ROBINSON, District Judge.
On August 8, 2014, plaintiffs Genevieve M. Hinkle ("Hinkle") and Louis Hinkle ("Mr. Hinkle") (collectively "plaintiffs")
A. The Parties
Hinkle is a 61 year old Caucasian female
B. Hinkle's Employment
As director of risk management and employee benefits, Hinkle's job responsibilities included "preparing the budget and making recommendations concerning funding; claims' investigation and adjusting; establishing safety and loss control programs; providing statistical data on accidents and claims; and maintaining the claims management program." (Id. at ¶ 7) With respect to the check approval process, Hinkle alleges that she and her assistant would send documentation for check requests to the City's department of finance for its approval. After verifying and approving the check, the finance department would send Hinkle an electronic notice through the City's MUNIS software system and Hinkle would electronically release the check. Hinkle alleges that she did not review any documentation after approval by the finance department. Moreover, the established check approval process did not require her to perform an "electronic review" of the documentation for each check request, nor was she trained to use the software which enabled the electronic review. (Id. at ¶ 11; D.I. 61 at 5) Hinkle further asserts that, from the time she was hired until the time she was terminated, neither she nor her supervisors were ever trained to use, nor did they use, TCM
Defendants allege that Hinkle was offered training on the MUNIS system and in certain instances declined it. According
In October 2012, Hinkle imposed disciplinary action on a subordinate African American City employee who was a personal friend of then Mayor-elect Williams's wife. Hinkle alleges that the City's former head of human resources informed her that Mayor-elect Williams told his former chief of staff that Hinkle should stop harassing his wife's friend. (D.I. 31 at ¶ 9; D.I. 54 at A18-22)
C. Events Leading to Hinkle's Termination
In March 2013, the City Auditor's Office discovered that from at least April 25, 2012 through March 25, 2014, an accounts payable clerk in the City's department of finance had embezzled $33,347.52 in City funds in the form of twenty fraudulently issued checks to settle claims with funds managed by risk management. Hinkle authorized the issuance of nineteen of the twenty fraudulent checks. Hinkle alleges that her only involvement was to electronically confirm that the finance department had reviewed and approved the documentation for the checks and that they could be printed. (D.I. 31 at ¶¶ 14-15; D.I. 54 at A2-A7)
As City Auditor, Jeter led the internal investigation of the fraud and concluded in his final report dated July 11, 2013, that Hinkle (as director of risk management) was grossly negligent in her failure to verify the documentation for the fraudulent checks prior to approving them for payment. Jeter found that Hinkle had not performed the MUNIS and Riskmaster reconciliation process during the eleven month period that the fraud occurred. (D.I. 54 at A5-A6) On August 14, 2013, Jenkins notified Hinkle that she was terminated, effective immediately, as a result of her negligence in approving fraudulent checks and her failure to "manage the City's [c]laim [m]anagement program, including investigating, adjusting, reserving and maintaining accurate records of all claims" and "ensur[ing] internal controls over cash disbursements were in place." (D.I. 54 at A146)
Martha Gimbel ("Gimbel") is the interim acting human resources director and was Hinkle's immediate supervisor. She is Caucasian and "of equivalent age to [Hinkle]." Gimbel also electronically approved of approximately nineteen of the twenty fraudulent check requests. The City sent her a formal letter of reprimand. John D'Amelio ("D'Amelio") is a senior financial analyst and "approximately 20 years younger than Hinkle." He reviewed the request forms and approved each fraudulent check request. The City also sent him a letter of reprimand. (D.I. 31 at ¶¶ 21, 25; D.I. 67 at 4) Shaina Cooper ("Cooper") is the account manager of the finance department and D'Amelio's immediate supervisor. She is African American and "approximately 25 years younger than Hinkle." Cooper was not disciplined. Sam Pratcher ("Pratcher") was the former director of human resources and another of Hinkle's immediate supervisors. He is African-American. He approved one of the fraudulent check requests
D. Post-Termination Events
On August 14, 2013, upon receiving the notice of termination, Hinkle's counsel sent a letter to Jenkins stating that Hinkle "appeals from the City's decision to terminate her."
