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Rainey v. Lipari Foods, Inc.

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

August 20, 2014

EDDIE L. RAINEY Plaintiff,
v.
LIPARI FOODS, INC. et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on Defendants' motion to dismiss. For the reasons stated below, the motion to dismiss is granted.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Eddie L. Rainey (Rainey) alleges that on May 9, 2009, he sought employment as a driver at Defendant Lipari Foods, Inc. (LFI) at a one-day open house (Open House). Rainey contends that he passed the driver's proficiency test and met all the state requirements. Rainey indicates that he believes that Defendants discriminated against him because of his age and race because LFI chose to hire two Hispanic men and two Caucasian men (collectively referred to as "Chosen Candidates") who were younger than Rainey. (CA Compl. 2). Rainey also contends that he inquired about why he was not hired and received what he perceived to be a threatening letter (Letter). More than three years later, Rainey decided to bring the instant action.

Rainey brought the instant action against LFI and Defendant Thom Lipari (Lipari), who is allegedly the President and CEO of LFI. Rainey includes in his pro se corrected amended complaint claims alleging race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., claims alleging race discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Section 1981), and claims alleging age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. Defendants now move to dismiss all claims.

LEGAL STANDARD

In ruling on a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Rule 12(b)(6)), the court must draw all reasonable inferences that favor the plaintiff, construe the allegations of the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and accept as true all well-pleaded facts and allegations in the complaint. Appert v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Inc., 673 F.3d 609, 622 (7th Cir. 2012); Thompson v. Ill. Dep't of Prof'l Regulation, 300 F.3d 750, 753 (7th Cir. 2002). A plaintiff is required to include allegations in the complaint that "plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a speculative level'" and "if they do not, the plaintiff pleads itself out of court." E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Services, Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007)(quoting in part Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007)); see also Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Inc., 673 F.3d at 622 (stating that "[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, " and that "[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")(quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009))(internal quotations omitted).

DISCUSSION

I. Claims Brought Against Lipari

Defendants argue that Rainey has failed to allege facts that would suggest that Lipari could be individually liable.

A. Title VII and ADEA Claims Brought Against Lipari

Defendants argue that Lipari is not subject to individual liability under Title VII or the ADEA. Title VII provides a remedy "only against the employer as an entity rather than against individual people who are agents of the employer." Smith v. Bray, 681 F.3d 888, 896 n.2 (7th Cir. 2012); Williams v. Banning, 72 F.3d 552, 553 (7th Cir. 1995)(indicating that there is no individual liability under Title VII). The ADEA has also been deemed to provide a remedy only against an employer, and not against individuals acting on behalf of the employer. Horwitz v. Board of Educ. of Avoca School Dist. No. 37, 260 F.3d 602, 610 n.2 (7th Cir. 2001)(stating that the Court has "suggested that there is no individual liability under the ADEA"); Thelen v. Marc's Big Boy Corp., 64 F.3d 264, 267 n.2 (7th Cir. 1995)(indicating that there is no individual liability under the ADEA). Rainey alleges that LPI is incorporated and that Lipari serves as the President and CEO of LPI. (CA Comp. 1). Rainey does not allege that Lipari is his employer. Rainey has thus failed to allege facts to suggest personal liability by Lipari under Title VII or the ADEA, and the motion to dismiss the Title VII and the ADEA claims brought against Lipari is granted.

B. Section 1981 Claim

Defendants argue that Rainey has not alleged facts that suggest that Lipari is individually liable under Section 1981. Individuals may be liable under Section 1981 for discrimination. Smith, 681 F.3d at 896 n.2. However, an individual can only be held liable in the employment discrimination context if the individual had some personal involvement in the discrimination. Sims v. Trinity Services, Inc., 2013 WL 3270665, at *3 (N.D. Ill. 2013). In the instant action, Rainey alleges nothing more than that Lipari is the President and CEO of LPI. (CA Compl. 1). Rainey does not allege that Lipari was involved in any way in the decision to hire other drivers instead of Rainey. Rainey does not allege that Lipari had ever met Rainey or was aware of any of Rainey's protected characteristics. It is not plausible to suggest that the President and CEO would have taken an active part in ...


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