Tuesday, June 10, 2008

E.D. Pa. Finds Discriminatory Discipline Claim Inadequately Pleaded under Twombly

Per George v. American Baptist Churches USA, Slip Copy, 2008 WL 2265281 (E.D. Pa. May 30, 2008):

In her Answer to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, plaintiff asserts that her claim is not time-barred because the scope of her Complaint is broader than failure to hire and includes a claim for disparate treatment during her employment with defendant. (Pl.'s Mem. of Law in Opp. 10.) Specifically, plaintiff asserts that the four-year statute of limitations of 28 U.S.C. § 1658 applies to this case because plaintiff “complains about more than defendant's failure to rehire her,” also contending “that she was subjected to discriminatory discipline by Roy Medley [defendant's General Secretary] and Wendy Rothenberger [defendant's Director of Human Resources] regarding her attendance.” ( Id. at 2, 10.)

The only paragraph in the Complaint which could possibly be read to encompass a claim of discriminatory discipline is paragraph 16, which reads:

Defendant discriminated against [plaintiff] by denying her the same rights as are enjoyed by White employees with respect to the terms and conditions of her employment relationship with defendant and to the enjoyment of all benefits, privileges, terms, and conditions of that relationship, in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, as amended.

(Compl.¶ 16.) However, this paragraph is inadequate to allege a claim for disparate treatment under § 1981 as it simply states the legal standard and provides no factual detail. As stated by the Third Circuit, a complaint must contain “enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest” the elements of the claims asserted. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir.2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, --- U.S. ----, ----, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)); cf. 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, 235-236 (3d ed. 2004) (“[T]he pleading must contain something more ... than ... a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action.”) (quoted in Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1965). Plaintiff has set forth no details of any alleged disparate treatment-no facts at all-and thus she fails to meet this standard.


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