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Behren v. Plainfield Community Consol. Sch. Dist. 202

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

December 2, 2014

DARLENE M. VON BEHREN, Plaintiff,
v.
PLAINFIELD COMMUNITY CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL DISTRICT 202, Defendant

For Darlene M Von Behren, Plaintiff: Matthew J. Piers, LEAD ATTORNEY, Claudia M Flores, Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd., Chicago, IL.

For Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202, Defendant: Shelli Lynn Anderson, LEAD ATTORNEY, Franczek Radelet PC, Chicago, IL; Amy Kosanovich Dickerson, Franczek Radelet, Chicago, IL.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER [1]

SIDNEY I. SCHENKIER, United States Magistrate Judge.

On June 16, 2014, Darlene M. von Behren filed a complaint against Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202, alleging two counts of national origin discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § § 2000e, et seq . (one count based on " discriminatory intent" and one count based on " disparate impact"), and two counts of national origin discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/2-101, et seq . (" IHRA") (essentially identical to the two counts alleged under Title VII) (doc. # 1: Compl. at 7-14). Defendant has moved to dismiss plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on the grounds that plaintiff's claims are untimely and plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim for national origin discrimination under Title VII or the IHRA (doc. # 21: Def.'s Mot to Dismiss at 1).[2] The motion has now been fully briefed.[3] For the reasons that follow, we grant defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

I.

The material facts alleged in the complaint, which the Court accepts as true for the purpose of this motion, are as follows.

Ms. von Behren is of Canadian national origin, and resides in DuPage County, Illinois (Compl., ¶ 6). Prior to beginning work for defendant as Assistant Superintendent of Education for Administration and Personnel on July 1, 2009, plaintiff obtained approximately two years of relevant work experience elsewhere in Illinois and four years of relevant work experience in Pennsylvania (Id., ¶ 9). Before that, plaintiff had spent nine years working in the relevant field in British Columbia, Canada (Id.).

During the time plaintiff was employed as an administrator by defendant, from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2012, defendant relied on a salary matrix to determine compensation for each administrator based on the number of years of the administrator's past relevant work experience (Compl., ¶ 11). At the time she was hired by defendant, Ms. von Behren was paid a salary commensurate with an administrator with seven years of relevant past experience (Id., ¶ 13), which did not include her nine years of work experience in Canada.

Ms. von Behren first became aware that defendant had a policy of using the salary matrix to determine staff salaries in early 2010 (Compl., ¶ ¶ 12, 16). She also learned at that time that defendant had a policy or practice of not crediting foreign work experience in applying the matrix (Id., ¶ 16). Subsequently, in or about April or May 2010, and again in June 2010, Ms. von Behren sent written requests to her supervisor, school district superintendent John Harper, to credit her past relevant work experience in Canada and adjust her compensation (both retroactively and going forward) accordingly (Id., ¶ ¶ 17-18).

The school board met and discussed Ms. von Behren's request in or about July, August, and September 2010, but did not approve adjusting her salary to take into account her years of work experience in Canada (Compl., ¶ 19). Ms. von Behren continued to work for defendant until June 30, 2012, earning a salary that never took into account her work experience in Canada (Id., ¶ 20). On November 13, 2012, Ms. von Behren filed a charge of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (" IDHR") and the EEOC (Id., ¶ 5).

In her complaint, Ms. von Behren alleges that she was discriminated against under Title VII and the IHRA under a " discriminatory intent" theory because " [t]he School District treated [her] in an unequal manner because of her Canadian national origin by refusing to credit [her] relevant past work experience acquired in Canada[, ] subjecting her to unequal terms and conditions in her employment" (Compl., ¶ ¶ 26, 40). Ms. von Behren also alleges that she was discriminated against under a " disparate impact" theory because " [t]he School District's policy and practice of not crediting foreign work experience in assessing the appropriate level of compensation due to administrators also had a disparate impact on Ms. von Behren because of her national origin, " which policy and practice " was not job-related or necessary to the operation of the business" (Id., ¶ ¶ 23, 33, 46). Ms. von Behren further alleges that due to her Canadian national origin, she was " required . . . to work for lower levels of compensation than individuals with her comparable skill and experience" (Id., ¶ 22).

II.

When analyzing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Rule 12(b)(6), " [o]ur analysis rests on the complaint, and we construe it in the light most favorable to the plaintiff's, accepting as true all well-pleaded facts alleged and drawing all permissible inferences in their favor." Fortres Grand Corp. v. Warner Bros. Entm't Inc., 763 F.3d 696, 700 (7th Cir. 2014), But, that rule of construction does not apply to legal conclusions or " threadbare" or " formulaic" recitals of a cause of action, supported only by conclusory statements. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). " And while a complaint does not need 'detailed factual allegations' to survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, it must allege sufficient facts to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" League of Women Voters of Chi. v. City of Chi, 757 F.3d 722, 724 (7th Cir. 2014) (quoting Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). " Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and ...


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