In December 2013, Hinkle filed charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and Delaware Department of Labor (the "DDOL"), and also applied for unemployment benefits. After a hearing on December 31, 2013, the unemployment insurance appeal board ("unemployment board") found that Hinkle had been discharged from her employment without just cause
A member of the appeal board testified that Magliore contacted him to ask about the status of the appeal. The appeal board member replied that he could not discuss the matter. He further testified that he was not influenced by the contact. Hinkle alleges that the contact occurred after the
On January 14, 2014, the appeal board issued its decision
(D.I. 61 at 8-9; D.I. 54 at A223) The appeal board recommended that Hinkle's disciplinary action be modified to a five month unpaid suspension and that she be allowed to return to her previously held position on February 3, 2014. The appeal board also found that the City's delay in responding to Hinkle's grievance, as well as the delay in providing her an opportunity to speak to one of the City's representatives about her appeal, violated Hinkle's procedural due process rights. The appeal board stated that Hinkle contacted the City on August 15, 2015, but the City did not respond for eight days. Moreover, Hinkle was not permitted to speak to a City representative until October 23, 2013, more than two months later. The appeal board also concluded that Hinkle's termination did not result from "any political, religious or racial bias or prejudice." (D.I. 31 at ¶ 26; D.I. 54 at 5, A223-24)
On January 16, 2014, Hinkle sent an email to Jenkins stating that she would return to her position on February 3, 2014. (D.I. 54 at A225) On January 29, 2014, Migliore sent a letter to Hinkle's counsel stating that it was contractually obligated to Hinkle's temporary replacement James Robb ("Robb"), until the end of March 2014. The letter further stated that "without prejudice to the City's right to take the position that it is not obligated to return Hinkle to her former position, the City will place Hinkle on the payroll at her former rate of pay, and begin providing her employee benefits, effective February 3, 2014." Moreover, the letter stated that the EEOC mediation scheduled for February 28, 2014 should "provide the parties an opportunity to discuss a mutually acceptable resolution." (D.I. 52 at B73) Jenkins provided a declaration stating that the City hired Robb who is "approximately [six] years older than Hinkle"
E. Hinkle's Depression
Hinkle alleges that the City's refusal to reinstate her after the appeal board hearing caused her to suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. On August 21, 2014, the City notified Hinkle that she could return to work in her former capacity on August 25, 2014. Hinkle declined because her physicians advised her that she was medically unable to return to work. The City then requested Hinkle apply for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). During the application process, Hinkle had separate counsel and encountered resistance from the City regarding her paid leave. During the course of proceedings by the Delaware Industrial Accident Board ("IAB"), the City's medical expert, Dr. James Langan ("Dr. Langan"), examined Hinkle. He found that Hinkle had "undergone a serious psychiatric decompensation leading to agitated symptoms of depression, paranoia and disturbances in formal thinking" as a result of the City's "decision to not let her resume her usual work ... after she was reinstated following an administrative hearing in January 2014." (D.I. 31 at ¶¶ 38-46; D.I. 49 at A14-16, A49-54; D.I. 62 at B147-151)
Hinkle alleges that Dr. Langan re-evaluated her in May 2015 at the City's request. While his second opinion acknowledged that her symptoms and condition had not improved or worsened, Dr. Langan found that Hinkle was able to return to some City employment. (D.I. 61 at 11) On October 7, 2015, the City offered Hinkle the position of program coordinator in the real estate and housing department at a lower salary. Hinkle testified that she did not have the appropriate background for such a position. Hinkle declined the City's offer stating that her physician had not released her to return to work. (D.I. 54 at A230-32; D.I. 52 at 128-30)
Hinkle alleges racial, gender, and age discrimination against the City pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act ("DDEA"), 19 Del. C. §§ 710 et seq., and the Age Discrimination Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et. seq. (counts I, III, and IV); that defendants' actions deprived her of equal rights under the law in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983 and that those acts together constituted a conspiracy in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985 (counts II, VI, VII, VIII, and IX); retaliation (count V); and claims of wrongful termination and breach of contract (count X), a wage claim (count XI), intentional infliction of emotional distress (count XII), prima facie tort
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
"The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 n. 10, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). A party asserting that a fact cannot be — or, alternatively, is — genuinely disputed must be supported either by citing to "particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for the purposes of the motions only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials," or by "showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A) & (B). If the moving party has carried its burden, the nonmovant must then "come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348 (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court will "draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, and it may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence." Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150, 120 S.Ct. 2097, 147 L.Ed.2d 105 (2000).
