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Glendening v. Fair Acres Geriatric Center

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 28, 2019



          John Milton Younge, Judge.

         In this age discrimination case, Plaintiff James Glendening alleges that he was forced to resign from a pre-employment training program with Defendant Fair Acres Geriatric Center, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621. Now before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 3). The Court finds this matter appropriate for resolution without oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; L.R. 7.1(f). For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         Defendant is a non-profit skilled nursing facility operated by Delaware County, Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶¶ 6-7.) At age seventy-five, Plaintiff applied for Defendant's CNA Training Program. (Id. ¶¶ 10-11.) According to Defendant's website:

The CNA Training Program is a free training program sponsored by Fair Acres Geriatric Center for the preparation and training of potential employees interested in becoming Nursing Assistants . . .
Completion of the program is not a guarantee of employment at Fair Acres. The program is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and lasts 120 hours, or about 4 weeks. It includes classroom instruction, skills lab and clinical hours. Classes are held daily from 7am to 3pm, Monday through Friday. Daily attendance and punctuality is mandatory and any absence or lateness is reason for dismissal from the program. Once completed, a student may be offered employment at Fair Acres.

(Motion at 26-27, Ex. B).[2]

         On February 22, 2018, Plaintiff began the four-week CNA Training Program. (Compl. ¶ 16.) On the second day of the program, “Plaintiff took and passed a test with a score of 96.” (Id. ¶ 18.) Following administration of the test, Plaintiff met with the classroom instructor, Nurse DeCeccio, for individual critique. (Id. ¶¶ 17, 19.) During this meeting, “Nurse DeCeccio [] told Plaintiff that [he] would not be able to do the work as a CNA and that Plaintiff should resign and go home and enjoy [his] retirement.” (Id. ¶ 20.) Nurse DeCeccio also allegedly “told Plaintiff that if [he] did not resign from Defendant's CNA Training Program, there were other ways to eliminate Plaintiff[.]” (Id. ¶ 21.) Plaintiff “felt like he had no other option but to resign from Defendant's CNA Training Program. Plaintiff signed the resignation form and Nurse DeCeccio told Plaintiff to leave the building.” (Id. ¶ 22.) Therefore, Plaintiff maintains that “Defendant rejected [him] for employment as a CNA because of Plaintiff's age.” (Id. ¶ 24.)

         Based on these facts, Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant on March 19, 2019, asserting two claims for relief: (1) violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq; and (2) age discrimination in violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 951 et seq. (See Compl. at 4-7.) Plaintiff requests: (1) declaratory and injunctive relief; (2) back pay, front pay, and liquidated damages; (3) attorneys' fees and costs of suit; and (4) such other relief as the Court deems necessary and appropriate. (Id.)

         Defendant filed the instant Motion to Dismiss on May 21, 2019. On June 4, 2019, Plaintiff filed his Opposition (“Opp., ” ECF No. 4).


         The motion to dismiss standard under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is set forth in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). After Iqbal, it is clear that “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice” to defeat a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Id. at 678; see also Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “To survive dismissal, ‘a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Tatis v. Allied Interstate, LLC, 882 F.3d 422, 426 (3d Cir. 2018) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Facial plausibility is “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Instead, “[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. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).

         Our Court of Appeals requires us to apply a three-step analysis under a 12(b)(6) motion: (1) “[the district court] must tak[e] note of the elements [the] plaintiff must plead to state a claim;” (2) “it should identify allegations that, ‘because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth;'” and, (3) “[w]hen there are well-pleaded factual allegations, [the] court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Connelly v. Lane Constr. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675, 679).

         In Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 213 (3d Cir. 2009), the Third Circuit held that the heightened standard of plausibility set forth by Iqbal and Twombly applies to pleadings in an employment discrimination context. However, this heightened standard does not require a plaintiff to establish a prima facie case of discrimination in order to survive a motion to dismiss. Id. (“Even post-Twombly, it has been noted that a plaintiff is not required to establish the elements of a prima facie case . . .”). Rather, to survive a motion to dismiss in an employment discrimination context, a plaintiff must present factual allegations that would “‘raise a ...

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