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Medina v. C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 19, 2018

MELVIN MEDINA, Plaintiff,
v.
C&S WHOLESALE GROCERS, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          SCHMEHL, J. JLS

Defendant C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. (“C&S”) moves for dismissal of Plaintiff Melvin Medina's Amended Complaint. Mr. Medina alleges wrongful termination of his at-will employment in violation of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Constitution and the Pennsylvania Criminal History Record Information Act (“CHRIA”). C&S argues Mr. Medina's Complaint must be dismissed because: 1) no private cause of action exists for suits alleging violations under the Pennsylvania Constitution; and 2) the CHRIA only applies to hiring decisions and not at-will employee termination decisions. For the reasons below, C&S's motion to dismiss will be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim satisfies the plausibility standard when the facts alleged “allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Burtch v. Millberg Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 220-21 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). While the plausibility standard is not “akin to a ‘probability requirement, '” there nevertheless must be more than a “sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         The Court of Appeals requires us to apply a three-step analysis under a 12(b)(6) motion: (1) “it must ‘tak[e] note of the elements [the] plaintiff must plead to state a claim;'” (2) “it should identify allegations that, ‘because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth;'” and, (3) “[w]hen there are well-pleaded factual allegations, [the] court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief.” Connelly v. Lane Construction Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675, 679); see also Burtch, 662 F.3d at 221; Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011); Santiago v. Warminster Township, 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010).

         II. PLEADED FACTS

         C&S Wholesale Grocers hired Mr. Medina to work and “engag[e] in inventory control.” (ECF Docket No. 7, at ¶ 4.) Prior to being hired, Mr. Medina completed an on-line application on September 10, 2016, “where he correctly identified that he had a criminal record and described it on his application.” (Id. at ¶ 5.) C&S hired Mr. Medina on September 26, 2016 to start work at C&S's Bethlehem site. (Id. at ¶¶ 7-8.) Mr. Medina worked normal hours for C&S until October 12, 2016, when C&S's Human Resources Manager informed Mr. Medina that he failed to include his felony background on his application. (Id. at ¶¶ 9-11.) Mr. Medina replied that he included his felony record in the application; however, C&S still fired Mr. Medina. (Id.

         at ¶¶ 12-14.) Mr. Medina specifically pleads: “[t]he foregoing conduct occurred within sixteen days of Plaintiff's hiring and the failure of hire/termination [sic] was carried about by the employer because of, and within ambit of, the application process.” (Id. at ¶ 15.) Mr. Medina alleges his firing occurred within the application process and should fall under the CHRIA.

         III. ANALYSIS

         a. No private cause of action exists under the Pennsylvania Constitution.

         Our courts have continuously held there is no private cause of action for suits alleging violations under the Pennsylvania Constitution. Plaza at 835 West Hamilton Street LP v. Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority, 2017 WL 4049237, at *5 (E.D. Pa. 2017) (citing Gary v. Braddock Cemetery, 517 F.3d 195, 207 n.4 (3d Cir. 2008) (“The prevailing view is that Pennsylvania does not recognize a private right of action for damages in a suit alleging violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution.”)); see also Jones v. City of Philadelphia, 890 A.2d 1188, 1208 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2006) (“To date, neither Pennsylvania statutory authority, nor appellate case law has authorized the award of monetary damages for a violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution.”).

         Mr. Medina's response in opposition to C&S's motion agrees with C&S that no private right of action exists under the Pennsylvania Constitution. Accordingly, this Court will therefore dismiss Count I of the amended complaint.

         b. Plaintiff sufficiently pleads a plausible right to relief under the Pennsylvania Criminal History Record Information Act.

         Under the Pennsylvania Criminal History Record Information Act (“CHRIA”), 18 Pa.C.S § 9125, employers are permitted to use an applicant's criminal history “for the purpose of deciding whether or not to hire the applicant . . . only to the extent to which they relate to the applicant's suitability for employment in the position for which he has applied.” 18 Pa.C.S. § 9125 (emphasis added). Mr. Medina argues C&S violated section (b) of CHRIA when it, during the course of Mr. Medina's application process, fired him because of his prior felony conviction - which he included as an answer in his C&S application materials. (ECF Docket No. 7, ¶¶ 15-27.) Specifically, Mr. Medina alleges “the foregoing conduct occurred within sixteen days of Plaintiff's hiring and the failure to hire/termination [sic] was carried about by the employer because of, and within ambit of, the application process.” (Id. at ΒΆΒΆ 15-16.) C&S correctly argues the CHRIA only applies to the hiring of employees and not the termination of employees. (ECF Docket No. 9, at ...


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