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RUICH v. RUFF

October 5, 1993

CHRISTINE M. RUICH, Plaintiff,
v.
RUFF, WEIDENAAR & REIDY, LTD., and CHARLES REITER, Defendants.


Conlon


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SUZANNE B. CONLON

Christine Ruich ("Ruich") sues defendants Charles Reiter ("Reiter") and Ruff, Weidenaar & Reidy, Ltd. ("Ruff, Weidenaar") for sexual harassment, retaliation for filing a charge of discrimination, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Ruich sues under Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, as amended in 1991, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII"), and under Illinois common law. Ruff, Weidenaar and Reiter separately move to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

 BACKGROUND

 For purposes of ruling on motions to dismiss, the court takes as true all factual allegations in the complaint. Early v. Bankers Life & Casualty Co., 959 F.2d 75, 79 (7th Cir. 1989). From February 1989 through July 1992, Ruich was employed as a legal secretary for Ruff, Weidenaar, and was assigned to work for Reiter, a partner at the law firm. Complaint PP 7-8. During that time, Reiter made lewd and sexually suggestive comments to Ruich. Complaint P 9. Reiter also made sexual advances: he kissed the back of Ruich's neck and slapped her backside, and in other ways touched her sexually. Complaint P 10. In June 1992, when Ruich complained to Reiter about his conduct and asked him expressly to cease his sexual advances, Reiter became unduly critical of Ruich's work, and placed unrealistic demands upon her. Complaint P 12.

 In July 1992, Ruich complained to the partners of Ruff, Weidenaar, including the managing partner, and informed the management that she felt forced to resign. The partners asked Ruich not to leave the firm, but refused to investigate Reiter's actions. Complaint P 13. The partners of Ruff, Weidenaar had been aware of Reiter's behavior since about March 1989. Complaint P 11.

 On July 16, 1992, Ruich told Ruff, Weidenaar's managing partner that she felt she must resign; the managing partner told Ruich that she would be paid through August 15, 1992. Complaint P 14. Subsequently, when Ruich filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), Ruff, Weidenaar's management told Ruich that she would be paid only through July 31, 1992. Complaint P 15. Ruich filed a second charge of discrimination with the EEOC regarding the reduction in severance pay. Complaint P 4.

 Ruich has sought psychiatric treatment to combat the emotional distress and depression that Reiter's and Ruff, Weidenaar's actions have caused her. Complaint P 16. On June 23, 1993, the EEOC granted Ruich notification of the right to sue on both charges of discrimination that she had filed. Complaint P 4.

 DISCUSSION

 1. Motion To Dismiss

 A motion to dismiss concerns the sufficiency of the complaint, not the merits of the suit. Triad Ass'n, Inc. v. Chicago Housing Auth., 892 F.2d 583, 586 (7th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 845, 112 L. Ed. 2d 97, 111 S. Ct. 129 (1990). The court grants a motion to dismiss only if it is clear that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts that would entitle him to relief. Venture Associates Corp. v. Zenith Data Systems Corp., 987 F.2d 429, 432 (7th Cir. 1993); Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957).

 In ruling on motions to dismiss, the court takes all well-pleaded facts to be true, and draws all inferences and resolves all ambiguities in the non-moving party's favor. Bontkowski v. First National Bank of Cicero, 998 F.2d 459, 461 (7th Cir. 1993); Dawson v. General Motors Corp., 977 F.2d 369, 372 (7th Cir. 1992). Thus, the complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted only if the facts that the plaintiff alleges show that she is not entitled to judgment. Bartholet v. Reishauer, A.G., 953 F.2d 1073, 1079 (7th Cir. 1992).

 2. Reiter's Motion

 a. Individual liability under Title VII

 Under Title VII, employers are prohibited from discriminating against their employees. Reiter contends he was not Ruich's employer; he asserts that count I, a Title VII claim against Reiter in his individual capacity, must be dismissed. Reiter argues that Title VII provides a cause of action against an employer, but not against the employer's agent. Reiter asserts that an employee's direct supervisor is merely an ...


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