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520 S. Michigan Avenue Associates, Ltd. v. Shannon

September 17, 2007

520 S. MICHIGAN AVENUE ASSOCIATES, LTD., D/B/A THE CONGRESS PLAZA HOTEL & CONVENTION CENTER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CATHERINE SHANNON, DIRECTOR OF THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR,*FN1 DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Joan H. Lefkow

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff 520 S. Michigan Avenue Associates, Ltd., doing business as The Congress Plaza Hotel & Convention Center ("the Hotel"), filed this declaratory judgment action against the Director of the Illinois Department of Labor ("the Director") seeking a declaration that 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. 140/3.1, the Hotel Room Attendant Amendment ("the Amendment") to the One Day Rest in Seven Act, 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. 140/1 et seq., is unconstitutional. The Hotel alleges that the Amendment violates the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, U.S. Const. art. VI, cl. 2, because it is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq., and section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185(a). The Hotel also claims that the Amendment violates the Hotel's federal constitutional rights to due process and equal protection as well as certain provisions of the Illinois Constitution. It requests a permanent injunction prohibiting enforcement of the Amendment. The court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 2201, and 2202 and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Unite Here Local 1 ("Unite Here"), a labor union representing hotel room attendants in Cook County, including employees of the Hotel, was granted leave to intervene as a defendant. Dkt. No. 31. Before the court are motions to dismiss filed by the Director and Unite Here (collectively, "the defendants"). Both defendants move to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The Director also moves to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and her argument that under the Eleventh Amendment this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to decide a state-law injunction claim against a state official sued in his official capacity. For the reasons stated below, the motions to dismiss [# 25, # 29] are granted.

This case is almost identical to one filed in 2005 in the Circuit Court of Cook County where the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association raised substantially the same claims that the Hotel has raised in this court. Circuit Judge James Henry granted summary judgment to the defendants, finding that the Amendment was not preempted by the NLRA and that it did not violate the special legislation clause of the Illinois Constitution or plaintiffs' right to equal protection. See Ill. Hotel & Lodging Ass'n v. Ludwig, 869 N.E.2d 846, 374 Ill. App. 3d 193 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist. 2007). Plaintiffs appealed. The appellate court denied their request for a stay and indicated that there was no significant possibility of reversal. Four days after that, the Hotel filed this case.*fn2 On May 18, 2007, Judge Henry's holding was affirmed. Ill. Hotel & Lodging Ass'n v. Ludwig, 869 N.E.2d at 855. The appellate court's opinion is well-reasoned and this court finds it to be persuasive.

STANDARD FOR A MOTION TO DISMISS

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the complaint on the basis of a failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. In ruling on the motion, the court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts alleged in the complaint and draws all reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of the plaintiff. Jackson v. E.J. Brach Corp., 176 F.3d 971, 977 (7th Cir. 1999). The complaint must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974, 167 L.Ed. 2d 929 (2007).

ALLEGATIONS FROM THE COMPLAINT

The Hotel is located at 520 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, in Cook County. The Hotel and Unite Here have been involved in collective bargaining since their most recent agreement expired on December 31, 2002. Starting in June of 2003 and continuing through the present, Unite Here has been engaged in a work stoppage while negotiations continue. The Hotel continues to fulfill the terms of the expired agreement, which include the following: a work day of eight productive hours, one free meal to room attendants during a customary half-hour unpaid break, and clean and sanitary facilities in which the room attendants may eat their meals, which the attendants are obligated to cooperate in maintaining.

The Amendment provides as follows: § 3.1. Hotel room attendants.

(a) As used in this Section, "hotel room attendant" means a person who cleans or puts in order guest rooms in a hotel or other establishment licensed for transient occupancy.

(b) This Section applies only to hotels and other establishments licensed for transient occupancy that are located in a county with a population greater than 3,000,000.

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, every hotel room attendant shall receive a minimum of 2 15-minute paid rest breaks and one 30-minute meal period in each workday on which the hotel room attendant works at least 7 hours. An employer may not require any hotel room attendant to work during a break period.

(d) Every employer of hotel room attendants shall make available at all times a room on the employer's premises with adequate seating and tables for the purpose of allowing hotel room attendants to enjoy break periods in a clean and comfortable environment. The room shall have clean drinking water provided without charge.

(e) Each employer of hotel room attendants shall keep a complete and accurate record of the break periods of its hotel room attendants.

(f) An employer who violates this Section shall pay to the hotel room attendant 3 times the hotel room attendant's regular hourly rate of pay for each workday during which the required breaks were not provided.

(g) It is unlawful for any employer or an employer's agent or representative to take any action against any person in retaliation for the exercise of rights under this Section. In any civil proceeding brought under this subsection (f), if the plaintiff establishes that he or she was employed by the defendant, exercised rights under this Section, or alleged in good faith that the defendant was not complying with this Section, and was thereafter terminated, demoted, or otherwise penalized by the defendant, then a rebuttable presumption shall arise that the defendant's action was taken in retaliation for the exercise of rights established by this Section. To rebut the presumption, the defendant must prove that the sole reason for the termination, demotion, or penalty was a legitimate business reason.

(h) In addition to the remedies provided in Sections 6 and 7, a person claiming violation of this Section shall be entitled to all remedies available under law or in equity, including but not limited to damages, back pay, reinstatement, or injunctive relief. Any person terminated in violation of this Section shall recover treble his or her lost normal daily compensation and fringe benefits, together with interest thereon, and any consequential damages suffered by the employee. The court shall award ...


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