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Sims v. Trinity Services, Inc.

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

June 26, 2013



JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge.

Plaintiff Roderick Sims, proceeding pro se, has filed a seven-count Complaint against Defendant Trinity Services, Inc. ("Trinity") and individual Defendants, Ellis Craft, Erica Pozzin, Stephanie Perkins, and Jennifer Hodges[1] (collectively, the "Individual Defendants"), which alleges race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Counts I and II, respectively); sexual discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Count III); age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 623 et seq. (Count IV); discrimination in job promotion (Count V); retaliation (Count VI); and intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count VII).

Trinity has moved in part, and Craft and Hodges have moved in total, to dismiss the Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. For the reasons presented below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is granted.


The following facts are taken from the Complaint, which are assumed to be true for the purposes of a motion to dismiss. See Reger Dev., LLC v. Nat'l City Bank, 592 F.3d 759, 763 (7th Cir. 2010). Plaintiff Roderick Sims is a resident of Chicago, of African ancestry, and over 40 years of age. Trinity is a non-profit organization, "offering various services to people with disabilities and mental illness." ( Id. at 3.) Plaintiff was employed by Trinity as an "Independent Living Counselor" from November 29, 2011 until he was fired on May 8, 2012. (Compl. ¶ 4.) Plaintiff worked at the Trinity facility known as "Mozart House" located in Chicago. ( Id. ¶ 10.) Craft, Pozzin, Perkins, and Hodges are all employees of Trinity.

On April 14, 2012, Plaintiff requested the use of a company vehicle to pick up free tickets to Great America Amusement Park, and the request was approved. ( Id. ¶ 19.) On May 8, 2012, Plaintiff requested permission to use the company van to drive to Des Plaines, Illinois to attend a service plan meeting concerning a client; this was also approved. ( Id. ¶ 20.) While also attending the meeting in Des Plaines, Illinois, Plaintiff "apprised Stephanie Perkins that [he] would drop off Tawio Jenkins and then proceed to a hospital in Chicago, Illinois, to see a relative." ( Id. ¶ 21.) Perkins gave her approval. ( Id. )

On May 8, 2012, Plaintiff was terminated, purportedly for unauthorized use of the company van. ( Id. at ¶ 4.) According to Plaintiff, other staff members, such as Giovany Rogue, used company vehicles for personal use and would not be subjected to any kind of disciplinary measure or employment termination. ( Id. ¶ 18.)

Plaintiff was the only African-American male, age 40 and over, working at the Mozart House, and there were no African-Americans within the upper management rank at Mozart House and/or Trinity's principal office. ( Id. ¶¶ 23, 26.) Plaintiff was informed at his hiring date that he would be a perfect candidate for a House Manager position if a spot were open; however, since his hiring date, two people were hired for management positions, and neither is of African ancestry. ( Id. ¶ 24-25.)

On numerous occasions, Plaintiff had to warn other employees of Trinity to stop touching and rubbing against him, and when he reported the inappropriate conduct to the supervisors, nothing was done about it. ( Id. ¶ 27.) Plaintiff claims that Yoshi Trinidad, a Trinity employee, "touched my hair, rubbed against me, and repeatedly tried to hug me, " and on one occasion, Plaintiff observed Trinidad pulling down his pants and sticking his buttocks in the face of a client of Trinity. ( Id. ¶ 28.) Nothing was done after the instances were reported to management. ( Id. ) Plaintiff also claims that Trinidad also sent him an inappropriate text message, and, although Plaintiff forwarded the text message to management, the harassment and unwanted messaging continued. ( Id. ¶ 29.) Plaintiff also made a police report regarding an alleged harassing phone call he received from Trinidad. ( Id. ¶ 30.) Plaintiff states that prior to his wrongful termination, he also reported incidents of physical and sexual abuse of Trinity clients by other Trinity clients to their family members. ( Id. ¶ 31.)

On May 31, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a charge of discrimination premised upon race, sex, age, retaliation, and, on August, 24, 2012, the Plaintiff was issued a letter of Notice of Right to Sue. ( Id. ¶ 13-14.)


To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a complaint must overcome "two easy-to-clear hurdles": (1) "the complaint must describe the claim in sufficient detail to give the Defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests"; and (2) "its allegations must plausibly suggest that the Plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a speculative level." Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1084 (7th Cir. 2008) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). If the complaint does not meet this standard of review, "the plaintiff pleads itself out of court." Tamayo, 526 F.3d at 1084. Where the well-pleaded facts "do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not shown - that the pleader is entitled to relief." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). A pro se complaint is liberally construed and held to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976).

In reviewing a motion to dismiss, the court reviews all facts alleged in the complaint and any inferences reasonably drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Marshall-Mosby v. Corporate Receivables, Inc., 205 F.3d 323, 326 (7th Cir. 2000). However, this is inapplicable to legal conclusions; threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere ...

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