To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348; see also Podobnik v. U.S. Postal Service, 409 F.3d 584, 594 (3d Cir.2005) (stating party opposing summary judgment "must present more than just bare assertions, conclusory allegations or suspicions to show the existence of a genuine issue") (internal quotation marks omitted). Although the "mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment," a factual dispute is genuine where "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Id. at 249-50, 106 S.Ct. 2505 (internal citations omitted); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) (stating entry of summary judgment is mandated "against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial").
A. Title VII Discrimination Claims
Title VII states that it shall be unlawful for an employer to "discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a). To succeed on a status discrimination claim, a plaintiff must show that an improper consideration was "a motivating factor" for the adverse action. See e.g., Univ. of Texas
Because there is no direct evidence of discrimination, Hinkle's claims are analyzed under the burden-shifting framework of McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973).
If plaintiff successfully establishes a prima facie case, the burden then shifts "to the employer to articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the employee's rejection." If this burden is met, plaintiff must then demonstrate that the defendant's asserted rationale is pretextual. McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802-05, 93 S.Ct. 1817. To do this, "plaintiff must point to some evidence, direct or circumstantial, from which a factfinder could reasonably either (1) disbelieve the employer's articulated legitimate reasons; or (2) believe that an invidious discriminatory reason was more likely than not a motivating or determinative cause of the employer's action." Fuentes v. Perskie, 32 F.3d 759, 764 (3d Cir.1994) (citing St. Mary's Honor Ctr. v. Hicks, 509 U.S. 502, 511, 113 S.Ct. 2742, 125 L.Ed.2d 407
To compare her treatment to that of employees outside her protected class for purposes of a Title VII claim, Hinkle must show that she and the comparator employees are similarly situated in all relevant respects. See Houston v. Easton Area Sch. Dist., 355 Fed.Appx. 651, 654 (3d Cir.2009) (citation omitted). "[I]n disciplinary cases or in the context of personnel actions, for example, the relevant factors often include a `showing that the two employees dealt with the same supervisor, were subject to the same standards, and had engaged in similar conduct without such differentiating or mitigating circumstances as would distinguish their conduct or the employer's treatment of them.'" Id. at 654 (citation omitted). "Whether a comparator is truly similarly-situated to the plaintiff is an issue of law." Moore v. Shinseki, 487 Fed.Appx. 697, 698 (3d Cir.2012) (citation omitted).
As to Hinkle's gender discrimination claim, plaintiff alleges that D'Amelio, a senior financial analyst in the finance department, is a comparator. D'Amelio worked in a different department, with different job responsibilities, and a different supervisor (Cooper). Moreover, D'Amelio and Hinkle had different roles in the check approval process. D'Amelio and Hinkle are not similarly situated and D'Amelio is not a comparator. Hinkle additionally argues that the only other employee disciplined for her failure to detect or prevent the fraud was Gimbel. This misstates the record, as D'Amelio was given a letter of reprimand. Hinkle contends that the fact that the City replaced her with a male is "dispositive" of the City's gender discrimination against her. Absent any additional evidence of defendants exhibiting gender discrimination, the court does not find this evidence compelling. Cf. Mosca v. Cole, 217 Fed.Appx. 158, 162 (3d Cir.2007) ("Just as `the race of the selecting officials is not a sufficient circumstance to establish a prima facie case of discrimination by itself,' ... the fact that a plaintiff's replacement is of a different race, without more, is not enough.") (quoting ladimarco, 190 F.3d at 158).
