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Beth A. Stokes v. John Deere Seeding Group

March 28, 2013

BETH A. STOKES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN DEERE SEEDING GROUP, A SUBSIDIARY OF DEERE & COMPANY A/K/A JOHN DEERE COMPANY, AND JIM GUNNISON, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sara Darrow United States District Judge

E-FILED

Thursday, 28 March, 2013 07:52:08 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

ORDER

Plaintiff Beth Stokes has worked for Defendant John Deere Seeding Group (hereafter "Deere") since 1973. Stokes alleges that over roughly the last four years she endured twelve incidents of intentional misconduct at the hands of Defendant Jim Gunnison, now retired. Stokes claims she reported Gunnison's misconduct to Deere supervisors to no avail. Deere's alleged failure to investigate or respond to any of Gunnison's misconduct gives rise to Stokes's causes of action against Deere.*fn1 This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because Stokes alleges claims premised on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Court has supplemental jurisdiction over Stokes's state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

Deere moved to dismiss five of Stokes's causes of action: (1) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (2) assault; (3) battery; (4) negligent retention and re-hiring; and (5) gender discrimination in violation of Title VII and the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA"). (ECF No. 9.)

Thereafter, Stokes filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint that includes additional allegations and a new cause of action-hostile work environment under Title VII and the IHRA. (ECF No. 27.) Deere revived its Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(E). (ECF No. 29 at 1.) The Court allowed Stokes to amend her complaint and as such, this Order analyzes [#9] Deere's revived Motion to Dismiss as applied to [#33] Stokes's First Amended Complaint.

As set forth below, Stokes cannot hold Deere vicariously liable for Gunnison's alleged intentional torts. Further, the Court finds that Stokes's claim for negligent retention and rehiring is preempted by the Illinois Workers Compensation Act. Finally, the Court finds that Stokes has pled a plausible cause of action for gender discrimination.

BACKGROUND

I.The Twelve Alleged Instances of Misconduct

Stokes alleges the following twelve instances of misconduct: The Slander Incident: Between September 1, 2008, and March 1, 2009, Gunnison gave false and negative reports to co-workers and supervisors about Stokes's work performance. (Amend. Compl. at ¶ 23, ECF No. 33.)

The Throwing Keys Incident: Around February 1, 2009, Gunnison threw a set of keys at Stokes, which struck her chest and caused her pain. (Id. at ¶ 24.)

The Spitting and Cursing Incident: Around March 13, 2009, in response to a work-related question, Gunnison screamed at Stokes in close proximity to her face, spit on her, and yelled "You are going to pay for this!" (Id. at ¶ 25.)

The Picture Incident: On April 6, 2009, after returning to work from a suspension (allegedly received for reporting Gunnison's harassment), Stokes found twenty-five pictures of Gunnison wallpapered over her workspace. (Id. at ¶ 26.)

The Blocking Incidents: On multiple occasions during November 2009, Gunnison blocked the exit door-which Stokes frequently needed to ...


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