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Misiolek v. The Hershey Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 12, 2017

MARYANN MISIOLEK Plaintiff,
v.
THE HERSHEY COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          John E. Jones III United States District Judge.

         Presently pending before the Court is Defendant the Hershey Company's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint for Failure to State a Claim. (Doc. 19). The Motion has been fully briefed (docs. 20, 21 and 22), and is thus ripe for the Court's review. For the following reasons, the Motion shall be granted in part and denied in part as outlined below.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND[1]

         On or about June 26, 2000, Defendant the Hershey Company (“Hershey”) hired Plaintiff Maryann Misiolek (“Ms. Misiolek”) as an industrial engineer. (Doc. 18, ¶ 8). Ms. Misiolek was hired with the title of Director of Product Costing/Capital Administration Global Financing. (Id., ¶ 9). Her direct supervisor was a man by the name of Joseph Carlin (“Mr. Carlin”). (Id., ¶ 10). In September 2013, Ms. Misiolek and Mr. Carlin began a consensual romantic relationship. (Id., ¶ 11).[2]

         As part of her job duties, Ms. Misiolek was required to travel with Mr. Carlin to represent Hershey's business interests domestically and abroad. (Id., ¶ 13). In or around February 2014, Ms. Misiolek and Mr. Carlin traveled to New York City for an overnight business trip prior to departing on official business to India. (Id., ¶ 14). At Mr. Carlin's express direction, Ms. Misiolek expensed the cost of both the hotel and the meals in New York City to Hershey. (Id., ¶ 15).

         In June 2014, Mr. Carlin reported the consensual romantic relationship between himself and Ms. Misiolek to Hershey human resources personnel (“Hershey HR”). (Id., ¶ 16). At that time, Mr. Carlin also informed Ms. Misiolek that an imminent corporate restructuring would result in one of them being transferred to a different unit within Hershey. (Id.). Neither Hershey HR nor executive-level management ever spoke with Ms. Misiolek concerning her relationship with Mr. Carlin. (Id.).

         The anticipated corporate restructuring never occurred. (Id., ¶ 17). In or around August 2014, Ms. Misiolek and Mr. Carlin agreed to end their relationship. (Id., ¶ 17). Ms. Misiolek began to feel increasingly uncomfortable working under Mr. Carlin, and sought a transfer from her position to a different unit with a different supervisor. (Id.). However, her requests for a transfer were denied. (Id.). Ms. Misiolek alleges that internal transfer requests by senior-level male employees are routinely approved (id., ¶ 19), and that her request was denied “in an attempt to encourage her to voluntarily resign” from Hershey. (Id., ¶ 18).

         On or about October 27, 2014, Ms. Misiolek was questioned by Hershey HR regarding the expense reports submitted pursuant to the New York City business trip. (Id., ¶ 20). Immediately thereafter, Ms. Misiolek was suspended for two (2) weeks pending further investigation. (Id., ¶ 21).

         On October 29, 2014, Ms. Misiolek was terminated from her employment with Hershey. (Id., ¶ 22). Though she was not provided with a termination letter, Ms. Misiolek alleges that she was terminated for purported violations of Hershey's consensual relationship policy; for violations of the travel expense policy; and for violating the code of business ethics. (Id.). While she denies having committed these violations, Ms. Misiolek alleges that male employees in positions similar to that which Ms. Misiolek occupied were not terminated for similar violations. (Id., ¶ 24). Rather, they were given the opportunity to remit to Hershey the amount of the alleged transaction that violated the expense policy. (Id.). Accordingly, Ms. Misiolek alleges that her gender, and not these purported violations, was the cause of her termination. (Id., ¶¶ 27-28).

         Mr. Carlin was also terminated from Hershey's employ for misconduct on or about October 31, 2014. (Id., ¶ 23). No further information regarding Mr. Carlin's termination is included in Ms. Misiolek's Amended Complaint. (See generally, id.).

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Ms. Misiolek commenced this action with the filing of a Complaint on November 15, 2016. (Doc. 1). On January 18, 2016, Hershey responded with a Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 9). On March 8, 2017, Ms. Misiolek filed the operative Amended Complaint (doc. 18), thereby terminating Hershey's prior motion. In her Amended Complaint, Ms. Misiolek alleges discrimination on the basis of her gender in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (“Title VII”) (Count I). She further alleges sex discrimination in violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. § 955(a) (“PHRA”) (Count II).

         Ms. Misiolek requests compensation for back pay, front pay, lost retirement benefits, lost wages, and other lost employee benefits. She also requests compensatory, statutory and punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial, and such other relief as this Court should deem necessary. (Doc. 1, ¶ 35).

         III. ...


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