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WITT v. COUNTY INSURANCE & FINANCIAL SERVICES

November 16, 2004.

PATRICIA WITT, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY INSURANCE & FINANCIAL SERVICES, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT GETTLEMAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On June 10, 2004, Patricia Witt ("Witt") filed a thirteen count complaint against Country Insurance & Financial Services ("defendant")*fn1 alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq., the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12201 et seq., and the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1132 et seq., as well as claims for breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"). All of plaintiff's claims are related to her employment as a field claim representative for defendant from January 2, 2001, until her termination on July 3, 2003.

Pursuant to Fed.R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), defendant has filed a motion to dismiss three counts of plaintiff's complaint: Count III (familial status discrimination in violation of Title VII); Count XII (breach of contract); and Count XIII (IIED). Defendant asserts that familial status discrimination is not a recognized claim under Title VII, and that plaintiff's state law claims are preempted by the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA"), the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act ("IWCA"), and/or ERISA. Defendant has also moved to strike certain demands for relief and for a jury trial on Count IX (retaliatory discharge in violation of the ADA) and Count XI (retaliatory discharge in violation of ERISA). For the reasons explained below, defendant's motion to dismiss is granted as to Counts III, XII, and XIII. Defendant's motion to strike plaintiff's jury demand and request for compensatory and punitive damages under plaintiff's ADA retaliation claim is granted. The parties agree that defendant's motion to strike plaintiff's jury demand and request for relief under her ERISA retaliation claim is moot.

  FACTS

  For the purposes of a motion to dismiss, the court accepts all well-pleaded allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Travel All Over the World, Inc. v. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 73 F.3d 1423, 1428 (7th Cir. 1996).

  Plaintiff was employed by defendant from January 2, 2001, through July 3, 2003, as a field claim representative in the Grayslake, Illinois office. Defendant provided plaintiff a benefits package throughout her employment that included health insurance, life insurance, long-term disability, and a diversified plan.

  In March 2001, plaintiff took an unpaid eight-week leave of absence under the FMLA when her three and a half year old daughter was diagnosed with cancer. Plaintiff returned from this leave of absence in May 2001. Plaintiff alleges that immediately after she returned to work she was treated differently from similarly situated male counterparts, including when she was refused a promotion and an allegedly less-qualified man was promoted. In December 2001, plaintiff informed defendant that she was pregnant, and in January 2002, plaintiff informed defendant that she would take twelve weeks of maternity leave. Plaintiff alleges that after announcing her pregnancy and her intention to take maternity leave, she was treated differently than similarly situated non-pregnant employees. Plaintiff claims that: (1) she was refused a promotion, and defendant hired a less-qualified man from outside of the company; (2) her work product and/or assignments were taken away from her and reassigned to male employees; (3) she was subjected to a pattern of sexual harassment by supervisors and other employees; (4) she was subjected to threats that defendant would take away her company car during her maternity leave; and (5) she was subjected to threats that she would lose her job and/or be demoted during her maternity leave if she took twelve weeks of leave.

  Plaintiff claims that she complained to defendant's agents about the alleged discriminatory conduct of defendant's supervisors and employees. Plaintiff asserts that defendant failed to respond properly, and that she was subjected to retaliatory discrimination after making her complaints, including inappropriate comments and threats to take away her company car.

  On June 3, 2002, plaintiff began her FMLA maternity leave. Defendant approved the leave to continue through August 28, 2002. On August 25, 2002, plaintiff was diagnosed with cancer. Plaintiff returned from maternity leave on August 28, 2002. At some point prior to September 18, 2002, plaintiff was ordered by her physician to undergo chemotherapy for treatment. Plaintiff notified defendant of her doctor's orders and her disability, and requested medical leave. On September 18, 2002, plaintiff went on medical leave. Plaintiff claims that defendant took away plaintiff's company car on September 18, 2002, allegedly in violation of company policy.

  On or about February 18, 2003, plaintiff returned to work from her medical leave. On or about February 21, 2003, plaintiff was advised that her position would be eliminated sometime between June 1, 2003, and December 31, 2003. Plaintiff was terminated on July 3, 2003.

  Plaintiff claims she was the only claims representative from the Grayslake office who was terminated, and that other less qualified, non-pregnant, non-disabled, and male employees were not terminated. Plaintiff asserts that the conduct of defendant's supervisors, employees and agents created a hostile work environment. Plaintiff also alleges that she made numerous complaints to defendant's management regarding the discriminatory and retaliatory conduct of defendant's employees, supervisors, and agents up to and until July 3, 2003.

  Plaintiff timely filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") against defendant, and received a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC dated March 16, 2004.

  DISCUSSION

  Defendant has moved to dismiss Count III pursuant to Fed.R.Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In ruling on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the court accepts the allegations of the complaint as true and views the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Travel All Over the World, 73 F.3d at 1428. A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless there is no doubt that the plaintiff cannot prove a set of facts that would entitled her to relief based on her claim. Pressalite Corp. v. Matsushita Electric Corp. of America, 2003 WL 1811530, at *2 (N.D.Ill. Apr. 4, 2003). Defendant has moved to dismiss Count XII and Count XIII pursuant to Fed.R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) for lack of ...


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