United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
May 6, 2004.
GLORIA YATES, Plaintiff,
COOK COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge
This matter is before the court on Defendant Cook County's ("County")
motion to dismiss. For the reasons stated below we grant the motion to
dismiss in part.
Plaintiff Gloria Yale's ("Yates") first amended complaint is a
convoluted jumble of miscellaneous facts and legal jargon. However, since
Yates is proceeding pro se at this juncture, we are required to liberally
construe her complaint and we shall attempt to coordinate the alleged
facts as best we can. It appears that Yates worked for the County of
Cook, Yates, who is African-American, alleges that on March 13, 2001,
David Block ("Block"), a white male, was appointed to a newly created Interim STD Program Manager/Supervisor position and that
Yates was required to report to Block, but her white co-workers were not
required to report to Block. Yates also alleges that the County failed to
properly post the job opening for the position filled by Block and that
Block had only been employed by the County for one month when he was
elevated to the supervisory position. Yates claims that she was denied an
opportunity to apply for the supervisory position. (AC 19). Yates claims
that between March 13, 2001 and March 15, 2002 Dr. Stephanie Smith
harassed Yates by breaking Yates' chair, and taking documents, memos, and
mail from Yates' work area. (AC 16). Yates complained about the alleged
improper posting for the supervisory position filled by Block and Yates
alleges that on December 18, 2001 Mark Kilgallon, Cook County Chief of
Human Resources Bureaus, informed Yates by letter that the County had not
broken any rules concerning job postings in regards to the supervisory
position. Yates alleges that she was charged with insubordination. (AC
39). She claims that at her pre-disciplinary hearing on February 15,
2002, she was told that she had to discuss the information that she had
relating to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") charges that
she filed. (AC 36). Yates claims that she refused to discuss the matter
and she was discharged at her March 15, 2002 disciplinary hearing. Yates
alleges that she was discriminated against because of her race. We note
that Yates filed a brief entitled "Motion to Strick [sic] the Defendants
[sic] Motion to Dismiss and/or in the Alternative Provide [sic] a More
Definite Statemen [sic]." Although entitled as a motion, the brief is
essentially Yates' response to some of the arguments made by the County in its motion to dismiss. Since Yates is actingpro se we
shall consider her brief as part of her answer to the County's motion to
dismiss. Yates did also file a brief entitled "Plaintiff's Reply in
Response to the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and/or in the Alternative
Provide [sic] a More Definite Statement." To the extent that Yates seeks
to strike the County's motion to dismiss in her "Motion to Strick [sic]
the Defendants [sic] Motion to Dismiss and/or in the Alternative Provide
[sic] a More Definite Statemen [sic]" Yates' motion is denied.
In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court must draw all reasonable
inferences that favor the plaintiff, construe the allegations of the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and accept as
true all well-pleaded facts and allegations in the complaint. Thompson
v. Illinois Dep't of Prof I Regulation, 300 F.3d 750, 753 (7th Cir.
2002); Perkins v. Silverstein, 939 F.2d 463, 466 (7th Cir. 1991). The
allegations of a complaint should not be dismissed for a 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 (1957). Nonetheless, in order to
withstand a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege the "operative
facts" upon which each claim is based. Kyle v. Morton High School,
144 F.3d 448, 445-55 (7th Cir. 1998 );Lucien v. Preiner, 967 F.2d 1166,
1168 (7th Cir. 1992). The plaintiff need not allege all of the facts
involved in the claim and can plead conclusions. Higgs v. Carter,
286 F.3d 437, 439 (7th Cir. 2002); Kyle, 144 F.3d at 455. However, any conclusions pled must "provide
the defendant with at least minimal notice of the claim" Id, and the
plaintiff cannot satisfy federal pleading requirements merely "by
attaching bare legal conclusions to narrated facts which fail to outline
the bases of [his] claim." Perkins, 939 F.2d at 466-67. Complaints
written by pro se plaintiffs are to be liberally construed. McCormick v.
City of Chicago, 230 F.3d 319, 325 (7th Cir. 2000).
I. Timeliness of Complaint
On August 12, 2003 Judge Darrah, the prior judge in this case granted
Yates' leave to file Pro se a first amended complaint. The case was
subsequently transferred to this court and on August 21, 2003, we gave
Yates until August 26, 2003 to file an amended complaint, Yates did not
file her complaint until August 28, 2004, The County asks us to bar Yates
from filing an amended complaint due to the missed deadline. Although we
are inclined to agree that Yates should have filed within the deadline,
at this juncture it would be more efficient to proceed upon the amended
complaint. Although the County filed a motion to dismiss in regards to
the original complaint, Judge Darrah denied the motion as moot without
prejudice on November 27, 2002. Therefore, were we to deny Yates the
opportunity to file an amended complaint we would still need to address
the original complaint. In order to move these proceedings along we find
that the most efficient route at this juncture is to proceed upon the
first amended complaint. To the extent that the County seeks to dismiss all of Yates' claims and this case because she attempted
to file her amended complaint two days late, we cannot agree and the law
does not support such a harsh result.
