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Nowaczyk v. Joliet Catholic Academy

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

July 23, 2014

DIANE NOWACZYK, Plaintiff,
v.
JOLIET CATHOLIC ACADEMY, JEFFREY BUDZ, CONGREGATION OF THE THIRD ORDER OF ST. FRANCIS OF MARY IMMACULATE, SOCIETY OF MT. CARMEL OF ILLINOIS, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

RONALD A. GUZMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff sues Congregation of the Third Order of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate ("St. Francis"), Society of Mt. Carmel of Illinois ("Mt. Carmel"), Joliet Catholic Academy ("JCA") and Jeffrey Budz for their alleged violations of Title VII and the Illinois Whistleblower Act and for breach of contract/promissory estoppel. Defendants have filed a motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6) to dismiss some or all of the claims asserted against them. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies in part the motion.

Facts

JCA is operated by its board members, St. Francis and Mt. Carmel. (Compl. ¶¶ 4, 6-8.) Jeffrey Budz is JCA's principal, and was plaintiff's supervisor throughout her tenure with the school. ( Id. ¶ 5.)

On July 13, 2011, defendants agreed to employ plaintiff as a JCA administrator from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. ( Id. ¶ 13.) On March 20, 2012, defendants asked plaintiff if she intended to return for the 2012-13 school year, and if so, told her she would receive a letter of intent and contract in May. ( Id. ¶¶ 14-15.) Plaintiff said she wanted to return, but she did not receive a letter of intent or contract in May. ( Id. ¶ 14.) Rather, in April and May, Budz spoke to her about JCA's intent to employ her for the next year, and she received the contract in June. ( Id. ¶¶ 15, 17.)

In April 2012, plaintiff complained to Budz that a subordinate male employee was making inappropriate comments about women. ( Id. ¶ 16.) Budz did not tell plaintiff whether he talked to the employee about his language. ( Id. ) However, shortly after plaintiff complained to Budz, the employee told plaintiff "he did not have to listen to her regarding a performance issue because he was working it out with... Budz." ( Id. )

In August 2012, plaintiff reported to Budz that two male employees whom she supervised refused to take direction from her. ( Id. ¶¶ 18-19.) Instead of speaking to the employees, Budz told plaintiff that she "needed to soften her management style." ( Id. ¶ 19.)

Throughout August and September 2012, Budz regularly met and socialized with male employees, but not plaintiff. ( Id. ¶ 20.)

In September 2012, plaintiff told a member of JCA's board, Father Bob Colaresi, that Budz was undermining her authority because of her gender. ( Id. ¶ 21.) Colaresi spoke to Budz about his behavior, but it did not improve. ( Id. ¶ 22.) In fact, for the rest of 2012 and 2013, Budz systematically excluded plaintiff from key meetings, decision making processes and strategic planning sessions. ( Id. ¶¶ 23-25.)

In December 2102, plaintiff discovered that a male subordinate was improperly signing IRS forms that are required to document charitable contributions. ( Id. ¶¶ 28-29.) When she told Budz about the situation, he said she was "overreacting, " the subordinate was a "good guy, " and he was sure the subordinate "meant no harm." ( Id. ¶ 30.)

In March 2013, defendants asked plaintiff if she intended to return for the following school year. ( Id. ¶ 31.) She said yes, and defendants told her she would receive a letter of intent in April, and a contract in May. ( Id. ¶ 32.) The documents did not arrive when promised, but in April and May, Budz spoke to her about JCA's intent to employ her for the next school year. ( Id. ¶¶ 33-34.)

On June 25, 2013, during a performance review at which Budz was present, plaintiff placed on probation the employee who had improperly signed the IRS donation forms. ( Id. ¶ 35.) Upon hearing the news, the employee stormed out of the room, and Budz told plaintiff that the IRS issue was "a done deal" and he did not want to hear any more about it. ( Id. ¶ 36.)

On June 26, 2013, Budz told plaintiff her contract would not be renewed, and refused to tell her why. ( Id. ¶ 37.) All of plaintiff's male ...


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