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JOHNSON v. INDOPCO

March 8, 1994

IONA E. JOHNSON and CARMELITA R. WILKES, Plaintiffs,
v.
INDOPCO, INC. a New York, corporation d/b/a UNICHEMA NORTH AMERICA, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES RONALD NORGLE, SR.

 CHARLES R. NORGLE, SR., District Judge:

 Before the court are the motions of defendant Indopco, Inc., d/b/a Unichema North America ("Unichema") to dismiss plaintiff Carmelita R. Wilkes' ("Wilkes") second amended Count III *fn1" pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and to sever the claims of plaintiff Iona E. Johnson ("Johnson") and Wilkes pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 21. For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss is denied and the motion to sever is granted.

 BACKGROUND2

 On October 21, 1993, the court granted Unichema's motion to dismiss Wilkes' first amended Count III, violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), without prejudice. On November 8, 1993, Wilkes filed her second amended Count III. In response, Unichema filed its motion to dismiss the second amended Count III and to sever the claims of Johnson and Wilkes.

 Wilkes' second amended Count III alleges in summary that Unichema violated Title VII by engaging in sexual harassment. Lance Chambers ("Chambers") was the personnel manager for Unichema. As the personnel manager, Chambers had the power and the authority to hire employees to fill the positions of executive secretaries and secretary/receptionists, to grant salary raises and promotions, and to discharge employees.

 On August 30, 1991, Wilkes submitted an application to Unichema seeking an executive secretary position. On September 12, 1991, Chambers telephoned Wilkes at her residence and "asked [her] to convince him that he should offer [her] a position [at Unichema]." Second Amended Count III ("Complt.") P 11. On September 22, 1991, Chambers extended an offer to hire Wilkes as a secretary/receptionist, rather than the executive secretary position Wilkes sought in August 1991. Nonetheless, Wilkes accepted the lower paying position of secretary/receptionist.

 On October 2, 1991, after Wilkes accepted the employment offer, Chambers telephoned Wilkes that he will visit her home to give her the benefits package and various forms that needed to be completed prior to her first day at Unichema. When Chambers arrived at Wilkes' residence, he requested Wilkes to accompany him to his apartment to retrieve the necessary benefits package and forms. Wilkes agreed, left her residence, and went with Chambers to his apartment.

 On October 7, 1991, Wilkes began her employment with Unichema. During Wilkes' brief employment at Unichema, Chambers was her direct supervisor. As part of Wilkes' duties, she worked as a secretary for Chambers in the afternoons after she completed her morning shifts as a receptionist. In October 1991, Chambers asked Wilkes out to lunch. Wilkes accepted the invitation. While walking to lunch, Chambers asked "why [she] would marry so young and why [she] would give up having a lot of 'fun' with guys like [him]." Complt. P 17. Chambers then asked if Wilkes' husband "'satisfied' her." Id. In response to the sexual inquiries, Wilkes told Chambers that his questions were offensive and not welcomed.

 In late October and early November 1991, Chambers made additional sexually suggestive comments to Wilkes. During the controversy over Anita Hill's ("Hill") sexual harassment accusations against now Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas ("Thomas"), Chambers told Wilkes that Hill was wrong for accusing Thomas and added that Chambers "could 'do a lot' for [Wilkes]." Complt. P 18. In addition to those remarks, Chambers, on three or four occasions, bragged about his ability to sexually satisfy any woman in bed if given the opportunity.

 In December of 1991, Chambers again asked Wilkes in sexually suggestive manner "'why [she] would . . . settle for second best when [she] could have the best with [him]." Wilkes asserts she never consented to the sexual comments, encouraged Chambers to make those comments, or submitted to his innuendos. In January 1992, Chambers started decreasing Wilkes' secretarial duties, until Chambers terminated Wilkes from her employment on February 28, 1992.

 DISCUSSION

 On a motion to dismiss, all well-pleaded factual allegations are presumed to be true. Johnson v. Martin, 943 F.2d 15, 16 (7th Cir. 1991); Perkins v. Silverstein, 939 F.2d 463, 466 (7th Cir. 1991). The court must view those allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Gomez v. Illinois State Board of Education, 811 F.2d 1030, 1039 (7th Cir. 1987), and all reasonable inferences to be drawn from those allegations are also viewed in favor of the plaintiff and accepted as true. Meriwether v. Faulkner, 821 F.2d 408, 410 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 935, 98 L. Ed. 2d 269, 108 S. Ct. 311 (1987). Additionally, the court must construe the pleadings liberally, ...


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