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Graham v. St. John's United Methodist Church

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 25, 2012

Richard A. GRAHAM, Plaintiff,
v.
ST. JOHN'S UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the United Methodist Church and Reverend Sheryl Palmer, in her individual capacity, Defendants.

Page 651

Shari R. Rhode, Rhode & Jackson, P.C., Carbondale, IL, for Plaintiff.

Lee W. Barron, Lee W. Barron, P.C., Alton, IL, John A. Kauerauf, Sorling, Northrup et al., Springfield, IL,

Page 652

Natalie J. Higgins, Steven J. Hughes, Pitzer Snodgrass PC, St. Louis, MO, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

REAGAN, District Judge.

In April 2012, Richard Graham filed an 8-count complaint against St. John's United Methodist Church (" St. John's" ), The Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the United Methodist Church (" IGRC" ) and Reverend Sheryl Palmer (" Palmer" ). Graham alleges violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (" ADA" ), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. ; the Fair Labor Standards Act (" FLSA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 203(d); the Illinois Wage and Collection Act (" IWPCA" ), 820 ILCS 115/ et seq.; as well as common law actions for intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent supervision.

St. John's moves to dismiss Counts 1 through 4 of Graham's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Doc. 21). The motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition. The Court begins its analysis with a recitation of the factual background.

I. Factual Allegations

The complaint alleges the following facts. In 1996, Graham was the victim of a serious beating in which he suffered multiple concussions, multiple fractures including parts of his face, and severe contusions over a substantial portion of his body. Graham's head injuries resulted in a permanent disability of his cognitive processes leaving him with difficulty articulating his thoughts and comprehending, especially in stressful situations. In August 2008, Graham was hired as a part-time custodian at St. John's and was told that he would work 25 hours a week. A short time after Graham began his employment, the other part-time custodian left, and Graham assumed all custodial duties at the church. He performed his duties in a satisfactory manner. Palmer told Graham that regardless of the extra work load and the number of hours worked, he would only be paid for 25 hours a week.

As a result of his head injuries, Graham is a very acquiescent individual, especially with authority figures like Palmer. Palmer took advantage of Graham's disability and required him to work seven days a week, averaging 35 to 40 hours, while only allowing him to put approximately 25 hours on his timesheet. Palmer called Graham " stupid" and " retard" and allowed other members to call him these names as well. She yelled at Graham in front of others in order to embarrass him.

About June 6, 2011, Julia and Darol Holsman, who were members of St. John's and advocates for Graham's employment, asked the IGRC to investigate Palmer's mistreatment of Graham. The Holsmans also assisted Graham in filing a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor (" IDOL" ).

Graham repeatedly asked Palmer and St. John's for accommodation for his mental challenges, but they refused to accommodate him. In July 2011, the Holsmans told Palmer and St. John's that Graham was ill and scheduled for surgery. On August 15, 2011, Palmer unilaterally scheduled Graham to return to work. In a letter dated August 17, 2011, Palmer told Graham that if he did not notify St. John's of his health status by August 23, 2011, St. John's would " assume [he] resigned his position." On August 23, 2011, Graham was discharged.

II. Legal Standard

A 12(b)(6) motion challenges the sufficiency of the complaint to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of Chicago Lodge No. 7,570 F.3d 811 (7th Cir.2009). Dismissal is ...


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