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Makeda-Phillips v. Illinois Secretary of State

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

February 10, 2014

MARION MAKEDA-PHILLIPS, Plaintiff,
v.
ILLINOIS SECRETARY OF STATE, JESSE WHITE, DENISE WESTNEDGE, and MISTY CASKEY, Defendants.

OPINION

SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss (d/e 22) filed by Defendants Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Denise Westnedge, and Misty Caskey. The Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. Plaintiff Marion Makeda-Phillips has stated a plausible race discrimination claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Westnedge and Caskey. Plaintiff has also stated a plausible § 1983 race discrimination claim against Defendant White in his official capacity for prospective injunctive relief only. In addition, Plaintiff has stated a claim against her employer, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The § 1983 race discrimination claim against Defendant White in his individual capacity is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE and with leave to replead while the claim for damages against Defendant White in his official capacity is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. The claims against Defendants Westnedge and Caskey under the ADA are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. Finally, Plaintiff's state law claims are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE, with leave to replead.

I. BACKGROUND

In November 2012, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint against Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White alleging discrimination on the basis of disability. In September 2013, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint adding Westnedge and Caskey as Defendants but only alleging a racial discrimination and harassment claim.

By way of a Text Order, this Court advised Plaintiff that an amended complaint supersedes the original complaint. See September 20, 2013 Text Order. Therefore, Plaintiff was directed to either file an Amended Complaint containing all of her claims against all of the Defendants or advise the Court that she intended to proceed only on the Amended Complaint. Id.

In September 2013, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint against all of the Defendants alleging race and disability discrimination. See d/e 9. Plaintiff also attached numerous documents to her Second Amended Complaint. Much of the following information is taken from the attachments to the Second Amended Complaint.

In June 1998, Plaintiff was hired into the Office of Secretary of State, Department of Public Information. See d/e 9-4, p. 4. In December 2009, Plaintiff was transferred, at her request, to Administrative Hearings Support Services in Springfield, Illinois. Id . Plaintiff worked as an Operations Associate. See d/e 9-1, p. 7.

Defendant Westnedge was Plaintiff's supervisor. Id. at 5. Defendant Caskey was the acting supervisor when Westnedge was on a leave of absence from June 2010 to November 2010. Id.

Defendants Westnedge and Caskey were unhappy with the speed at which Plaintiff worked, particularly with respect to processing the mail. Plaintiff was suspended at least twice for allegedly failing to complete her job duties. Plaintiff believes that Westnedge and Caskey contributed to Plaintiff's inability to complete certain of her tasks by assigning her other tasks that took her away from her daily duties. See d/e 9-4 p. 1-2.

According to Plaintiff, Westnedge and Caskey treated Plaintiff in this manner because of her race. See d/e 9-4, p. 7. Non-African-American employees were treated differently. See d/e 9-4, p. 7. Plaintiff identifies two non-African-American employees who were not required to process all of the mail, received help with processing the mail, and were not disciplined for failing to process all of the mail each day. See d/e 9-4, p. 7.

Plaintiff also alleges she was discriminated against on the basis of a disability. Plaintiff's doctor diagnosed Plaintiff with acute stress disorder and requested that Plaintiff be transferred to a different department with a different supervisor so that Plaintiff would not have a stroke, heart attack, and/or nervous breakdown. See d/e 9-6, p. 10.

Plaintiff requested accommodations for her alleged disability four times. See Compl. IV., p. 6, ¶ 4 (d/e 9). On March 8, 2011, Plaintiff requested a transfer to a different department. Id . Plaintiff alleges other co-workers received transfers. In September 2012, Plaintiff sought a transfer to an Operations Associate position in Cook County. See d/e 9-6, p. 8. In October 2012, Plaintiff's employer denied her request for a reasonable accommodation in the form of a transfer. See d/e 9-6, p. 10.

In August 2012, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging disability discrimination. See d/e 9-6, p. 3. On September 2, 2012, the EEOC sent Plaintiff a right-to-sue letter. See d/e 9-6, p. 4.

Documents attached to the Second Amended Complaint reflect that Plaintiff was approved for a non-service disability leave on January 3, 2013 with a return-to-work date of May 21, 2013. See d/e 9-6, p. 21. However, Plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis filed in October 2013 reflects that she is currently unemployed. See Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (d/e 15).

In the Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff seeks back pay; an order that the Secretary of State place Plaintiff in a different department; compensatory and punitive damages; an injunction against any further discrimination; an order that the Secretary of State reasonably accommodate Plaintiff by putting her in a better employment opportunity; fees, litigation expenses and costs of the action; and such further relief as may be just and proper. Plaintiff also requests a bench trial.

Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss asserting that Plaintiff failed to state a claim for race and disability discrimination. Defendant White also argues that the racial discrimination claim against him in his official capacity must be dismissed because the Secretary of State's office is not a person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and ...


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