United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MALACHY E. MANNION, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the court, in this employment, age and disability
discrimination action filed by plaintiff Mary Kramer, is a
motion to dismiss the amended complaint pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) filed by her former employer, defendant
Mauch Chunk Trust Company (“MCTC”). (Doc. 9).
Based upon the court's review of the motion and related
materials, the defendant's motion will be GRANTED
IN PART and, DENIED IN PART with
respect to plaintiff's claims related to her termination.
The plaintiff's disability discrimination claim will
proceed. The plaintiff's age discrimination claim will be
dismissed. The plaintiff's common law wrongful discharge
claim will be dismissed.
plaintiff has brought the instant action alleging
discrimination and retaliation under the Age Discrimination
in Employment Act, (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. §621,
et seq., and the Americans with Disabilities
Amendments Act, (“ADAAA”), 42 U.S.C. §12112.
She also brought a Pennsylvania common law claim of wrongful
discharge. She filed her original complaint on July 3, 2018.
being served, the defendant filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss for failure to state a claim. (Doc. 5).
then filed an amended complaint on October 25, 2018, (Doc.7),
the operative pleading for this case. In Count I, plaintiff
asserts a claim under the ADAAA alleging that defendant
discriminated against her based on her unidentified
disability of which she made her supervisor, Lee Zink, aware
she had. She also alleges that Zink regarded her as disabled
due to her medical conditions. In Count II, plaintiff raises
an age discrimination claim under the ADEA. In Count III,
plaintiff raises a common law wrongful discharge claim
alleging that her termination was in violation of
Pennsylvania public policy.
relief, plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages as
well as front pay and back pay. Plaintiff also seeks
declaratory and injunctive relief declaring that the alleged
conduct of defendant to be unlawful and enjoining its
“past and continued effects.” On November 8,
2018, defendant filed a motion to dismiss the amended
complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) seeking
the dismissal of all claims. (Doc. 9). Defendant
simultaneously filed its brief in support of its motion.
(Doc. 10). On November 23, 2018, plaintiff filed her brief in
opposition. (Doc. 11). Defendant filed a reply brief on
December 7, 2018. (Doc. 12).
court's jurisdiction over the plaintiff's federal
claims is based on 28 U.S.C. §1331. The court can
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state
law claim under 28 U.S.C. §1337.
to the amended complaint, plaintiff was terminated by
defendant based on her age in violation of the ADEA and based
on her actual and perceived disability in violation of the
ADAAA. During her employment with defendant,
plaintiff alleges that she was subjected to discriminatory
and disparate treatment by defendant's employees based on
her age and disability. Plaintiff, who was 60 years old, also
alleges that after defendant hired her on January 23, 2017 as
a Trust Officer, it retaliated against her for failing to
agree to answer questions from state bank auditors as Zink
suggested and, for failing to agree not to report Zink's
conflict of interest and unethical conduct to state
regulators regarding his investment recommendations and
decisions for defendant. In particular, plaintiff alleges
that in July 2017, defendant was audited by the Commonwealth
of Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, and
that before the audit began, Zink met with her and told her
he needed to “groom” her regarding how to respond
to the auditors. She also alleges that Zink told her that if
anyone found out that he was making investment
recommendations and decisions for both defendant's
individual and trust clients, he would “lose every
license” he has. Plaintiff avers that Zink told her
that if she was not comfortable being “groomed”
to answer the auditors' questions, she should “work
from another office that week.” Plaintiff then states
that she did not respond to Zink. Subsequently, plaintiff
avers that Zink directed the auditors away from her because
he feared that she would disclose his unethical investment
decisions and recommendations on behalf of defendant.
20, 2017, the day before plaintiff was scheduled to have an
exit interview with the state auditors, Zink informed her
that she was terminated because she was “not
right” for the job and was “not a good fit”
despite the fact that she was not afforded any prior notice
or discipline, no investigation, no opportunity to challenge
the reasons for her termination, and no exit interview with
defendant's Human Resources Department.
court will first discuss plaintiff's ADAAA discrimination
claims defendant violated the ADAAA since she was
discriminated against and terminated due to an actual or
perceived disability. She alleges that she was “treated
in a different and disparate manner with regard to discipline
and workplace standards than . . . non-disabled
employees.” The ADA prohibits discrimination
“against a qualified individual on the basis of
disability in regard to job application procedures, the
hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee
compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and
privileges of employment.” 42 U.S.C. §12112(a). To
establish a prima facie case of disability discrimination
under the statute, the plaintiff must show: “(1) [s]he
is a disabled person within the meaning of the ADA; (2) [s]he
is otherwise qualified to perform the essential functions of
the job, with or without reasonable accommodations by the
employer; and (3) [s]he has suffered an otherwise adverse
employment decision as a result of discrimination.”
Taylor v. Phoenixville School Dist., 184 F.3d 296,
306 (3d Cir. 1999) (citing Gaul v. Lucent
Technologies, 134 F.3d 576, 580 (3d Cir. 1998)). The ADA
defines an “individual with a disability” as a
person who has: “(a) a physical or mental impairment
that substantially limits one or more major life activities
of such individual; (b) a record of such impairment; or (c)
being regarded as having such an impairment.” 42 U.S.C.
to establish a “disability” under the ADA,
plaintiff must prove that she is substantially limited in
performing a major life activity. See 42 U.S.C.
§12102. As noted, the ADAAA expanded the scope of
disability and construed the definition of disability in
favor of broad coverage. Nonetheless, the ADAAA's
definition of “disability” still remains as
“a physical or mental impairment that substantially
limits one or more major life activities of such
individual.” 42 U.S.C. §12102(1). “[M]ajor
life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for
oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating,
sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking,
breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking,
communicating, and working.” 42 U.S.C.
§12102(2)(A). “The determination of whether an
individual is substantially limited in a major life activity
must be made on a case by case basis.”
Albertson's, Inc. v. Kirkingburg, 527 U.S. 555,
566, 119 S.Ct. 2162 (1999) (citation omitted).
with respect to the “‘physical or mental
impairment' prong of the definition of a disability, EEOC
regulations clarified that ‘the determination of
whether an impairment substantially limits a major life
activity requires an individualized assessment' and
‘should require a degree of functional limitation that
is lower than the standard for ‘substantially
limits' applied prior to the ADAAA.” Riley v.
St. Mary Medical Center, 2014 WL 220734729, *2 (E.D.Pa.
May 28, 2014) (citations omitted). However, “[n]ot
every impairment will constitute a disability” within
the meaning of the ADA. Koller v. Riley Riper Hollin
& Colagreco, 850 F.Supp.2d 502, 513 (E.D.Pa. 2012).
Under the ADAAA, the qualifying impairment must still create
an “important” limitation. Id.
determine whether [plaintiff] is disabled under Subsection
(A), we ‘must first identify the specific life
activities that [plaintiff] claims are affected and determine
whether those activities are ‘major life
activities' under the ADA, and then must evaluate whether
[plaintiff's] impairment substantially limits those major
life activities.” Parrotta v. PECO Energy
Company, 363 F.Supp.3d 577, 590-91 (E.D.Pa. 2019)
(citation omitted). The court “measure[s] disability at
the time the adverse action occurred”, id. at
591, i.e., when plaintiff was terminated from her position.
plaintiff alleges that defendant regarded her as being
disabled. As the court in Walker v. U.S. Secretary of the
Air Force, 7 ...