secretary. She was assigned to the Vice President of Corporate Relations, Marion Durk ("Durk"). Whitehead's responsibilities included general clerical duties, answering telephone calls, typing, editing, organizing, and disseminating product information to AMI shareholders and potential investors.
During the course of her employment with AMI, Whitehead's responsibilities expanded in its scope to include planning of various events, assisting the publication of an in-house newsletter, and coordinating the compilation and monitoring of product information. She, however, received neither "an appropriate job title reflective of [her new] responsibilities, nor recognition of her accomplishment by way of [a pay raise]." (Pl.'s Compl. P 8.) Furthermore, AMI never "allowed [Whitehead] to exercise her full potential."
Whitehead performed her duties "satisfactorily," and her job performance evaluations reflect "superior performance." Id. P 7. Despite her "superior performance" record, Durk placed Whitehead on probation on October 9, 1991, for a period of ninety days. According to Whitehead, her relationship with Durk was far from being cordial or professional. She alleges that Durk singled her out from other employees and repeatedly reprimanded her without justification and even tossed papers directly at her in front of her co-employees, "intercept[ed Whitehead's] planned award for 'Employee of the Year,'" id. P 21(b), denied her requests for various benefits such as tuition reimbursement, medical leave, and vacation days, and disciplined her "to the exclusion of others who had engaged in similar employment practices . . . ." Id. P 21(f).
On October 11, 1991, Whitehead complained of harassment and discriminatory treatment to Merle H. Banta ("Banta"), who was the Chairman of the Board of Directors, the Chief Executive Officer of AMI, and the direct supervisor of Durk. Whitehead related to Banta that Durk placed her on probation unjustifiably and denied tuition reimbursement while granting identical requests of other employees. Banta responded that he would investigate the matter. Banta, however, never responded to Whitehead's complaints.
On November 21, 1991, Whitehead expressed her grievances to Morton Rible ("Rible"), the Senior Vice President of Human Resources. She complained to Rible that Durk had eliminated some of Whitehead's responsibilities and denied her requests for vacation days for no reason. Whitehead asked Rible to investigate the matter and to intervene on behalf of her. Rible promised, as Banta did, to investigate and to remedy the alleged problems. Rible, likewise, never responded to Whitehead's requests for remediation.
On November 25, 1991, Whitehead met with Marion Gruber ("Gruber"), the Director of Human Resources, to inform him of the "continuing difficulties [she was having] with Marion Durk."
Id. P 17. Gruber offered to arrange a meeting with Durk and Whitehead. Gruber, however, never arranged the meeting. In fact, shortly thereafter, on December 2, 1991, AMI terminated Whitehead's employment. AMI informed Whitehead that the reasons for her termination were her tardiness and insubordination.
On May 7, 1992, Whitehead filed a charge of discrimination with the State of Illinois Department of Human Rights and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). On November 23, 1992, the EEOC sent a notice of right to sue to Whitehead. Subsequently, on February 18, 1993, Whitehead filed a four-count complaint against AMI. The complaint represents that Whitehead brings the action against AMI pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2201, the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983,
and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. In addition to the discrimination claims, Whitehead asserts a state tort claim based on the theory of intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In the instant motion, AMI contends that counts II and III, the retaliatory discharge and sexual harassment claims, must be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. AMI further contends that count IV, the tort claim, must be dismissed because it is barred by the exclusive remedy provision of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act, 820 ILCS 305/1, et seq., and it fails to state a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
On a motion to dismiss, all well-pleaded factual allegations are presumed to be true. Land v. Chicago Truck Drivers, 25 F.3d 509, 511 (7th Cir. 1994). The court must view those allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Gould v. Artisoft, Inc., 1 F.3d 544, 546 (7th Cir. 1993), and accepts all reasonable inferences to be drawn from those allegations 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). The court is not, however, constrained by the legal characterizations placed on those allegations by plaintiff. Republic Steel Corp. v. Penn. Eng'g Corp., 785 F.2d 174, 183 (7th Cir. 1986).
Additionally, the court must construe the pleadings liberally, and mere vagueness or lack of detail alone will not constitute sufficient grounds to dismiss a complaint. Strauss v. City of Chicago, 760 F.2d 765, 767 (7th Cir. 1985). The complaint need not specify the correct legal theory nor point to the right statute to survive a Rule 12(b) motion to dismiss. Tolle v. Carroll Touch, Inc., 977 F.2d 1129, 1134-35 (7th Cir. 1992). The complaint must, however, state either direct or inferential allegations to establish the necessary elements for recovery under the chosen legal theory. Glatt v. Chicago Park Dist., 847 F. Supp. 101, 103 (N.D. Ill. 1994).
Whitehead alleges in counts II and III that AMI sexually harassed her and retaliated against her in violation of Title VII. AMI moves to dismiss these counts on the grounds that these allegations of civil rights violations are outside the scope of Whitehead's EEOC charge. In support, AMI attached the EEOC charge completed by Whitehead as an exhibit to its motion to dismiss.
A condition precedent to filing a Title VII action in federal court is that the plaintiff must have first asserted the discrimination claims in the EEOC charge. Rush v. McDonald's Corp., 966 F.2d 1104, 1110 (7th Cir. 1992). A Title VII plaintiff cannot bring claims in a civil action that are beyond the scope of the plaintiff's EEOC charge. Cheek v. Western and S. Life Ins. Co., No. 93-1840, 1994 WL 398219, at *2 (7th Cir. Aug. 1, 1994); Taylor v. Western and S. Life Ins. Co., 966 F.2d 1188, 1194 (7th Cir. 1992). Accordingly, an aggrieved employee may not complain of certain acts of discrimination to the EEOC and then file an action claiming different acts of discrimination. Johnson v. Indopco, 834 F. Supp. 1039, 1043 (N.D. Ill. 1993).
The function of this condition precedent is to preserve the principle of primary jurisdiction of the EEOC and to provide the EEOC and the employer an opportunity to settle the discrimination accusations without resort to litigation. Rush, 966 F.2d at 1110. To effectuate the remedial purpose of Title VII, however, the court must construe the EEOC charge with "utmost liberality" in identifying the permissible claims. Babrocky v. Jewel Food Co., 773 F.2d 857, 864 (7th Cir. 1985); Otterbacher v. Northwestern Univ., 838 F. Supp. 1256, 1260 (N.D. Ill. 1993).
A claim is considered to be within the scope of the EEOC charge if it is "like or reasonably related to the allegations of the [EEOC] charge and growing out of such allegations." Jenkins v. Blue Cross Mutual Hosp. Ins., Inc., 538 F.2d 164, 167 (7th Cir.) (en banc), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 986, 50 L. Ed. 2d 598, 97 S. Ct. 506 (1976). Further, claims of discrimination communicated during the course of the investigation and conciliation are also proper claims to be made in a Title VII complaint. O'Rourke v. Continental Cas. Co., 983 F.2d 94, 97 (7th Cir. 1993).
In the instant action, the liberal application of the Jenkins standard cannot bring the claims of sexual harassment and retaliatory discharge within the scope of the EEOC charge.
Whitehead made the following accusations of disparate treatment in her EEOC charge:
I. On December 2, 1991, I was discharged from my position as administrative assistant. On November 18, 1991, I was denied a requested vacation. On November 15, 1991, I was harassed. I was hired on July 15, 1985.
II. According to Marion G. Durk (white), Vice President of Corporate Relations, I was discharged due to tardiness; violation of lunch hour rules; and failure to follow proper procedures regarding word processing system, acquisition of meeting space, opening of department mail and utilization of vacation time. Durk said I was denied approval of my vacation request because no time off requests for that time period, were being approved.