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Hill v. Village of Franklin Park

March 11, 2008

LARA Y. HILL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VILLAGE OF FRANKLIN PARK, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, CHIEF THOMAS JUDGE JOAN H. LEFKOW WOLFE, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, JACK KRECKER, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, JOSEPH O'CONNER, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, MICHAEL JONES, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, MICHAEL WITZ, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, AND NORCOMM PUBLIC SAFETY COMMUNICATIONS, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joan Humphrey Lefkow United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Lara Hill brings this action alleging sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, deprivation of her Fourteenth Amendment equal protection rights, and retaliatory discharge in violation of Illinois law and public policy. Hill's complaint contains five counts: (I) The Village of Franklin Park ("Franklin Park") and Norcomm Public Safety Communications, Inc. ("Norcomm") intentionally discriminated against Hill based on her sex and engaged in a pattern of employment practices that violate Title VII; (II) Franklin Park and Norcomm subjected Hill to retaliatory treatment for her discrimination complaints in violation of Title VII; (III) Franklin Park, Thomas Wolfe, Jack Krecker, Joseph O'Connor, Michael Jones and Michael Witz subjected Hill to harassment and discrimination that deprived her of her rights under the Fourteenth Amendment as secured by 28 U.S.C. § 1983; (IV) all defendants conspired to deprive Hill of her rights under the Fourteenth Amendment as secured by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985; and (V) Norcomm discharged Hill in violation of Illinois law and public policy.

Before the court is Norcomm's motion to dismiss with prejudice Counts I, II and V of Hill's complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Norcomm argues that Counts I and II are not timely or, alternatively, not reasonably related to Hill's EEOC complaint and that Count V is preempted by the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA"). For the reasons discussed below, Norcomm's motion to dismiss [#32] will be granted in part and denied in part. The court will deny Norcomm's motion to dismiss Counts I and II in their entirety but grant Norcomm's motion to dismiss Hill's harassment claims, which were raised (among other claims) in Counts I and II. The court will grant Norcomm's motion to dismiss Count V.

BACKGROUND

Lara Hill began working for the Franklin Park police department in 1994. She began her employment with Norcomm as a part-time police dispatcher in 2001. Norcomm operates the 911 call center for Franklin Park. Complaint at ¶ 13. Hill worked as a patrol officer and a School Liaison Officer ("SLO") for Franklin Park while also working shifts with Norcomm as a part-time dispatcher. See id. at ¶ 37, 39. Hill alleges that she was subjected to sex-based discrimination while working for the police department including, inter alia,having her name defaced on bulletin boards, id. at ¶ 28, having derogatory comments and cartoons about her placed on the boards, id. at ¶ 29, and having sexually graphic materials placed in her mailbox.

Id. at ¶ 30. While working as a SLO, Hill alleges she was treated differently from other officers, denied overtime, and made to work shifts that interfered with her employment at Norcomm and caused her to cancel many of her Norcomm shifts. See id. at ¶ 37-62. Hill also alleges that she was threatened by other members of the police department for filing grievances. Id. at ¶ 55-56.

On June 30, 2006, Hill filed a charge with the EEOC against the Village of Franklin Park. Id. Ex. A. Hill received her right-to-sue letter for this charge on May 8, 2007. Id. Ex. B. Following the EEOC charge, Hill alleges that Michael Tillman, contract manager at the Franklin Park 911 Center, wrote a letter to David Keller, Norcomm's Operations Manager, recommending that Hill be terminated. Id. at ¶ 67. Tillman cited the fact that Hill cancelled her shifts as a justification for the termination. Id. Tillman did not discuss the matter with Hill, and when she attempted to contact him about it, he did not return her phone calls. Id. at ¶¶ 68, 71. Hill alleges that, in contrast, Tillman made numerous attempts to contact male employees about shift availability. Id. at ¶ 70. In July 2006, Tillman informed Hill that her position with Norcomm was being terminated. Id. at ¶ 139.

Hill filed an EEOC charge against Norcomm on March 6, 2007. Hill's EEOC charge is as follows:

I was employed by Respondent on January 6, 2001. My most recent position was Communications Dispatcher. I was subjected to different terms and conditions of employment than a male employee by my male supervisor. On or about June 30, 2006 I filed an EEOC Charge against my other employer who also contracts Respondent's services. On or about July 18, 2006 I was informed verbally that based on Respondent's Manager's decision, I could be terminated. I never received any official notice of termination and I currently still receive notices of events from Respondent, yet I have not been scheduled to work since July 18, 2006.

I believe I have been discriminated against because of my sex, female and retaliation, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.

Id. Ex. D.

In the "Discrimination based on" section of the EEOC charge form, Hill checked both the "sex" and "retaliation" boxes. Hill also marked that the discrimination took place between May 18, 2006 and March 6, 2007. Hill filed this action on August 2, 2007. She had not received a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC against Norcomm by that date or by the time Norcomm filed its motion to dismiss on October 22, 2007. Hill asserts that despite her contacting the EEOC on several occasions, the EEOC has still not sent her a right-to-sue letter. Pl.'s Resp. to Def. Norcomm's Mot. to Dismiss at 5.

Hill also alleges a pattern of retaliatory conduct by the police department subsequent to her filing of the June 2006 charge against Franklin Park. She filed a second EEOC charge against Franklin Park in March 2007, this time for retaliation. This charge and the ...


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