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Anne Mitchell v. United Medical Systems

April 20, 2011

ANNE MITCHELL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED MEDICAL SYSTEMS, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On January 26, 2011, Plaintiff Anne Mitchell brought the instant five-count Second Amended Complaint against her former employer Defendant United Medical Systems, Inc. ("UMS") for violating the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206, et seq. (Count I) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2 (Count II). Mitchell also brings claims based on the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act ("Wage Act"), 820 ILCS 115/1, et seq. (Count III) and for common law breach of contract (Count IV). Mitchell further seeks an equitable accounting to determine the total amount of her lost commissions and bonuses (Count V). Before the Court is UMS's Motion to Dismiss Counts II, IV, and V of the Second Amended Complaint. For the following reasons, the Court denies UMS's motion.

LEGAL STANDARD

"A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of Chicago Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). Pursuant to Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."

Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain statement under Rule 8(a)(2) must "give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S. Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). Under the federal notice pleading standards, a plaintiff's "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Put differently, a "complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "[W]hen ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S. Ct. 2197, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007); McGowan v. Hulick, 612 F.3d 636, 638 (7th Cir. 2010) (courts accept factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor). In determining a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, courts may consider exhibits attached to the pleadings if the complaint refers to the document at issue or if the document is central to the plaintiff's claims. See McCready v. eBay, Inc., 453 F.3d 768, 891 (7th Cir. 2006); Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c).

BACKGROUND

In her Second Amended Complaint, Mitchell alleges that she began working for UMS in October 2000 as a Sales Consultant and that shortly thereafter her title changed to Regional Business Manager. (R. 23, Second Am. Compl. ¶ 6.) As one of UMS's Regional Business Managers, Mitchell was responsible for developing business and making sales. (Id. ¶ 7.) Further, Mitchell alleges that she entered into a written agreement with UMS regarding her compensation, which consisted of a base salary, plus commissions and bonuses directly tied to her sales performance. (Id. ¶ 9.)

Mitchell contends that she was the only female Regional Business Manager throughout much of her employment at UMS. (Id. ¶ 11.) Mitchell also states that UMS paid its male employees -- who performed substantially the same jobs as Mitchell and/or jobs which required equal skill, effort, and responsibility -- higher commission rates and more bonuses than Mitchell. (Id. ¶ 12.) In 2003, UMS offered Mitchell a revised written commission agreement which provided that Mitchell would receive a 2% commission for existing accounts, a 5% commission for new accounts for the first twelve months, and a $1,500 commission per contract signed. (Id. ¶ 13.) Mitchell further alleges that in August 2006, UMS offered, but Mitchell did not accept, a revised written commission agreement which provided that Mitchell would receive a 1% commission for existing accounts, a 5% commission for new accounts for the first twelve months excluding MRI accounts, a 21/2 % commission on new MRI accounts for the first twelve months, and a $1,500 commission per contract signed. (Id. ¶ 14.) On the other hand, Mitchell asserts that in or around 2006, UMS set higher commission rates for male Regional Business Managers than it proposed to set for Mitchell. (Id. ¶ 15.) Also, Mitchell alleges that UMS did not pay her the $1,500 commission per contract in violation of the written commission agreement. (Id. ¶ 16.)

Starting in or about 2006, Mitchell complained to her supervisor, Director of Sales Doug Stairs, that UMS was not paying her the commissions and bonuses according to her commission agreement. (Id. ¶ 18.) At the time, Mitchell was not aware of the commission rate differential between herself and her male co-workers. (Id.) Mitchell further alleges that she was subjected to less favorable terms and conditions of employment than male Regional Business Managers. (Id. ¶ 20.) She alleges, for example, that because she was female she was excluded from company-related meetings and events, including a golf outing in conjunction with a company sales meeting. (Id.)

On numerous occasions, Mitchell asked for full payment of her commissions and bonuses and for information so that she could determine the correct amount due her, but UMS refused. (Id. ¶ 21.) When Mitchell objected to the company's refusal to pay her the commissions and bonuses to which she was entitled, Stairs called her "combative." (Id.) Mitchell maintains that during the summer of 2007, Stairs stopped verbally communicating with her, thereby, interfering with her ability to get her job done. (Id. ¶ 23.) Also, Mitchell alleges that Stairs did not treat male employees in the same angry and disparaging manner as he treated her. (Id. ¶ 24.)

Meanwhile, Mitchell asserts that UMS continued to withhold her commissions and bonuses through the end of her employment. (Id. ¶ 26.) Mitchell alleges that by October 2007, the conditions of her employment became so intolerable as a direct result of UMS's conduct that she was forced to resign after seven years of employment with UMS. (Id. ¶ 27.) Mitchell specifically alleges that she was constructively discharged on or about October 4, 2007. (Id.)

ANALYSIS

I. Sex Discrimination Claim -- Count II

In its motion to dismiss, UMS first argues that the Court should dismiss Mitchell's Title VII sex discrimination claim as alleged in Count II of the Second Amended Complaint because it is untimely. Specifically, UMS maintains that although Mitchell alleges in her Second Amended Complaint that she filed her charge of sex discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on July 25, 2008, her actual EEOC charge indicates that Mitchell signed the charge on August 18, 2008 and that the EEOC received the charge on August 20, 2008. (R. 27, Ex. 2, EEOC charge.) Accordingly, UMS argues that Mitchell's EEOC charge was untimely because she filed it over 300 days after the alleged unlawful ...


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