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Fuesting v. Uline, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 21, 2014

ALLEN FUESTING, JONATHAN SAVAGE, JOSHUA GEHRIG and LAURIE GARZA, Plaintiffs,
v.
ULINE, INC., a Delaware Corporation, Defendant

For Allen Fuesting, Jonathan Savage, Joshua Gehrig, Laurie Garza, Plaintiffs: Bradley J. Smith, Eugene K. Hollander, The Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander, Chicago, IL; Paul W. Ryan, Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander, Chicago, IL.

For Uline, Inc., a Delaware corporation, Defendant: Bennett L. Epstein, LEAD ATTORNEY, Christopher G. Ward, Foley & Lardner, Chicago, IL; John Louis Litchfield, Foley & Lardner Llp, Chicago, IL.

Page 740

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Robert W. Gettleman, United States District Judge.

Plaintiffs Allen Fuesting, Jonathan Savage, Joshua Gehrig, and Laurie Garza have sued defendant Uline, Inc., alleging on sexual harassment, a hostile work environment, and retaliation in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq.; violations of the Illinois Gender Violence Act (" IGVA" ), 740 ILCS 82/1, et seq.; and state law claims for negligent hiring, supervision,

Page 741

and retention. Defendants have moved pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) to dismiss Counts III, IV, VII, VIII, X, XI, XIII, and XIV for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. These eight counts involve all claims under the IGVA and the state law claims for negligent hiring, supervision, and retention. For the reasons stated below, defendant's motion to dismiss is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND[1]

Plaintiffs are all former employees of defendant. Defendant is a corporation that manufactures and distributes office supplies nationwide. Defendant also employed Scott Zingsheim, a Warehouse Manager, and Jim Small, a Warehouse Department Manager.

The complaint alleges that both Zingsheim and Small sexually harassed plaintiffs by repeatedly groping and improperly touching them. Zingsheim engaged in additional acts of harassment, which include: thrusting his groin and a radio antennae into Fuesting's and Savage's buttocks, respectively; placing his genital area against Gehrig's and Garza's buttocks and simulating a sexual movement; and lifting Garza's shirt.

Each plaintiff made clear to Zingsheim and Small that this behavior was unwelcome. Each plaintiff complained to members of management, including, in at least one instance, Dick Uihlein, the CEO. Each plaintiff also emailed complaints to various members of management. On March 19, 2012, Savage emailed Connie Voeller, a Human Resources Representative. A few weeks later, Garza emailed Danielle Gough, the Human Resources Director. Three days after that, Fuesting emailed Voeller. Eight days later, Gehrig emailed Voeller, Gough, and Brad Harper, a Branch Manager. After these complaints, defendant allegedly took no corrective actions.

Plaintiffs allege that Zingsheim also sexually harassed at least one other employee who notified defendant. In early 2009, Jonathan Marsden, an " Assistant UPS Manager" for defendant, complained to his superiors about Zingsheim's behavior. On April 25, 2012, Marsden also emailed a complaint to defendant's Human Resources Department and Branch Manager. Marsden is not a plaintiff in the instant case.

Defendant terminated both Fuesting and Savage about a month after they complained to Voeller. Gehrig was constructively discharged ...


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