United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
KURT L. EHRESMAN, Plaintiff,
THE HERSHEY COMPANY, Defendant.
H. Rambo United States District Judge
civil action, Plaintiff Kurt L. Ehresman
(“Plaintiff”) asserts claims against Defendant
The Hershey Company (“Defendant”) for fraudulent
inducement; violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations
Act, 43 P.S. § 951-963; race, color, and gender
discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 (“Title
VII”); and violation of the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et.
seq. (“ADEA”). Before the court is
Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint
for failure to state a claim pursuant to the Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc. 11.) Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
For the reasons that follow, the court will grant the motion
to dismiss with prejudice.
following facts are taken as true for the purposes of the
motion to dismiss. Plaintiff is a 52 year-old Caucasian male.
(Doc. 1, ¶ 6.) He has been a licensed Pennsylvania
attorney since 1996 and is currently a United States Patent
& Trademark Office Registered Patent Attorney in good
standing. (Id. ¶¶ 7-8.) Plaintiff was
first employed by Defendant on August 23, 2013, as
“Counsel, Technology Intellectual Property.”
(Id. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff performed all duties and
responsibilities in his role and received positive
performance reviews. (Id. ¶ 15.)
February 2016, Defendant awarded Plaintiff the position of
Senior Counsel for Global Intellectual Property.
(Id. ¶ 17.) In the new position, Plaintiff
executed contracts, intellectual property applications and
declarations, and other documents for Defendant and The
Hershey Chocolate & Confectionery Company
(“HCCC”). (Id. ¶¶ 18-22.) In
each of Plaintiff's annual performance reviews, he was
rated no lower than “meets expectations.”
(Id. ¶ 25.)
October 2, 2017, Defendant informed Plaintiff that it was
eliminating his position effective December 29, 2017.
(Id. ¶¶ 26-28.) However, one week later
and without explanation, Defendant directed Plaintiff to
leave the office and work remotely, and on October 13, 2017,
Defendant placed Plaintiff on paid administrative leave
through December 29, 2017. (Id. ¶¶ 37-40.)
following weeks, Defendant proposed terms of a severance
package for the termination of Plaintiff's employment,
contingent on Plaintiff signing a severance agreement.
(Id. ¶ 34.) Relying on Defendant's
statements and representations that his position was, in
fact, being eliminated, Plaintiff signed the Severance
Agreement (“Agreement”) on November 16, 2017.
(Id. ¶¶ 42-43.) Plaintiff would not have
signed the Agreement had he known or had reason to believe
that Defendant's statements regarding the elimination of
his position were false. (Id.¶ 44.)
about March 7, 2018, Plaintiff learned that Defendant created
and filled the position of Head of Intellectual Property-a
position nearly identical to that which Plaintiff held prior
to his termination. (Id. ¶ 47.) Plaintiff avers
that he was placed on administrative leave and terminated so
that he could be replaced by a younger, African-American
woman to promote Defendant's goal of diversity.
(Id. ¶¶ 48-53.)
commenced this action by filing a complaint in the Middle
District of Pennsylvania on February 6, 2019. (Doc. 1.) On
April 8, 2019, Defendant responded with a motion to dismiss
and brief in support for failure to state a claim. (Docs. 11
& 13.) On April 23, 2019, Plaintiff filed a brief in
opposition to the motion (Doc. 15), and Defendant replied on
April 30, 2019 (Doc. 19). Accordingly, the motion has been
fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.
complaint to survive dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), it “must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The
plaintiff's short and plain statement of the claim must
“give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim
is and the grounds upon which it rests.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).
evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, a court must
accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draw
all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.
See Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224,
234 (3d Cir. 2008). “Factual allegations must be enough
to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Further,
“[a] pleading that offers ‘labels and
conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a
complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked
assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual
enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(internal citations omitted) (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555, 557). However, this “‘does not
impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage,'
but instead ‘simply calls for enough facts to raise a
reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence
of' the necessary element.” W. Penn Allegheny
Health Sys. Inc. v. UPMC, 627 F.3d 85, 98 (3d Cir. 2010)
(quoting Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234). When conducting
this inquiry, the court considers “the allegations in
the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint[, ] and
matters of public record.” Schmidt v. Skolas,
770 F.3d 241, 249 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Pension Benefit
Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d
1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993)).