Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Westgate v. Keystone Blind Association

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

February 15, 2017

ROGER WESTGATE, Plaintiff
v.
KEYSTONE BLIND ASSOCIATION, Defendant

          MEMORANDUM

          YVETTE KANE, DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court in the above-captioned case are the following motions requiring resolution: a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (Doc. No. 10)[1], a Motion for Protective Order (Doc. No. 13), a Motion for Leave to File Sur Reply Brief to Motion for Protective Order (Doc. No. 20), and a Motion for Leave to File Sur Reply Brief in Response to Defendants' Reply Brief in Consideration of Their Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 28). The motions are briefed and ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the Motion to Dismiss will be granted in part and denied in part, the Motion for Protective Order will be denied, and Plaintiff's Motions for Leave to File Sur Reply Brief will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND[2]

         On March 31, 2014, Plaintiff Roger Westgate began working for Defendant Keystone Blind Association (“KBA”), a non-profit organization that operates welcome centers and rest areas in various locations on the interstate highway system in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Doc. No. 8 ¶¶ 5-7, 10.) Defendant provides cleaning and maintenance services at the welcome centers and rest areas. (Id. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff was employed as a supervisor for a welcome center and rest area at the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border known as Site F, and a rest area on Interstate 80 in Monroe County, known as Site 41. (Id. ¶ 9.)

         On March 10, 2015, Plaintiff learned from another employee of Defendant, Bertha Canfield, that a male employee of Defendant had taken photographs of a man in his underwear in the men's bathroom at the welcome center (Site F). (Id. ¶¶ 64, 67.) Plaintiff alleges that Ms. Canfield was asked by the male employee “if he could show her something, ” and then he showed her a photo from his cell phone of a man standing in the men's bathroom of a facility managed by Defendant, in his underwear with his pants pulled down to his ankles. (Id. ¶ 67.) Plaintiff asserts that Ms. Canfield was upset and offended by the sexual nature of the male employee's actions, and reported the incident to Plaintiff. (Id. ¶¶ 68-69.)

         Plaintiff asked her to document the incident in the form of a letter that he would forward to Defendant's management. (Id. ¶ 70.) Ms. Canfield did so, and Plaintiff forwarded the letter to Melissa Means, Vice President of Human Resources for Defendant. (Id. ¶¶ 71-72.) Plaintiff alleges that by his actions, he opposed the unlawful practice of sexual harassment in the workplace of Defendant. (Id. ¶ 73.) Plaintiff alleges that pursuant to the policies and procedures of Defendant, he investigated Ms. Canfield's complaint by asking other employees of Defendant about the conduct of the male employee. (Id. ¶ 75.) Plaintiff asserts that after Defendant received Ms. Canfield's letter transmitted by him, Defendant discharged Plaintiff on March 12, 2015, citing as the reason for discharge that he had lied about speaking to employees in the course of his investigation. (Id. ¶¶ 76-77.) Plaintiff maintains that he did not lie about speaking to employees in the course of his investigation. (Id. ¶ 78.) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant did not discipline the male employee who had taken the photograph. (Id. ¶ 79.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant terminated him in retaliation for his report of wrongdoing. (Id. ¶ 81.)

         On September 2, 2015, Plaintiff filed a charge of illegal retaliation by Defendant pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). (Id. ¶60.) That charge was dual-filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (“PHRC”), as a claim under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”). (Id.) Plaintiff received a notice of right to sue from the EEOC on May 31, 2016. (Id. ¶ 61.)

         This action was initiated in the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas on August 2, 2015, by way of filing a Writ of Summons. (Doc. No. 1.) On May 26, 2016, Plaintiff filed his initial complaint against Defendant, alleging a single cause of action under the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law (“PWL”), 43 P.S.§ 1421 et seq. (Id.) Subsequently, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint alleging an additional cause of action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prompted Defendant's removal of the action to this Court on September 8, 2016. (Id.)

         On September 14, 2016, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (Doc. No. 5), and supporting brief (Doc. No. 6). On September 30, 2016, Plaintiff filed another “First Amended Complaint, ” (“FAC”), asserting claims in three counts: Count 1 asserts a claim under the PWL, Count 2 asserts a retaliation claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000e-3(a), and Count 3 asserts a retaliation claim pursuant to the PHRA, 43 P.S. §955(a).

         Defendant again filed a Motion to Dismiss For Failure to State a Claim (Doc. No. 10), seeking dismissal of all three counts of Plaintiff's subsequently filed First Amended Complaint. As Defendant's Motion to Dismiss was being briefed, Defendant filed a Motion for Protective Order, seeking the protection of the Court to prevent certain discovery sought by Plaintiff related to his PWL claim. (Doc. No. 13.) Plaintiff filed his Motion for Leave to File a Sur-Reply Brief in connection with Defendant's Motion for Protective Order (Doc. No. 20), which Defendant did not concur in.

         The Court held a case management conference on December 1, 2016, at which time the parties expressed their willingness to discuss settlement prior to discovery. (Doc. No. 24.) Accordingly, the Court referred the matter to Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson for settlement discussions. (Doc. No. 25.) In the meantime, on December 15, 2016, Plaintiff filed another Motion for Leave to File Sur-Reply Brief in Response to Defendant's Reply Brief to their Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. No. 28.) Defendant opposed the Motion, and filed a brief in opposition on December 19, 2016. (Doc. No. 29.) During a status call with the Court on February 10, 2017, the parties reported that settlement negotiations were unsuccessful.

         Jurisdiction is based on Plaintiff's claim under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a). This Court exercises supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's PHRA and PWL claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint's factual allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” in order to “give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal quotation marks omitted) (interpreting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)). Generally, a court considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) must ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.