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Geiger v. Ascent Automotive Group-TM, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

December 19, 2017

BRIAN GEIGER, Plaintiff,
v.
ASCENT AUTOMATIVE GROUP-TM, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Cathy Bissoon, United States District Judge

         I. MEMORANDUM

         Pending before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Ascent Automotive Group-TM LLC (“Ascent”) (Doc. 11), pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons that follow, Ascent's Motion will be DENIED.

         A. BACKGROUND[1]

         On February 28, 2017, Plaintiff Brian Geiger (“Plaintiff”) filed a Complaint asserting sex discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment and retaliation claims under Title VII against Defendants Ascent and TM-Greensburg, LLC (“TM-Greensburg”). Plaintiff alleges that Ascent and TM-Greensburg are his “joint employers.” Doc. 1 ¶ 5. Plaintiff specifically alleges that he was “hired in or around November 2007 at Toyota of Greensburg for Sales, ” and that “in or around October 2011, Toyota [] of Greensburg w[as] . . . sold and acquired by Ascent Automotive Group LLC.” Id. ¶¶ 22, 24. Following that acquisition, “Plaintiff was subsequently rehired by Defendant for sales.” Id. ¶ 26. Thereafter, between October 2014 to December 2015, Plaintiff alleges that he was subjected to unwanted touching by his supervisor, William Berardino. Id. ¶¶ 38-74. Plaintiff further alleges that, between December 2015 to February 2016. he communicated with Paige Larrabee, “lead counsel for Friedkin and Ascent, ” about the alleged harassment but that Larrabee was either non-responsive or did nothing to correct the behavior. Id. ¶¶ 78-105. Plaintiff claims that he was “forced to resign” on or about June 25, 2016. Id. ¶ 119.

         B. ANALYSIS

         On May 8, 2017, Ascent filed the pending Motion to Dismiss, arguing that Plaintiff's Title VII claims against Ascent should be dismissed because Plaintiff does not allege facts showing that Ascent was his employer. See generally Doc. 12. Ascent argues that “Plaintiff's lone allegation in the Complaint” relating to Ascent is a “legal conclusion” that Ascent and TM-Greensburg were his joint employers but that “Plaintiff has failed to allege any facts to support a joint employer theory.” Doc. 12 at pp. 4-6. Ascent further argues that Plaintiff's claims against Ascent should be dismissed because he “admitted that he was employed by Toyota of Greensburg.” Doc. 12 at p. 5 (citing Doc. 1 ¶ 25).

         Despite Ascent's characterization of Plaintiff's Complaint, the Court finds that Plaintiff has alleged more than enough facts to demonstrate that Ascent employed him during the relevant time period. Although Plaintiff states that “he was employed by Toyota of Greensburg, ” he also explains that Ascent acquired Toyota of Greensburg in or around October 2011, well before the events giving rise to his Title VII claims arose. Furthermore, Plaintiff specifically alleges that Ascent's legal counsel communicated with him about Mr. Berardino's conduct over the course of several months. These facts are more than sufficient to show that Ascent was his employer and thus can be held liable for the harassment and retaliation alleged in the Complaint.[2]

         II. ORDER

         For the reasons stated above, Ascent's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 11) is DENIED. Ascent shall file its Answer to the Complaint on or before January 9, 2018.

         IT IS SO ORDERED.

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Notes:

[1] The following background facts are taken from Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 1). Because the case is presently before this Court on a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court accepts as true all allegations in the Complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom. See Rocks v. City of Philadelphia, 868 F.2d 644, 645 (3d Cir. 1989). In addition, the Court views all well pleaded ...


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