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Schroeder v. RGIS, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

June 11, 2013

FREDERICK SCHROEDER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
RGIS, INC., Defendant-Appellee.

Held [*]

Plaintiff’s complaint against his former employer for intentional infliction of emotional distress was preempted and barred by the Illinois Human Rights Act and the exclusivity provision of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, notwithstanding plaintiff’s contention that the injuries he suffered as a result of remarks made by other employees about his sexual orientation was a tort that did not fall under the scope of either Act, since plaintiff’s claim was inextricably linked to the civil rights violation arising from the retaliation he suffered from reporting the discriminatory conduct of other employees and was preempted by the Human Rights Act, and, furthermore, the claim was barred by the Workers’ Compensation Act because plaintiff failed to show his “physical-mental” trauma was not compensable under that Act.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 11-L-2228; the Hon. Sanjay Tailor, Judge, presiding.

Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline, of Chicago (Mitchell A. Kline, of counsel), for appellant.

Jackson Lewis LLP, of Chicago (Jody Wilner Moran and Stephanie E.H. Shirley, of counsel), for appellee.

Justices Connors and Simon concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

HARRIS PRESIDING JUSTICE

¶ 1 Plaintiff, Frederick Schroeder, brought a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress against his former employer, defendant RGIS. Defendant filed a combined motion to dismiss, brought pursuant to section 2-619.1 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-619.1 (West 2010)), arguing, among other reasons, that plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed pursuant to section 2-619 of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 2010)) because his claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress was preempted and, thus, barred by the Illinois Human Rights Act (Human Rights Act) (775 ILCS 5/8-111(D) (West 2010)) and by the exclusivity provision of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act (Workers' Compensation Act) (820 ILCS 305/5(a) (West 2010)). Specifically, defendant asserted that plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed, based on the Human Rights Act, because his claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress was inextricably linked with alleged civil rights violations. Defendant argued that plaintiff's claim was barred by the exclusivity provision of the Workers' Compensation Act because his alleged injury was compensable under the Workers' Compensation Act. The circuit court granted defendant's motion to dismiss.

¶ 2 The following issues are before this court: (1) whether plaintiff is able to establish, independent of any duties created by the Human Rights Act, the elements of the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (2) whether the exclusivity provision of the Workers' Compensation Act bars plaintiff's claims. We hold that the circuit court properly dismissed plaintiff's second amended complaint because his tort claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress is inextricably linked to a civil rights violation. Therefore, plaintiff's claim is preempted and, thus, barred by the Human Rights Act. We further hold that plaintiff's alleged injury is compensable under the Workers' Compensation Act. Therefore, plaintiff's claim is also preempted and, thus, barred by the Workers' Compensation Act. Accordingly, the circuit court properly dismissed plaintiff's second amended complaint.

¶ 3 JURISDICTION

¶ 4 On July 25, 2012, the circuit court granted defendant's motion to dismiss, with prejudice. On August 21, 2012, plaintiff timely filed his notice of appeal. Accordingly, this court has jurisdiction pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rules 301 and 303 governing appeals from final judgments entered below. Ill. S.Ct. R. 301 (eff. Feb. 1, 1994); R. 303 (eff. May 30, 2008).

¶ 5 BACKGROUND

¶ 6 On February 28, 2011, plaintiff filed his initial complaint against defendant alleging a claim for retaliation under section 6-101(A) of the Human Rights Act (775 ILCS 5/6-101(A) (West 2010)), constructive discharge, and negligence. Defendant filed a combined motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint pursuant to section 2-619.1 of the Code. 735 ILCS 5/2-619.1 (West 2010). In its motion, defendant alleged that plaintiff's retaliation claim is time-barred, that Illinois does not recognize an independent cause of action for constructive discharge, and that it owed plaintiff no duty to investigate his complaints in order to sustain a negligence action. Defendant attached to its motion the charge of discrimination that plaintiff filed before the Illinois Department of Human Rights on August 23, 2010. Defendant also attached a copy of the dismissal issued by the Illinois Department of Human Rights, concluding it lacked jurisdiction to pursue the allegations made by plaintiff. The circuit court granted defendant's motion to dismiss, making the following findings: that plaintiff's retaliation claim was time-barred and subject to dismissal pursuant to section 2-619 of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 2010)); that there was no legal basis for plaintiff's constructive discharge claim and, thus, the claim was subject to dismissal pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 2010)); and that plaintiff failed to plead a legally cognizable duty to support his negligence claim, which was subject to dismissal pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 2010)). Although the circuit court dismissed all three counts of plaintiff's complaint, it allowed plaintiff time to replead.

ΒΆ 7 On October 19, 2011, plaintiff filed his amended complaint, which contained a single count alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress. Defendant filed a combined motion to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint pursuant to section 2-619.1 of the Code. 735 ILCS 5/2-619.1 (West 2010). Defendant argued that under section 2-619 of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 2010)), plaintiff's claim was preempted and barred by both the Human Rights Act and the Workers' Compensation Act. Under the section 2-615 component of the motion (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 2010)), defendant argued that plaintiff's complaint should be dismissed because plaintiff did not, and could not, plead sufficient facts to support a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Specifically, plaintiff failed to plead that defendant's conduct was extreme and outrageous. The circuit court granted defendant's motion to dismiss the first amended complaint, finding that it was not "convinced" that plaintiff's claim was preempted by the Workers' Compensation Act, but was "convinced the Human ...


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