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Spalla v. Electronic Manufacturing Services Group, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

February 13, 2017



          Christopher C Conner Chief Judge United States District Court

         Plaintiff Ashley Christine Spalla (“Spalla”) commenced this action against defendants Electronic Manufacturing Services Group Inc (“Electronic Manufacturing”); EMSG LLC (“the LLC”); Douglas Hamp (“Hamp”); and Douglas Boyer (“Boyer”) She alleges that defendants fostered a hostile work environment subjected her to disparate treatment and retaliated against her in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 42 USC § 2000e et seq terminated her in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”) 42 USC § 12101 et seq and interfered with her right to use medical leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) 42 USC § 2901 et seq Defendants move to dismiss Spalla's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) The court will grant the motion

          I Factual Background & Procedural History

         The LLC is a limited liability corporation with a primary place of business in York Pennsylvania (Doc 1 ¶ 3) Both Hamp and Boyer were corporate officers and shareholders of Electronic Manufacturing and the LLC (Id. ¶¶ 6-7) The LLC employed Spalla as a customer service representative between April 12 2012 and November 7 2014 (Id. ¶¶ 16 20) Hamp and Boyer supervised Spalla during her employment (Id. ¶ 7) Spalla received consistently positive performance reviews and pay increases throughout the course of her employment (Id. ¶¶ 17-19)

         According to the complaint Spalla's coworkers and supervisors including Hamp and Boyer subjected her to “constant severe pervasive and systemic sexual harassment” (Id. ¶¶ 22-23) Hamp and Boyer conspicuously “leered” at Spalla's breasts Boyer asked her to socialize outside of work and several of her coworkers pressured her to engage in sexual relationships (Id. ¶ 31) One of the LLC's patrons also attempted to court Spalla; when Spalla disclosed this conduct to one of her managers the manager told her to tolerate the customer's behavior (Id.) Spalla developed anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders as a result of her experiences at work which she reported to a supervisor (Id. ¶ 62) Spalla's supervisors did not inform her that she could take medical leave to treat her psychological conditions (Id. ¶ 79) Per contra Spalla's supervisors exacerbated her anxiety disorder by carrying firearms in the workplace despite knowing that Spalla feared firearms (Id. ¶ 33)

         Spalla lodged a formal sexual harassment complaint against Hamp on November 4 2014 (Id. ¶ 32) Defendants terminated Spalla's employment three days later whereupon Spalla's position was offered to a male candidate with lesser qualifications (Id. ¶¶ 49-50) Spalla filed a charge against Electronic Manufacturing with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (“PHRC”) on November 20 2014 (Doc. 8-1 at 1-13). Spalla amended her charge on March 22, 2015, (id. at 16-25), and filed a second amended charge on June 17, 2015. (Doc. 8-2). The second amended charge named only the LLC as respondent. (Id. at 1). The EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter on February 17, 2016. (Doc. 8-3). Spalla also filed a discrimination charge against Hamp with the PHRC on November 20, 2014. (Doc. 8-4 at 1-16). Spalla amended this charge on March 22, 2015, (id. at 17-26), and received a right-to-sue letter from the PHRC on December 21, 2015. (Doc. 1 ¶ 30).

         Spalla filed the instant complaint (Doc. 1) on May 9, 2016. Therein, she advances hostile work environment, disparate treatment, and retaliation claims against all defendants pursuant to Title VII. (Id. ¶¶ 28-55, 87-97). Spalla also raises ADA discrimination and retaliation claims, as well as an FMLA interference claim, against all defendants. (Id. ¶¶ 56-97).

         II. Legal Standard

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for the dismissal of complaints that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must “accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.” Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008). In addition to reviewing the facts contained in the complaint, the court may also consider “matters of public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint and items appearing in the record of the case.” Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n.2 (3d Cir.1994); Pension Ben. Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993).

         Federal notice and pleading rules require the complaint to provide “the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Phillips, 515 F.3d at 232 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To test the sufficiency of the complaint, the court must conduct a three-step inquiry. See Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130-31 (3d Cir. 2010). In the first step, “the court must 'tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim.'” Id. at 130 (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 675 (2009)). Next, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated; well-pleaded facts must be accepted as true, while mere legal conclusions may be disregarded. Id. at 131; see also Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). Once the court isolates the well-pleaded factual allegations, it must determine whether they are sufficient to show a “plausible claim for relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. A claim “has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Courts should grant leave to amend before dismissing a curable pleading in civil rights actions. See Fletcher-Harlee Corp. v. Pote Concrete Contractors, Inc., 482 F.3d 247, 251 (3d Cir. 2007); Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002). Courts need not grant leave to amend sua sponte in dismissing non- civil rights claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) Fletcher-Harlee Corp 482 F.3d at 251 but leave is broadly encouraged “when justice so requires” Fed R Civ. P 15(a)(2)

         III Discussion

         Defendants asseverate that Spalla's allegata even accepted as true fail to state claims under Title VII the ADA or the FMLA We began our analysis by assessing defendants' arguments concerning various threshold defects in Spalla's complaint

         A ...

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