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DIRKSEN v. CITY OF SPRINGFIELD

February 9, 1994

MICHELLE DIRKSEN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF SPRINGFIELD, SPRINGFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENT, KIRK ROBINSON, MAYOR OSSIE LANGFELDER, GEORGE JUDD, GEORGE MURPHY, AND JIM CIMAROSSA, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, District Judge:

OPINION

An allegation of sexual harassment.

Plaintiff: Michelle Dirksen, a secretary with the City of Springfield Police Department.

Defendants: The City of Springfield, former Springfield Police Chief Robinson, Mayor Langfelder, and Springfield Police supervisors Judd, Murphy, and Cimarossa.

This cause is before the Court on Defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

I. Allegations

The Court assumes for this ruling the truth of the following allegations: Plaintiff was hired as a secretary with the City of Springfield Police Department on June 8, 1987. Defendant Robinson joined the Springfield Police Department as an officer on August 21, 1978. Prior to Defendant Robinson's employment with the Springfield Police Department, Plaintiff alleges Robinson had been disciplined at a previous job "for sexual discrimination and harassment." He was appointed Assistant Commander of the Springfield Police Department in March 1988, Commander in August of 1990, Assistant Chief of Police in October of 1991, and Chief of Police in November of 1992. In all of these positions, Defendant Robinson had supervisory authority over female employees of the Springfield Police Department.

During the time Plaintiff was employed by the Springfield Police Department, she alleges that Robinson made numerous nonconsensual sexual advances toward her which included: attempts to kiss and touch her body, offensive placement of his hands on her body, forcing the placement of her hands on his body, and attempted sexual assault. These sexual advances occurred during work hours.

The last alleged sexual assault occurred on December 17, 1992. At this time, Plaintiff claims that Chief Robinson "forcibly attempted to have sexual intercourse with the Plaintiff." Plaintiff also alleges that Chief Robinson stated that if Plaintiff wanted to be promoted to his personal secretary, she must submit to sexual intercourse with him.

On January 6, 1993, Plaintiff reported Robinson's alleged sexual harassment to Defendant Jim Cimarossa. Cimarossa was the Assistant Deputy Chief of the Springfield Police Department. Although Springfield Police Department regulations required Cimarossa to report the sexual harassment to Mayor Langfelder, Plaintiff alleges that Cimarossa failed to file such a report with Mayor Langfelder. Instead, on January 14, 1993, Cimarossa advised Plaintiff not to report the harassment to internal affairs and to "work it out" with Defendant Robinson.

On January 19, 1993, Plaintiff reported the incident of sexual assault and harassment to her supervisor, Deputy Chief George Murphy and Assistant Deputy Chief Harvey Davis. Again, although Springfield Police Department regulations required Murphy and Davis to report the sexual harassment to Mayor Langfelder, Murphy allegedly refused to report the harassment and instead told Robinson of Plaintiff's allegations.

On January 21, 1993, Plaintiff went to the Springfield Police Department of Internal Affairs ("internal affairs") and filed a complaint regarding Robinson's harassment and the treatment she received from Murphy and Cimarossa.

Also on January 21, 1993, Plaintiff applied for a position with the City of Springfield Department of Tourism. Plaintiff submitted her application to the City of Springfield Personnel Department and the personnel department forwarded her application to the Mayor's office.

On January 22, 1993, Mayor Langfelder learned of Plaintiff's complaint. Further, Plaintiff alleges that despite the recommendations made by internal affairs to place Chief Robinson on limited duty, Mayor Langfelder refused to take any remedial action against Robinson. Mayor Langfelder also refused to take any remedial action against Defendants Murphy and Cimarossa. In addition, it is alleged that when Mayor Langfelder became aware of Plaintiff's harassment Complaint, he failed to forward Plaintiff's job application to the Springfield Department of Tourism.

