United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
BONNIE F. KAITE, Plaintiff,
ALTOONA STUDENT TRANSPORTATION, INC., Defendant.
the Court is Defendant's Renewed Motion for Judgment on
the Pleadings. (ECF No. 17.) The motion has been fully
briefed (see ECF Nos. 18, 25, 32) and is ripe for
disposition. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's
motion will be DENIED.
Court has original jurisdiction over Plaintiff's civil
rights claims under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343, and
supplemental jurisdiction over her related state law claims
under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).
filed a Complaint before this Court on January 12, 2017 (ECF
No. 1), which Plaintiff subsequently amended on June 17,
2017. (ECF No. 14.) The Court accepts as true the following
facts from the Amended Complaint for the sole purpose of
deciding Defendant's Renewed Motion for Judgment on the
hired Plaintiff to work as a school bus driver in 2001.
(Id. at 2.) In November, 2015, Defendant informed
Plaintiff that, in accordance with a newly enacted state law,
Plaintiff needed to undergo a background check to continue
her employment. (Id.) The background check required
that Plaintiff be fingerprinted. (Id.)
is a devout Christian. (Id.) Plaintiff informed
Defendant that, according to her sincerely held religious
beliefs, "the Book of Revelation prohibits the 'mark
of the devil, ' which she believes includes
fingerprinting, and that she will not get into Heaven if she
submits to fingerprinting." (Id.) Plaintiff
asked Defendant for an accommodation, specifically, whether
she could perform a different type of background check that
did not require her to be fingerprinted. (Id.)
informed Plaintiff that no accommodations were available, and
terminated her for failing to comply with state law's
fingerprinting requirement, effective December 31, 2015.
(Id. at 2-3.) However, Defendant allowed at least
one employee with "unreadable" fingerprints to
participate in an alternative background check for which
fingerprinting was not required. (Id. at 3.)
asserts three claims: (1) religious discrimination in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ("Title
VII") (see Id. at 3-4); (2) retaliation, also
in violation of Title VII (id. at 4-5); and (3) a
related claim under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act
("PHRA"). (Id. at 5-6.)
standard for deciding a motion for judgment on the pleadings
filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) is
not materially different from the standard for deciding a
motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6)." Zion v. Nassan, 283 F.R.D.
247, 254 (W.D. Pa. 2012); see Harleysville INS. Co. of
New York v. Cerciello, No. 3:08-CV-2060, 2010 WL
11534317, at *2 (M.D. Pa. 2010) ("The standard of review
used for a motion for judgment on the pleadings is
substantively identical to that of a motion to
dismiss."); see also Minnesota Lawyers Mut. Ins. Co.
v. Ahrens, 432 Fed.Appx. 143, 147 (3d Cir. 2011).
motion may be used to seek the dismissal of a complaint based
on a plaintiff's "failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6);
id. at 12(h)(2)(B). The only difference between the
two motions is that a Rule 12(b) motion must be made before a
"responsive pleading" is filed, whereas a Rule
12(c) motion can be made "[a]fter the pleadings are
closed." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b); id. at 12(c);
Cerciello, 2010 WL 11534317, at 2. "A court
presented with a motion for judgment on the pleadings must
consider the plaintiff's complaint, the defendant's
answer, and any written instruments or exhibits attached to
the pleadings." Anthony v. ...