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Berryhill v. Illinois State Toll Highway Authority

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

November 5, 2013

RONALD BERRYHILL, Plaintiff,
v.
ILLINOIS STATE TOLL HIGHWAY AUTHORITY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

MARVIN E. ASPEN, District Judge.

Pro se plaintiff Ronald Berryhill filed a two-count amended complaint against the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority ("the Tollway"). He alleges employment discrimination on the basis of both race and disability, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), respectively. Presently before us is the Tollway's motion to dismiss, filed pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. As set forth below, we grant the motion under Rule 12(b)(6).

BACKGROUND

For the purposes of this motion, we draw all facts from the amended complaint and its supporting exhibits. Thompson v. Ill. Dep't of Prof'l Regulation, 300 F.3d 750, 753 (7th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted).

Berryhill began working at the Tollway on May 6, 1995. (Am. Compl. IDHR Ex. at 1.) Berryhill claims he was initially injured while working in 2003. (Am. Compl. at 1.) After his injury, Berryhill states the Tollway's director transferred him to light duty assignments. ( Id. ) Berryhill alleges his injury worsened, and in 2004 the Tollway's director sent him home from work with instructions not to return until told to do so by the director. ( Id. ) According to Berryhill, he first discovered the Tollway had fired him in October 2012 through a conversation with a worker's compensation attorney. ( Id. at 2.)

Berryhill claims that the Tollway violated Title VII when it discharged him on October 15, 2012, on the basis of his race. (Am. Compl. IDHR Ex. at 1.) Additionally, Berryhill claims his discharge was based on his disability-namely his back injury-in violation of the ADA. ( Id. at 2.)[1]

Berryhill filed both charges of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") on December 13, 2012. ( Id. at 1-3.) In his IDHR filings, Berryhill indicated he wished the charges to be cross-filed with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). ( Id. at 1.) Berryhill seeks lost wages and back pay, and that the Tollway rehire him, with reasonable accommodations for his disabilities. (Compl. ΒΆ 16.)

The Tollway has moved to dismiss the amended complaint under Rules 12(b)(6) and 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Tollway advances two procedural arguments. First, the Tollway contends that the claims are time-barred because Berryhill failed to file a charge with the EEOC within 300 days of the date of discriminatory action. (Mem. at 3.) Second, the Tollway asserts the claim is flawed because Berryhill did not include a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC, a prerequisite to a federal lawsuit under Title VII. ( Id. at 2.)

STANDARD OF REVIEW

A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is meant to test the sufficiency of the complaint, not to decide the merits of the case. Gibson v. City of Chi., 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). In evaluating a motion to dismiss, we must accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Cole v. Milwaukee Area Tech. Coll. Dist., 634 F.3d 901, 903 (7th Cir. 2011); Thompson, 300 F.3d at 753. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint must include a short and plain statement of the claim, showing the pleader is entitled to relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Accordingly, a court may grant a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) only if a complaint lacks "enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949-50 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007)); Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 404 (7th Cir. 2010). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.

Although a facially plausible claim need not give "detailed factual allegations, " it must allege facts sufficient "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1964-65. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. "These requirements ensure that the defendant receives fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. at 1964.

A pro se complaint must be construed liberally, and "held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (citations omitted). However, procedural rules limit the latitude afforded a pro se litigant. See Members v. Paige, 140 F.3d 699, 702 (7th Cir. 1998); Thompson v. Jones, No. 11 C 1288, 2012 WL 3686749, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 24, 2013) ("Although pro se plaintiffs are entitled to lenient standards, compliance with procedural rules is required.").

ANALYSIS

I. Title VII ...


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