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Abdullahi v. Prada USA Corp.

May 23, 2007

PARISIMA ABDULLAHI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PRADA USA CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendant Prada USA Corp.'s ("Prada") motion to dismiss. For the reasons stated below, we grant the motion to dismiss and dismiss the instant action.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Parisima Abdullahi ("Abdullahi") alleges that she worked for Prada as a sales person. Abdullahi alleges that in September 2001 Prada management and co-workers of Abdullahi began to insult her and to make derogatory and insensitive comments regarding her national origin. Abdullahi also claims that the management at Prada conspired against her to take away her customers and to harm her professional reputation by creating false customer complaints about her. Abdullahi contends that she complained about the alleged mistreatment and that no actions were taken to correct the problem.

On March 10, 2006 Abdullahi filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") ("First Charge") alleging discrimination against her due to her national origin and religion in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (See 10/23/06 Charge). Abdullahi contends that shortly thereafter, on April 8, 2006, Prada terminated her employment in retaliation for the filing of the First Charge. On April 17, 2006, Abdullahi filed a second EEOC charge ("Second Charge") alleging discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII. (4/17/06 Charge). Finally, on October 23, 2006, Abdullahi filed a third EEOC charge ("Third Charge") alleging discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII due to her discharge. (10/23/06 Charge). Abdullahi also alleged in the Third Charge that after her termination, Prada continued to retaliate against her by "spreading rumors about [her], subject[ed] [her] to harassment and referr[ed] to [her] national origin and religion in derogatory terms." (10/23/06 Charge). On August 21, 2006, Abdullahi brought the instant action and filed an amended complaint on January 29, 2007, alleging that she was:

(1) discriminated against because of her national origin and religion in violation of Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("Section 1981"), (2) subjected to a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII, and (3) retaliated against in violation of Title VII. Prada moves to dismiss the instant action.

LEGAL STANDARD

In ruling on a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) 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. Ill. Dep't of Prof'l 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); see also Baker v. Kingsley, 387 F.3d 649, 664 (7th Cir. 2004)(stating that although the "plaintiffs' allegations provide[d] little detail. . . [the court could not] say at [that] early stage in the litigation that plaintiffs [could] prove no set of facts in support of their claim that would entitle them to relief"). 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 Sch., 144 F.3d 448, 454-55 (7th Cir. 1998); Lucien v. Preiner, 967 F.2d 1166, 1168 (7th Cir. 1992). Under current notice pleading standard in federal courts a plaintiff need not "plead facts that, if true, establish each element of a 'cause of action. . . .'" See Sanjuan v. Am. Bd. of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc., 40 F.3d 247, 251 (7th Cir. 1994)(stating that "[a]t this stage the plaintiff receives the benefit of imagination, so long as the hypotheses are consistent with the complaint" and that "[m]atching facts against legal elements comes later"). The plaintiff need not allege all of the facts involved in the claim and can plead conclusions. Higgs v. Carver, 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] claims." Perkins, 939 F.2d at 466-67. The Seventh Circuit has explained that "[o]ne pleads a 'claim for relief' by briefly describing the events." Sanjuan, 40 F.3d at 251; Nance v. Vieregge, 147 F.3d 589, 590 (7th Cir. 1998)(stating that "[p]laintiffs need not plead facts or legal theories; it is enough to set out a claim for relief").

DISCUSSION

I. Section 1981 Claim

Abdullahi alleges in her amended complaint that she was discriminated against because of her national origin in violation of Section 1981. (A. Compl. Par. 9(d)). However, the Seventh Circuit has held that "Section 1981 applies to allegations of discrimination based on race but not national origin." Pourghoraishi v. Flying J, Inc., 449 F.3d 751, 756 (7th Cir. 2006). Thus, based upon the allegations in the amended complaint, Abdullahi has failed to state a proper Section 1981 claim and we grant Prada's motion to dismiss the Section 1981 claim.

II. Title VII Claims

Prada argues that to the extent that Abdullahi's Title VII discrimination and hostile work environment claims are based upon conduct referenced in the First Charge and Second Charge, such claims are time-barred. Prada also contends that the allegations included in ...


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