The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRIAN BARNETT DUFF
Plaintiffs Valarie Hudson and Cynthia Freeman ("Plaintiffs") allege that, while they worked for Defendant Soft Sheen Products, Inc. ("Soft Sheen"), Defendant Larry Allen ("Allen"), a vice president of Soft Sheen, sexually harassed them. They bring two counts under Title VII and one count each under common law theories of negligent retention and battery. Allen moves for judgment on the pleadings concerning the Title VII counts. Soft Sheen and the Plaintiffs ("the Opponents") oppose the motion. For the reasons discussed below, we grant Allen's motion.
As a vice president of Soft Sheen, Allen was the Plaintiffs' supervisor, someone with the authority to alter the terms and conditions of their employment. While acting as their supervisor, he allegedly engaged in verbal and physical sexual harassment, including offering the Plaintiffs employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors. Eventually, after employees complained about Allen's conduct and the company conducted an internal investigation, Soft Sheen terminated his employment.
We may review Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) motions for judgment on the pleadings under the same standard as we review Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motions for dismissal for failure to state a claim. Alexander v. City of Chicago, 994 F.2d 333, 336 (7th Cir. 1993); see Thomason v. Nachtrieb, 888 F.2d 1202, 1204 (7th Cir. 1989). "A party fails to state a claim . . . only if [it] 'can prove no set of facts upon which relief may be granted.' We assume well-pleaded allegations are true and . . . draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Bethlehem Steel Corp. v. Bush, 918 F.2d 1323, 1326 (7th Cir. 1990) (citation omitted).
Title VII prohibits "employers" from discriminating against employees on the basis of their "race, color, religion, sex, or national origin . . . " 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). "The term 'employer' means a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has fifteen or more employees . . . and any agent of such a person." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b).
The sum of the amount of compensatory damages . . . and punitive damages awarded under this section, shall not exceed, for each complaining party --
(A) in the case of [an employer] who has more than 14 and fewer than 101 employees . . ., $ 50,000;
(B) in the case of [an employer] who has more than 100 and fewer than 201 employees . . ., $ 100,000;
(C) in the case of [an employer] who has more than 200 and fewer than 501 employees . . ., $ 200,000;
(D) in the case of [an employer] who has more than 500 employees . . ., $ 300,000.