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Mary L. Johnson v. U.S. Security Associates Inc

August 30, 2011

MARY L. JOHNSON PLAINTIFF,
v.
U.S. SECURITY ASSOCIATES INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Blanche M. Manning

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Approximately one month after starting her employment with U.S. Security Associates, Inc., Mary Johnson alleges that she became subject to unwelcome touching and sexual comments from male and female colleagues. She alleges that when she complained, she was fired, and then received death threats after pursuing administrative remedies through state and federal agencies.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission eventually issued Johnson a right-tosue letter and she filed a pro se complaint alleging sexual harassment and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. Before the court is U.S. Security's motion to strike exhibits from Johnson's complaint, and for either dismissal of the complaint or for a more definite statement. For the following reasons, U.S. Security's motion is denied in part and granted in part.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from Johnson's complaint and accepted as true for the motion to dismiss. See Marshall-Mosby v. Corporate Receivables, Inc., 205 F.3d 323, 326 (7th Cir. 2000). In May 2007, U.S. Security hired Johnson as a security guard for a JP Morgan Chase facility in Elgin, Illinois. Before her first month's end, a female co-worker named Wendy began to touch, rub, and make sexually suggestive comments towards Johnson. When Johnson complained to her supervisor, the touching and comments temporarily subsided. However, a short time later, the touching resumed. This time, other guards approached Johnson in addition to Wendy, and made unwanted advances toward Johnson. After enduring this treatment for one year, Johnson's supervisor, Elias Quintanilla, began to initiate conversations of a sexual nature with her. According to Johnson, Quintanilla told her that he liked cop shows with rape scenes. He also invited Johnson to watch a movie containing a rape scene on his laptop, and showed her a picture of male genitalia painted onto the hood of a remote controlled car.

In September 2008, Johnson arrived to work and found site manager Mike Hamus arguing with Quintanilla. Johnson does not identify the nature of the argument, but she alleges that it was all a setup to force Quintanilla to work weekends on the same shift as Johnson. Upset by the news and fearful of renewed harassment by Quintanilla, Johnson alleges that she asked Hamus to be "relieved," though she would not initially tell him why. When pressed, Johnson described Quintanilla's past conduct, and Hamus told her to "get out." Johnson stormed out of the bank, throwing her security badge on the lobby floor.

Johnson then cross-filed a claim of sexual harassment and retaliation with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the EEOC. After filing her claim, she allegedly received death threats from persons at U.S. Security, including one from Phil Casale, who reportedly told her, "if you mess with one of them -- the police, firefighters, security, etc. -- you mess with them all." Johnson alleges that her home was also broken into. After receiving the EEOC's Right to Sue letter dated September 17, 2010, Johnson timely filed a complaint with this court.

U.S. Security has moved to dismiss Johnson's complaint or for a more definite statement, and to strike certain exhibits attached to the complaint. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated, the motion to dismiss is granted in part and denied in part.

ANALYSIS

I. Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

a. Legal Standard

On a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court accepts the allegations in the complaint as true, viewing all facts, as well as any inferences reasonably drawn therefrom, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Marshall-Mosby, 205 F.3d at 326. In addition, because Johnson is proceeding pro se, the court shall liberally construe her allegations. See McGee v. Bartow, 593 F.3d 556, 566--67 (7th Cir. 2010). "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief" requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic, 127 S.Ct. at 1964--65 (2007) (citations omitted).

The Seventh Circuit has interpreted Bell Atlantic as follows: Rule 12(b)(6) permits a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To state such a claim, the complaint need only contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."

Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). The Supreme Court has interpreted that language to impose two easy-to-clear hurdles. First, the complaint must describe the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant "fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 US 554, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 344 US 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)) (alteration in Bell Atlantic ). Second, its allegations must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that ...


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