United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Aubrey King, brings this suit against his former employer
Defendant Integer/Medplast, alleging racial discrimination
and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et
seq. (“Title VII”); 42 U.S.C. § 1981
(“Section 1981”); and the Pennsylvania Human
Relations Act, 43 P.S. § 951, et seq.
(“PHRA”). Defendant seeks to dismiss Counts
Three, Four, Six, and Eight of the Amended Complaint. For the
following reasons, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss will be
granted as to the PHRA claims in Counts Three and Six, but
denied as to the retaliation claim in Count Four and the
§ 1981 discrimination claim in Count Eight.
following facts are taken from Plaintiff's Amended
2015, Plaintiff, a black male, was hired by Defendant as a
machine operator. Within the first few years of his
employment, Plaintiff became concerned that black employees
appeared to be treated less favorably than white employees.
For example, Plaintiff noted that Defendant, which hired
temporary employees through staffing agencies, offered
permanent employment to more white individuals than black
individuals. Plaintiff also observed white employees
receiving preferential status when it came to overtime
opportunities and vacation requests. Finally, Plaintiff
claimed that his wife, who was also employed by Defendant,
was fired for objecting to racially offensive remarks
directed towards her, but that no disciplinary action was
taken against a white co-worker who used racial slurs and
physically assaulted a black co-worker. In late 2017,
Plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) alleging racial
discrimination. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 11-17.)
November to December 2017, shortly after he filed the EEOC
charge, Plaintiff applied for a more lucrative position with
Defendant in its Die Crib department. Plaintiff claims that
Defendant only employed one person of color in the Die Crib
department and that both Plaintiff and another black
applicant were interviewed for the position. Plaintiff
alleges that the position was awarded to an external white
applicant with no experience. (Id. ¶¶
filed a second EEOC Charge on August 15, 2018, after he was
denied the Die Crib position. In September 2018, Plaintiff
went to Human Resources (“HR”) to complain about
the preferential treatment of white workers at the company. A
few days later, Plaintiff was told he was being given his
final warning for allegedly threatening HR regarding their
hiring practices, and that his prior absences were no longer
going to be excused. As a result of this conversation,
Plaintiff allegedly suffered severe emotional distress that
required immediate hospitalization. The next day, Plaintiff
was fired based on Defendant's allegedly false accusation
that he threatened someone while being helped by ambulance
personnel. (Id. ¶¶ 32-36; Compl., ECF No.
2, at p.10.).)
December 3, 2018, Plaintiff, acting pro se, filed
the current suit. On March 4, 2019, with the assistance of
counsel, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint alleging the
following causes of action: failure to promote on account of
race in violation of Title VII (Count I); failure to promote
on account of race in violation of § 1981 (Count II);
failure to promote on account of race in violation of the
PHRA (Count III); retaliation in violation of Title VII
(Count IV); retaliation in violation of § 1981 (Count
V); retaliation in violation of the PHRA (Count VI);
termination on account of race in violation of § 1981
(Count VIII); and retaliatory termination in violation of
§ 1981 (Count IX).
filed the current Motion to Dismiss on March 25, 2019.
Counsel for Plaintiff entered an appearance on April 5, 2019,
and thereafter, on April 11, 2019, filed a response in
opposition to Defendant's Motion.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a defendant bears
the burden of demonstrating that the plaintiff has not stated
a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6); see also Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d
744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). The United States Supreme Court has
recognized that “a plaintiff's obligation to
provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment]
to relief' requires more than labels and
conclusions.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quotations omitted).
“[T]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice” and only a complaint that states a plausible
claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss. Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-9 (2009). “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. at 678. A complaint does not show an entitlement
to relief when the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court
to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct.
Id. at 679.
Court of Appeals has detailed a three-step process to
determine whether a complaint meets the pleadings standard.
Bistrian v. Levi, 696 F.3d 352 (3d Cir. 2014).
First, the court outlines the elements a plaintiff must plead
to state a claim for relief. Id. at 365. Next, the
court must “peel away those allegations that are no
more than conclusions and thus not entitled to the assumption
of truth.” Id. Finally, the court
“look[s] for well-pled factual allegations, assume[s]
their veracity, and then ‘determine[s] whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.'”
Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). The
last step is “‘a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.'” Id.
(quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).
court must construe the facts stated in the complaint
liberally in favor of the plaintiff. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). “Yet there
are limits to our procedural flexibility. For example,
pro se litigants still must allege sufficient facts
in their complaints to support a claim.” Mala v.
Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir.
2013). Thus, even a pro se complaint must conform
with the requirements of Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, which “demands more than an unadorned,
the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation” or
“naked assertions” that are devoid of
“factual enhancement.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678 (internal quotations omitted). “A pleading that
offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action' will not do.” Id.