Co., supra; Ludington v. Sambo's Restaurants, Inc., supra; Heelan v. Johns-Manville Corp., 451 F. Supp. 1382 (D.Colo.1978); Munford v. James T. Barnes & Co., 441 F. Supp. 459 (E.D.Mich.1977); cf. Compston v. Borden, Inc., 424 F. Supp. 157 (S.D.Ohio 1976). In Kyriazi v. Western Electric Co., supra, the Court founded the liability of co-workers for sexual harassment not upon Title VII but upon pendent state law causes of action alone.
It has been held that the definition of "employer", like the rest of Title VII, must be given a liberal construction in light of the Act's remedial purpose, e.g., Baker v. Stuart Broadcasting Co., 560 F.2d 389, 391 (8th Cir. 1977), and that it should be extended to all who significantly control access to employment, whether technically employers or not, Sibley Memorial Hospital v. Wilson, 160 U.S. App. D.C. 14, 488 F.2d 1338 (D.C.Cir.1973); Vanguard Justice Society, Inc. v. Hughes, 471 F. Supp. 670, 696 (D.Md.1979). Nevertheless, while a non-supervisory employee who harasses a fellow employee may effectively block access to employment, it would stretch the meaning of the term "employer" too far to bring such an employee within its coverage. I conclude, therefore, that if defendant Meszaros is a non-supervisory employee of Stauffer, he is not subject to liability under Title VII.
Because defendants have failed to document Meszaros' employment status on the record, however, the motion to dismiss the complaint as to him cannot be determined at this time. While an inference can be drawn from the complaint that Meszaros was merely a co-worker, it cannot definitely be determined on the pleadings whether he had supervisory authority or not. The motion will, therefore, be denied without prejudice and may be renewed, if appropriate, with proper factual documentation on a motion for summary judgment.
III. Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim
Defendants move, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, to dismiss the Title VII claims against the individual defendants and the state law claims against all defendants for failure to state a claim. Defendants primarily argue that the charges are framed in such a vague and open-ended fashion that it is difficult to determine which charges are brought against each of the individual defendants. Defendants also contend that some of plaintiffs' state law claims are not cognizable under the law of New Jersey.
Insofar as defendants challenge the complaint's lack of specificity, it must be borne in mind that the test for the sufficiency of a complaint under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is a liberal one. In Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S. Ct. 99, 101-102, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957), the Supreme Court held that "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief". See also Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 94 S. Ct. 1683, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90 (1974). The Third Circuit has "consistently demanded that a civil rights complaint contain a modicum of factual specificity, identifying the particular conduct of defendants that is alleged to have harmed the plaintiffs", but has also required that leave to amend be freely granted. Ross v. Meagan, 638 F.2d 646 (3d Cir. 1981); see also Trader v. Fiat Distributors, 476 F. Supp. 1194 (D.Del.1979) (specific pleading rule of Third Circuit applies to Title VII actions).
In light of these standards, plaintiffs have clearly set forth claims under both Title VII and state law sufficient to withstand outright dismissal. Some of the claims, however, are vague and conclusory; none are tied with a reasonable degree of specificity to individual defendants. The complaint's major deficiency is that key factual allegations have been worded in the passive voice. Such statements as "(e)ach plaintiff was personally endangered by hazardous chemicals being placed in the plants above her desk and in her work area" may be probative of the Company's general liability under Title VII for permitting harassment to occur in the workplace, but indicates nothing as to the liability of any particular individual defendant. The sweeping allegations of Paragraph 17, in which all defendants are charged with a conspiracy to harass plaintiffs in a variety of ways, are likewise deficient. However, rather than requiring plaintiffs to file an amended complaint, I shall leave defendants to their right of discovery.
Defendants contend that plaintiffs have failed to state a legally sufficient claim for the torts of intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiffs, in response, have withdrawn these claims.
Defendants also argue that plaintiffs have failed to state a claim for intentional interference with contractual relations on the ground that parties to a contractual relationship cannot interfere with their own relations. See O'Connor v. Harms, 111 N.J.Super. 22, 266 A.2d 605 (App.Div.1970). The case law indicates, however, that, at least with respect to the individual defendants, plaintiffs have stated a legally cognizable cause of action. See Kyriazi v. Western Electric Co., supra, 461 F. Supp. 894, at 950; Raymond v. Cregar, 38 N.J. 472, 185 A.2d 856 (1962). Defendants' motion to dismiss this claim will, therefore, be denied.
IV. Motion to Strike Jury Demand and Prayer for Compensatory and Punitive Damages
Defendants move to strike plaintiffs' demand for a jury trial and for compensatory and punitive damages. In light of the fact that plaintiffs' state law claims have been permitted to stand, however, the legal remedies remain available. Since the case presents claims for legal as well as equitable relief, plaintiffs' demand for a jury trial will not be stricken. See Curtis v. Loether, 415 U.S. 189, 94 S. Ct. 1005, 39 L. Ed. 2d 260 (1974).
V. Motion to Quash Service of Process
Defendants move to quash service of process upon the individual defendants because not served in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or the New Jersey Court Rules. Plaintiffs served these defendants by leaving the summons and a copy of the complaint with an office manager at defendant Stauffer's Yardville, New Jersey plant.
Because the individual defendants were not properly served, service of process against them will be quashed and plaintiffs will be permitted to re-serve the complaint in a proper fashion. Gipson v. Township of Bass River, 82 F.R.D. 122 (D.N.J.1979). Service is to be effected by July 1, 1981. The corporate defendant is to provide plaintiffs with the home addresses of the individual defendants forthwith.
Defendants are requested to submit a form of order in accordance with this opinion.
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