United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER
AARON POLSTER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Party
Plaintiff Steven Van Buren and Public Policy Claims. Doc #:
10. This action stems from the termination of Doreen Van
Buren from PPG Industries, Inc., on November 11, 2016. For
the reasons discussed below, Defendant's Motion is
Doreen Van Buren (“Ms. Van Buren”) is a former
employee of Defendant PPG Industries, Inc.
(“PPG”). She worked as a Development Assistant in
PPG's Cleveland plant for over 38 years. Doc #: 9, ¶
19. Sometime in 2013, Ms. Van Buren noticed safety concerns
within the plant, which she reported to her immediate
supervisors. Doc #: 9, ¶ 16. These safety concerns
included open wiring and running water near electrical
outlets. Id. Ms. Van Buren alleges that these unsafe
conditions went on without repair until she reported them to
PPG's regional management. Id. Although these
hazards were eventually addressed and corrected, Ms. Van
Buren alleges that she was subject to discrimination and
harassment as a result of reporting these hazards directly to
PPG's regional management. Id.
Buren asserts that the harassment and discrimination that she
experienced began in 2015, by her direct supervisor, Jeffrey
Clark. Doc #: 9, ¶ 16. Such harassment and
discrimination included Ms. Van Buren being denied overtime
hours in other departments within plant, despite her ability
to competently work in these departments; being threatened
with sanctions if she attempted to work overtime in other
departments; the denial of promotions or other financial
incentives; and being publicly degraded in front of her
peers. Doc #: 9, ¶ 14-15.
2015, Ms. Van Buren was placed on probationary status for
violating PPG's employment practices, which she asserts
was implemented without justification. Doc #: 9, ¶ 13.
As a result of her probationary status, Ms. Van Buren was
subject to a performance improvement plan. In addition, she
was deprived of performance bonuses, as well as other
financial incentives, which were offered to her male
counterparts who allegedly had less experience. Id.
Ms. Van Buren further asserts that she was “spied
on” by another employee, which she alleges was done
simply to further harass her. Id.
response to the conduct exhibited by her superiors, Ms. Van
Buren sought assistance from PPG's Human Resources
Department, but this conduct allegedly continued. Doc #: 9,
¶ 18. Ms. Van Buren then went through PPG's
“chain of command” to report the conduct in
question, however, she alleges that PPG's management
turned a blind eye. Id. On or about November 11,
2016, Ms. Van Buren was terminated from her employment with
PPG. Doc #: 9, ¶ 19.
Buren, along with her husband Steven Van Buren (“Mr.
Van Buren”), filed suit against PPG on November 8, 2017
in the Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas, Case No. CV-17-888714.
Doc #: 1. PPG filed its Notice of Removal on December 12,
2017. Doc #: 1. PPG filed a combined partial motion to
dismiss and motion for more definite statement on December
19, 2017. Doc #: 4. Plaintiffs filed a Response on January
22, 2018 and requested leave to file an Amended Complaint.
Doc #: 5. The Court granted Plaintiffs leave until January
26, 2018 to file an Amended Complaint. Doc #: 6. Plaintiffs
filed their First Amended Complaint on January 26, 2018. Doc
#: 7. The Court ordered Plaintiffs to correct the
deficiencies in their First Amended Complaint by January 31,
2018. Doc #: 8. On that day, Plaintiffs filed their Second
Amended Complaint (the “SAC”). Doc #: 9. In the
SAC, Ms. Van Buren alleges claims of wrongful termination in
violation of public policy, wrongful termination, and gender
discrimination. Mr. Van Buren alleges a loss of consortium
claim. PPG filed its second partial motion to dismiss on
February 13, 2018. Doc #: 10. Plaintiffs filed their Response
on March 15, 2018. Doc #: 11. PPG filed its Reply on March
29, 2018. Doc #: 13. PPG's motion, fully briefed, is now
before the Court.
Standard of Review
survive a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a
complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face, ” and not
merely “conceivable.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The factual
allegations must be sufficient “to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level.” Id. at
555. Although Rule 12(b)(6) does not impose a probability
requirement at the pleading stage, a plaintiff must present
enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery
will reveal evidence of the necessary elements of a cause of
action. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d
224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted).
The Court must accept as true all well-pled material
allegations in the complaint and “determine whether
they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).
Motion to Dismiss, PPG first seeks to dismiss Steven Van
Buren as a party to this action. PPG also seeks to dismiss
Ms. Van Buren's claim for wrongful termination in
violation of public policy. The Court will address each
argument in turn.
Steven Van Buren
Buren's only claim is that he suffered loss of consortium
as a result of the emotional pain that his wife experienced
from her termination. Doc #: 9, ¶ 49. PPG argues that
Mr. Van Buren cannot state a loss of consortium claim because
the Van Burens fail to allege facts ...