United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
February 4, 2004.
Board of Trustees
The opinion of the court was delivered by: PHILIP REINHARD, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff, Linda Dvorak, filed this action against her employer, Board
of Trustees of Northern Illinois University, alleging a sexually hostile
work environment (Count I), a racially and national origin based hostile
work environment (Count II), disparate treatment based on sex (Count III)
and retaliation for filing an internal complaint with defendant and
filing an EEOC charge based on the foregoing (Count IV) all in violation
of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"). Jurisdiction and venue are
proper in this court under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5 (f)(3). Defendant moves to
dismiss for failure to state a cause of action, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6), claiming plaintiff relies on occurrences beyond the 300-day
limitations period of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5 (e) and seeking to dismiss the
punitive damages claim as barred by 42 U.S.C. § 1981a (b)(1),
Punitive damages are not allowable against a government entity such as
defendant. 42 U.S.C. § 1981a (b)(1); see Varner v. Illinois State Univ.,
150 F.3d 706, 718 (7th Cir. 1998), vacated on other grounds, 528 U.S. 1110
(2000). Plaintiff acknowledges this in her response. Pl. Resp. p. 5.
Plaintiffs claim for punitive damages is dismissed with prejudice.
In order to bring an action under Title VII, plaintiff must file an
EEOC charge within 300 days after the alleged unlawful employment
practice. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5 (e)(1), In the case of discrete
discriminatory or retaliatory acts, the period runs from the date of the
act but for hostile work environment claims all acts constituting the
claim are actionable so long as at least one act falls within the
period. National R.R. Passenger Corp. v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101, 122
(2002). Counts II and II allege hostile work environment claims alleging
actions continuing from August 1997 through the filing of the complaint.
Because the acts alleged include acts occurring within the required time
period, and because the incidents constituting the hostile environment
claims are part of one unlawful employment practice, the hostile
environment claims are timely and encompass acts occurring from and after
August 1997. See Id. at 118.
Count III alleges disparate treatment. Her complaint references a time
period beginning in August 1997. However, a disparate treatment action is
limited to acts occurring within the 300-day period prior to the filing
of the EEOC charge. See Id. at 122. Thus, plaintiff's claim of disparate
treatment is limited to discriminatory acts occurring within the 300-day
period ending March 21, 2002, the date her EEOC charge was filed. Compl.
Plaintiff's retaliation claim is also timely. It alleges retaliation
after she began filing internal complaints with Defendant in July 2001
and after filing her EEOC charge March 21, 2002. The EEOC charge
asserting retaliation was filed April 30, 2002. Compl. Exh. B. While
plaintiff does not specify the date in July 2001, she first filed a
complaint, the bulk of July would fall within 300 days of April 30,
2002. Since a set of facts could be proved that would entitle plaintiff
to relief, a dismissal would be inappropriate under Fed, R. Civ. P. 12(b)
(6). See American United Logistics. Inc. v. Catellus Development Corp.,
319 F.3d 921, 926 (7th Cir. 2003).
For the foregoing reasons, defendant's motion to dismiss as to the
punitive damages claims is granted and denied as to the other claims.
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