On January 25, 1993, Mayor Langfelder asked the Illinois State Police to do an internal investigation regarding Plaintiff's sexual harassment complaint. During the investigation conducted by the Illinois State Police, Plaintiff alleges that other female subordinates of Defendant Robinson reported that they had also been harassed by Robinson. However, no action was taken against Robinson as a result of the investigation conducted by the Illinois State Police.

Later, at some unspecified date, Robinson appointed Defendant George Judd to the new Deputy Chief of Operations for the Springfield Police Department. Plaintiff was assigned as Judd's personal secretary.

Judd allegedly began to change the "conditions of Plaintiff's employment" in an unspecified way. He also allegedly advised other unspecified members of the Springfield Police Department of his intent to hire a new secretary.

Chief Robinson was placed on administrative leave on April 1, 1993.

On April 2, 1993, Judd engaged in a "verbal confrontation" with Plaintiff and indicated an "intention to change her working conditions." On that same day, it is alleged that a legal representative of Mayor Langfelder advised internal affairs to remove Plaintiff from her work area because of Plaintiff's hostile work environment. No action was taken against Defendant Judd.

On April 2, 1993, Plaintiff took a medical leave of absence.

On April 8, 1993, Plaintiff filed a complaint of sexual harassment against the City of Springfield, Mayor Langfelder, Kirk Robinson, and George Judd with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

On May 17, 1993, after returning to work after a medical leave of absence, Plaintiff was given a temporary position as a receptionist for the Springfield Police Department. This position has adversely affected Plaintiff's chances for promotion and advancement.

On May 26, 1993, Defendant Robinson resigned as Chief of Police. Since his resignation, Robinson has been appointed to the position of "Commander" and continues to supervise female employees.

On June 25, 1993, Plaintiff requested a return to her original position as a secretary. That request was denied.

On December 6, 1993, Plaintiff filed the instant ten Count Complaint. Count I alleges a cause of action for "quid pro quo" harassment against all Defendants "individually" under Title VII (42 U.S.C. § 2000e). Count II alleges a cause of action for "hostile work environment harassment" against all Defendants "individually" under Title VII. Count III alleges a cause of action for reverse discrimination against Defendants City of Springfield, Mayor Langfelder, Kirk Robinson, and George Murphy under Title VII. Count IV alleges a cause of action for "retaliation" under Title VII against all Defendants "individually" under Title VII. Count V alleges a cause of action against all Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Count VI alleges a state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress against all Defendants. Count VII alleges a state law claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress against all Defendants. Count VIII alleges a state law cause of action for negligent retention against the City of Springfield and Mayor Langfelder. Count IX alleges a state law claim for negligent hiring against the City of Springfield and Mayor Langfelder. Count X alleges a state law claim for battery against Defendant Robinson for entering Plaintiff's home on December 12, 1992 and indecently soliciting her to have sexual intercourse with him.

Plaintiff prays for: (1) an injunction to restrain Defendants from committing future Title VII violations and directing Defendants to take affirmative steps to stop all Title VII violations; (2) compensatory and punitive damages; (3) costs and attorney fees.

II. Analysis

(A). Claims arising under Title VII

1. Timeliness of the Complaint

In order to maintain a Title VII action, a plaintiff who initially files a complaint with a state agency must file a complaint with the EEOC within 300-days after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1) (1992).

In this case, Plaintiff filed her Title VII charge with the EEOC on April 8, 1993. Accordingly, the Defendants argue that any claims against the Defendants which occurred prior to June 12, 1992 (June 12, 1992 is 300-days before April 8, 1993) should be time-barred.

However, the 300-day limit may be expanded. In Stewart v. CPC Intern., Inc., 679 F.2d 117, 121 (7th Cir. 1982), the court stated that an:

  employer may be held liable for a continuing
  practice of discrimination if the plaintiff can
  demonstrate that the practice has actually
  continued into the `present'-that is, into the
  time period relevant to the date the charge of
  discrimination was filed. At least one
  discriminatory act must have occurred within the
  charge-filing period. Discriminatory acts that
  occurred prior to this period constitute relevant
  evidence of a continuing practice, and may help to
  demonstrate the ...

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