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Jones v. Chicago Board of Education

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

November 10, 2014

ALITA JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
CHICAGO BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

CHARLES P. KOCORAS, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the motion of Defendant Chicago Board of Education (the "Board") to dismiss the amended complaint brought by Plaintiff Alita Jones ("Jones") pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedures 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the Board's motion to dismiss is granted.

BACKGROUND

I. Facts

For the purposes of the instant motion, the following well-pleaded allegations derived from Jones's amended complaint are accepted as true. The Court draws all reasonable inferences in favor of Jones. Jones was hired by the Board in October 1982 as a substitute teacher. After eight years of substitute teaching, Jones became a full-time physical education instructor at Sullivan Elementary School. On June 4, 1997, Jones was assaulted and injured at work by a special education student who pushed her down the stairs.

Jones did not return to work and was paid one full year of her salary plus benefits pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement between her teacher's union and the Board. Beginning in October 1998, she was provided worker's compensation benefits. Jones was told by the Board that she could not return to work unless she had a full duty release by her doctor. According to Jones's physician, her disability became permanent on March 21, 2007. However, the Board sent Jones a letter on September 14, 2009 stating that she had been released to return to work by her treating physician. Jones then sent the Board statements from three of her treating physicians stating that she had not been released to return to work. In July 2010, without notice, her worker's compensation benefits were terminated. She has yet to return to work since the 1997 incident.

II. Procedural History

This is not Jones's first lawsuit against the Board. On April 10, 2013, this Court dismissed Jones's amended complaint in her first lawsuit with prejudice. See Jones v. Chicago Bd. of Educ., 11 C 8326, 2013 WL 1499001 (N.D. Ill. April 10, 2013) (" Jones I "). In the Court's opinion, we ruled that Jones's ADA and ADEA discrimination claims for conduct occurring prior to November 26, 2010 were time barred. This included claims arising from the termination of Jones's assault pay in October 1998 and the termination of all payments and benefits in July 2010. She did not appeal the decision. In response to the previous motion to dismiss filed in Jones I, Jones asserted two additional adverse employment actions, including allegations that the Board denied her the ability to enroll in healthcare benefits in December 2010 and that the Board misrepresented her salary in a worker's compensation action in August 2011. Jones argued that these additional actions fell within the 300-day filing requirement and demonstrated continuing discriminatory conduct to which her untimely claims attached. These issues were addressed in the Jones I opinion, where this Court found that these two actions were "separate discrete acts that each trigger the 300-day filing requirements." Jones I, 2013 WL 1499001 at *3. Also, because these two claims had not been pled, Jones could not "implicitly amend her complaint" and could not "submit the new allegations to serve as the last act of discrimination for the purposes of determining when the 300-day filing requirement expires." Jones I, 2013 WL 1499001 at *2.

On February 12, 2013, before the Court issued the opinion in Jones I, Jones filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), alleging retaliation and age and disability discrimination. On March 28, 2013, Jones received another Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC. On June 28, 2013, Jones filed her complaint pro se in the instant matter, Jones v. Board of Education, No. 13 C 4732 (" Jones II "). On January 9, 2014, Jones filed a three-count amended complaint alleging: (i) age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination and Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C § 621 et seq. (Count I); (ii) disability[1] discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination and Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (Count II); and (iii) retaliation in violation of the ADEA and Title VII, 28 U.S.C. §2000(e) et seq. (Count III). Jones ask this Court to enter judgment against the Board, including back wages, lost wages, reimbursement for medical expenses, an order directing the Board to continue her permanently disability with full benefits, attorney fees, costs, punitive damages in the amount of $3, 200, 000.00, and any other appropriate relief. On May 27, 2014, the Board moved to dismiss the amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

Comparing the amended complaint from Jones I to the amended complaint in Jones II, Jones asserts several new allegations ("the New Allegations"). They include: (i) the applicability of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(3)(A) ("Lilly Ledbetter Act"); (ii) the Board's intentional and willful misrepresentation of her medical eligibility when they sent her a letter stating her doctor released Jones to return to work in September 2009; (iii) an act of retaliation by the Board after she brought a charge to the Education Labor Relation Board ("Labor Board") in July 2012 and the Department of Labor in November 2012; (iv) her attempts in July 2013 to obtain documentation from the Illinois Attorney General's Office pertaining to this incorrect work release; and (v) her January 5, 2013 inquiry to the Board about her "lane and steps" after it made a clerical error as to Jones's years of service.

LEGAL STANDARD

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint and not the merits of the case. McReynolds v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., 694 F.3d 873, 878 (7th Cir. 2012). The allegations in a complaint must set forth a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A plaintiff need not provide detailed factual allegations but must provide enough factual support to raise her right to relief above a speculative level. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A claim must be facially plausible, meaning that the pleadings must allow the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the purported misconduct. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The claims must be described "in sufficient detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." EEOC v. Concentra Health Services, 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, " are insufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Id. at 678. Pro se complaints should be construed liberally and held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1027 (7th Cir. 2013).

DISCUSSION

I. Grounds for ...


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