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WRIGHT v. METHODIST YOUTH SERVICES

March 13, 1981

DONALD WRIGHT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
METHODIST YOUTH SERVICES, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Donald Wright ("Wright") brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e and following ("Title VII") and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 1985 and 1988,*fn1 based on his allegedly unlawful termination as an employee of Methodist Youth Services, Inc. ("Youth Services").*fn2 Defendants have moved to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.*fn3 For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and order, defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

Youth Services is a not-for-profit corporation providing social services to minors, primarily those who are wards of the State of Illinois. Wright, a black male, was employed by Youth Services from approximately June 1976 until July 1979. Wright alleges that during the course of his employment his supervisor, Hillerman, made overt homosexual advances towards Wright and that as a result of Wright's resistance to those advances his employment was terminated. Wright has exhausted his Title VII administrative remedies and now seeks both damages and injunctive relief in this action.

Section 1983 Claims

Wright charges that his termination violated his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment and therefore Section 1983. By its terms Section 1983 only applies to actions taken "under color" of state law. Wright contends that several factors justify a finding of state action despite Youth Services' being a private entity:

    1. Youth Services receives and relies heavily on
  state funding.
    2. Children are referred to Youth Services by a
  state agency.
    3. Welfare programs are traditionally a public
  function dealt with by government agencies.

Such linkages are insufficient to invoke the "under color" of state law doctrine. Our Court of Appeals dealt with like claims in Cannon v. University of Chicago, 559 F.2d 1063, 1071 (7th Cir. 1976), rev'd on other grounds, 441 U.S. 677, 99 S.Ct. 1946, 60 L.Ed.2d 560 (1977):

  But, even assuming financial aid and assistance by
  the state in whatever amounts, such aid and
  assistance is insufficient for jurisdiction under §
  1983 unless it can be shown that the State has
  "affirmatively supported" the particular conduct
  challenged here.

Wright fails that test, for the Complaint does not allege that either the state funding or the system of referral is in any way responsible for or promotes the alleged discrimination.

In limited circumstances a plaintiff need not establish such a nexus between state support of a private activity and the alleged discriminatory act — but only "by an allegation of facts suggesting that the ostensibly private activity has acted as a state instrumentality or a `joint participant,' in the language of Burton v. Wilmington Park Authority, 365 U.S. 715, 725 [81 S.Ct. 856, 861-862, 6 L.Ed.2d 45] (1961)." Musso v. Suriano, 586 F.2d 59, 63 (7th Cir. 1978). As Musso went on to say, "Such an allegation is dependent upon more than funding; it is dependent upon facts suggesting control." Thus state action may be found where a federal statutory program requires some private involvement in the management of the program. See, Ginn v. Matthews, 533 F.2d 477 (9th Cir. 1976). Again the Complaint alleges no facts to permit the inference that Youth Services and the State of Illinois became so intertwined that activities by Youth Services constitute state action. See, Rendell-Baker v. Kohn, 641 F.2d 14 (1st Cir. 1981).

Wright's claims under Section 1983 are ...


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