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Rodrigues v. Motorworld Automotive Group, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 17, 2017



          A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge

         Presently before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant William “Bill” Smith (Doc. 19). For the reasons that follow, Defendant Smith's Motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Background

         The facts as set forth in Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 1) are as follows:

         Plaintiff Mark Rodrigues is a Pennsylvania resident who was formerly employed by Defendant Motorworld. (Compl. ¶¶ 1-2.) Plaintiff, who is “Italian, Portuguese, Latino, and Caucasian, ” began working as a sales associate for Defendant Motorworld in April 2014. (Id. ¶¶ 18-19.)

         As soon as Plaintiff began working at Motorworld, Defendant Josh Cannon, a co-worker, asked Plaintiff: “What are you[, ] Mexican?” (Id. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff corrected Cannon by informing him that he was Portuguese and that his last name ended with an “S, ” not with a “Z.” (Id. ¶ 21.) Thereafter, Plaintiff was referred to as “Portuguese Penis, ” “Portuguese Prince, ” and his national origin was treated as a joke. (Id. ¶¶ 22-23.) When Plaintiff complained to some colleagues that he was being treated differently and being singled out, Cannon said: “[T]hat's because you are Mexican.” (Id. ¶ 25.)

         Defendant Joe Zakowski, another co-worker, made fun of Plaintiff's Portuguese heritage in front of colleagues and customers on a consistent basis. (Id. ¶ 24.) At times, customers referred to Plaintiff as “the Portuguese guy.” (Id. ¶ 56.)

         Around July 2014, Plaintiff complained to Defendant Bill Smith, a manager at Motorworld, and informed Smith about the offensive comments directed toward him. (Id. ¶¶ 26-27.) In response, Smith laughed and said that the person making the comments was “only joking around with you.” (Id. ¶ 28.) Smith did nothing to stop the comments from being made and laughed at such comments when he would hear them. (Id. ¶¶ 29, 31-32.) Offensive comments about Plaintiff were made on a regular basis. (Id. ¶ 33.)

         Plaintiff eventually spoke with Cheryl Orvick, the HR manager, at the beginning of May 2015. (Id. ¶ 35.) By this time, Plaintiff had a new manager, Defendant Stuart Lebowitz. (Id. ¶ 36.) After Plaintiff complained to HR, Orvick went to complain to Defendant Bob King, the president of Motorworld. (Id. ¶¶ 38-39.) A meeting took place between Plaintiff, Lebowitz, Orvick, and King. (Id. ¶ 40.) Prior to this meeting, Lebowitz singled out Plaintiff and told him that he could not wear his black casual dress shoes despite the fact that other people wore sneakers. (Id. ¶¶ 42-43.)

         Management at Motorworld cut the profit so that Plaintiff would sell more cars at less profit to himself, but Lebowitz would get his bonus because of the increase in car sales. (Id. ¶ 45.) Plaintiff was the only employee who had his profit reduced by Lebowitz. (Id. ¶ 46.) Additionally, when Plaintiff was late to work on one occasion, Lebowitz singled him out for his tardiness, despite the fact that other employees had come in late without reprimand. (Id. ¶¶ 50-52.) Lebowitz also singled out Plaintiff during the weekly Saturday sales meeting by making statements about the way he dressed and his need to work harder. (Id. ¶¶ 53-54.)

         Plaintiff resigned on Memorial Day 2015. (Id. ¶ 57.) Plaintiff timely filed a written charge of discrimination with the Philadelphia office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (“PHRC”). (Id. ¶ 13.) The EEOC mailed Plaintiff a Right to Sue Letter on or about May 16, 2016. (Id. ¶ 14.)

         II. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court's role is limited to determining if a plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence in support of her claims. See Semerenko v. Cendant Corp., 223 F.3d 165, 173 (3d Cir. 2000). The Court does not consider whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail. Id. A defendant bears the burden of establishing that a plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim. See Gould Elecs. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000).

         A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The statement required by Rule 8(a)(2) must “‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Detailed factual allegations are not required. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. However, mere conclusory statements will not do; “a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief.” Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). Instead, a complaint must “show” this entitlement by alleging sufficient facts. Id. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 664 (2009). As such, “[t]he touchstone of the pleading standard is plausibility.” Bistrian v. Levi, 696 F.3d 352, 365 (3d Cir. 2012).

         The inquiry at the motion to dismiss stage is “normally broken into three parts: (1) identifying the elements of the claim, (2) reviewing the complaint to strike conclusory allegations, and then (3) looking at the well-pleaded components of the complaint and evaluating whether all of the elements identified in part one of the inquiry are sufficiently alleged.” Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011).

         Dismissal is appropriate only if, accepting as true all the facts alleged in the complaint, a plaintiff has not pleaded “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, meaning enough factual allegations “‘to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of'” each necessary element. Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. ...

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