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Ocampo v. Remedial Environmental Manpower, Inc.

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

June 26, 2014

KARINA OCAMPO, Plaintiff,
v.
REMEDIAL ENVIRONMENTAL MANPOWER, INC. and FERRARA PAN CANDY COMPANY, INC., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ANDREA R. WOOD, District Judge.

Plaintiff Karina Ocampo brought this action against Defendants Remedial Environmental Manpower ("REM") and Ferrara Pan Candy Company, Inc. ("Ferrara"), alleging discrimination and retaliatory termination of her employment based on her sex and sexual orientation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), and Section 6-101 of the Illinois Human Rights Act, as amended, 775 ILCS § 5/6-101 ("IHRA"). Defendants subsequently filed a motion to dismiss Ocampo's Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim ("Motion to Dismiss") (Dkt. No. 13). For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies Defendants' Motion to Dismiss as to Counts I and III, which set forth Ocampo's claims under Title VII, but grants the Motion to Dismiss as to Counts II and IV, which contain her IHRA claims.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from the Complaint and attached exhibits.[1] Ocampo began her employment with REM, a staffing firm, in January 2009. (Compl. Ex. 1, at 5, Dkt. No. 1.) Most recently, she held the position of Assistant Supervisor, working primarily at Ferrara's facility in Forest Park, Illinois. (Compl. ¶¶ 15-16.) Her job performance at all times met or exceeded Defendants' legitimate expectations. ( Id. ¶ 17.) Beginning on or about March 15, 2011 and continuing until her employment was terminated by Defendants on February 16, 2012, Ocampo was harassed at work based on her sex and sexual orientation by a male machine operator and a male sanitation manager. ( Id. ¶ 18.) Ocampo identifies Juan Lopez and Luis Navarro as the two individuals that harassed her. (Compl. Ex. 1, at 10.) Among other things, these individuals inappropriately touched Ocampo's leg and asked her to kiss another female coworker. ( Id. )

Ocampo reported the harassment to her superiors, but they failed to take any reasonable action to address the harassment or to stop it from recurring. (Compl. ¶¶ 19-20.) Ocampo identifies Supervisor Michael Camarena, REM Manager Brian Reynolds, and Human Resources Representative Angie Castejon as the individuals to whom she reported the harassment, and alleges that they failed to investigate the situation or take any steps to address it. (Compl. Ex. 1, at 5-6.) Ocampo's employment was terminated on February 16, 2012 with no reason provided. (Compl. ¶ 21.) Defendants have treated similarly-situated male, heterosexual, and non-complaining employees more favorably than her. (Compl. ¶¶ 25, 31, 39, 47.) Specifically, male Assistant Supervisors with similar levels of seniority, work experience and discipline as Ocampo have not been discharged. (Compl. Ex. 1, at 11.)

On or about February 28, 2012, Ocampo filed a charge of harassment and discrimination against REM with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). (Compl. ¶ 5.) The charge was simultaneously cross-filed with the local district office of the EEOC. ( Id. ) Ocampo then filed a charge of retaliation against REM with the IDHR on or about June 6, 2012, and that charge was also simultaneously cross-filed with the EEOC. ( Id. ¶ 6.) On or about that same date, Ocampo filed a charge of discrimination and retaliation against Ferrara, and that charge was also cross-filed with the EEOC. ( Id. ¶ 7.) Ocampo subsequently "transferred" her IDHR charges to the EEOC, and the EEOC issued Notices of Right to Sue on June 4, 2013. ( Id. ¶¶ 8-9.)

DISCUSSION

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Pleading facts merely consistent with a defendant's liability and pleading legal conclusions disguised as factual allegations are, by themselves, insufficient. Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). This pleading standard does not necessarily require a complaint to contain detailed factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Rather, "[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." Adams v. City of Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 728 (7th Cir. 2014) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).