Turning to Hinkle's race discrimination claim, Hinkle states that Cooper (the account manager of the finance department) and Jenkins (the director of human resources), both African American, were not disciplined. Although Hinkle alleges that Cooper and Jenkins were "responsible for preventing or detecting the thefts," there is no record evidence that they were involved with the check approval process related to the fraudulent checks. Cooper and Jenkins are in different departments with different supervisors. The court concludes that they are not comparators. Hinkle additionally argues that Mayor Williams' animosity (conveyed to Hinkle by the City's former head of human resources) regarding Hinkle's reprimand to an African American subordinate is sufficient to support an inference of unlawful racial discrimination. Even if true, the remark alone does not reflect any racially motivated animosity. See e.g. Baker v. City of Philadelphia, 405 Fed.Appx. 599, 602 (3d Cir.2010) (finding no error with the district court's conclusion that, at most, plaintiff presented evidence that his supervisor
As to age discrimination, Hinkle identifies Jenkins, D'Amelio, and Cooper as comparators. For the same reasons discussed above in the gender and race discrimination analysis, the court concludes that these employees are not similarly situated to Hinkle. While certainly not dispositive, the fact that Hinkle was replaced by Robb, who is actually older than Hinkle, weakens Hinkle's claim of age discrimination. Accordingly, the court finds that Hinkle has not established a prima facie case with respect to her gender, race, and age discrimination claims.
Even if Hinkle had established a prima facie case, the City has proffered a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for Hinkle's termination, that is, her part in approving the fraudulent checks. Hinkle argues that such justification is not credible in view of the appeal board and unemployment board decisions finding her termination unjust and defendants' version of the check approval process implausible. However, the appeal board specifically stated that Hinkle's termination did not result from "any political, religious or racial bias or prejudice." On the record at bar, Hinkle has not proffered evidence from which a fact finder could reasonably either disbelieve the City's articulated legitimate reason, or believe that an illegal discriminatory reason was more likely than not a motivating or determinative cause of the City's action. See Abramson v. William Paterson Coll. of N.J., 260 F.3d 265, 283 (3d Cir.2001) (reiterating that "it is not enough for a plaintiff to show that the employer's decision was wrong or mistaken, because the issue is whether the employer acted with discriminatory animus."). Defendants' motion is granted as to counts I, III, and IV.
To establish a prima facie case of retaliation, plaintiff must show: 1) she engaged in a protected activity; 2) after or contemporaneous with engaging in that protected activity, she was subjected to an adverse employment action; 3) the adverse action was "materially adverse;" and 4) there was a causal connection between her protected activity and the adverse employment action. Hare v. Potter, 220 Fed.Appx. 120, 128 (3d Cir.2007) (citing Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. White, 548 U.S. 53, 68, 126 S.Ct. 2405, 165 L.Ed.2d 345 (2006)). "Although timing and ongoing antagonism have often been the basis for the causal link, [Third Circuit] case law clearly has allowed a plaintiff to substantiate a causal connection for purposes of the prima facie case through other types of circumstantial evidence that support the inference." Farrell v. Planters Lifesavers Co., 206 F.3d 271, 280-81 (3d Cir.2000).
An individual is not protected from all retaliation, only from retaliation that produces an injury or harm. Burlington, 548 U.S. at 67, 126 S.Ct. 2405. Hence, "plaintiff must show that a reasonable employee would have found the challenged action materially adverse, which in this context means it well might have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination." Id. at 68, 126 S.Ct. 2405 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). The court looks
Hinkle contends two adverse event — the City intentionally refused to reinstate her after the appeal board's decision, and the City did not allow her to grieve such refusal.
At bar, Hinkle was not placed on paid leave pending an investigation or for a specific period of time. Instead, the City refused to reinstate her after the appeal board ordered it to do so. Moreover, the period of paid leave was left open-ended. The City contends that the reason for the paid leave was that her position was filled by a temporary employee, Robb, under contract until March 2016. Jenkins' declaration, however, stated that the City was investigating Hinkle as to the circumstances surrounding the check approval process and other non-related issues.
As to causation, the Third Circuit has explained that:
LeBoon v. Lancaster Jewish Cmty. Ctr. Ass'n, 503 F.3d 217, 233 (3d Cir.2007).
