United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge
Pennsylvania State University (“PSU”) moved to
dismiss Tracey Jackson's complaint. For the reasons
that follow, PSU's motion will be granted in part and
denied in part.
Jackson is a former employee of PSU. Her complaint alleges
that she was wrongfully discharged on the basis of her age,
and contains claims under the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (Counts I and IV); the Pennsylvania Human
Relations Act (Counts II and VII); the Borough of State
College AntiDiscrimination in Employment Ordinance (Counts
III and VIII); the Employee Retirement Income Security Act
(Count V); Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Count
VI); and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Count IX).
motion seeks to dismiss Counts III, V, and VIII of Ms.
Jackson's Complaint. It also seeks to dismiss Ms.
Jackson's request for punitive damages, but PSU later
withdrew that portion of its motion.
opposing PSU's motion, Ms. Jackson agreed that Count V
should be dismissed. Consequently, this Court will dismiss it
with prejudice, and only address PSU's motion
vis-à-vis Counts III and VIII.
sole argument in favor of dismissing Counts III and VIII is
that Ms. Jackson failed to exhaust her administrative
remedies before filing the instant suit-i.e., that
she failed to file a complaint with the State College Human
Relations Commission (“SCHRC”) before bringing
her claim in this Court. In response, Ms. Jackson argues that
her cross-filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (“EEOC”) and the Pennsylvania Human
Relations Commission (“PHRC”) satisfied the
Ordinance's exhaustion requirement.
Borough of State College Anti-Discrimination in Employment
Ordinance (“Ordinance”) provides a private right
of action to those injured by workplace
discrimination. Section 908.b of the Ordinance states that
such right of action “may be brought:”
(1) upon receipt by the aggrieved Person(s) of notice that
the [SCHRC] has dismissed the compliant; or
(2) if no such notice is received, after (1) year from the
date of the filing of the complaint.
argues that this Section required Ms. Jackson to file a
complaint with the SCHRC in addition to the complaint she
filed with the EEOC and the PHRC.
909 of the Ordinance, however, indicates that it “shall
have no jurisdiction over matters which are the subject of
pending or prior filings made by an aggrieved person before
any state or federal court or agency of competent
jurisdiction.” Consequently, if this Court reads
Section 908.b as requiring filing with the SCHRC, Section 909
would necessarily require a plaintiff such as Ms. Jackson to
choose between bringing a suit under the Ordinance and
bringing a suit under state and/or federal antidiscrimination
such a choice, however, would violate another part of the
Ordinance, Section 908.c, which states that “nothing in
this Ordinance limits the right of an aggrieved Person to
recover under any other applicable law or legal
theory.” It would additionally violate the
Ordinance's stated purpose-i.e., “to
foster the employment of all persons in ...