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Scharlemann v. Daum

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS


May 14, 2010

BENJAMIN J. SCHARLEMANN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DENISE DAUM, GEORGIANNE BROUGHTON, MICHAEL TAYLOR, AND JANICE REYNOLDS, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Benjamin Scharlemann's (hereinafter "Scharlemann") Complaint (Doc. 1), Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (Doc. 2), and Motion to Appoint Counsel (Doc. 3). Scharlemann brings this case against all named Defendants for wrongful termination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (hereinafter "ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq.

In Illinois, an employee may sue under the ADA only if he filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (hereinafter "EEOC") within 180 days of the alleged "unlawful employment practice." See 42 U.S.C. § 12117(a) (2006) (referencing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)); Fairchild v. Forma Scientific, Inc., 147 F.3d 567, 574 (7th Cir. 1998). If the aggrieved employee instituted proceedings with a state or local anti-discrimination agency, this period is extended to 300 days. § 2000e-5(e); Fairchild, 147 F.3d at 574; Huels v. Exxon Coal USA, Inc., 121 F.3d 1047, 1049 (7th Cir. 1997). "Failure to file within the allotted time renders the charge untimely and the claimant is precluded from bringing an action in court." Fairchild, 147 F.3d at 574.

Of course, exhaustion of one's administrative remedies only marks the beginning of a federal lawsuit. To ultimately prove a discrimination claim or a failure to accommodate claim under either statute, a plaintiff must show, among other things, that he was a disabled person as defined by the ADA. Jackson v. City of Chicago, 414 F.3d 806, 810 (7th Cir. 2005) (failure to accommodate); Winfrey v. City of Chicago, 259 F.3d 610, 614 (7th Cir. 2001) (same); Silk v. City of Chicago, 194 F.3d 788, 798 (7th Cir. 1999) (discrimination). He must also show that he is qualified to "perform the essential functions of the job in question[.]" Jackson, 414 F.3d at 810. And, it bears noting that the ADA only imposes liability on employers, not an employer's agents. EEOC v. AIC Sec. Investigations, Ltd., 55 F.3d 1276, 1281.

Here, Scharlemann's complaint is deficient in a number of respects. First, he does not bring suit against Community Resource Center, Inc.; rather, his lawsuit targets individual defendants. Per EEOC, this is not allowed. Further, he does not allege that he has exhausted his administrative remedies by filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. If Scharlemann has in fact filed such a charge, he should allege as much and should attach a copy of the requisite EEOC right-to-sue letter to his complaint. Finally, the complaint does not allege the disability from which Scharlemann suffers or the job from which he was allegedly wrongfully terminated. While Scharlemann need not prove his disability or qualifications at this stage in the litigation, these facts need to at least be pled in an amended complaint, especially if he hopes to proceed in forma pauperis,*fn1 have counsel appointed,*fn2 and have this case continued forward. See, e.g., Mattice v. Mem'l Hosp. of S. Bend, Inc., 249 F.3d 682, 684 (7th Cir. 2001) (plaintiff's allegations that he was limited in "cognitive thinking" were sufficient to state a claim under the ADA); Duda v. Bd. of Educ. of Franklin Park Pub. Sch. Dist. No. 84, 133 F.3d 1054, 1059 (plaintiff sufficiently pleaded a claim under the ADA by alleging that he suffered from a psychiatric illness and was diagnosed as a manic depressive and that the defendant-employer was aware of that diagnosis and regarded him as disabled and substantially limited in major life activities); Homeyer v. Stanley Tulchin Assocs., Inc., 91 F.3d 959, 961 (7th Cir. 1996) (plaintiff sufficiently pleaded an ADA claim by alleging that she suffered from chronic severe allergic rhinitis and sinusitis which substantially impaired her ability to breathe).

For the above-mentioned reasons, the Court ORDERS Scharlemann to file an amended complaint no later than June 18, 2010. If he fails to do so, the Court will dismiss this case. Scharlemann's amended complaint shall address the foregoing as well as any other deficiencies contained in the original complaint. Further, the Court DENIES Scharlemann's Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (Doc. 2) and Motion to Appoint Counsel (Doc. 3) without prejudice.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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