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Jenkins v. Septa

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

November 18, 2019

SEPTA Defendant.


          Chad F. Kenney, Judge


         Before the Court is Defendant SEPTA's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (ECF No. 18) and Pro se Plaintiff Angelique Jenkins' Response (ECF No. 20).[1]


         Pro se Plaintiff Angelique Jenkins filed this discrimination action against her former employer, SEPTA, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as codified, 42 U.S.C §§ 2000e to 2000e-17 (race, color, gender, religion, national origin) ("Title VII"). ECF No. 2 at 3.[2] Jenkins used the Court's preprinted form complaint and alleged that SEPTA discriminated against her by terminating her employment and subjecting her to unequal terms and conditions of employment, and retaliation. Id., at 4-5.

         Jenkins' employment with SEPTA began in January 2009. Id. at 35. On July 6, 2017, she entered into a Last Chance Agreement. Id. at 27. Following an incident on February 7, 2019, SEPTA accused Jenkins of opening the doors on the wrong side of the train- a rule violation. Id. Therefore, SEPTA concluded that Jenkins violated her agreement and terminated her employment. Id. at 36.


         A. Standard of Review

         A party may move for judgment on the pleadings "[a]fter the pleadings are closed - but early enough not to delay trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate when "the movant clearly establishes that no material issue of fact remains . . . and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Rosenau v. Unifund Corp., 539 F.3d 218, 221 (3d Cir. 2008).

         When deciding a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the Court considers the pleadings and exhibits attached thereto, matters of public record and "undisputedly authentic documents attached to the motion for judgment on the pleadings if plaintiffs' claims are based on the documents." Atiyeh v. Nat'l Fire Ins. Co. of Hartford, 742 F.Supp.2d 591, 595 (E.D. Pa. 2010). A motion for judgment on the pleadings is analyzed under the same standards that apply to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion." Zimmerman v. Corbett, 873 F.3d 414, 417 (3d Cir. 2017) (internal quotations omitted). Accordingly, the Court "accept[s] as true all allegations in plaintiffs complaint as well as all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from them, and [the court] construes them in a light most favorable to the non-movant." Tatis v. Allied Interstate, LLC, 882 F.3d 422, 426 (3d Cir. 2018) (quoting Sheridan v. NGK Metals Corp., 609 F.3d 239, 262 n.27 (3d Cir. 2010)).

         The motion will be granted if the plaintiff has not articulated enough facts "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The plaintiff must plead "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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A claim is plausible "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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). It is not enough for a plaintiff to allege mere "labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. "The plausibility determination is 'a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'" Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 786-87 (3d Cir. 2016) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

         B. Title VII Claims

         Here, Jenkins' Complaint is not sufficiently pled to survive SEPTA's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. According to SEPTA, this Court should grant its motion because Jenkins failed to allege she is a member of a protected class under Title VII and she engaged in a protected activity within the meaning of Title VII. ECF No. 18 at 4.

         Under Title VII, it is "unlawful for an employer ... to discriminate against any individual..., because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." Desert Palace, Inc. v. Costa, 539 U.S. 90, 92-93 (2003) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1) (emphasis in original)). In order for an employer, like SEPTA, to be liable under Title VII an employment discrimination plaintiff bears the burden of establishing a prima facie case by showing that she (1) belongs to a protected class; (2) was qualified for the position she sought to attain or retain; (3) suffered an adverse employment action; and (4) the action occurred under circumstances that gave rise to an inference of discrimination. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green,411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973). The burden to establish a. prima facie case of discrimination is not an onerous one, but a prima facie case allows the ...

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