 41.)

Shortly after this meeting, in or about February 2012, the Township hired two new part-time officers: Michael Malick, who was approximately forty (40) years old, and Steve Price, who was approximately thirty (30) years old. (Id., ¶¶ 43-44.) In late 2012, the Township hired Matthew Cianfichi, who was approximately twenty-two (22) years old, as a part-time officer. (Id., ¶ 47.)

In summer 2012, Plaintiff was reprimanded for not properly handling the security of a person transporting a bank deposit. (Id., ¶ 45.) Plaintiff disputed the basis for this discipline. (Id.) Around the same time, Officer Price screamed at a Township Supervisor, and while the Supervisor requested that he be disciplined, Chief Hickey declined. (Id., ¶ 46.)

By January 2013, the Police Department was compromised of Chief Hickey, Plaintiff Krawczyk, and Officers Malick, Price, and Cianfichi. (Id., ¶ 49.) Plaintiff asserts that he worked the most hours of the part-time officers: sometimes exceeding thirty-two (32) hours, and on occasion more than forty (40) hours. (Id., ¶ 50.) He maintains that he satisfactorily performed his duties and assisted in training new officers throughout his employment. (Id., ¶ 51.) Plaintiff inquired about becoming a full-time officer, but the Supervisors and Chief Hickey did not respond. (Id., ¶ 52.) At the same time, the Township hired multiple part-time officers, all of whom were younger than Plaintiff. (Id., ¶ 53.)

During this same period, Chief Hickey and the Supervisors would regularly make age-related comments to Plaintiff: that he was the “right age to retire, ” or that “most cops retire at 50.” (Id., ¶ 54.) Chief Hickey and the Supervisors suggested other jobs for Plaintiff to consider because there were no age restrictions. (Id.) Chief Hickey allegedly made comments such as “the federal prison is hiring, and there’s no age restriction, ” and ...

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