United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Richard Caputo United States District Judge
before me are two motions to dismiss (Docs. 8 & 9)
Plaintiff Monique Pacheco's (“Plaintiff” or
“Ms. Pacheco”) Complaint (Doc. 1), filed by
Defendants Pocono Medical Center (“PMC”) and
Vladimir Nikiforouk (“Nikiforouk”) (collectively
reasons that follow, Defendants' motions will be granted.
facts, as set forth in Ms. Pacheco's Complaint (Doc. 1),
are as follows: Ms. Pacheco was hired by Defendant PMC, a
not-for-profit community hospital in East Stroudsburg,
Pennsylvania, as a physician recruiter. (Id.
¶¶ 8, 12). Three years later, in June 2014, Ms.
Pacheco applied and was selected for the position of Practice
Administrator, whereby she managed PMC's outpatient
practices for vascular surgery, endocrinology, internal
medicine, and an immediate care center. (Id. ¶
13). In August 2015, PMC reorganized the Practice
Administrator positions. (Id. ¶ 17). Ms.
Pacheco and the other Practice Administrators were demoted,
and their titles were changed to Practice Managers.
(Id. ¶ 18). As part of the reorganization, PMC
created three Practice Administrator positions. (Id.
¶ 19). One of the three positions was filled
immediately. (Id. ¶ 20). In the fall of 2015,
Ms. Pacheco applied for the other two Practice Administrator
positions, but was not selected for either one. (Id.
November 2015, Defendant Dr. Vladimir Nikiforouk, chief
physician of the obstetrics and gynecology practice, called
Ms. Pacheco into his private office at PMC. He told Ms.
Pacheco that he had something very important to tell her.
(Id. ¶ 22). He proceeded to tell Ms. Pacheco
that he was taking a sabbatical to go to Europe for a sex
change operation and that he felt liberated telling her. He
also told her that when he returned, they could go shopping
together. In response, Ms. Pacheco expressed her support for
his decision. (Id. ¶ 23). Dr. Nikiforouk then
advised Ms. Pacheco that he was just joking, and informed her
that he had secretly video-recorded their conversation on his
iPad. (Id. ¶ 24). Dr. Nikiforouk informed Ms.
Pacheco that he had video-recorded other employees as well,
and that he planned to use the recordings for entertainment
purposes at the upcoming PMC holiday party. (Id.
evening of January 15, 2016, while Ms. Pacheco was having
dinner with her family, Dr. Nikiforouk sent her a text
message asking if he could call her. She agreed. Dr.
Nikiforouk then called Ms. Pacheco to complain about a
medical assistant that had been hired to support him.
Specifically, Dr. Nikiforouk indicated that the assistant was
an "idiot" and "fucking stupid."
(Id. ¶ 29). Dr. Nikiforouk then proceeded to
ask Ms. Pacheco what the capital of Great Britain was, and
when she indicated that she could not hear him clearly
because of the loud environment, Dr. Nikiforouk stated:
"I cannot believe you don't know the answers to
these questions either. This is a simple third grade
question. London is the capital. What is the capital of
Puerto Rico, I bet you know the answer." (Id.
¶ 30). Ms. Pacheco is Puerto Rican. (Id. ¶
31). She refused to answer Dr. Nikiforouk's questions
regarding Great Britain and Puerto Rico. (Id. ¶
32). Dr. Nikiforouk resumed his disparagement of the medical
assistant, stating again that the assistant was "fucking
stupid" and an Italian who does not know the capital of
Italy. Dr. Nikiforouk told Ms. Pacheco that he had not been
included in the hiring process and was going to make the
assistant miserable so that she would want to quit, just like
he did to "Michelle, the cute one." (Id.
her employment with PMC, Ms. Pacheco lodged multiple
complaints regarding what she believed to be inappropriate
workplace behavior, (Id. ¶ 34), namely:
a. In or around spring of 2013, Ms. Pacheco reported to
Michael Klutch, PMC in-house counsel, that she was
uncomfortable with comments expressed by Ms. Lansdowne
regarding Plaintiff's breasts.
b. In or about September 2015, Ms. Pacheco reported to Karen
Giaquinto, PMC Director of Human Resources, that she was
uncomfortable with the flirtatious behavior between Mr.
Louis, PMC's Vice President of Physician Practices, and
Ms. Landis, PMC s Director of Operations.
c. In or about September 2015, Ms. Pacheco told Ms. Giaquinto
that Mr. Louis was hugging and kissing the front-end
registration representative, Anais Ruiz.
d. In or about November 2015, Ms. Pacheco told Ms. Giaquinto
she had received a complaint from midwife Heather Gosch, who
worked in the OB/GYN Group that Ms. Pacheco managed,
regarding inappropriate comments made by Dr. Nikiforouk
relating to bias/hatred of women, disparaging comments about
Americans, and Dr. Nikiforouk's practice of video
recording employees without their knowledge.
e. Upon information and belief, other than Ms. Giaquinto
replying that she did not have time to discuss the complaint
and would look into it later, no further action or follow-up
occurred regarding the complaint.
f. In or about October 2015, Ms. Pacheco told John Thompson,
the Practice Administrator, that Mr. Louis asked one of Ms.
Pacheco's direct reports, Rachel Torres-Fernandez, out on
g. In or about November 2015, Ms. Pacheco reported Dr.
Nikiforouk's illegal video recording of their
conversation without her permission to Ms. Landis and Mr.
h. In or about January 16, 2016, Ms. Pacheco informed Ms.
Landis and Mr. Thompson about Dr. Nikiforouk's phone call
one day prior in which he referred to the national origin of
Plaintiff and a medical assistant, repeatedly used profanity
while yelling at Plaintiff, and promised to make the
assistant so miserable she would want to quit her employment.
i. In or about April 2016, Ms. Pacheco twice reported her
concerns regarding Dr. Nikiforouk to Heidi Signore who became
Director of Operations after Ms. Landis resigned. Ms. Signore
failed to respond.
point, the Complaint fails to specify when, Mr. Louis,
PMC's Vice President of Physician Practices, held a
meeting with the Practice Managers to confront them about the
complaints some of the managers had made to Human Resources
about Mr. Louis' conduct at work. At the meeting, Mr.
Louis acted in a bullying and condescending manner. He
informed the Managers that he was particularly angry about
the complaint that he had flirted with Ms. Landis because he
did not want his wife to find out about it. (Id.
¶ 35). Mr. Louis advised Lisa Perry, Director of
Business Development, that he knew who made the complaint and
that he would take action to ensure that "she is
gone." When he was advised by Ms. Perry that retaliatory
actions were prohibited, he replied that he was creative at
coming up with ways to terminate people. (Id. ¶
morning of May 9, 2016, Dr. Nikiforouk went to Ms.
Pacheco's office and stated in a snide tone, "So I
hear people are being laid off at 3:00 PM today." Ms.
Pacheco, as well as Ms. Perry, were terminated later that
day. (Id. ¶¶ 38, 40).
Pacheco was told that her termination was due to budget
concerns and that the decision had been in the works for
months. (Id. ¶ 41). However, PMC was still
hiring new Practice Managers as recently as six weeks prior
to Ms. Pacheco's termination. (Id. ¶¶
42, 43). On June 28, 2016, PMC announced that it had hired a
new Practice Manager for the OB/GYN, UroGYN, Perinatology,
GYN, Breast Surgery, & Neonatology practices, which is
the very same position previously held by Ms. Pacheco when
she was terminated on May 9th. (Id. ¶¶ 38,