United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
NOW, this day of November 2019, upon consideration of the
motion to dismiss [Dkt. No. 15] filed by the defendant,
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA),
and the Response in opposition [Dkt. No. 16] filed by the
Plaintiff, it is hereby ORDERED and DECREED that said motion
shall be DENIED.
M. Younge JUDGE
reasons set forth below, the Motion to Dismiss for
Failure to State a Claim [Dkt. No. 15] that was filed by
the above-captioned Defendant is DENIED.
Plaintiff, who worked as a bus driver for SEPTA, brings this
wrongful termination action against SEPTA based on various
provisions found in the Americans with Disabilities Act and
the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. The Plaintiff avers
that she was placed on sick leave and ultimately terminated
from her position as a bus driver after being diagnosed with
and treated for three brain aneurisms that were surgically
repaired. She avers that SEPTA failed to provide reasonable
accommodation in the form of light-duty work or an alternate
position that did not require operation of a passenger
vehicle. From a reading of the Amended Complaint, it would
also appear the Plaintiff argues that post-surgery, she is
capable of operating a passenger vehicle. (Amended
Complaint (7/19/19).) [Dkt. No. 14].
deciding a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), courts must, “accept all factual
allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any
reasonable pleadings of the complaint, the plaintiff may be
entitled to relief.” Phillips v. City of
Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3rd Cir. 2008)
(internal quotations and citations omitted). The Supreme
Court has opined on the appropriate standard to be applied
when reviewing motions to dismiss, and it has stated,
“A claim has factual plausibility when a plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged. Id. A claim satisfies the
plausibility standard when the facts alleged “allow the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Burtch v.
Milberg Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 220-221 (3d Cir.
2011). This “does not impose a probability requirement
at the pleading stage” but instead simply calls for
enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that a claim
exists. Stated another way, “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 . . .
Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action,
supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
primary thrust of the motion to dismiss filed by SEPTA is an
argument based on the Collective Bargaining Agreement with
the Transport Workers Union of Philadelphia, Local 234. In
its motion to dismiss, SEPTA argues that the Amended
Complaint fails to establish that the Plaintiff was entitled
to a job transfer under the Collective Bargaining Agreement
or that any vacant, funded positions were available for her
in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
(Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Dismiss
at 7 (8/7/19).) The Defense also challenges the
Plaintiff's ability to seek relief by arguing that she
failed to exhaust administrative remedies. (Id. at
arguments raised by the Defendant as they pertain to the
Collective Bargaining Agreement, would be more appropriately
assessed during the summary judgment stage of this litigation
than on a motion to dismiss which simply rests on the
Plaintiff's pleadings and not the factual underpinnings
that support the Plaintiff's case. Santiago v.
Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 128 (3rd Cir.
2010) (stating that in evaluating a motion to dismiss the
Court “take[s] as true all the factual allegations of
the [complaint] and the reasonable inferences that can be
drawn from them.”). At this juncture in the litigation,
this Court is not prepared to interpret the effect of the
Collective Bargaining Agreement on SEPTA's ability to
reassign the Plaintiff to other duties within the company.
issue of whether the Plaintiff exhausted administrative
remedies presents a similar issue as that of the Collective
Bargaining Agreement. In her Amended Complaint, the Plaintiff
avers that the “Plaintiff filed a charge of
Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC) against the Defendant.” (Amended
Complaint ¶ 4 (7/19/19).) The Amended Complaint
goes on to state that the “Plaintiff's charge of
Discrimination was dually filed with the Pennsylvania Human
Relations Commission and the Philadelphia Commission of Human
Relations.” (Id.) The Plaintiff avers that the
EEOC issued a dismissal and notice of rights on December 11,
2018. (Id. ¶ 5.) The Plaintiff also avers that
she visited both SEPTA's legal department and its human
relations department in connection with her claim.
(Id. ¶ 59-60.) The Plaintiff has clearly pled
that she attempted to make use of administrative mechanisms
to resolve her employment dispute with SEPTA.
upon these pleadings, the Motion to Dismiss is denied.
 The Plaintiff has agreed to dismiss
counts 5, 6, 7, and 8 from her Amended Complaint. Therefore,
this Court will not review the theories for relief asserted
therein since ...