Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Qinghui Guo v. Northwestern University

May 17, 2011

QINGHUI GUO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, DON KENYON, PAMELA PIRTLE,
PATRICIA TODUS, AND CLARENCE DORTCH, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. George W. Lindberg

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court are defendants' motion to dismiss Counts I, II, and V-XII of plaintiff's First Amended Complaint and plaintiff's motion for leave to file a Second Amended Complaint. For the reasons set forth more fully below, defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part and plaintiff's motion is denied.

I Relevant Facts

On August 18, 2010, plaintiff Qinghui Guo ("Guo" or "plaintiff") filed a thirteen-count complaint against Northwestern University ("Northwestern"), three of its employees, Don Kenyon ("Kenyon"), Pamela Pirtle ("Pirtle"), and Patricia Todus ("Todus"), and a former investigator for the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"), Clarence Dortch ("Dortch"). On January 20, 2011, plaintiff filed an amended complaint ("complaint"), solely to correct the case caption and add a jurisdictional statement. Plaintiff's complaint alleges the following claims against Northwestern: failure to promote based on national origin discrimination (Count I); failure to promote based on race discrimination (Count II); retaliation (Count III); constructive discharge (Count IV); and civil conspiracy (Count V). Plaintiff sued Kenyon, individually, for retaliation (Count VI) and constructive discharge (Count VII). Guo sued Pirtle for civil conspiracy (Count VIII) and sued Todus for failure to promote based on national origin discrimination (Count IX), failure to promote based on race discrimination (Count X), retaliation (Count XI), and constructive discharge (Count XII). The only claim against Dortch is for civil conspiracy (Count XIII).

Guo began working at Northwestern as an Academic Technology Support Specialist in 1992. She held that position until she resigned in March of 2008. At all times relevant to this case, Kenyon was Guo's supervisor at Northwestern. Todus was the Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Northwestern, and Pirtle was the Director of Northwestern's Office of Equal Opportunity and Access. Guo claims that she was denied promotions and constructively discharged from her employment at Northwestern because of her race (East Asian) and national origin (Chinese). She also claims that she was retaliated against for filing charges with the IDHR and that Northwestern and a former investigator at the IDHR conspired against her.

II. Legal Analysis

A. Rule 12(b)(6) Standard

In order to survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6), Guo's complaint must provide grounds for entitlement to relief that are more than mere labels and conclusions. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). A formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not suffice. Id. Instead, Guo's factual allegations must be sufficient to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Id. To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege sufficient facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Id. at 570. When considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), this Court must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in Guo's favor. Killingsworth v. HSBC Bank Nevada, N.A., 507 F.3d 614, 618 (7th Cir.2007).

B. Counts I, II, IX, and X

Title VII requires an employee to file administrative charges with the EEOC (or parallel state agency) within 300 days after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e). Failure to promote is a discrete act. Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp., 536 U.S. 101, 114 (2002). In order to state valid Title VII claims for failure to promote, plaintiff must include allegations in the complaint that she filed a charge with the appropriate state or federal agency for each alleged failure to promote within 300 days of its occurrence. Id. Failure to comply with that reporting requirement, renders those failure to promote claims time-barred. Id. The "continuing violation" doctrine does not apply to discrete acts of discrimination such as failure to promote. Mull v. Abbot Labs, 563 F.Supp.2d 925, 929 (N.D.Ill 2008).

The only promotion plaintiff identified in the complaint that she claims she did not receive is the position of videoconference manager. Guo claims that she was denied that promotion "almost immediately" after making an internal complaint to a member of Northwestern's Office of Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action and Disability Services on June 11, 2006. Guo did not file a charge with the IDHR until December 17, 2007, more than 300 days after she claims she was denied the June 2006 promotion.

Plaintiff claims in her response to the motion to dismiss that amending her complaint to include a citation to 42 U.S.C. § 1981 will make her failure to promote claims timely. That assertion is incorrect. Section 1981 does not apply to failure to promote claims. See Palmer v. Board of Education of Community Unit School District 201-U, Will County, Illinois, 46 F.3d 682, 686 (7th Cir. 1995). Accordingly, plaintiff's failure to promote claims (Counts I, II, IX, and X) are dismissed as untimely and plaintiff's request to amend the complaint to include a citation to 42 U.S.C § 1981 is denied because that amendment would be futile.

C. Counts VI, VII, IX, X, XI, XII

The Title VII claims against the individual Northwestern employees, Kenyon, Pirtle, and Todus, are duplicative of the claims against Northwestern and are dismissed. The covered entity under Title VII is the "employer," Northwestern. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a); Thanongsinh v. Board of Education, 462 F.3d 762, 772 n.7 (7th Cir. 2006). The Seventh Circuit has interpreted Title VII "as not imposing personal liability on agents, but as invoking the doctrine of respondeat superior to make employers responsible for the actions of their agents." Thanongsinh, 462 F.3d at 772 n.7 (quoting Gastineau v. Fleet Mortg. Corp., 137 F.3d 490, 493 (7th Cir. 1998)). Accordingly, plaintiff's claims for retaliation (Counts VI and XI) and constructive ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.