The record demonstrates that Hinkle filed EEOC charges in December 2013; the EEOC issued a notification of charges to the City on January 7, 2014; the appeal board's decision issued January 14, 2014; and, on January 29, 2014, Migliore told Hinkle not to return to work on February 3, 2014 (as ordered by the appeal board), a decision which could be discussed at the EEOC mediation scheduled for February 28, 2014. Hinkle was not permitted to grieve the decision. Instead, the City informed her that she was not a City employee;
The court concludes that Hinkle has raised genuine issues of material fact regarding the City's motives for delaying her reinstatement, particularly for the open-ended nature of the delay. The issue of retaliation is better left to a jury.
C. Due Process
"To establish liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must show that the defendants, acting under color of law, violated the plaintiff's federal constitutional or statutory rights, and thereby caused the complained of injury." Biliski v. Red Clay Conso. Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ., 574 F.3d 214, 219 (3d Cir.2009) (quoting Elmore v. Cleary, 399 F.3d 279, 281 (3d Cir.2005)). To establish a procedural due process claim, plaintiff must demonstrate that "(1) he was deprived of an individual interest that is encompassed within the Fourteenth Amendment's protection of life, liberty, or property, and (2) the procedures available to him did not provide due process of law." Biliski, 574 F.3d at 219 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
Generally, a pre-termination hearing "need not be elaborate." Cleveland Bd. of Educ. v. Loudermill, 470 U.S. 532, 545, 105 S.Ct. 1487, 84 L.Ed.2d 494 (1985). "Where adequate post-termination procedures are available, an employee is entitled only to `notice of the charges against him, an explanation of the employer's evidence, and an opportunity to present his side of the story.'" Schmidt v. Creedon, 639 F.3d 587, 596 (3d Cir.2011) (citing Loudermill, 470 U.S. at 545, 105 S.Ct. 1487). The pre-termination hearing "need not definitively resolve the propriety" of the termination. Loudermill, 470 U.S. at 545, 105 S.Ct. 1487. "It should be an initial check against mistaken decisions — essentially, a determination of whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the charges against the employee are true and support the proposed action." Id. at 545-46, 105 S.Ct. 1487.
Hinkle alleges that the City's failure to provide any pre-termination process violated her due process.
2. Qualified immunity
Defendants argue that Jenkins and Jeter are immune from liability under the doctrine of official or qualified immunity. Government officials performing discretionary functions are immune from liability for civil damages when their conduct does "not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known." Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818, 102 S.Ct. 2727, 73 L.Ed.2d 396 (1982) (citations omitted). A right is "clearly established" when "[t]he contours of the right [are] sufficiently clear that a reasonable official would understand that what he is doing violates that right." Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 640, 107 S.Ct. 3034, 97 L.Ed.2d 523 (1987); accord In re City of Phila. Litig., 49 F.3d 945, 961 (3d Cir.1995).
When analyzing a qualified immunity defense, the court must first ascertain "whether plaintiff has [alleged] a violation of a constitutional right at all." Larsen v. Senate of the Commonwealth of Pa., 154 F.3d 82, 86 (3d Cir.1998). Next, the court must inquire whether the right was "`clearly established' at the time the defendants acted." In re City of Phila., Litig., 49 F.3d at 961 (quoting Acierno v. Cloutier, 40 F.3d 597, 606 (3d Cir.1994)). Finally, the court must determine whether "`a reasonable person in the official's position would have known that his conduct would violate that right.'" Open Inns, Ltd. v. Chester County Sheriff's Dep't, 24 F.Supp.2d 410, 419 (E.D.Pa.1998) (quoting Wilkinson v. Bensalem Township, 822 F.Supp. 1154, 1157 (E.D.Pa.1993) (citations omitted)). If, on an objective basis, "`it is obvious that no reasonably competent [official] would have concluded that [the actions were lawful],'" defendants are not immune from suit; however, "`if [officials] of reasonable competence could disagree on this issue, immunity should be recognized.'" In re City of Phila. Litig., 49 F.3d at 961-62 (quoting Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335, 341, 106 S.Ct. 1092, 89 L.Ed.2d 271 (1986)).
