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Martin v. F.E. Moran Inc.

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

October 24, 2014

KENNETH MARTIN, AARON TRUESDELL, and JOHNNY TEJADA, Plaintiffs,
v.
F.E. MORAN INC., FIRE PROTECTION OF NORTHERN ILLINOIS, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

VIRGINIA M. KENDALL, District Judge.

The Plaintiffs filed a four-count First Amended Complaint against F.E. Moran Inc., Fire Protection of Northern Illinois on November 12, 2013. The First Amended Complaint alleges that F.E. Moran discriminated against the Plaintiffs, each of whom worked for F.E. Moran as journeyman sprinkler fitters until F.E. Moran laid them off and did not transfer or recall them. Plaintiffs Kenneth Martin and Aaron Truesdell each allege one violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and one violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiff Johnny Tejada alleges two violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and two violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

F.E. Moran moves to dismiss all but Truesdell's layoff-based Title VII claim. (Dkt. No. 24.) In employment discrimination cases, a complaint need only provide the defendant with sufficient notice to begin to investigate and prepare a defense. See Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1084 (7th Cir. 2008) (confirming minimal pleading standard for simple claims of race or sex discrimination). Here, the First Amended Complaint alleges that F.E. Moran not only laid off each Plaintiff because of race but also did not transfer or recall each Plaintiff because of race. These allegations are sufficient to state claims for employment discrimination. Although there are questions concerning the timing of the filing of the original Complaint, these questions are best answered after a period of discovery.

Alternatively, F.E. Moran moves to sever the Plaintiffs' claims or to bifurcate the Plaintiffs' trials. (Dkt. No. 27.) As alleged, the Plaintiffs' claims arise from the same series of transactions and concern a common question of fact. Therefore, joinder is proper. Further, it is too soon for this Court to determine whether separate trials are necessary. There is no evidence before this Court from which it can determine whether the considerations underlying Fed.R.Civ.P. 42 require separate trials.

For these reasons and for the reasons stated herein, this Court denies F.E. Moran's motions.

FACTS

This Court takes the following well-pleaded allegations from the First Amended Complaint and treats them as true for purposes of F.E. Moran's motion to dismiss.

F.E. Moran is an Illinois corporation headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 7.) F.E. Moran installs, inspects, tests, and maintains fire protection sprinkler systems in commercial and residential facilities. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 8.) F.E. Moran employed the Plaintiffs as sprinkler fitters. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 9) until it laid each of them off. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 11.) F.E. Moran did not transfer any of the Plaintiffs to another job site or recall any of the Plaintiffs even though each Plaintiff expressed an interest in and availability for a new assignment at F.E. Moran's existing job sites. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 11.) F.E. Moran did transfer white sprinkler fitters to other job sites and did recall white sprinkler fitters. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶¶ 12-13.)

Martin, an African-American, worked for F.E. Moran from 2005 to 2009. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶¶ 4, 14.) Martin is a journeyman sprinkler fitter and has been a member of Sprinkler Fitters Local 281 since 1991. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 4.) He performed well as a sprinkler fitter and foreman for F.E. Moran. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 9.) F.E. Moran laid Martin off for lack of work around August 10, 2009. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 14.) Although he asked his supervisor at F.E. Moran to transfer him to another job, Martin did not receive any more work from F.E. Moran. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶¶ 16-17.) Martin went to work for another company in January 2010, which F.E. Moran took over in June 2010. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶¶ 17-18.) In August 2010, F.E. Moran again laid Martin off. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 19.) Martin told his supervisor at F.E. Moran about his interest in and availability for another job, but F.E. Moran did not transfer or recall him. (Dkt. No. ¶¶ 20-21.)

Martin tried to file a charge against F.E. Moran with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on March 28, 2011, but was told by an EEOC employee that he could not do so. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 22.) Martin tried again on April 15, 2011, but an EEOC employee again discouraged Martin from filing a charge. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 23.) Martin finally filed a charge with the EEOC on July 11, 2011. Plaintiff received his right to sue letter after February 10, 2013.

Truesdell, an African-American, worked for F.E. Moran from 2006 to 2010. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶¶ 5, 26, 34.) Truesdell is a journeyman sprinkler fitter and has been a member of Sprinkler Fitters Local 281 since 1989. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 5.) Truesdell performed his duties as a sprinkler fitter well for F.E. Moran (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 9) and had been singled out for his outstanding performance (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 28). F.E. Moran laid Truesdell off in 2009 but transferred three white sprinkler fitters who worked with Truesdell to other jobs. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 30.) F.E. Moran recalled Truesdell in early 2010 to work as the foreman on a job at a school in a minority neighborhood on Chicago's south side. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 32.) Later that year, F.E. Moran transferred Truesdell to a job in Matteson, a predominantly black suburb, and then to another job in a predominantly black neighborhood on Chicago's west side. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 33.) When that job neared its end, F.E. Moran laid Truesdell off for lack of work. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 34.) Truesdell told his supervisor at F.E. Moran about his interest in and availability for another job but F.E. Moran did not transfer or recall him. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶¶ 35-36.) F.E. Moran did, however, transfer and recall white sprinkler fitters at this time. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 35.) Truesdell filed a charge with the EEOC on July 6, 2011. Truesdell received a right to sue letter from the EEOC after February 10, 2013.

Tejada, who is black of Panamanian ancestry, became an F.E. Moran employee in June 2010. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶¶ 6, 39.) He worked on a job at a school in a predominantly black neighborhood on Chicago's south side. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 39.) Although he was the only journeyman sprinkler fitter on site for several weeks, he did not receive foreman pay. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 40.) And after F.E. Moran hired a second sprinkler fitter for the job, Tejada did not receive foreman pay even though he acted as the foreman. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 41.) When the job ended, F.E. Moran transferred the second sprinkler fitter, who was white, to another job. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 42.) F.E. Moran laid Tejada off around September 10, 2010. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 42.) Tejada inquired about more work from F.E. Moran but did not receive any. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 43.)

Tejada is a journeyman sprinkler fitter and has been a member of Sprinkler Fitters Local 281 since 2005. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 6.) Tejada performed his duties as a sprinkler fitter well for F.E. Moran. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 9.) He submitted an intake questionnaire to the EEOC on June 30, 2011. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 44.) He subsequently filed a charge with the EEOC on July 14, 2011, which he revised on July 20, 2011. (Dkt. No. 21 at ¶ 45.) ...


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