United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
action is brought by pro se plaintiff Mark Tinneny
against the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
(“SCEE”), Echelon Protection and Surveillance,
LLC (“Echelon”), and other associated defendants.
Plaintiff filed two suits-Civil Action Nos. 15-753 and
15-4305- consolidated in this action before the Court. The
Complaints include multiple claims under federal law: (1)
violation of the Fair Housing Act, (2) hostile work
environment under Title VII, (3) violation of the Equal Pay
Act, (4) retaliation under Title VII, and (5) violation of
the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and
several state-law claims: defamation, wrongful discharge,
assault, battery, and invasion of privacy.
before the Court are two Motions to Dismiss filed by
defendants. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants in
part and denies in part SCEE defendants' Motion and
dismisses plaintiff's hostile work environment, Equal Pay
Act violation, First Amendment violation, defamation, and
wrongful discharge claims with prejudice. The Court grants
Echelon defendants' Motion in part and dismisses
plaintiff's invasion of privacy claim against Echelon
defendant John Doe #1 with prejudice, and denies the Motion
in all other respects.
Complaints assert claims against numerous defendants.
Plaintiff has named SCEE, an environmental non-profit
organization, and its Board of Trustees as defendants. Also
named as defendants are SCEE's director, Mike Weilbacher;
two members of SCEE's Board of Trustees, Tom Landsmann
and Binny Meigs; and two SCEE employees, Steve Goin and Anna
Mueser. Additionally, plaintiff has named as defendants
Echelon Protection and Surveillance, LLC, a private security
company hired by SCEE, and three John Doe defendants employed
facts as alleged in plaintiff's Complaints are summarized
as follows. Beginning on April 24, 2013, plaintiff was
employed by SCEE as a part-time groundskeeper. Compl. in
Civil Action No. 15-753 (“Compl. I”) ¶ 8;
Compl. in Civil Action No. 15-4305 (“Compl. II”)
¶ 16. As part of his employment, plaintiff entered into
a one-year residential lease with SCEE for the historic
“Weil House, ” located on SCEE's property.
Compl. II ¶ 17.
alleges that SCEE discriminated against him on the basis of
his gender. Specifically, he claims that certain female
“30-hour-a-week” employees held the title of
“manager, ” and were awarded benefits like paid
leave and medical benefits. Plaintiff, also a 30-hour-a-week
employee, was denied those benefits. Compl. II ¶¶
24-46. Plaintiff was also subjected to a culture of sexual
harassment. He avers that on January 24, 2014, defendant Tom
Landsmann, a member of the SCEE Board, called plaintiff a
“fucking pussy, ” insulted plaintiff's
intelligence, and then used the same expletives a second and
third time. Compl. II ¶¶ 49-59. As punishment for
this incident the Board forbade Landsmann from interacting
with employees, Compl. II ¶ 66, though that penalty was
not enforced on at least one occasion. Compl. II ¶¶
April 17, 2014, plaintiff met with his supervisor, Gregory
Sean Duffy. Compl II. ¶ 73. Plaintiff told Duffy that he
planned to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC.
Id. Duffy responded, “If you do, that will be
a problem! I will guarantee that everyone that works here
will hate you.” Compl. II ¶ 75. Shortly after that
conversation, plaintiff filed his first charge of
discrimination with the EEOC (EEOC Charge No. 530-2014-03124)
on April 24, 2014. Compl. I ¶ 12; id. Ex. A.
Plaintiff was subsequently isolated from all SCEE social
events, Compl. II ¶ 82, a rumor began that he was
“dangerous, ” Compl. II ¶¶ 83, 84,
plaintiff was banned from communicating with the president of
the SCEE Board (identified in the Complaint as Wagner) and
Mike Weilbacher (the SCEE director), Compl. II ¶ 87, and
he was demoted to a “20-hour-a-week employee.”
Compl. II ¶¶ 90-91.
26, 2014, plaintiff claims that he witnessed Duffy purchase
drugs on the grounds of a preschool at SCEE. Compl. II ¶
96. Plaintiff notified “two employees of the drug deal,
one of whom, Rick Schubert, was a senior manager, ”
Compl. II ¶ 98, and sent Weilbacher a copy of a
“tipline report” he had filed with the
Philadelphia Police Department, Compl. ¶ 102. Later that
afternoon, Duffy informed plaintiff that SCEE had decided not
to renew plaintiff's lease “for financial
reasons.” Compl. II ¶ 99.
subsequently began picketing on the Weil House property.
Compl. II ¶ 117. On June 26, 2014, SCEE called the
police about plaintiff's protest activities. Id.
