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GRIFFITH v. KEYSTONE STEEL & WIRE CO.

July 22, 1994

ROY GRIFFITH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
KEYSTONE STEEL & WIRE COMPANY, A DIVISION OF KEYSTONE CONSOLIDATED INDUSTRIES, INC., CHARLIE CUTTING, LEE LANGLEY, HAROLD SCOBY, RICK JAY, AND ERIC EBERLY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mihm, Chief Judge.

ORDER

Currently pending before the Court are the Defendants' Motions to Dismiss Plaintiff Roy Griffith's Complaint alleging sexual harassment in violation of his rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. For the reasons set forth below, this Court adopts the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Kauffman (# 33) and the Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (# 17, 21, 23) are DENIED.

FACTS

Roy Griffith is employed as a maintenance electrician by Defendant Keystone Steel & Wire ("Keystone"), a corporation doing business in the State of Illinois. Complaint, pp. 2-3. Also named as Defendants in this suit are Charlie Cutting, Lee Langley, Harold Scoby, Rick Jay, and Eric Eberly, all of whom were employed as foremen with the Defendant Keystone at the time of the alleged violation. Complaint, p. 2.

Griffith and other Keystone employees are represented by the Independent Steel Workers Alliance and are employed pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA"). Keystone's Motion to Dismiss, p. 2. The CBA contains a provision stating that

  It is the continuing policy of the Company and
  the Union that the provisions of this Agreement
  shall be applied to all employees without regard
  to sex, race, color, religious creed, or national
  origin. Keystone's Memorandum in Support of
  Motion to Dismiss, Exhibit 1, p. 7, paragraph
  1.5.

The CBA further provides a grievance procedure to settle any differences that arise between the company and union member employees. The first step of the grievance process is for an employee to discuss the problem with his foreman. Id., p. 55, paragraph 16.1. If not resolved at this stage, the grievance may be filed in written form and go through various stages of review. Id., pp. 55-59. At the end of these stages of review, if the grievance is not settled, it "may be presented to arbitration." Id., p. 59, paragraph 16.541.

From mid-October 1992 through January 1993, Griffith alleges that he was subjected to "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, [and] verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature" by Mr. Cutting "in exchange for favorable working conditions or terms." Complaint, p. 3. Griffith states that he did not encourage or consent to this conduct, which he claims had a detrimental effect on his employment and created a hostile and abusive work environment. Id., pp. 3-4. He repeatedly complained to Defendants Cutting, Langley, Scoby, Jay, and Eberly about the harassment but they "encouraged, enjoyed, approved or ratified" the conduct. Id., p. 4. Griffith filed a grievance on or about February 2, 1993. Keystone's Motion to Dismiss, p. 3. On or about April 12, 1993, Griffith filed a charge of discrimination with the State of Illinois Department of Human Rights, which then filed the charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Complaint, p. 2. The EEOC issued Griffith a right to sue letter on August 28, 1993. Id.

Defendant Keystone filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint (# 17). Defendant Cutting filed a Motion to Dismiss Count II of the Complaint (# 23). Defendants Langley, Scoby, Jay, and Eberly filed a Motion to Dismiss Counts III through VI of the Complaint (# 21). Magistrate Judge Kauffman recommended that the Defendants' Motions to Dismiss be denied.

DISCUSSION

"A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 102, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). The factual allegations of the complaint are to be construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 235-37, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 1686, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974).*fn1

Keystone moves to dismiss Griffith's Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the terms of the CBA between Keystone and the union provide the grievance procedure and arbitration as the appropriate remedy. As authority for this proposition, Keystone cited Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp., 500 U.S. 20, 111 S.Ct. 1647, 114 L.Ed.2d 26 (1991) and a series of cases following the Supreme Court's decision in that case.

This Court agrees with Magistrate Judge Kauffman that Gilmer does not apply to the facts of this case. Unlike the plaintiff in Gilmer, Griffith did not sign an individual agreement to arbitrate. He is only bound by the union's CBA. He is not suing to enforce contractual rights, which ...


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