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Simon v. IPS - Integrated Project Services, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 25, 2018

John Simon Plaintiff,
v.
IPS - Integrated Project Services, LLC Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          C. Darnell Jones, II J.

         This matter arises out of a series of incidents that occurred during the course of John Simon's, (“Plaintiff”), employment by Integrated Project Services - IPS, LLC (“Defendant”). Plaintiff alleges claims of age discrimination against Defendant in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq. (“ADEA”) (Count I) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, as amended, 43 P.S. § 951, et seq. (“PHRA”) (Count II). (ECF No. 6.) Defendant moved to dismiss Count II of Plaintiff's Complaint, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies in accordance with the PHRC. (ECF No. 8.)

         Presently before this Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the PHRA Claim (Count II) in the First Amended Complaint, (ECF No. 8.), and Defendant's Brief in Opposition, (ECF No. 11.). Having carefully reviewed and considered the arguments advanced by both parties, the Court denies Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for reasons set forth below.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff began working for Defendant as a Director of Process Architecture in August 2014. (ECF No. 6, ¶ 18.) Defendant, a leading provider of technical consulting and qualifications services for technically complex client facilities across the globe, hired Plaintiff as project architect and master planner for a new project within IPS's Technology Group. (ECF No. 6, ¶¶ 18, 21.) Plaintiff's new role included master planning, managing clients, and engaging in front-end studies where Plaintiff worked under the direct supervision of Sam Halaby (“Halaby”), Senior Director of Global Strategy and Technology. (ECF No. 6, ¶¶ 21, 22.) IPS' Technology Group was comprised of eleven employees between the ages of thirty and forty-five, with Plaintiff, at sixty-five, being the eldest employee in the Group. (ECF No. 6, ¶ 26.)

         On Plaintiff's first day of work, Plaintiff learned that the Project for which Plaintiff was hired had been reassigned to a younger employee without explanation, leaving Plaintiff with a minor support role on the project. (ECF No. 6, ¶ 23.) A month later, in September 2014, Plaintiff was removed altogether from said project due to “budget issues.” (ECF No. 6, ¶ 24.) Plaintiff contacted Halaby for a new project assignment. (ECF No. 6, ¶ 25.) Halaby informed Plaintiff that he did not have any work and suggested that Plaintiff contact other groups within IPS “to find projects sufficient to keep Plaintiff busy.” (ECF No. 6, ¶ 25.)

         In October 2014, Plaintiff complained to Halaby regarding Plaintiff's lack of work assignments and Halaby continued to inform Plaintiff that Halaby “didn't have work” for him. (ECF No. 6, ¶ 27.) Plaintiff learned from a leader within the Architectural Group that the Technology Group had “plenty” of work and expressed confusion as to why Halaby would not assign Plaintiff work. (ECF No. 6, ¶ 28.) Two months later, Halaby refused to schedule a salary and performance review for Plaintiff. (ECF No. 6, ¶ 29.) Plaintiff contends that, to the best of his knowledge, he was the only member of the Technology Group who did not receive a salary and performance review for 2014. (ECF No. 6, ¶ 29.)

         For almost a year, from March 2015 to February 2016, Plaintiff was given only “supporting role” assignments while his “younger, less experienced colleagues” were given lead assignments. (ECF No. 6, ¶ 30.) Throughout this year, Halaby refused to meet with Plaintiff, assign Plaintiff work, or offer feedback on the minimal work Plaintiff was assigned. (ECF No. 6, ¶ 30.) Halaby continually attributed the circumstances to “lack of work.” (ECF No. 6, ¶ 30) In December 2015, Plaintiff again asserts that he was the only member of the Technology Group denied a salary and performance review. (ECF No. 6, ¶ 32.) On March 8, 2016, Defendant ultimately terminated Plaintiff's employment due to “lack of work.” (ECF No. 6, ¶ 34.)

         Soon after Plaintiff's termination, Halaby hired a member of the Architectural Group who was in his thirties to join the Technology Group. (ECF No. 6, ¶ 36.) In late April 2016, Defendant placed a job advertisement online seeking Process Architect Directors and Project Architects. (ECF No. 6, ¶ 37.) Plaintiff was qualified for both of the positions and applied accordingly. (ECF No. 6, ¶ 37.) However, Plaintiff never received a response to either of his applications. (ECF No. 6, ¶ 38.)

         II. PROCEDURAL POSTURE

         On September 2, 2016, Plaintiff dual-filed a timely Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC and PHRC alleging age discrimination against Defendant under the ADEA and PHRA. (ECF No. 6, Exhibit 1.) On May 8, 2017, after concluding its investigation, the EEOC issued Plaintiff a Dismissal and Notice of Rights, or “Right-to-Sue” letter. (ECF No. 6, ¶ 14.) The EEOC's Notice advised Plaintiff that he had ninety days to file a lawsuit based on his claims. (ECF No. 6, Exhibit 2.) Plaintiff did not request the EEOC or PHRC to close his case; instead, the EEOC issued the Notice on its own initiative. (ECF No. 6, ¶ 15.)

         On August 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court asserting claims under the ADEA and PHRA. (ECF No. 1.) On September 12, 2017, Defendant timely filed a Partial Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Count II, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(6), claiming that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies for his PHRA claim by filing suit before the one-year period had expired. (ECF No. 5) On September 26, 2017, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 15(a)(1)(B), thereby rendering Defendant's Partial Motion to Dismiss moot. (ECF No. 6.) Thereafter, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss the PHRA Claim (Count II) in the First Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 8.) Plaintiff filed a Brief in Opposition to Defendant's Partial Motion to Dismiss on November 3, 2017. (ECF No. 11.) Presently, before this Court is Defendant's renewed Partial Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 8.)

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         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. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation and citation omitted). After the Supreme Court's decision in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, [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) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). 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. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). This standard asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Id. Accord Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (“[A]ll civil ...


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