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Jones v. Hoosman

November 28, 2005

NEDRA JONES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
EMMIT Q. HOOSMAN, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marvin E. Aspen, District Judge

MEMORANDUM ORDER AND OPINION

Plaintiff Nedra Jones ("Jones") filed a complaint against Defendant Emmit Q. Hoosman ("Hoosman") on May 10, 2005, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000(e), et seq. Count I of Jones' complaint alleges sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and hostile work environment. Count II alleges retaliation. Presently before us is Hoosman's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, expiration of the statute of limitations, and discharge in bankruptcy. For the reasons set forth below, we grant in part and deny in part Hoosman's motion.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

"The purpose of a motion to dismiss is to test the sufficiency of the complaint, not to decide the merits." Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir.1990) (quoting Triad Assocs., Inc. v. Chicago Hous. Auth., 892 F.2d 583, 586 (7th Cir.1989)). A complaint is not required to allege all, or any, of the facts entailed by the claim. Lekas v. Briley, 405 F.3d 602, 606 (7th Cir. 2005); see also McCormick v. City of Chicago, 230 F.3d 319, 324-25 (7th Cir. 2000) (holding that plaintiff can plead conclusions if they put defendant on notice of claims). However, a plaintiff can plead himself out of court by pleading facts that undermine the allegations set forth in the complaint. Lekas, 405 F.3d at 613-614.

In considering a motion to dismiss, we must accept all well-pled allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Cody v. Harris, 409 F.3d 853, 857 (7th Cir. 2005). Nonetheless, "we are not required to accept legal conclusions either alleged or inferred from the pleaded facts." Nelson v. Monroe Reg'l Med. Ctr., 925 F.2d 1555, 1559 (7th Cir. 1991); see also Tamari v. Bache & Co., 565 F.2d 1194, 1199 (7th Cir. 1977) ("[M]ere unsupported conclusions of fact or mixed fact and law are not admitted."). In sum, a complaint should not be dismissed "unless it appears beyond all 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, 78 S.Ct. 99, 102 (1957).

BACKGROUND

The following summary of relevant factual allegations are taken from the complaint and deemed true for purposes of this motion. See Cody, 409 F.3d at 857.

Hoosman hired Jones to work at his legal services company, Copytec, on November 21, 2001. During the relevant time period for this action, Hoosman, Copytec's sole owner, comingled the company's assets and liabilities with his own, essentially acting as Copytec's alter ego. Moreover, Hoosman undercapitalized his company, did not observe corporate formalities, such as establishing a Board of Directors, and operated Copytec without any corporate authorization.

While working at Copytec on September 24, 2003, Byron Griffin ("Griffin"), another employee, exposed his penis to Jones, asked if he could touch her genitals and, without her permission or consent, reached under her skirt and touched her genitals. When Jones pushed Griffin's hand away, Griffin repeated the groping, forcing Jones to fight him off.

Jones immediately reported the incident to Glenn Caldwell, Copytec's general manager, who responded by laughing and saying "OK." Jones then relayed Griffin's misconduct to Sandy Kopetek, Copytec's human resources manager. Jones then met with Kopetek, Kurt Montgomery, Jones supervisor, and Caldwell, to provide more information about Griffin's behavior. Jones was then sent home and was not allowed to return to work the next day. Nor was she paid for the time off. On September 26, Jones resumed her employment and requested not to work with Griffin. In response, her supervisor told her to quit if she could not work with Griffin.

Unsatisfied with her employer's immediate response, Jones filed a police report regarding Griffin's conduct on the day of the incident. On October 2, Jones filed a gender discrimination claim against Copytec with both the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

In December, Hoosman began reducing Jones' hours and over the next two months, he laid off a number of employees, including Jones. Hoosman later offered to rehire all of the laid-off employees except Jones. On October 14, 2004, Jones filed a complaint with the EEOC against Hoosman personally on a pierce the corporate veil theory.

ANALYSIS*fn1

I. Subject Matter ...


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