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Joan A. Williams v. Illinois Department of Revenue

May 20, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael P. McCUSKEY Chief U.S. District Judge

Friday, 20 May, 2011 02:15:11 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD


The Court now considers Defendant Illinois Department of Revenue's ("IDR") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (d/e 26) (the "Motion"). For the reasons stated below, the Motion is DENIED.


Pro se Plaintiff Joan A. Williams is an African-American employee of IDR. She serves as a Revenue Tax Specialist III and has been employed by IDR since 1974. According to Plaintiff, she was subjected to the term "nigger" since at least 2003. Plaintiff alleges that she complained to an EEO officer on June 27, 2006, but the slurs continued.

On January 19, 2007, Plaintiff filed a charge of race discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC assigned number # 440-2007-02267 to Plaintiff's race discrimination charge and investigated Plaintiff's allegations.

After filing the EEOC charge, employees bullied Plaintiff and IDR assigned her excessive amounts of work. Plaintiff was required to do her work as a Revenue Tax Specialist III, in addition to serving as a division manager. Further, Plaintiff was not given any supplemental compensation despite being assigned the division manager responsibilities. Moreover, Plaintiff was unable to perform all of the work that was assigned to her. Consequently, her performance evaluations declined and her prospects for future promotions or advancements suffered.

Co-workers and supervisors yelled at Plaintiff and subjected her to derogatory comments. IDR employees told Plaintiff they were going to make her life a living hell. Plaintiff's direct supervisor humiliated Plaintiff by moving her out of her private office and into "the open". Plaintiff was thereafter "policed" by employees Rebecca Brown, Dave Stewart, Terri Looker, Mike Clemons, Virginia Bartletti, and Dianne Watson. Additionally, employee Virginia Bartletti asked Plaintiff to stand up against a white wall so she could take a picture to see how her camera takes black and white pictures. Furthermore, Becky Brown wrote a memo to employees which stated that Plaintiff caused employees to lose their rights. On or about June 2007, Becky Brown allegedly told Plaintiff, "Nigger, you don't know what you are doing."

After Plaintiff filed her EEOC charge, all of her work had to go through and be cleared by Cecil Denton, IDR's office division manager. Cecil Denton allegedly wrote memos preventing Plaintiff from speaking to the local government. He also held up Plaintiff's work for two years, refusing to approve it and move the work forward. Plaintiff was also told she was "dumb". She was humiliated and the relationships she developed with her clients suffered. Based on these allegations, Plaintiff filed a retaliation charge with the EEOC (charge # 440-2007-07437). The EEOC issued Plaintiff a Right to Sue letter with respect to the retaliation charge on September 25, 2009.

On December 23, 2009, Plaintiff filed a Complaint alleging that IDR was liable for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e), et seq. ("Title VII"). The Complaint was unclear whether Plaintiff was proceeding on a claim of employment discrimination, retaliation, or both. In any event, on August 24, 2010, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim, but the Court granted her leave to re-plead. Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on October 6, 2010. On December 8, 2010, Plaintiff sought leave to amend her Amended Complaint. The Court allowed the motion for leave to amend and ordered her to "comprehensively set forth all" of her allegations against IDR in an amended pleading. See Opinion dated January 4, 2011, at 6.

Plaintiff filed her Second Amended Complaint on January 24, 2011. The Second Amended Complaint is largely the same as Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. Compare Second Amended Complaint (d/e 22) with Amended Complaint (d/e 13). Because Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint included a loose chronology of retaliatory acts interspersed with with claims that similarly situated non-black employees were treated more favorably than she, Plaintiff appeared to be asserting Title VII discrimination and retaliation claims.

IDR now moves the Court to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff has filed an opposition brief. This matter is ripe for ruling.


The federal questions posed by Plaintiff's Title VII claim gives this Court subject matter jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. ยง1331 (giving U.S. District Courts subject matter jurisdiction when federal questions are presented). Personal jurisdiction and venue requirements are satisfied because the relevant acts occurred in this judicial district. See World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980) (personal jurisdiction exists where a defendant "purposefully avail[ed] [himself or herself] of the privilege of conducting activities" in the forum state); see 28 U.S.C. ...

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