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Jones v. Barton Staffing Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

October 16, 2013

ERIC L. JONES, Plaintiff,


JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge.

Defendants Barton Staffing Solutions, Inc. ("Barton") and Ryder Integrated Logistics, Inc. ("Ryder") move to dismiss Plaintiff Eric L. Jones's Amended Complaint, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim. For the reasons discussed below, the Defendants' Motions [26, 29] are granted. The Amended Complaint is dismissed without prejudice and with leave to amend within thirty days of the issuance of this Order, provided Jones can do so under Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(b).


The following facts are drawn from the Amended Complaint and are accepted as true for purposes of the Motion to Dismiss. See Reger Dev., LLC v. Nat'l City Bank, 592 F.3d 759, 763 (7th Cir. 2010). In November 2012, Jones was employed by Barton, which is a temporary staffing agency, and was assigned to work at Ryder as a forklift operator and subject to Ryder's supervision. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 4-5.) On November 4, 2012, Jones was approached by his Ryder supervisor, who requested that Jones go to the bathroom to "shake his [coworker's] penis." ( Id. ¶ 6.) Jones reported the conduct as "inappropriate and offensive" to another Ryder shift supervisor, who told him to complain to Barton. On November 5, 2012, Jones filed a report with Barton concerning the incident. ( Id. ¶ 7.)

On November 7, 2012, Jones participated in a conference call with a Barton staffing recruiter and Jeff Barton ("Mr. Barton"), the General Manager for Barton. ( Id. ) During the call, Mr. Barton and the recruiter urged Jones not to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") or the Illinois Department of Human Rights because it "would be a blemish on Ryder and Barton." ( Id. ¶ 7.) They offered Jones an alternative position as a janitor that paid more than his job as a forklift operator. Jones said he would accept the janitor position but would not drop his case because he preferred the forklift position. ( Id. )

On November 15, 2012, Mr. Barton and the recruiter called Jones and informed him that "upper management at Ryder... did not want him on their property and did not want [Jones] to work at Ryder." Jones was then maliciously discharged by Barton on the instructions and direction of Ryder. ( Id. ¶ 8.) On November 20, 2012, Jones filed a sexual harassment and retaliation charge with the EEOC; on January 29, 2013, the EEOC issued him a right-to-sue letter on the grounds that the investigation could not be completed within 180 days. ( Id. ¶ 3.) Jones's current Amended Complaint asserts one claim for retaliatory discharge in violation of Title VII.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that the plaintiff provide "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Rule 8 "does not require detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

Under the Federal Rules, the defendant can assert a defense that the plaintiff failed "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To defeat a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a plaintiff must plead sufficient factual matter to state a claim for relief that is "plausible on its face." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 578 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). To meet the plausibility standard, the plaintiff must put forth enough "facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence" supporting the plaintiff's allegations. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). A 12(b)(6) motion does not evaluate "whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail" but instead whether the plaintiff is entitled to present evidence in support of the claims. AnchorBank, FSB v. Hofer, 649 F.3d 610, 614 (7th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation and citation omitted).


Title VII prohibits employer retaliation against an employee who opposes unlawful employment discrimination. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3. Thus, to state a claim for retaliatory discharge in violation of Title VII, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) he engaged in protected activity under Title VII; (2) that his employer took adverse employment action against him; and (3) a causal connection exists between the protected activity and the adverse employment action. See Harper v. C.R. England, Inc., 687 F.3d 297, 307 (7th Cir. 2012); see also Vega v. Chicago Park Dist., No. 13-CV-45, ___ F.Supp.2d ___, 2013 WL 3866514, at *8 (N.D. Ill. July 25, 2013).

In his Amended Complaint, Jones asserts that he was discharged in retaliation for reporting sexually offensive conduct in the workplace, in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3. Barton moves to dismiss the Amended Complaint on the basis that Jones has not alleged that Barton took an adverse action against him. Ryder moves to dismiss on the basis that Jones has not alleged any facts that he engaged in activity protected by Title VII.

Barton's Motion to Dismiss

"A materially adverse employment action is something more disruptive than a mere inconvenience or an alteration of job responsibilities.'" Rhodes v. Illinois Dept. of Trans., 359 F.3d 498, 504 (7th Cir. 2004) (quoting Crady v. Liberty Nat'l Bank & Trust Co. of Ind., 993 F.2d 132, 136 (7th Cir. 1993)); see also O'Neal v. City of Chicago, 392 F.3d 909, 911 (7th Cir. 2004) ("While adverse employment actions extend beyond readily quantifiable losses, not everything that makes an employee unhappy is an actionable adverse action."). Reading the allegations in the light most favorable to him, Jones has failed to allege that Barton took an adverse employment action against him. According to the Amended Complaint, Ryder instructed Barton to terminate ...

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