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Francis Joseph Golla v. Office of the Chief Judge of Cook County and Administrative Office of

November 8, 2012

FRANCIS JOSEPH GOLLA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF JUDGE OF COOK COUNTY AND ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF ILLINOIS COURTS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is Defendant Administrative Office of Illinois Courts' (the "AOIC") Motion to Dismiss. For the reasons stated herein, the Motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Francis Joseph Golla ("Golla") is a white employee of the Office of the Chief Judge of Cook County in the Social Service Department. In his Third Amended Complaint (the "TAC"), he alleges that he performs the exact same work and has better qualifications than a similarly situated African American employee. However, the African American employee is in a higher pay grade and therefore receives more pay for the same data entry work.

Plaintiff sues the AOIC under both Title VII (42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq.) and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The AOIC is the administrative arm of the Illinois Supreme Court, which supervises all Illinois Courts. The AOIC moves to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

When evaluating dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court takes all well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true and views them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Appert v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Inc., 673 F.3d 609, 622 (7th Cir. 2012)

III. ANALYSIS

A. 42 U.S.C. § 1981

The AOIC moves to dismiss the § 1981 claim under the defense of sovereign immunity. Hearne v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chicago, 185 F.3d 770, 776 (7th Cir. 1999). Plaintiff blithely replies that "42 U.S.C. § 1981a(a)(1) provides for the recovery of compensatory and punitive damages in a lawsuit arising under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e." Pl.'s Resp. 1. He additionally offers that sovereign immunity does not apply here.

Plaintiff's underdeveloped argument appears to contend that, as long as a Title VII action is filed alongside a § 1981 action, the abrogation of sovereign immunity in Title VII actions is shifted to the § 1981 action by § 1981a(a)(1). There is no support in § 1981a(a)(1) for this far-fetched proposition, and Plaintiff offers no case law for it either.

Hearne, on the other hand, notes that "the State of Illinois . . . [cannot] be sued for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, 1982 or 1983. We regard this as so well established that it needs no further discussion." Hearne, 185 F.3d at 776. Hearne implicitly refutes Plaintiff's argument, as a Title VII charge was also brought in that case. More explicitly, Plaintiff's logic was refuted in an Eastern District of Texas case. See Yowman v. Jefferson County Cmty. Supervision & Corr. Dep't, 370 F.Supp.2d 568, 585-586 (E.D. Tex. 2005) (noting § 1981a(a)(1) merely acts to enhance damages in Title VII and other cases.)

Additionally, the Seventh Circuit has warned that Congressional waivers of sovereign immunity must be explicit, and any ambiguity is construed in favor of the sovereign. Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 883-884 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court finds no waiver of sovereign immunity in § 1981a(a)(1) in regards to § ...


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