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Constance B. Hamedani v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago

December 28, 2012

CONSTANCE B. HAMEDANI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Pro se plaintiff Constance B. Hamedani ("Hamedani"), a former elementary school teacher, filed a complaint on January 9, 2012 alleging that the defendant Board of Education of the City of Chicago (the "Board") discriminated against her by terminating her on the basis of her disability. The Board moves to dismiss Hamedani's complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). For the foregoing reasons, the Board's motion is granted.

Background

Hamedani, a former teacher at Bethune Elementary School, was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2003. On September 29, 2005, Hamedani was terminated from her position for "tardiness" and "irremediable conduct." On December 20, 2005, Hamedani filed a charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") alleging discrimination on the basis of her disability. A charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") was automatically filed with her IDHR charge and on December 22, 2011 the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") declined to review Hamedani's claims further. The IHRC entered the Administrative Law Judge's ("ALJ") October 18, 2012 order denying Hamedani's claims. Hamedani has not alleged nor provided documentation of a right to sue letter.

On January 9, 2012, Hamedani filed this instant action in which she seeks to appeal the ALJ decision and alleges that the Board terminated her in violation of the IHRA. Specifically, Hamedani alleges that she was discriminated against because of her sleep apnea and that she was punished for her tardiness which was a result of her disability. Hamedani states that no other teachers at Bethune Elementary School received such adverse responses regarding their tardiness. On May 30, 2012 the Board filed its motion to dismiss Hamedani's complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

Legal Standard

In order to survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). This standard is met when the plaintiff pleads factual content that "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. A motion to dismiss is decided solely on the face of the complaint and any attachments that accompanied its filing. Miller v. Herman, 600 F.3d 726, 733 (7th Cir. 2010). Accordingly, the court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Furthermore, "a pro se complaint is held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, and can be dismissed for failure to state a claim only if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Despot v. Combined Ins. Co. of Am., No. 03 C 7130, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8368, at *6 (N.D. Ill. May 12, 2004) (internal quotations omitted). Accordingly, the Court construes Hamedani's complaint liberally, accepts as true all well-pleaded facts in her complaint, and draws all reasonable inferences in her favor. However, this broad liberal construction does not absolve a pro se litigant from the requirements of administrative procedures. See Mosley v. McDonald's Corp., No. 05 C 7290, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34140, at *6 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 25, 2008) (noting that although courts must construe pro se pleadings liberally, a plaintiff's pro se status does not absolve him from complying with Local Rules).

Discussion

The Board moves to dismiss Hamedani's complaint for lack of jurisdiction and failure to exhaust administrative remedies. In her complaint, Hamedani first seeks review of the ALJ's ruling adopted by the IHRC. Hamedani argues that the ALJ's findings were improper and that the ALJ did not take her entire school and work record into account when ruling on her charges. Secondly, Hamedani alleges that the Board violated the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") when it terminated her in part for tardiness which she claims resulted from her disability of sleep apnea. Hamedani argues in her response that certain exceptions are applicable to the general requirement of exhaustion of administrative remedies.

1. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

The Board argues that Hamedani's ADA claim should be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Hamedani argues that the exhaustion of remedies requirement is not absolute and that she should be exempted from such requirements.

In order to bring a civil action alleging a violation of the ADA, a plaintiff must exhaust her administrative remedies with the EEOC before she may litigate them in federal court. See Travis v. Cook-DuPage Transp., No. 11 C 6080, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52671, at *5-6 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 16, 2012). Accordingly, before a plaintiff may file suit in federal court under the ADA, she must "(1) file a timely charge with the EEOC, and (2) receive a right to sue letter from the EEOC." Wamack v. Windsor Park Manor, No. 10 CV 6808, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148237, at *8 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 27, 2011). The plaintiff then has ninety days from the receipt of the right to sue letter to commence a civil action in the district court. See Travis, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52671, at *5-6. These statutory requirements are deemed preconditions, similar to statutes of limitations and, if not satisfied, are grounds for dismissal unless waived by the defendant. See Wamack, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148237 at *8.

Hamedani does not allege that she received a right to sue letter from the EEOC. Indeed, she concedes that she did not exhaust her administrative remedies by arguing that she qualifies for a purported "exception" to such exhaustion requirements. While Hamedani attaches an EEOC Notice of Charge letter to her complaint which indicates that she filed a charge of employment discrimination with the IDHR, Hamedani presents no allegations or documents demonstrating receipt of a right to sue letter. Contrary to Hamedani's contentions, her failure to comply with the statutory preconditions of the ADA is grounds for dismissal of her claim. The cases cited by Hamedani do ...


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