The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARK FILIP, District Judge
Memorandum Opinion and Order
Nisar A. Alvi ("Plaintiff" or "Alvi"), is suing Defendant, the
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago
("Defendant" or "MWRD"). In his operative complaint, Alvi alleges
unlawful discrimination based on race, national origin, and age,
and he also alleges unlawful retaliation in violation of Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. The case is
before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss ("Motion") the
action pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
(D.E. 18.)*fn1 As explained below, Defendant's Motion is
granted in part and denied in part.
The Plaintiff, Nisar A. Alvi, is a 55-year old man of Pakistani
descent who resides in Lake County, Illinois. (Compl. ¶ 5.) On or
about August 1, 1994, Alvi obtained employment with Defendant
MWRD. (Id. ¶ 8.) On or about April 25, 2002, the Civil Service
Board of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago
(CSB-MWRD) discharged Alvi from employment for allegedly not
having a domicile within the MWRD's jurisdictional boundaries.
(Id.) On October 21, 2002, Alvi filed charges of discrimination
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") against
the MWRD. (D.E. 1 (EEOC Charge attached to orig. compl.).) Alvi
was granted a Right to Sue Letter by the EEOC (D.E. 1 (letter
attached to orig. compl.)), and he filed his original complaint
on September 14, 2004.
The Court notes that various materials outside the Complaint
have been appended to the briefs and referenced by the parties.
The parties have not asked the Court to convert the Motion from
one for dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b) to
one for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b) ("If, on a motion . . . to
dismiss for failure . . . to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted, matters outside the pleading are presented to and not
excluded by the court, the motion shall be treated as one for
summary judgment and disposed of under Rule 56, and all parties
shall be given reasonable opportunity to present all material
made pertinent to such a motion by Rule 56."). The Court excludes
the extraneous materials from consideration at this juncture, and
decides the motion under the standards of Rule 12(b)(6).
A Rule 12(b)(6) motion challenges the sufficiency of the
complaint for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); accord Johnson v. Rivera,
272 F.3d 519, 520-21 (7th Cir. 2001). In ruling on such a motion,
the court accepts all well-pleaded facts alleged in the complaint
as true and draws all reasonable inferences from those facts in
favor of the plaintiff. See McLeod v. Arrow Marine Transp.,
Inc., 258 F.3d 608, 614 (7th Cir. 2001). The court need not accept legal conclusions or unsupported
factual conclusions from the complaint as true. See, e.g., id.
"[A] complaint should not be dismissed for 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);
accord Lee v. City of Chicago, 330 F.3d 456, 459 (7th Cir.
A. Defendant's Statute of Limitations Argument Fails, At Least
Under Rule 12(b)(6)
Defendant argues that Alvi's claims should be dismissed with
prejudice because they are barred by the statute of limitations.
(D.E. 18 at 3.) Both parties agree that Alvi had 300 days from
the date of the alleged discrimination to file a charge with the
EEOC. Defendant argues, however, that the statute of limitations
period began upon the MWRD's filing of termination charges
against Alvi, while Alvi argues that the period began when the
CSB-MWRD terminated his employment. Defendant's argument fails,
at least under a Rule 12(b)(6) analysis.
The complaint contains no allegations of charges having been
filed at a date earlier than the April 25, 2002, date of Alvi's
termination. Even if the Court were to consider that Alvi's
supervisor filed charges with the CSB-MWRD at an earlier date
(D.E. 18, Ex. C), the allegations in the complaint do not support
Defendant's reliance on Delaware State College v. Ricks,
449 U.S. 250 (1980), and its progeny. Ricks held that the statute
of limitations period began at the time that a college board of
trustees notified the plaintiff that it had decided not to offer
him tenure, rather than on the date the college actually
terminated his employment which occurred a year later pursuant
to the expiration of a typical one-year, terminal employment
contract afforded to a professor denied tenure at the college in question. Id. at
257-28; see also id. ("It appears that termination of
employment at Delaware State is a delayed, but inevitable,
consequence of the denial of tenure."). The Court concluded that
"the only alleged discrimination occurred and the filing
limitations periods therefore commenced at the time the tenure
decision was made and communicated to Ricks." Id. at 258. That
was so "even though one of the effects of the denial of tenure
the eventual loss of a teaching position did not occur until
later." Id. (emphasis in original).
Contrary to Defendant's arguments, it is not clear at this
point in the litigation that the discriminatory action, if any,
took place before the time that Alvi was actually terminated.
(The complaint is quite opaque on the subject, a factor that cuts
against Defendant, at least at this juncture). Similarly, there
is nothing in the allegations which would lead the Court to
believe either that Alvi's work or pay status was disrupted prior
to his actual termination.*fn3 Compare, e.g., Myers v. Metro. Water Reclamation Distr., No. 04 C 6777,
2005 WL 991899, at *1 (N.D. Ill. April 11, 2005) (Kennelly, J.)
(statue of limitations period began when plaintiff was suspended
pending final termination by Civil Service Board); Rogers v.
Metro. Water Reclamation Distr., No. 01 C 2271, 2001 WL 1835161,
at *1 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 17, 2001) (Zagel, J.) (same). Nor is it
clear from the pleadings that Alvi's "termination at a later date
[was] an inevitable consequence of the discriminatory decision"
by his supervisor to file a charge for termination with the
CSB-MWRD. E.E.O.C. v. N. Gibson Sch. Corp., 266 F.3d 607, 618
(7th Cir. 2001). As best the Court can tell from the complaint
(which is admittedly vague), this was not a case where the
"operative decision" to terminate Alvi was made before April 25,
2005, with mere continuity of employment until execution of the
decision was complete. Chardon v. Fernandez, 454 U.S. 6, 8
(1981) (following Ricks). Thus, the Court cannot say that it is
beyond doubt that any discriminatory action which occurred
happened prior to Plaintiff's April 25, 2002 discharge.
Defendant's argument that the case should be dismissed for
failure to file within the applicable limitations period is not
well-taken, at least as the case is presented for purposes of a
Rule 12(b)(6) motion.
B. Various Contentions Of The Plaintiff Are Dismissed Because
They Are Beyond The Scope Of His EEOC Charge And Therefore Cannot
Be Advanced In This Suit
Defendant argues that certain allegations in Alvi's operative
complaint should be dismissed because they are outside the scope
of Alvi's EEOC charge. (D.E. 18 at 4.) "As a general rule, a . . .
plaintiff [in an employment discrimination case] cannot bring
claims in a lawsuit that were not included in her EEOC charge." Cheek v. W.
& S. Life Ins. Co., 32 F.3d 497, 500 (7th Cir. 1994); accord,
e.g., Sitar v. Ind. Dept. of Transp., 344 F.3d 720, 726 (7th Cir.
2003). Understanding that most EEOC complaints are filed by
laypersons, the Seventh Circuit instructs that a plaintiff in an
employment discrimination case "need not allege each and every
fact that combines to form the basis of each claim in her
complaint." Cheek, 31 F.3d at 500. Rather, to determine whether
the allegations in the complaint fall within the scope of the
earlier EEOC charge, the Court must look at "whether the
allegations are like or reasonably related to those contained in
the charge," Kersting v. Wal-Mart Stores, 250 F.3d 1109, 1118
(7th Cir. 2001) (internal quotations omitted), and also must
assess whether a claim "reasonably could be expected to grow out
of an EEOC investigation of the charge," Peters v. Renaissance
Hotel Oper. Co., 307 F.3d 535, 550 (7th Cir. 2002) (internal
quotations and ...