Plaintiff overheard defendant Steve Goin tell the police that
plaintiff was “mentally ill” and “may be
schizophrenic.” Compl. II ¶ 118. That same day,
Weilbacher sent an email to “SCEE parents”
stating that plaintiff was being “closely
monitored” and that “[a]s an additional
precaution, a boundary has been established around the house
he has inhabited; no visitors, children, or groups are able
to access parts of our property near that boundary.”
Compl. II ¶ 123. Defendant Anna Lehr Mueser, wrote a
letter issued that same day repeating Weilbacher's
statement, and claiming that “[w]e are in the process
of evicting the former employee, ” who “refuses
to leave.” Compl. II ¶ 125. Plaintiff was
officially terminated on July 7, 2014. Compl. II ¶ 104.
Plaintiff filed a second charge of discrimination with the
EEOC (EEOC Charge No. 530-2014-03124) on August 19, 2014,
alleging retaliation. Compl. I Ex. B.
10, 2015, SCEE obtained a Permanent Injunction Order against
Tinneny from the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County.
Doc. No. 1, at 100. That injunction, inter alia,
forbids Tinneny from protesting at the Weil House, and
trespassing on SCEE property (excluding the Weil House and
vehicular ingress and egress). SCEE hired Echelon Protection
and Surveillance, LLC (“Echelon”) “to
protect [SCEE's] interests under the injunction.”
Echelon Br. at 7.
providing those security services, Echelon employees (John
Doe defendants # 1-3) attempted to run plaintiff over with
their vehicles, Compl. II ¶¶ 128, 141, and pointed
a loaded firearm in his direction. Compl. II ¶¶
135-137. John Doe # 3's vehicle “grazed
Plaintiff's leg, causing him to fall back.” Compl.
II ¶ 142. Finally, John Doe # 1 “hid[ ] behind
trees and bushes, taking pictures of Plaintiff.” Compl.
II ¶ 129.
is the plaintiff in two suits, both of which are presently
before the Court in one consolidated action. At the time the
actions were filed, plaintiff was represented by counsel.
first case, Civil Action No. 15-753, was originally filed in
federal court on February 17, 2015. In that action Tinneny
asserts one claim under the Fair Housing Act for retaliatory
eviction against SCEE. On July 14, 2015, Tinneny brought a
second action in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia
County, in which he asserted various federal and state claims
against all defendants. Defendants removed that case to
federal court on August 5, 2015, and the case was assigned
Civil Action No. 15-4305. The SCEE defendants and Echelon
filed separate Motions to Dismiss on August 12 and 13, 2015,
December 9, 2015, plaintiff's counsel filed a Motion to
Withdraw. The Court held a hearing on January 22, 2016, and
granted the Motion. The Court also consolidated the two
actions. Tinneny proceeded to litigate the case pro
se. After several delays at Tinneny's request, the
Court, also at Tinneny's request, referred the case to
the Attorney Panel for Pro Se Plaintiffs in
Employment Cases for appointment of counsel by Order dated
May 6, 2016. (Doc. No. 54). However, no counsel agreed to
Order dated December 6, 2016, at Tinneny's request, the
Court dismissed plaintiff's Fair Housing Claim against
SCEE with prejudice. (Doc. No. 65). SCEE defendants'
Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, Motion for a More
Definite Statement, and Echelon defendants' Motion to
Dismiss are currently pending before the Court. Tinneny
responded to the two Motions on January 9, 2017.
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a
party to respond to a pleading by filing a motion to dismiss
for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint
must allege facts that “‘raise a right to relief
above the speculative level.'” Victaulic Co. v.
Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 234 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). A complaint must contain “sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A district court first
identifies those factual allegations that constitute nothing
more than “legal conclusions” or “naked
assertions.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557.
Such allegations are “not entitled to the assumption of
truth” and must be disregarded. Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 679. The court then assesses the remaining
“‘nub' of the plaintiff['s] complaint-the
well-pleaded, nonconclusory factual allegation[s]”-to
determine whether the complaint states a plausible claim for
relief. Id. In an employment discrimination action,
a plaintiff need not fully establish each element of the
prima facie case. However, the complaint must plead
facts that “raise a reasonable expectation that
discovery will reveal proof of [the] claims.”
Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 789 (3d
is proceeding pro se in this case. “The Court
is mindful of the instruction that it should broadly construe
normal pleading requirements when handling pro se
submissions.” Scott v. Com. Dep't of Pub.
Welfare, No. 02-cv-3799, 2003 WL 22133799, at *2 (E.D.
Pa. Aug. 28, 2003) (DuBois, J.).
SCEE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS, OR IN THE