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White v. Fedex Corporation

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

October 11, 2019

CHRISTIAN WHITE, Plaintiff
v.
FEDEX CORPORATION FEDEX SUPPLY CHAIN, INC., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          Kane Judge

         Before the Court is the motion to dismiss Plaintiff Christian White (“Plaintiff”)'s complaint, filed by Defendants FedEx Corporation and FedEx Supply Chain, Inc. (“Defendants”). (Doc. No. 5.) For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff initiated the above-captioned action against Defendants by filing a complaint in this Court on February 25, 2019. (Doc. No. 1.) The complaint alleges unlawful age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C.A. § 621, et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”), 43 P.S. § 951, et seq., as well as a state law claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. (Id.) On May 1, 2019, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Doc. No. 5), along with a brief in support (Doc. No. 6). Plaintiff filed a brief in opposition on May 4, 2019 (Doc. No. 8), to which Defendants filed a brief in reply on May 20, 2019 (Doc. No. 9). Accordingly, the motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

         B. Factual Background [1]

         Plaintiff was employed by Defendants as an Assistant General Manager (“AGM”) from July 18, 2016 to August 22, 2018. (Doc. No. 1 ¶ 5.) During the course of his employment, Plaintiff began to suspect that two supervisors were engaged in activities that could negatively impact Defendants' assets. (Id. ¶ 8.) Interpreting company policy to require background checks on individuals suspected of violating company policy or engaging in acts that may harm the company, Plaintiff conducted a public records search of the two supervisors on his home computer. (Id. ¶¶ 10-12.) Upon discovering that the two supervisors had a criminal background history, Plaintiff reported his findings and concerns that the supervisors may have been engaged in criminal activity to Noel Alvarez (“Alvarez”), Security Specialist at FedEx, on August 13, 2018. (Id. ¶¶ 14-15.) Following a more in-depth background check, Plaintiff and Alvarez brought the information from their investigation to Human Resources. (Id. ¶¶ 16-17.)

         The following day, after Plaintiff arrived at work, Senior Manager Vince Woolgar (“Woolgar”) called Plaintiff into a conference room and suspended him. (Id. ¶ 18.) Plaintiff was not given a reason for the suspension at the time. (Id. ¶ 19.) On August 22, 2018, General Manager Jan Kauffman (“Kauffman”) terminated Plaintiff's employment for the stated reason of “conducting an unauthorized background check.” (Id. ¶ 20.) While Plaintiff readily admits to having conducted the background check, he asserts that younger managers were not disciplined or fired for serious violations of company policy and that he was replaced by a younger manager with less experience. (Id. ¶¶ 25-27.) Plaintiff has not provided any additional facts to support these assertions. Plaintiff further asserts that his suspension and termination were due to an internal cover-up of criminal activity and for his reports of the same. (Id. ¶ 24.) Subsequent to his termination, Plaintiff dual-filed a charge of age discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (“PHRC”). (Id. ¶ 29.) He received a right to sue letter dated February 15, 2019. (Id.)

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Federal notice and pleading rules require the complaint to provide the defendant notice of the claim and the grounds upon which it rests. See Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008). When reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint pursuant to a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court must accept as true all material allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from them, viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See In re Ins. Brokerage Antitrust Litig., 618 F.3d 300, 314 (3d Cir. 2010). However, the Court need not accept legal conclusions set forth as factual allegations. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Rather, a civil complaint must “set out ‘sufficient factual matter' to show that the claim is facially plausible.” See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).

         Consistent with the Supreme Court's ruling in Twombly, and Ibqal, the Third Circuit has identified three steps a district court must take when determining the sufficiency of a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6): (1) identify the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim; (2) identify any conclusory allegations contained in the complaint “not entitled” to the assumption of truth; and (3) determine whether any “well-pleaded factual allegations” contained in the complaint “plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” See Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010) (citation and quotation marks omitted). A complaint is properly dismissed where the factual content in the complaint does not allow a court “to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         III. DISCUSSION

         As noted above, Plaintiff's complaint asserts both state and federal age discrimination claims as well as a state law claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. The Court first addresses Plaintiff's age discrimination claims.

         A. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss ...


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