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Smith v. Board of Trustees

November 15, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber


Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the Motion is granted for both Counts I and II.


From July 2006 until March 2009, Plaintiff Rhonda Smith (the "Plaintiff") worked for City Colleges of Chicago ("City Colleges") as the Daley College Director of Financial Aid. In July 2008, she registered to take classes at Daley College, for which she obtained a loan from City Colleges. Plaintiff alleges that the school's financial aid advisor approved the loan. Daley College Vice President Cecile Regner ("Regner") met with Plaintiff after learning about the loan, and began an investigation as to whether the loan violated City Colleges' fiduciary duty and conflicts of interest ethics policies. Regner informed Daley College President Sylvia Ramos ("Ramos") of the matter, and on September 22, 2008, Ramos referred it to City Colleges' Ethics Office. After hearing Plaintiff's position on why the receipt of the loan did not violate City Colleges' ethics policies, the Ethics Office recommended that Daley College terminate Plaintiff from her position. It did so on March 5, 2009.

On March 16, 2009, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the "EEOC") and the Illinois Department of Human Rights (the "IDHR"), alleging that City Colleges violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for firing her because she is African-American. On March 24, the EEOC closed its file on the charge, unable to find a Title VII violation. The dismissal informed Plaintiff of her right to sue City Colleges within ninety (90) days. Plaintiff claims that the EEOC "turned the case over to the [IDHR] for further investigation." Pl's Resp. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 1. The IDHR dismissed her complaint for lack of evidence on December 18, 2009.

On March 17, 2010, Plaintiff filed the two-count Complaint currently before this Court against City Colleges as her employer and against Regner and Ramos in their individual supervisory capacities for race discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII. Defendants subsequently filed their Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss.


In order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss, a complaint must "include sufficient facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Justice v. Town of Cicero, 577 F.3d 768, 771 (7th Cir. 2009). A pleading must set forth "a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction," "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," and "a demand for relief sought." FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a). The Court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts alleged in the Complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in a light favorable to the Plaintiff. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007).

Although a Complaint does not need detailed factual allegations, it must provide the grounds of the claimant's entitlement to relief, contain more than labels, conclusions, or formulaic recitations of the elements of a cause of action, and allege enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Id. at 555. Legal conclusions can provide a complaint's framework, but unless well-pleaded factual allegations move the claims from conceivable to plausible, they are insufficient to state a claim. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950--51 (2009).


A. Claims Against Defendants Regner and Ramos

As an initial matter, Plaintiff has brought race discrimination and retaliation claims against Defendants Regner and Ramos in their individual capacities as officials at Daley College. Title VII, however, imposes liability on employers, not individual liability on supervisory employees. Glebocki v. City of Chicago, No. 01-CV-1243, 2002 WL 448419, at *4 (7th Cir. Mar. 19, 2002). These provisions are designed to impose respondeat superior liability on an employer for the acts of its agents and not liability on individuals. Williams v. Banning, 72 F.3d 552, 554 (7th Cir. 1995). Under Title VII, an "employer" is "a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has 15 or more employees... and any agent of such person." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b)(2006). Plaintiff does not allege that Regner or Ramos qualify as employers under Title VII. Therefore, both Regner and Ramos are dismissed with prejudice as parties to Counts I and II.

B. Failure to File Complaint Within Ninety (90) Days of EEOC Decision

A plaintiff in a Title VII case must file her suit within ninety (90) days from when the EEOC provides her actual notice of her right to sue. Bobbitt v. Freeman Cos., 268 F.3d 535, 538 (7th Cir. 2001); 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e-5(f)(1). In this case, the EEOC concluded its investigation of Plaintiff's discrimination charge on March 24, 2009. Plaintiff does not claim that she did not receive actual notice of the EEOC's decision on or close to this date. Based on the facts in the pleadings, she had until approximately June 20, 2009, to file her claim in court. ...

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