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WILKE v. BOB'S ROUTE 53 SHELL STATION

March 12, 1999

MARK W. WILKE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BOB'S ROUTE 53 SHELL STATION AND NORTHERN SERVICE CENTERS, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Castillo, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Mark W. Wilke filed this lawsuit claiming that Robert W. Georgantas, Jr., the president of Bob's Route 53 Shell Station ("Bob's") and Northern Service Centers, Inc. ("Northern"), fired him because of a perceived disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. Northern has filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that Wilke failed to file an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge within 180 days of his discharge, never named Northern as an offender in the EEOC charge, and did not file a complaint against Northern within 90 days of receiving his right-to-sue letter. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we deny Northern's motion to dismiss.

FACTS

Georgantas hired Wilke to work as a cashier at Bob's on March 13, 1996.*fn1 A short time later Wilke was in an accident; he fractured his clavicle and damaged a nerve in his shoulder. During the following months he required extensive medical care for his injuries. On October 8, 1996, Wilke was fired. He claims Georgantas perceived him as disabled and fired him for that reason, even though Wilke was performing his duties satisfactorily.

Wilke filed a charge of disability discrimination against Bob's with the EEOC and the Illinois Department of Human Rights on May 20, 1997. The EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter on May 28, and Wilke filed a pro se complaint on August 15, 1997, naming Georgantas as the only defendant. This Court appointed counsel to represent Wilke and permitted counsel to amend the original complaint. However, counsel withdrew without taking any action on the case, as did the next court-appointed attorney. Thus, an amended complaint against Bob's and Northern was not filed until September 16, 1998.

Northern seeks release from this lawsuit on three grounds. First, it claims that Wilke violated the 180-day statute of limitation for filing a charge with the EEOC. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1). Second, it argues that Northern is not a proper party because Wilke did not name Northern in his EEOC charge. Finally, Northern asserts that Wilke did not file a complaint against it within 90 days of receiving his right-to-sue letter as required under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1).

LEGAL STANDARDS

A motion to dismiss brought under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) should be granted when the complaint fails to state a claim that entitles the plaintiff to relief. Corcoran v. Chicago Park Dist., 875 F.2d 609, 611 (7th Cir. 1989). In reviewing the motion, we must accept as true the factual allegations of the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Lashbrook v. Oerkfitz, 65 F.3d 1339, 1343 (7th Cir. 1995). The complaint should not be dismissed "unless it appears beyond a 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, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). A complaint must allege facts that sufficiently set forth the essential elements of the cause of action to withstand a motion to dismiss. Gray v. County of Dane, 854 F.2d 179, 182 (7th Cir. 1988).

ANALYSIS

I. Timely Filing with EEOC

We first address Northern's argument that Wilke's filing of the charge with the EEOC was untimely because he filed the charge more than 180 days after he was fired. A plaintiff's right to sue in federal court for employment discrimination under Title VII is dependent on filing a timely charge of discrimination with the EEOC. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1), (f)(1); 29 U.S.C. § 626(d). Title VII provides a 180-day limitations period; because the ADA adopts the enforcement procedures governing Title VII actions, this limitations period governs ADA claims as well. Fairchild v. Forma Scientific, Inc., 147 F.3d 567, 574 (7th Cir. 1998). This time period, however, is extended to 300 days in deferral states. Gilardi v. Schroeder, 833 F.2d 1226, 1230 (7th Cir. 1987). Because Illinois is a deferral state, id., Wilke was required to file his EEOC charge within 300 days of the alleged discrimination.

In this case, the filing period began to run on October 8, 1996, the date of Wilke's discharge. Thus Wilke was required to file his EEOC charge by August 4, 1997. Wilke filed his charge on May 20, 1997, well within the statutory period. Therefore, Wilke's EEOC discrimination charge was timely.

II. Northern not named in EEOC charge

Northern next argues that because it was not named as a respondent in Wilke's EEOC charge, it must be dismissed from this action. The general rule is that a party not named in an EEOC charge may not be sued under Title VII. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5; Schnellbaecher v. Baskin Clothing Co., 887 F.2d 124, 126 (7th Cir. 1989). However, this rule is subject to exceptions designed to avoid unduly harsh results when, as here, a layperson prepares the charge. Feng v. Sandrik, 636 F. Supp. 77, 81 (N.D.Ill. 1986). The Seventh Circuit delineated one such exception in Eggleston v. Chicago Journeymen Plumbers' Local Union No. 130, 657 F.2d 890 (7th Cir. 1981). The Eggleston exception applies when the unnamed party was (1) provided with ...


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