When presented with a motion to dismiss, the Court may "take judicial notice of matters of public record." Henson v. CSC Credit Servs., 29 F.3d 280, 284 (7th Cir. 1994). The Court may also consider as part of the pleadings documents attached to a motion to dismiss "if they are referred to in the plaintiff's complaint and are central to h[er] claim." Adams, 742 F.3d at 729; see also 188 LLC v. Trinity Indus., Inc., 300 F.3d 730, 735 (7th Cir. 2002); Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c) ("A copy of a written instrument that is an exhibit to a pleading is a part of the pleading for all purposes."). Considering such materials does not convert a motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Menominee Indian Tribe of Wis. v. Thompson, 161 F.3d 449, 456 (7th Cir. 1998). Accordingly, in this case, the Court finds it appropriate to consider Ocampo's IDHR and EEOC charges, as well as the Voluntary Withdrawal Request Form and Order of Closure relating to Ocampo's IHDR charge that are attached to Defendants' motion to dismiss.

I. Title VII Claims (Counts I and III)

The Court first considers Ocampo's claims under Title VII. Count I of the Complaint asserts a claim for sex discrimination under Title VII, while Count III asserts a claim for retaliation under that statute. Defendants argue that these claims should be dismissed because Ocampo relies upon broad-based, unsupported conclusions about discrimination and retaliation. With respect to the sex discrimination claim, in particular, Defendants assert that the Complaint consists of only a "bare-bones recitation of the legal elements of a Title VII sex discrimination claim... devoid of any factual allegations...." (Def. Mot. to Dismiss at 4, Dkt. No. 13.)[2]

Even after the Supreme Court's decisions in Twombly and Iqbal, however, "a complaint alleging sex discrimination need only aver that the employer instituted a (specified) adverse employment action against the plaintiff on the basis of her sex." Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1028 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoting Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1084 (7th Cir. 2008)). "In these types of cases, the complaint merely needs to give the defendant sufficient notice to enable him to begin to investigate and prepare a defense." Id. Here, Ocampo alleges that she was terminated because of her sex in violation of Title VII and that similarly-situated, male employees were treated more favorably. She identifies the time period and location of the alleged discriminatory behavior, the identity of the alleged perpetrators, and a description of the adverse employment actions that she suffered. At this early stage in the litigation, Ocampo need not allege more. See Tamayo, 526 F.3d at 1085 (Title VII claim was sufficiently plead where plaintiff alleged that "she has been subjected to adverse employment actions by Defendants on account of her gender, " listed specific adverse employment actions, and she stated that defendants treated her "differently than similarly situated male employees and exhibited discriminatory treatment against [her] in the terms and conditions of her employment on account of [her] gender").

Ocampo can state a sufficient retaliation claim under Title VII by alleging "that she engaged in statutorily protected activity and was subjected to adverse employment action as a result of that activity, though she need not use those terms, of course." Luevano, 722 F.3d at 1029. As with her sex discrimination claim, the Court finds that Ocampo has provided sufficient detail in the Complaint and attached exhibits for her retaliation claim under Title VII to survive a motion to dismiss. Ocampo alleges that on or about March 15, 2011, and continuing at various times until the termination of her employment, she was sexually harassed by a male machine operator and a male sanitation manager. (Compl. ¶ 18.) Ocampo further alleges that she reported the harassment to her superiors. ( Id. at ¶ 19.) She also attached to the Complaint the Charge of Discrimination filed with the IDHR and the EEOC, which provides further detail: it states that Juan Lopez, a Machine Operator, inappropriately touched Ocampo's leg, and that Ocampo reported his behavior to Brian Reynolds and Michael Camarena, a Manager and a Supervisor, respectively. (Compl. Ex. 1, at 10.) Ocampo also states that she was sexually harassed by Luis Navarro, a Sanitation Manager, and reported his behavior to Reynolds and Angie Castejon, a Human Resources Representative. ( Id. ) The Complaint states that Defendants did not take any reasonable action to address the harassment or stop it from recurring, and that Ocampo was terminated for no stated reason. (Compl. ¶¶ 20-21.) Ocampo also alleges that similarly-situated male employees have been treated more favorably by Defendants. ( Id. at ¶ 25.)

These allegations are sufficiently detailed to survive a motion to dismiss. As the Seventh Circuit stated in Swanson v. Citibank, 614 F.3d 400, ...


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