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Cooper v. Illinois Dep't of Natural Resources

May 28, 2010

KEVIN COOPER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, U.S. District Judge

OPINION

The Court grants the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [d/e 39] for the following reasons.

I. BACKGROUND

This is a racial discrimination action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq.; the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/2-102, et seq.; 42 U.S.C. § 1981; and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, and lost wages.

Plaintiff Kevin Cooper was an employee of Defendant Illinois Department of Natural Resources ("IDNR") from December 2007 through March 2008. The Plaintiff was employed as an Office Coordinator at Kankakee River State Park. Cooper was one of two black employees at the Park.

The Plaintiff states that he was hired after interviewing at the IDNR headquarters, but that upon meeting with his supervisor, Kathy Pangle, she indicated that she was unhappy with his hiring. Pangle was displeased that she did not have input in the hiring decision. The Plaintiff states that "Pangle continuously made inappropriate comments about [his] manner of dress and lifestyle away from work" and the Plaintiff perceived this as relating to his race and color. Pl.'s First Am. Compl. [d/e 14], 3.

In his First Amended Complaint, the Plaintiff asserts that when Pangle asked for his driver's license during the intake process he informed her that he did not have one and offered to resign immediately. Pangle informed Cooper that a license was not required for the position. The Plaintiff alleges that Pangle told him that he could drive to work, but that he should vary his parking location to avoid detection by the Conservation Police.

However, the Plaintiff stated the following in the original Complaint he filed in the case:

After reassuring me that I did not have to resign [Pangle] called the [S]tate of Illinois in Springfield and reported the information. I received a call in the office weeks later and the person on the phone stated that they were with the conservation police and that I can no longer drive to work. At this time it was too late to return to my previous job so I requested that one of my co-workers assist me in getting to work. Levi Bray helped me by giving me a ride to work until Mr. Bray had a heart attack and was no longer available to help me for about five weeks.

Complaint [d/e 1], 1 (emphasis added). The Plaintiff also indicated in the original Complaint that the he drove to work on a suspended license two days after Mr. Bray began working again.

Below is an excerpt from the First Amended Complaint, describing the events that day.

[ ] Upon information and belief, on or about February 26, 2008, Pangle arranged a meeting with the Conservation Police in an attempt to catch COOPER driving to work on a suspended license.

[ ] On or about February 26, 2008, COOPER witnessed Pangle in a meeting with Conservation Police Officers. COOPER was subsequently pulled over by the conservation police and ...


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