The opinion of the court was delivered by: WAYNE ANDERSEN, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This case is before the Court on the defendant's motion to
dismiss the plaintiff's complaint pursuant to FED R. CIV. P.
12(b)(6). The charges contained in the complaint are summarized
as follows: Count I alleges race and gender discrimination under
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, as amended,
42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII") and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("§ 1981");
Count II alleges age discrimination under the Age Discrimination
in Employment Act of 1967, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.
("ADEA"). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied
in part and granted in part.
Plaintiff Priscilla Edwards ("Edwards"), an African-American
woman, was employed by the defendant City of Chicago ("City") as
a communicable disease investigator for the City's Department of
Public Health ("DPH"). From October 17, 2001 through January 16,
2002, Edwards alleges she was subjected to different terms and
conditions of employment on the basis of her race and gender. She
further alleges the City created an "inherently discriminatory" working environment where she was harassed and was the target of
racially derogatory comments. In addition, Edwards, who was then
fifty-four years old, alleges the City discriminated against her
based on age.
On March 5, 2002, Edwards filed charges of discrimination with
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). In her EEOC
claim, Edwards alleges that from October 17, 2001 through January
16, 2002, Osagie Igbinosun, a tuberculosis field supervisor
within DPH, attempted to have her transferred to another work
location due to her race, gender, and age. According to her EEOC
claim, similarly situated, non-African-American and non-female
communicable disease investigators under the age of forty were
not harassed. The EEOC dismissed Edwards' claim on February 11,
2004 and issued a right-to-sue letter. Edwards filed this
complaint on May 14, 2004.
When reviewing a motion to dismiss, we accept as true all
"well-pleaded factual allegations and view them, along with the
reasonable inferences to be drawn from them, in the light most
favorable to [the plaintiff]." Cornfield v. Consolidated High
School Dist. No. 230, 991 F.2d 1316, 1324 (7th Cir. 1993).
Furthermore, under the federal notice pleading requirements, a
plaintiff is only required to set forth "a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief. . . ." FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a). In other words, a "pleading
must only contain enough to allow the court and the defendant to
understand the gravamen of the plaintiff's complaint." McCormick
v. City of Chicago, 230 F.3d 319, 323-24 (7th Cir. 2000).
However, we will grant a defendant's motion to dismiss if it
"appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of
facts in support of [her] claim which would entitle [her] to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957).
I. Count I: Race and Gender Discrimination Under § 1981 and
In Count I of her complaint, Edwards raises allegations of race
and gender discrimination under § 1981 and Title VII. The Court
addresses each of these claims in turn.
A. § 1981 Race and Gender Discrimination Claim
The City challenges Edwards' § 1981 claim for racial
discrimination on the theory that she has failed to state an
appropriate cause of action under the statute. To allege a
violation of her rights under § 1981, Edwards must allege that
"(1) the City had an express policy that, when enforced, causes a
constitutional deprivation; (2) the City had a widespread
practice that, although not authorized by written law or express
municipal policy, is so permanent and well settled as to
constitute a custom or usage within the force of law; or (3)
[her] constitutional injury was caused by a person with final
policy-making authority." McCormick, 230 F.3d at 324 (citing
McTigue v. City of Chicago, 60 F.3d 381, 382 (7th Cir. 1995)).
In this case, Edwards satisfies the McCormick standards by
alleging that the City created an "inherently discriminatory
system" under which she was harassed and subjected to different
terms and conditions of employment. We believe these allegations
are sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss under the criteria
set forth by the Seventh Circuit in McCormack. See id. at
324-25 (pleading conclusions of widespread custom or practice is
sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss). Accordingly, the
City's motion to dismiss Edwards' § 1981 claim for racial
discrimination is denied. In addition, Edwards has agreed to
voluntarily dismiss her § 1981 claim for gender discrimination.
Therefore, that claim is dismissed with prejudice. B. Title VII Race and Gender Discrimination Claims
The City challenges Edwards' Title VII claims for race and
gender discrimination on the theory that she has failed to allege
a prima facie case. To bring a claim under Title VII, Edwards can
provide direct evidence of discrimination, or alternatively, she
can provide indirect evidence of discrimination under the
McDonnell Douglas framework. Kirk v. Federal Property
Management Corp., 22 F.3d 135, 138 (7th Cir. 1994) ("[W]here
disparate treatment of a single employee is at issue, a plaintiff
can either produce direct or indirect evidence of
discrimination."). In the present case, Edwards does not allege
that she has direct evidence of discrimination. Accordingly, this
Court uses the McDonnell Douglas framework to determine whether
Edwards has sufficiently stated a cause of action for race and
gender discrimination under Title VII.
Under McDonnell Douglas, a plaintiff may establish a prima
facie case of race and gender discrimination by showing that she
(1) belongs to a protected class; (2) performed her job
satisfactorily; (3) suffered an adverse employment action; and
(4) was treated differently than similarly situated employees
outside of her class. Hughes v. Brown, 20 ...