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Bonnstetter v. City of Chicago

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

July 24, 2014

MATTHEW BONNSTETTER, PETER SLOWICK, ILIR SHEMITRAKU, PAUL SAUSEDA, DAVID GUTIERREZ, ANDREA BUTTITA, and TAREQ KHAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, a Municipal Corporation, and CAPFS/LEPS JOINT VENTURE, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

VIRGINIA M. KENDALL, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Matthew Bonnstetter, Alexander Muniz, and Peter Slowik filed a putative class action in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois on June 3, 2013. The Complaint alleged violations of the 2011 City of Chicago Hiring Plan approved in Shakman et al. v. Democratic Organization of Cook County et al . (Case No. 69 C 2145, Dkt. No. 2284 (approving Dkt. No. 2279, a motion to approve and substitute the previous hiring plan)), which the most recent Shakman Settlement Order and Accord (" Shakman Accord") incorporates by reference. (Dkt. No. 30-1 at 9 ("The New Plan shall be fully incorporated by reference into the Accord."); see also Case No. 69 C 2145, Dkt. Nos. 642, 2284 (orders adopting the Shakman Accord and the 2011 City of Chicago Hiring Plan).) The Complaint also alleged equal protection violations under the Illinois Constitution. The Defendant, the City of Chicago, removed this action to federal court on July 3, 2013 (Dkt. No. 1), and subsequently moved to dismiss the Plaintiffs' complaint (Dkt. No. 8).

The Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint on October 14, 2013. The First Amended Complaint did not include Muniz as a plaintiff. It, however, did add Ilir Shemitraku, Paul Sauseda, David Gutierrez, Andrea Buttita, and Tareq Khan as plaintiffs. The First Amended Complaint also added two claims, conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3), and one defendant, CAPFS/LEPS Joint Venture. The Defendants now move to dismiss the First Amended Complaint. (Dkt. No. 44; Dkt. No. 65.) For the reasons stated herein, this Court grants the Defendants' motions.

BACKGROUND

For purposes of this motion, this Court takes all well-pleaded allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences based on those allegations in the plaintiff's favor. Golden v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., 745 F.3d 252, 255 (7th Cir. 2014).

The Chicago Police Department is responsible for hiring Chicago police officers. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 16.) The Chicago Police Department published a job announcement in October 2010 seeking applicants for the position of Chicago police officer. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 19.) According to the job announcement, the hiring process included a written examination, a background investigation, a medical examination, a psychological test, a drug screening, a physical fitness test, and other pre-employment procedures. (Dkt. No. 30-3.) Each Plaintiff took the 2010 Police Officer examination and received a lottery number randomly assigned to candidates. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶¶ 39, 47, 61, 74, 81, 87, 93.)

In July 2012, Plaintiff Bonnstetter participated in a psychological interview at the Center for Applied Psychology and Forensic Studies ("CAPFS"). (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 40.) According to Bonnstetter, his interviewers did not ask him anything of substance. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 42-43.) Although allegedly told by his interviewers that he had nothing to worry about (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 43), Bonnstetter learned that he failed the psychological assessment. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 44-45.)

Plaintiff Slowik also participated in a psychological interview at CAPFS, which took place in November 2012. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 53.) According to Slowik, his interviewer did not ask him anything of substance either. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 52.) His interviewer did ask him about his experience in the United States Marine Corps and his views on war. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 55.) Although he left the interview under the impression that he was a perfect candidate (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 56), Slowik learned in February 2013 that he failed the psychological assessment (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶¶ 57-59).

Plaintiff Shemitraku reported for a polygraph test related to his application to be a Chicago police officer in July 2012. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 62.) A police detective conducting the polygraph test asked Shemitraku about his religion, national origin, and citizenship. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶¶ 63-64.) The police detective accused Shemitraku of hiding something during the polygraph test despite Shemitraku's assertions that he answered the police detective's questions honestly. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶¶ 65-67.) Shemitraku was removed from consideration for employment as a Chicago police officer for failure to cooperate during the polygraph test. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 68.)

Plaintiff Sauseda turned forty years old on June 15, 2012. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 75.) As a result, the Chicago police department removed him from consideration for employment as a Chicago police officer because he no longer met the age requirements of the 2011 City of Chicago Hiring Plan. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 76.) Sauseda knew of others behind him in the queue who had been processed and placed in the police academy (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 77) and suggests that the City intentionally delayed his application so that he would no longer meet the age requirement (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 29).

Plaintiff Gutierrez, a veteran who served in the United States Marine Corps, participated in a psychological interview conducted by CAPFS. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 83.) His interviewer asked him about gangs and any affiliations Gutierrez had with gangs. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 83-84.) There is no indication that his interviewer asked him about his veteran status. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶¶ 81-86.) In December 2012, Gutierrez learned that he failed the psychological assessment. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 85.)

Plaintiff Buttita has enough college credits to qualify under the 2011 City of Chicago Hiring Plan. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 88.) She provided her transcripts to the Chicago Police Department, which confirmed they had received Buttita's transcripts. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶¶ 89-90.) Yet Buttita received a letter notifying her that she failed to meet the education requirement and that she had been removed from consideration for employment as a Chicago police officer. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 91.)

Plaintiff Khan reported for a polygraph test in November 2011. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 94.) Khan cooperated with his examiner, who asked about Khan's use of valium following surgery and his upcoming arranged marriage in India. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶¶ 96-98.) The examiner accused Khan of manipulating the polygraph test and told him that he would have to submit to another test. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶¶ 99-100.) Instead of receiving notice of a re-test, Khan received a letter indicating that he had been removed from consideration for employment as a Chicago police officer. (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 101.)

Each Plaintiff alleges that the City did not provide a transparent hiring process capable of review, (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 24), and used that lack of transparency not only to manipulate the hiring process but also to violate the Shakman Accord and the 2011 City of Chicago Hiring Plan (Dkt. No. 30 at ¶ 25). The Plaintiffs seek to represent all candidates removed from consideration ...


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