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Vazquez v. Carr and Duff, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 13, 2018

CARR AND DUFF, INC., et al. Defendants.


          Darnell Jones, II J.

         Plaintiff Miguel Vasquez commenced the above-captioned action alleging various violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§2000e to 2000e-17. (hereinafter “Title VII”), the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. §§ 951 et seq. (hereinafter “PHRA”), and the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance, § 9-1100, et seq. (hereinafter “PFPO”). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Thurmond Pace repeatedly sexually harassed Plaintiff during Plaintiff's employment as a ground hand for Defendant Carr and Duff. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Carr and Duff was aware of Defendant Pace's history of inappropriate workplace conduct and retaliated against Plaintiff when Plaintiff formally complained about Defendant Pace's harassing behavior. Defendants timely filed Motions to Dismiss the Amended Compliant pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). For the reasons that follow, Defendant Carr and Duff's Motion is granted in part and denied in part and Defendant Pace's Motion is granted in its entirety. The Court denies leave for further amendment, and Defendant Carr and Duff is directed to file an Answer to the Amended Complaint within fourteen (14) days of the filing of this Memorandum and the accompanying Order.

         Factual Background

         In the interests of brevity, the Court refers the parties to the Memorandum dated September 22, 2017, (ECF No. 20), for a full recitation of the pertinent facts.

         Plaintiff commenced the instant action in April 2016. (ECF No. 1.) On Defendants' Motions, this Court previously dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint in its entirety as it related to Defendant Pace, and in part as it related to Defendant Carr and Duff. (ECF No. 20.) As was required, this Court granted Plaintiff the opportunity to amend the Complaint to remedy the identified deficiencies in pleading. (ECF No. 20, p. 19.) In accordance therewith, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on October 12, 2017. (ECF No. 22.) The pleadings contained in the Amended Complaint are nearly identical to that of the original, with the exception of facts added to allege Defendant Pace's role as Plaintiff's supervisor, (ECF No. 22 ¶ 18, 28), and to describe disciplinary action taken against Defendant Pace for previous acts of unlawful harassment. (ECF No. 22 ¶ 21.)

         Defendants timely filed Motions to Dismiss the Amended Complaint, each of which the Court considers herein.[1] Now before the Court are Defendants' Motions to Dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (ECF Nos. 26, 27), Plaintiff's Responses in Opposition thereto (ECF Nos. 28, 29), and Defendant Carr and Duff's Reply (ECF No. 30-2).

         Standard of Review

         I. Rule 12(b)(1)

         “Although it is a basic tenet of administrative law that a plaintiff should timely exhaust all administrative remedies before seeking judicial relief, the purpose of this rule is practical, rather than a matter affecting substantive justice…Failure to exhaust is in the nature of statutes of limitation and does not affect the District Court's subject matter jurisdiction.” Anjelino v. New York Times Co., 200 F.3d 73, 87 (3d Cir. 1999) (internal quotations omitted). It is therefore more appropriate to assess Defendants' exhaustion arguments in favor of dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See id. (“Thus, the District Court should have considered the exhaustion and timeliness defenses presented in this case under Rule 12(b)(6), rather than under Rule 12(b)(1).”).

         II. Rule 12(b)(6)

         In deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), courts must “accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.” Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted). After the Supreme Court's decision in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). This standard, which applies to all civil cases, “asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. at 678; accord Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (“[A]ll civil complaints must contain more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.”) (internal quotation marks omitted).


         In its earlier Memorandum, the Court comprehensively assessed the sufficiency of the pleadings to establish each of Plaintiff's claims under Title VII, the PHRA, and the PFPO. (ECF No. 20.) Accordingly, the Court now primarily focuses its attention on Plaintiff's ability to remedy the claims previously identified as insufficiently pled. The analysis that follows contains substantive assessments of the challenged claims only to the extent that the Court's previous holding is no longer instructive.

         I. Tit ...

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