Defendants argue that Hinkle has not asserted a constitutional violation, and "even if Jenkins and Jeter violated Hinkle's federal constitution or statutory rights in some discretionary function they
D. Wrongful Termination
In the SAC, Hinkle alleges a count of wrongful termination/breach of contract as follows. City employees should only be terminated for just cause as a matter of public policy. The City's failure to follow the grievance process after Hinkle's actual or constructive termination constituted a violation of such public policy. Defendants have fabricated false justifications for Hinkle's actual or constructive termination. These violations constitute violations of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing contained in every employment agreement in Delaware and, therefore, amount to wrongful termination and breach of contract. (D.I. 31 at ¶¶ 99-104)
Lord v. Souder, 748 A.2d 393, 400 (Del. 2000) (citation omitted). "[U]nder the public policy category: (i) the employee must assert a public interest recognized by some legislative, administrative or judicial authority and (ii) the employee must occupy a position with responsibility for advancing or sustaining that particular interest." Id. at 401 (citations omitted).
The parties advance competing motions regarding the breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Hinkle appears to contend that the City's refusal to follow the multi-step grievance procedure and the City's refusal to allow her to grieve the denial of her reinstatement (instead being placed on paid leave) violated the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Defendants disagree and argue that as to the paid leave, Hinkle's claim fails because her employment was not terminated. Moreover, Hinkle fails to demonstrate that she has asserted a public interest or occupied a position with responsibility for advancing or sustaining such interest.
At bar, the City did not follow the multi-step grievance process. Moreover it articulated inconsistent positions regarding Hinkle' employment, i.e., on one hand arguing that she was not a City employee and could not grieve her reinstatement, and on the other that she was not "terminated" when she was placed on paid leave. Given these open questions of material fact, the parties' motions are denied in this regard.
E. Conspiracy to Violate Civil Rights
Section 1985(3) permits an action to be brought by one injured by a conspiracy formed "for the purpose of depriving, either directly or indirectly, any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws." 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3). Plaintiff must allege:
Farber v. City of Paterson, 440 F.3d 131, 134 (3d Cir.2006) (citing United Bhd. of Carpenters & Joiners v. Scott, 463 U.S. 825, 828-29, 103 S.Ct. 3352, 77 L.Ed.2d 1049 (1983)). "[A] conspiracy claim [under § 1985] requires a clear showing of invidious, purposeful and intentional discrimination between classes or individuals" and "must involve more than one state or private agency." Carter v. Delaware State Univ., 65 Fed.Appx. 397, 400 (3d Cir.2003) (citation omitted). At bar, the conspiracy claim fails at least for the reason that Jeter and Jenkins are both employees of the City, therefore, only one political subdivision of the State is involved. Defendants' motion is granted in this regard.
F. Wage Claim
Hinkle alleges in count XI that the City "without any reasonable grounds for dispute, failed and refused to pay [her] wages and benefits as required by Chapter 11 of Title 19 of the Delaware Code." (D.I. 31 at ¶¶ 105-107) Chapter 11 of Title 19 of the Delaware Code states that it "does not apply to employees of the United States government, the State of Delaware or any political subdivision thereof." Del. C. 19, § 1101. As the City is a political subdivision of the State of Delaware, the court grants defendants' motion in this regard.
G. Motion to Supplement
The court analyses whether "the proposed supplementary information ... provide[s] any new evidence or create[s] any new questions of material fact that impact ruling on the pending" motion for summary judgment. Jackson v. Ivens, 2010 WL 2802279, at *1 (D.Del. July 13, 2010) (citing Edwards v. Pa. Tpk. Comm'n, 80 Fed.Appx. 261, 265 (3d Cir.2003)). At bar, plaintiffs seek to supplement the record with a March 22, 2016 letter wherein the City withdrew its petition to terminate benefits paid to Hinkle and the earlier filed petition to terminate. Plaintiffs state that the supplements are relevant to Hinkle's claim that there is no dispute her employment related disability continues. This information does not alter the decision rendered herein, therefore, plaintiffs' motion is denied.
For the aforementioned reasons, defendants' motion for summary judgment (D.I. 53) is granted in part and denied in part.