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Barbara Stanfield v. Thomas Dart

April 14, 2011

BARBARA STANFIELD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THOMAS DART, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY;
COOK COUNTY, A UNIT OF MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT; COOK COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, A POLITICAL SUBDIVISION; THOMAS SNOOKS; SCOTT KURTOVICH, INDIVIDUALLY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Virginia M. Kendall

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Barbara Stanfield ("Stanfield") filed suit against Thomas Dart ("Dart"), Cook County ("County"), the Cook County Sheriff's Department ("CCSD"), Thomas Snooks ("Snooks"), and Scott Kurtovich ("Kurtovich") (together, "Defendants"). Stanfield, in her Amended Complaint, alleges in Count I that the CCSD sexually harassed her in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq. ("Title VII")*fn1 ; in Count II that Defendants discriminated against her on the basis of her gender in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("§ 1983"); in Count III that Snooks assaulted and battered her in violation of Illinois state law; in Count IV that Snooks intentionally inflicted emotional distress in violation of Illinois state law; in Count V that Dart, Kurtovich, and Snooks violated the Gender Violence Act, 740 ILCS 82/1 et seq. ("GVA"); in Count VI that the County and CCSD violated the Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2003, 740 ILCS 23/1 et seq. ("ICRA"); and in Count VII Stanfield alleges an indemnification claim against the County. Dart, the County, the CCSD, and Kurtovich move to dismiss Counts II, V, VI, and VII; Snooks moves to dismiss Counts II, III, IV, and V. For the following reasons, the Court grants in part and denies in part Defendants's Motions to Dismiss: the Court grants Dart and Kurtovich's Motion to Dismiss Counts II and V without prejudice; the Court denies Snooks's Motion to Dismiss in its entirety and denies the CCSD's Motion to Dismiss Counts II and VI and the County's Motion to Dismiss Counts VI and VII.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

The following facts are taken from Stanfield's Amended Complaint and are assumed to be true for purposes of this Motion to Dismiss. See Murphy v. Walker, 51 F.3d 714, 717 (7th Cir. 1995).

Stanfield has been employed as a correctional officer by the CCSD since July 21, 1991 and has worked in both the Records Department and the Kitchen Services Department. (Amd. Compl. ¶¶ 18, 19.) Snooks was hired by Dart and the CCSD and at all relevant times was Stanfield's direct supervisor. (Id. ¶¶ 21, 22.) Snooks had "unreviewed authority" to transfer female employees within the CCSD. (Id. ¶ 39.) Kurtovich was hired by Dart and the CCSD and at all relevant times was the direct supervisor of Snooks. (Id. ¶ 20.) Both Kurtovich and Snooks were hired based on their political and personal affiliations with Dart. (Id. ¶¶ 23, 24.)

Stanfield alleges that she was continuously subjected to offensive, unwelcome, physically and sexually abusive behavior. (Id. ¶ 27.) Specifically, in August 2009, Snooks "continually" asked Stanfield out on dates. (Id.) Snooks suggested that he was sexually interested in Stanfield; commented that he could make her job easier if she would agree to a sexual relationship with him; made comments that he was looking for a girlfriend and that he wanted to have sex with her; asked her for her personal cell phone number; ordered her transferred to the Records Department; and grabbed her breast and asked what color her bra was.*fn2 (Id.) Between October 2009 and December 2009, Snooks demanded that Stanfield and other female employees come into his office and give him massages. (Id.)

On one occasion, Snooks directed Stanfield to come into his office and sit on a sofa adjacent to his desk.*fn3 (Id.) Over Stanfield's objections, Snooks closed and locked his office door and ordered Stanfield to give him a leg massage. (Id.) Snooks then grabbed her by her neck and arm and forced her head towards his genitals; pulled out his penis; and attempted to force Stanfield to give him fellatio. (Id.) Stanfield struggled to get away and threatened to scream. (Id.) Snooks responded that he could make her life miserable; he then ejaculated on Stanfield. (Id.)

Snooks bragged about his conduct to Dart and Kurtovich, who took no action against him. (Id. ¶ 27, 43) Though female employees are routinely harassed, the CCSD "scuttle[d]" investigations of complaints of sexual harassment. (Id. ¶¶ 29, 33.) The "code" of the CCSD "was that employees should not 'snitch' on one another." (Id. ¶ 37.)

Stanfield complained to the Office of Professional Review ("OPR") within the CCSD about the generally hostile work environment and Snooks's behavior in particular, but the OPR did not take steps to remedy the situation. (Id. ¶ 40.) Stanfield reported Snooks's conduct to the Illinois Attorney General's office, but the matter was instead referred back to the CCSD. (Id. ¶ 41.) Stanfield applied for a leave of absence due to her emotional distress and "an inability to work." (Id. ¶ 49.) Defendants initially denied her leave until she gave a statement to the CCSD regarding Snooks.*fn4 (Id.)

Stanfield filed a complaint with the EEOC on June 14, 2010. (Id. ¶ 6.) Snooks retired at an unspecified date after Stanfield complained of sexual harassment. (Id. ¶ 45.) Stanfield received a "right to sue" letter from the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, on November 3, 2010. (Id. ¶ 7.)

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court accepts as true all facts alleged in the complaint and construes all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Murphy, 51 F.3d at 717. To state a claim upon which relief can be granted, a complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). "Detailed factual allegations" are not required, but the plaintiff must allege facts that, when "accepted as true . . . 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In analyzing whether a complaint has met this standard, the "reviewing court [must] draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, the Court assumes their veracity and then determines if they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief. Id. A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the Court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. See id. at 1949.

DISCUSSION

I. ...


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