United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
J. PAPPERT, J.
Hamilton, an African-American woman, works for the City of
Philadelphia as a police officer. She sued the City and
Philadelphia Police Sergeant Robert Ryan, who is white, for
creating a hostile work environment and discriminating
against her due to her race and gender. The City and Ryan
separately move to dismiss Hamilton's First Amended
Complaint for failure to state a claim. The Court grants the
City's Motion in full and Ryan's Motion in part, with
leave allowing Hamilton one final opportunity to amend her
Monell claim against the City and her claims against
Ryan in his official capacity.
commands the Police Department's recruitment unit, which
recruits, hires and promotes police officers. (First Am.
Compl. ¶ 9, ECF No. 10.) In 2016, Hamilton interviewed
for a position in Ryan's unit. (Id. at ¶
10.) Hamilton remembers the interview as follows: Rather than
ask her questions, Ryan remarked “that he did not need
anymore [sic] black females in his unit.” (Id.
at ¶ 11.) He also complained about how his predecessor,
“a black female, ” had run the unit.
(Id.) Ryan then warned Hamilton “that if she
had any type of attitude” or failed to recruit at least
five new police officers each week, “he would have her
kicked out of the department.” (Id. at
¶¶ 12-13.) After these warnings, Ryan opined that
all police “shootings involving minorities [were]
justified.” (Id. at ¶ 14.) The interview
disturbed Hamilton to the extent “that she wrote a memo
and sent it to [the] Vice President of [the police union],
” who then gave it to the Police Commissioner.
(Id. at ¶¶ 15, 16.) Though the Police
Department initiated an internal affairs investigation into
Hamilton's claims, to her knowledge, the Department took
no action on her complaints. See (id. at ¶ 17.)
six months after her interview, Hamilton joined Ryan's
unit. See (id. at ¶ 20.) Hamilton says that she
discovered that Ryan had made similar “racially and
sexually discriminatory remarks” to other “black
and Hispanic officers.” (Id.) She likewise
claims that the recruiting quota Ryan had warned her about
during the interview did not exist but was merely a way for
Ryan “to intimidate her.” (Id. at ¶
22.) Hamilton adds that, even though several were available,
“Ryan refused to give [her] a cubicle” for over a
month. (Id. at ¶¶ 23-24.)
time, life under Ryan's command did not improve for
Hamilton. See (id. at ¶ 19.) She alleges that
Ryan limited her overtime hours while giving those hours to
less senior white male officers. See (id. at
¶¶ 26-29.) Ryan also supposedly ordered
Hamilton-“as a joke”-to inquire about holding a
recruitment event “at the African American Museum,
” (id. at ¶ 31), and sent her to an event
in the suburbs without a partner, (id. at ¶
32.) On top of this, she alleges that Ryan refused to
consider her request for vacation time. (Id. at
Hamilton sued the City and Ryan in state court. After the
City and Ryan removed the suit to federal court, they moved
to dismiss Hamilton's complaint. See (Mem. in
Supp. of Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 6.) In response,
Hamilton amended her initial pleading as a matter of course.
First Amended Complaint, Hamilton brings three counts against
the City and Ryan. See (First Am. Compl.
¶¶ 40-58.) Count I alleges that Ryan created a
hostile work environment and discriminated against Hamilton
due to her race and gender. See (id. at
¶¶ 40-53.) This conduct, Hamilton says, violated
her rights under § 1981 and is actionable through §
1983. See (id. at ¶¶ 41-42.) In
Count II, she claims that the City is liable for the harm
flowing from Ryan's conduct by developing and maintaining
“polices, practices, procedures and customs exhibiting
deliberate indifference” to her rights. (Id.
at ¶¶ 54-56.) Although Hamilton asserted a
standalone hostile-work-environment claim in Count III, she
has since withdrawn that claim. See (Omnibus Resp.
to Defs.' Mots. to Dismiss p. 15, ECF No. 22.)
avoid dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6), a complaint must “state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is facially
plausible if the plaintiff pleads enough facts for the Court
to infer “that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Though this “plausibility
standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,
'” it demands “more than a sheer possibility
that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id.
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
plausibility under Twombly and Iqbal is a
three-step process. See Connelly v. Lane Const.
Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016). The first step
is to “take note of the elements the plaintiff must
plead to state a claim.” Id. (alterations
omitted) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675). Next, the
Court “should identify allegations that, ‘because
they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the
assumption of truth.'” Id. (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). Finally, for all
“well-pleaded factual allegations, the court should
assume their veracity, ” draw all reasonable inference
from them “and then determine whether they plausibly
give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id.
(alterations omitted) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
679). If the well-pleaded facts do not nudge the
“claims across the line from conceivable to plausible,
” the Court must dismiss the complaint.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.
explained below, the Court dismisses Hamilton's claims
against the City because she fails to plead any factual basis
for municipal liability under Monell v. Department of
Social Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658
(1978). For the same reason, the Court dismisses the claims
against Ryan in his official capacity. But because Hamilton
states plausible hostile-work-environment and racial