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Wilson v. Graybar Electric Co. Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

March 26, 2018

GYLES G. WILSON Plaintiff,
v.
GRAYBAR ELECTRIC COMPANY INC., et al. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM RE: MOTION TO DISMISS

          Baylson, J.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Gyles Wilson, a resident of Middletown, Delaware, asserts that he was wrongfully terminated from his position as a warehouse supervisor at Graybar Electric Company, Inc. by his former supervisor, James O'Kane, on the basis of age, disability, race, and national origin and in retaliation for seeking worker's compensation for a workplace injury. Graybar, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania company, and James O'Kane, a resident of Glenolden, Pennsylvania, move to dismiss counts two, five, seven, and ten pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Mr. Wilson's claims due to a failure to exhaust administrative remedies and availability of statutory relief baring common law claims. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion is denied.

         II. Background

         The following facts are taken as true from Plaintiff's complaint. Plaintiff Gyles Wilson, a 55-year-old black man of Jamaican decent, spent 23 years working for Defendant Graybar at their Philadelphia location. (2d Am. Compl. ¶ 5, ECF 21). In those 23 years, Wilson had never received a written reprimand. Id. ¶ 17. On November 11, 2015, Wilson suffered a work-related injury. Id. ¶ 18. Wilson utilized worker's compensation to pay for physical therapy and related medical expenses. Id. ¶ 19. Wilson was certified as able to return to work on February 16, 2016 and did return to work the following Monday February 22, 2016. Id. ¶ 20.

         Wilson returned to the same position as warehouse supervisor he left, but states that his supervisor, James O'Kane, was overly harsh in his criticism and required Wilson to perform tasks outside of his job description despite Wilson's request for accommodation. Id. ¶¶ 20-22. James O'Kane is described as white and younger than Wilson. Id. ¶¶ 21.

         On August 15, 2016, Wilson was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Id. ¶ 23. He notified his employer of his diagnosis and then again later when he found out he would have to take a medical leave for surgery. Id. ¶ 24. However, when Wilson requested the twelve weeks of leave he was anticipated to require to recover from the surgery, he was denied and ultimately only given eight weeks. Id. ¶¶ 24-26. Wilson required two additional surgeries due to medical complications, but still returned within his allotted 8 weeks on October 3, 2016. Id. ¶¶ 25-26. Upon his return from surgery, Wilson again was subject to harsh criticism and tasks outside his job description despite his requested accommodation. Id. ¶ 28.

         On November 7, 2016, Wilson was called in to O'Kane's office and where his employment was terminated. Id. ¶ 29. Wilson was not told an official reason for his firing from O'Kane at the meeting. Id. ¶ 30. The reason given to other people for Wilson's firing is that he delayed in reporting damage to a truck in the warehouse he was supervising. Id. ¶ 31. Wilson states that he discovered the damage at 4:00am and promptly reported it. He did report it when he arrived at the facility at 8:00am. Id. ¶ 32. Wilson asserts that his firing without any notice was due to his age, disability, race, national origin and in retaliation for his use of worker's compensation and medical leave. Id. ¶ 29.

         During Wilson's time at Graybar, older employees ceased to be promoted once O'Kane became supervisor. Id. ¶ 39. Wilson was told that he was not the “type” to be a manager by O'Kane, which he understood to be an overt racial comment. Id. ¶¶ 41-42. There were three other black employees at Graybar's Philadelphia location at the time of Wilson's firing and two were fired soon after and the third quit in January 2017. Id. ¶ 43.

         III. Procedural History

         On August 7, 2017 Plaintiff filed this action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. (Compl., ECF 1). The second amended complaint was filed on January 9, 2018. (2d Am. Compl., ECF 21). The ten counts of the second amended complaint are:

I) Discrimination Due to Actual or Perceived Disability and Failure to Provide Reasonable Accommodation, Americans with Disabilities Act 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.
II) Discrimination Due to Actual or Perceived Disability and Failure to Provide Reasonable Accommodation, Pennsylvania Human Relations Act 43 P.S. § 951 et seq.
III) Workers Compensation Retaliation (Public Policy), Pennsylvania Human Relations Act 43 ...

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