United States District Court, D. New Jersey, Camden Vicinage
B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on the Motion of
Trinity Health Corporation (“Defendant THC”),
Lourdes Cardiology Services (“Defendant LCS”),
Health Management Services Organization, Inc.
(“Defendant HMS”) (collectively “Corporate
Defendants”), Mercedes Fuscellaro, Jennifer Garron,
Gayle Wexler, Barbara Hoelfner, and Jillian Koerner
(collectively “Individual Defendants”) (Corporate
Defendants and Individual Defendants are collectively
“Defendants”) to dismiss Plaintiff Marie
Andre's aiding and abetting claim under the New Jersey
Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”) against the
Corporate Defendants, each of Plaintiff's claims against
Defendant THC, and Plaintiff's wage and hour claims under
the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law (“NJWHL”) and
Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) against the
Individual Defendants. (Doc. 6). For the reasons articulated
in the Opinion, the motion is GRANTED in
part and DENIED in part.
case arises from alleged unlawful employment discrimination
and wage issues. Plaintiff is a woman of Black and Haitian
descent who was employed at Defendant Lourdes Cardiology
Services (“Defendant LCS”). Amended Complaint
(Am. Compl.) [Doc. No. 5] at ¶ 24. In May 2015,
Plaintiff applied for the position of Registered Medical
Assistant with Defendant LCS. Id. at ¶ 25.
Daniele Dobbins and Defendant Mercedes Fuscellaro each
interviewed Plaintiff for the position. Following her
interview with Defendant Fuscellaro, Plaintiff was informed
she was hired for the position. Id. at ¶ 27.
About one month into her employment, Defendant Fuscellaro and
her co-workers started discriminating against Plaintiff
because of her Haitian accent. Id. at ¶ 30.
Soon after, Plaintiff complained to Defendant Fuscellaro
about one instance when one of Plaintiff's co-workers
“hit [her] in the back with objects.”
Id. at ¶ 31. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
Fuscellaro never investigated her report or took corrective
action, and as a result, she continued to experience
discrimination at the hands of her co-workers and Defendant
Fuscellaro. Id. at ¶ 35.
further claims that Defendant Fuscellaro also made her work
additional hours before clocking in and after clocking out.
Id. at ¶ 44. Plaintiff states that these unpaid
hours totaled approximately six to seven hours per week.
Id. After, Plaintiff complained to Defendant Jillian
Koerner, the Human Resource Manager, about Defendant
Fuscellaro's actions. Id. at ¶ 45. In
response, Defendant Koerner instructed Plaintiff to
“stop working without pay or we [indicating Defendants]
will get in trouble.” Id. Following this
complaint, Defendant Koerner informed Plaintiff that she will
be in touch; however, Defendant Koerner did not speak to
Plaintiff until after her alleged wrongful termination.
Id. at ¶ 36.
days later, Defendant Jennifer Garron approached Plaintiff
regarding her previous complaints to Defendant Koerner.
Id. at ¶ 47. As the alleged discrimination
continued, Plaintiff complained again to Defendant Garron,
who then scheduled two meetings: the first meeting included
only Defendant Garron and Plaintiff; the second meeting
included Plaintiff, Defendant Garron, and Defendant
Fuscellaro. Id. at ¶ 53.
these complaints, the alleged discrimination continued.
Again, Plaintiff states that Defendant Fuscellaro continued
to force her to work unpaid hours. Id. at ¶
59-60. In response, Plaintiff asked Defendant Fuscellaro to
be compensated. Defendant Fuscellaro allegedly told Plaintiff
to comply or face termination. Id. at ¶ 61-62.
after, Plaintiff entered the emergency room at Lourdes
Hospital because of stress regarding her treatment at work.
The emergency staff diagnosed her with gastric issues.
Id. at ¶ 67. A few days later, Plaintiff
arrived at work but soon realized that she forgot her
stethoscope at home. Id. at ¶ 68. Plaintiff
then rushed home to get the stethoscope, and about three days
later, Defendant Fuscellaro came forward with a videotape
which showed Plaintiff leaving the office for approximately
seven minutes after she had clocked into work. Id.
at ¶ 69. In response to the tape, Plaintiff explained
she suffered from serious health problems and that, on the
day in question, she had rushed home to retrieve her
stethoscope. Id. After, Plaintiff had a compliance
meeting regarding the tape that Defendant Fuscellaro
discovered. Id. at ¶ 75.
Plaintiff's compliance meeting she met with Defendant
Hoelfner, Defendant Wexler, and Defendant Fuscellaro. In this
meeting, she explained that she had left her stethoscope at
home, and she shared her emergency room records to prove her
recent hospitalization. Id. at ¶ 80. Plaintiff
also complained about Defendant Fuscellaro's actions.
Then Defendant Wexler allegedly informed Plaintiff that the
company would investigate her reports of discriminatory
treatment. Id. at ¶ 81.
following day, Plaintiff again met with Defendant Wexler to
discuss Defendant Fuscellaro's alleged discriminatory
conduct. Id. at ¶ 85. Following this meeting,
Plaintiff spoke with Defendant Garron who informed her that
the decision to fire Plaintiff its left up to Defendant
Barbara Hoelfner. Id. at ¶ 90. After, Plaintiff
had a meeting with both Defendant Garron and Hoelfner, during
which they accused her of stealing company time and
terminated her. Id. at ¶ 91. Following her
termination, Plaintiff received a phone call from Defendant
Koerner who added that termination further stemmed from an
“incident” that happened earlier in January.
Id. at ¶ 94. Plaintiff claims that Defendant
Koerner refused to identify this incident. Id.
filed several claims related to the allegations above.
Plaintiff alleges violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, Title
VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, New Jersey Law Against
Discrimination (“NJLAD”), Family and Medical
Leave Act (“FMLA), Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), and New Jersey Wage and Hour Law
(“NJWHL”). Plaintiff asserts nine causes of
action related to these laws. Count I alleges a violation of
42 U.S.C. § 1981 for discrimination and retaliation.
Count II alleges a violation of Title VII for discrimination.
Count III alleges a violation of Title VII for retaliation.
Count IV alleges a violation of FMLA for discrimination.
Count V alleges a violation of NJLAD for discrimination.
Count VI alleges a violation of NJLAD for retaliation. Count
VII alleges a violation of NJLAD for aiding and abetting.
Count VIII alleges a violation of FLSA for failure to pay
overtime wages. Count IX alleges a violation of NJWHL for
failure to pay overtime wages.
now moves to dismiss Count VII against the Corporate
Defendant, Count VIII and IX against the Individual
Defendants, and each of Plaintiff's claims against THC.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a court to dismiss an
action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. When evaluating a motion to dismiss, “courts
accept all factual allegations as true, construe the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and
determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the
complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.”
Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir.
2009) (quoting Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515
F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008)). In other words, a complaint
survives a motion to dismiss if it contains 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); Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
this determination, a court conducts a three-part analysis.
Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d
Cir. 2010). First, the court must “tak[e] note of the
elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim.”
Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675).
Second, the court should identify allegations that,
“because they are no more than conclusions, are not
entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. at
131 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680). Finally,
“where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a
court should assume their veracity and then determine whether
they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief.”
Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680). This
plausibility determination is a “context-specific task
that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 679. A complaint cannot survive where a court can only
infer that a claim is merely possible rather than plausible.