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Mary Pugh v. Chicago Teachers Union

May 8, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge:


Mary Pugh, appearing pro se, has sued the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), Marilyn Stewart, June Davis, and Diane Myron. She asserts claims of discrimination based on color, violation of her constitutional right to equal protection, breach of the union's duty of fair representation, and breach of contract. Defendants have moved to dismiss the claims. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants defendants' motion.


The Court accepts plaintiff's allegations as true for purposes of resolving the motion to dismiss. See Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of Chi. Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009).

Mary Pugh began working at Tilden Career Community Academy, a public high school in Chicago, in 1999. She worked as a Student Special Service Advocate, a position that involved working with students who had special needs. In the position, she was a member of the CTU. Stewart, Davis, and Myron are apparently employees of the CTU.

Pugh alternatively claims that almost immediately after beginning work, or in 2007, she learned that she had been misclassified as a teacher's aide, a job with different salary and duties. Pugh suggests that an administrative worker at Tilden may have in turn been misclassified as a special service advocate, in effect receiving the benefits of Pugh's position without doing the work.

Pugh took her problem to Tilden's principal, Phylis Hammond. Instead of ensuring that Pugh's classification was correct, Pugh alleges, Hammond retaliated against her. Specifically, Hammond no longer allowed Pugh to coach girl's basketball, volleyball, and soccer, even though she was a popular and successful coach. Pugh also began receiving much lower performance evaluations.

Pugh's problems with Hammond escalated in 2010. Pugh was disciplined after a hearing that she did not attend in April 2010. She claims that she did not receive notice of the hearing until after it had occurred. In June 2010, she received notice of another disciplinary hearing only two days before it was to occur. Pugh requested that the meeting be rescheduled, but her request was denied. She did not attend the hearing, and it is unclear whether any discipline resulted from it. In July 2010, Tilden's new principal, Marcey Sorenson, informed Pugh that she did not have a position at Tilden that summer and ordered a Chicago police officer to escort Pugh from the building. The Chicago Board of Education (CBE) sent Pugh a notice that she had been laid off at the end of the month.

From 2007 until the time that she was terminated, Pugh filed at least sixteen grievances with the CTU related to her misclassification and the retaliation by Hammond. She claims that the CTU failed to adequately pursue these grievances with the CBE. Pugh also filed several charges against both the CTU and the CBE with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB). See 115 ILCS 5/5. Four of the charges concerned the CTU, and the IELRB or its executive director dismissed all of them. See Ill. Admin. Code tit. 80, § 1120.30(b) & (c). It does not appear that Pugh ever sought review of the IELRB's decisions in the Illinois Appellate Court. See 115 ILCS 5/16.


Defendants have moved to dismiss Pugh's claims against them for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). "When analyzing the sufficiency of a complaint, [the Court] construe[s] it in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, accept[s] well-pleaded facts as true, and draw[s] all inferences in the nonmoving party's favor." Fednav Int'l Ltd. v. Cont'l Ins. Co., 624 F.3d 834, 837 (7th Cir. 2010). A plaintiff "has stated a claim only if [she] has alleged enough facts to render the claim facially plausible, not just conceivable." Id. The Court, "however, construe[s] pro se complaints liberally and hold[s] them to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Maddox v. Love, 655 F.3d 709, 718 (7th Cir. 2011).

A. Duty of fair representation

Pugh claims that the union failed to represent her fairly in her conflicts with the CBE. Defendants argue that this claim is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the IELRB.

Under the Illinois Education Labor Relations Act (IELRA), a union's violation of its duty of fair representation is considered an unfair labor practice. 115 ILCS 5/14(b)(1). The statute provides that "[a] charge of unfair labor practice may be filed with the Board." Id. 5/15 (emphasis added). The statute also allows ...

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