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Washington v. University of Illinois at Chicago

April 2, 2010

LAMARR WASHINGTON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT CHICAGO, PAULA ALLEN-MEARES, CHANCELLOR, IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY, BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, CHRISTOPHER G. KENNEDY, FRANCES G. CARROLL, LAWRENCE OLIVER, KAREN HASARA, TIMOTHY KORITZ, JAMES D. MONTGOMERY, PAMELA STROBEL, CARLOS TORTOLERO, EDWARD L. MCMILLAN, AND BOGDAN "DAN" V. ZAVOROTNY, IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, AND PETE BAIANCA, CHIEF ENGINEER AT UIC, INDIVIDUALLY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Joan B. Gottschall

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

Lamarr Washington brought this employment discrimination claim based on alleged race and age discrimination that he claims to have suffered in applying for an engineering position at the University of Illinois at Chicago ("UIC"). Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, which they amended; the amended motion is presently before the court.

I.ALLEGATIONS

According to the Complaint, Washington is African-American and over the age of forty and, at all relevant times, was qualified to be a plant operating engineer at UIC. (Compl. ¶¶ 13-14.) Washington alleges that he applied for open plant operating engineer positions on numerous occasions in 2005 and 2006, but that he was not hired on any occasion. (Id. ¶¶ 15, 18, 20, 22, 20b.*fn1 ) UIC's alleged reasons for not hiring Washington vary. When Washington first applied, Pete Baianca,*fn2 who conducted the interview, expressed a preference for engineers with a license that Washington did not then have. (Id. ¶ 15.) In subsequent interviews, Baianca allegedly asked Washington his age and whether he planned to retire. (Id. ¶¶ 18, 20.) In the final instance, Washington was given an offer of employment, but had to clear a health exam, which he failed to do, allegedly because of incompetence or conspiring by the nurses. (Id. ¶¶ 23-29, 19b-20b.) In each case, Washington believes that a person was hired that was younger and not African-American. (Id. ¶ 16, 19, 21, 22b.)

Washington brought this action against UIC, its chancellor in her official capacity, the Board of the Trustees of the University of Illinois (the "Board"), each trustee on that board in his or her official capacity, and Baianca, who conducted the interviews described above. Washington brings the following claims: 42 U.S.C. § 1981 race discrimination claims against UIC and the University of Illinois (Count I) and Baianca (Count II), Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") against UIC and the University of Illinois (Count III) and Baianca (Count IV), Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA") race and age discrimination claims against UIC and the University of Illinois (Counts V and VII) and Baianca (Count VI and VIII*fn3 ), and Title VII race discrimination claims against UIC and the University of Illinois (Count IX) and Baianca (Count X). Washington's only allegations regarding the remaining defendants note the official positions held by defendants Paula Allen-Meares, Christopher G. Kennedy, and Frances

G. Carroll. (See Compl. ¶¶ 3, 5, 6.)

II.LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a defendant to seek dismissal of a complaint that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must "construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accepting as true all well-pleaded facts alleged, and drawing all possible inferences in [the plaintiff's] favor." Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008). Legal conclusions, however, are not entitled to any assumption of truth. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. ____, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). The plaintiff need not plead particularized facts; Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only that the claim set forth "a short and plain statement of the clam showing that the pleader is entitled to relief...." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Still, the factual allegations in the complaint must be sufficient to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face...." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

The Seventh Circuit recently summarized the requirements of Twombly, Iqbal, and other recent precedent as follows:

First, a plaintiff must provide notice to defendants of her claims. Second, courts must accept a plaintiff's factual allegations as true, but some factual allegations will be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice to defendants of the plaintiff's claim. Third, in considering the plaintiff's factual allegations, courts should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements.

Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009).

III. ANALYSIS

Defendants attack several aspects of Washington's complaint. First, several defendants contend they are not subject to suit for Washington's alleged injuries. Second, defendants argue that several claims are not actionable against the specific defendants Washington joins. Third, defendants ...


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