United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
S. PERKIN, M.J.
matter is before the Court on the Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss Count IX of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint
Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Plaintiff's Memorandum
of Law in Opposition to Defendant's Partial Motion to
Dismiss was filed on March 16, 2016, and Plaintiff's
Supplemental Authorities in Opposition to Defendant's
Motion was filed on September 1, 2016. Having reviewed and
considered the contentions of the parties, the Court is
prepared to rule on this matter.
Rafe Scheinblum (“Scheinblum”) and Phyllis Ayers
(“Ayers) initiated this matter on December 4, 2015 by
filing a civil/constitutional rights Complaint against
Defendants Lehigh Valley Charter School for the Arts
(“LVCHSA”), Sharon Fehlinger-Ricker
(“Fehlinger-Ricker”), and Diane LaBelle
(“LaBelle”). On February 2, 2015, Defendants
filed a Motion to Dismiss Count VII and XII of
Plaintiffs' Complaint, but the Motion was later denied as
moot following Plaintiff's submission of an Amended
Complaint on February 22, 2015. In Counts I and II,
Scheinblum alleges claims of discrimination and retaliation,
respectively, against LVCHSA pursuant to Title VII (42 U.S.C.
§2000e, et seq). In Count III, Scheinblum
alleges a violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act
(“PHRA”) (43 P.S. §§951, et.
seq) against LVCHSA. In Count IV, Scheinblum asserts a
claim against LaBelle and Fehlinger-Ricker for aiding and
abetting the alleged illegal conduct of LVCHSA pursuant to
PHRA. In Count V, Ayers avers a claim of retaliation against
LVCHSA under Title VII for her association with Scheinblum
and his discharge from his position. In Count VI, Ayers
brings a claim against LVCHSA for violation of the PHRA by
engaging in a discriminatory and retaliatory manner towards
Ayers. In Count VII, Ayers asserts a claim against LaBelle
and Fehlinger-Ricker for aiding and abetting LVCHSA in the
alleged unlawful actions. In Count IX, Ayers brings violations of
her Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments against Defendants for
depriving her of the right to free speech and security of
tenured public employment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983.
In Count X, Ayers alleges a violation of the Pennsylvania
Whistleblower Law (42 Pa.C.S.A §1421, et. seq)
for being terminated from her position after reporting
misconduct and improper policies relating to the school.
seek monetary damages for pain and suffering, emotional
distress, economic loss, front pay, and other damages.
Plaintiffs also seek punitive damages against LVCHSA.
on the averments in the Complaint viewed in the light most
favorable to Plaintiffs, the pertinent facts to this
Court's determination are as follows:
Facts Related to Scheinblum
Scheinblum and Ayers were married during all times material
hereto. Plaintiff Scheinblum, was hired in July 2008 by
LVCHSA as Director of Technology. Scheinblum was required to
report directly to LaBelle. Scheinblum claims he was a
diligent employee with a good work record and always
performed his job in a competent manner.
Complaint, Scheinblum avers that, beginning in July 2008 and
continuing through 2014, LaBelle would yell at him, ignore
him during meetings, talk down to him, make unreasonable
demands on Scheinblum, and subject him to hyper-criticism and
hyper-scrutiny. Scheinblum alleges that female employees at
LVCHSA were treated better than he was and that LVCHSA,
through LaBelle, would enable the female employees to use
profane language and act in an offensive manner.
had a meeting with LaBelle on or about April 4, 2014 during
which Scheinblum alleges that LaBelle chastised him for using
offensive language and acting in a threatening manner towards
women. Scheinblum disputed these accusations and complained
of a hostile work environment. Scheinblum reported this
meeting and the issues raised to LVCHSA's principal,
Fehlinger-Ricker. Plaintiff contends that LVCHSA failed to
take any remedial action or conduct any investigation into
the issues Scheinblum raised.
around April 8, 2014, LVCHSA, through LaBelle, suspended
Scheinblum for using profanity and acting in a threatening
matter towards women. At the time LaBelle suspended
Scheinblum, Board President Mario Acerra, who was also
present, did not allow Scheinblum to defend himself against
the charges. On or around May 8, 2014, LaBelle informed
Scheinblum that the Board of Directors were terminating his
employment. Scheinblum contends that as a result of
LVCHSA's conduct, he has suffered irrevocable damage, and
has suffered emotional, psychological, and physical distress.
He also avers that he has suffered a loss of earnings.
Facts Related to Ayers
Ayers was hired in September 2008 by LVCHSA as Director of
Special Education. Ayers avers that LVCHSA is required, by
law, to maintain the position of Director of Special
Education and is not allowed to remove it for any reason.
According to the Complaint, Ayers' employment was
directed by a contract, which it stated she was not subject
to immediate termination except for “good cause which
is not arbitrary or capricious.” Ayers alleges that
this provision allows her employment to be ...