United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
DAMON M. MYERS, Plaintiff,
AUTOZONERS, LLC, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Barry Fischer United States District Judge.
consideration of the Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 23) filed
by Autozoners, LLC, (“Defendant”), Damon M.
Myer's (“Plaintiff”) Response (Docket No. 30)
thereto, and the parties' oral argument at the March 28,
2017, Motion hearing, the Court will DENY said Motion.
presently seeks dismissal of Plaintiff's sole remaining
claim at Count I of the Second Amended Complaint (Docket No.
21) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
Defendant's primary contention is that Plaintiff has
failed to plead sufficient factual matter to sustain a claim
for race-based failure to promote under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et
seq. (“Title VII”), and the Pennsylvania
Human Relations Act, 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§ 951
et seq. (“PHRA”).
Standard of Review
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires that a complaint
contain a short and plain statement of a claim, and show that
the pleader is entitled to relief. Dismissal of a complaint
or portion of a complaint is warranted under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) when a claimant fails to
sufficiently state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Avoiding dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) requires a pleading
party's complaint to provide “enough factual
matter” to allow the case to move beyond the pleading
stage of litigation; the pleader must “‘nudge his
or her claims across the line from conceivable to
plausible.'” Phillips v. Cnty. of
Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 - 35 (3d Cir. 2008)
(quoting Bell Atlantic Co. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
556, 570 (2007)).
assessing the merits of a claim subject to a motion to
dismiss, a court must engage in a two-part analysis.
Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 - 11 (3d
Cir. 2009). First, factual and legal elements of a claim must
be distinguished. Id. Second, it must be determined
whether the facts as alleged support a “plausible claim
for relief.” Id. In making the latter
determination, the court must be mindful that the matter
pleaded need not include “detailed factual allegations,
” Phillips, 515 F.3d at 231 (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555), and the court must
construe all alleged facts, and draw all inferences gleaned
therefrom, in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party. Id. at 228 (citing Worldcom, Inc. v.
Graphnet, Inc., 343 F.3d 651, 653 (3d Cir. 2003)).
Moreover, a pleading party need only “put forth
allegations that ‘raise a reasonable expectation that
discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary
element[s].'” Fowler, 578 F.3d at 213
(quoting Graff v. Subbiah Cardiology Assoc., Ltd.,
2008 WL 2312671 (W.D. Pa. June 4, 2008)). A well-pleaded
complaint, even when “it strikes a savvy judge that
actual proof of…facts is improbable, ” will not
be dismissed as long as the pleader demonstrates that his or
her claim is plausible. Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 - 56).
the facts provided do need to raise the expectation of relief
above a purely speculative level, and must include more than
“labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action.” Phillips,
515 F.3d at 231 - 32 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at
554 - 56). Rule 8(a)(2) “requires a ‘showing'
rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to
relief.” Id. at 232. “[T]hreadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”
Fowler, 578 F.3d at 211 (quoting Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
around May of 2013, Plaintiff - a part-time “Commercial
Driver” for Defendant - requested that his Store
Manager Mike Pierce promote him to full-time status. (Docket
No. 21 ¶ 9). At that point in time, Plaintiff - an
African American - had been employed by Defendant for
approximately eighteen (18) months. (Id.).
Plaintiff's request was denied; however, Mr. Piece
ultimately promoted Plaintiff to a better - albeit part-time
- position as a “Driver, Hub/Feeder” on June 2,
2013. (Docket No. 21 ¶ 10). Plaintiff did not receive
any employment benefits associated with full-time status, as
a result. (Id.).
continued to express interest in other promotional
opportunities at his place of employment, and for full-time
status. (Docket No. 21 ¶ 11). He did not receive any
requested promotions. (Id.). Instead, during the
same period of time, at least ten (10) other Caucasian
employees received promotions to positions in which Plaintiff
had expressed an interest, or received full-time status, and
many of these employees had less time with Defendant than
Plaintiff. (Id.). Plaintiff was also denied training
opportunities which could have qualified him for better
positions. (Docket No. 21 ¶ 13). Caucasian employees
were not denied the same training. (Id.).
Response to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff
conceded that these facts, as pled, could only support a
Title VII claim for failure to promote. (Docket No. 30 at 2).
Nonetheless, Defendant argues that even these facts are
insufficient to state a claim for failure to promote. (Docket
No. 24 at 5 - 7). Specifically, the factual averments in
paragraph 11 of the Second Amended Complaint provide few - if
any - dates with which to determine whether or not certain
Caucasian co-worker's promotions, and denial of same to
Plaintiff, occurred within 300 days of Plaintiff's Equal
Employment Opportunity charge. (Id.) Plaintiff argues,
in turn, that discovery is needed to determine the exact
timeline. Discovery is likewise necessary to confirm that
Plaintiff was qualified for these positions, and at least as
qualified as the employees who ultimately obtained the
pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2) are meant to provide a
defendant with fair notice of what a plaintiff's claim is
and the grounds on which it rests. Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555 (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47
(1957)). The grounds pled need only plausibly suggest that
discovery will reveal evidence to support the claim.
Id. at 556. The Court need not consider whether the
grounds are or are not probably true, Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 696, because it is the purpose of discovery to
“‘uncover evidence of the facts pleaded in the
Complaint, '” Hodczak v. Latrobe Specialty
Steel Co., 2009 WL 911311, at *9 (W.D. Pa. Mar. 31,
2009) (quoting Smith v. Lyons, Doughty & Velduius,
P.C., 2008 WL 2885887, at *5 (D.N.J. July 23, 2008)),
and “clarify whether a plaintiff's claims have
merit.” Georges v. Ettline Foods Corp., 2017
WL 939018, at *3 (M.D. Pa Feb. 21, 2017). In the instant
matter, if discovery yields dates within the applicable
limitations periods under Title VII and the PHRA,
Plaintiff's pleadings could ...