II. Color and National Origin Claims
The County first moves to dismiss claims of discrimination based upon
color and national origin. We agree with the County that Yates does not
include any allegations pertaining to national origin discrimination.
Therefore, we dismiss any national origin discrimination claims.
However, hi giving Yates' complaint the liberal reading required under
the notice pleading standard and required due to her pro se status, we
cannot find that she fails to allege claims of discrimination based upon
her color. Therefore, we deny the motion to dismiss the color
discrimination claims. We are not making any determination regarding the
merits of Yates' color claims, but are only finding that she has stated
allegation sufficient to state a claim.
III. Title VII Claims
A plaintiff seeking to file a claim alleging a violation of Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et
seq., in Illinois is required to file with the EEOC a charge of
discrimination within 300 days of the alleged discrimination.
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1); Koelsch v. Beltone Elec. Corp., 46 F.3d 705,
707 (7th Cir. 1995). Yates filed her charge of discrimination on March
1, 2002. Therefore, to the extent that Yates' Title VII claim relies upon
the promotion of Block on March 13, her claim is time-barred. Therefore, Yates cannot
base her suit on the allegations concerning the promotion of Block. Yates
also alleges discrimination between March 13, 2001 and March 15, 2002 by
Dr. Stephanie Smith and to the extent that the alleged misconduct
occurred within the 300 day limit her Title VII claim is not barred. In
addition, Yates alleges that she was falsely charged with insubordination
and was terminated apparently in retaliation for complaining about the
Block promotion. These allegations are also within the 300 day limit.
Yates argues that the limitations period should be equitably tolled.
However, she provides no information to support her contention other than
that sometime after March 13, 2001, Dr. Stephanie Smith "misled" her and
on March 15, 2002, Karen Lewandowski "misled her". We are not convinced,
based upon such allegations that the limitations period should be tolled.
Also, in regards to the alleged deception by Karen Lewandowski, the
allegations are irrelevant because by March 15, 2002, the limitations
period had ended.
IV. Section 1983 Claims
Yates' first amended complaint names the Cook County Department of
Public Health and Cook County as defendants. The doctrine of respondeat
superior cannot be utilized to hold local governmental units liable for
violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983"). Monell v. Department of
Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978). A municipal governmental unit
cannot be held liable under Section 1983 "unless the deprivation of
constitutional rights is caused by a municipal policy or custom." Kujawski v. Board of Comm'rs. Of Bartholomew County, Indiana
183 F.3d 734, 737 (7th Cir. 1999). A local governmental unit's
unconstitutional policy, practice or custom can be: "(1) an express
policy that causes a constitutional deprivation when enforced; (2) a
widespread practice, that, although unauthorized, is so permanent and
well-settled that it constitutes a "custom or usage" with the force of
law; or (3) an allegation that a person with final policymaking authority
caused the injury." Chortek v. City of Milwaukee, 356 F.3d 740, 748 (7th
Cir. 2004). Yates has failed to make any allegations that would indicate
that the alleged mistreatment against her was part of a custom, policy,
or practice of the County. Therefore, to the extent that she alleges any
Section 1983 claims, they are dismissed.
V. Section 1981 Claims
For a Section 1981 claim a plaintiff is required to "show that the
violation of h[er] `right to make contracts' protected by § 1981 was
caused by a custom or policy within the meaning of Monell and subsequent
cases." Looper v, Mainenance Serv., Inc. v. City of Indianapolis,
197 F.3d 908, 913 (7th Cir. 1999). Yates has failed to make allegations
that would indicate that the alleged misconduct was part of a custom or
policy of the County. Therefore, we dismiss any Section 1981 claims
alleged by Yates.
Based on the foregoing analysis we grant the motion to dismiss all national origin discrimination claims and deny the motion to dismiss
color discrimination claims. We also grant the motion to dismiss to the
extent that Yates alleges any Section 1983 claims and Section 1981
claims. We also grant the motion to dismiss to the extent that Yates'
Title VII claim relies on alleged misconduct occurring more than 300 days
prior to the filing of her charge of discrimination. All other pending
motions are denied as moot.
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