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Taylor v. Village of Dolton

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

December 9, 2014

GORDIE TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
VILLAGE OF DOLTON, ILLINOIS, et al., Defendants

For Gordie Taylor, Plaintiff: Josh Michael Friedman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Offices of Josh Friedman, Chicago, IL.

For Village of Dolton, Illinois, Terry Hughes, Daniel Manning, David Duvall, Defendants: John B. Murphey, LEAD ATTORNEY, Rosenthal, Murphey, Coblentz & Donahue, Chicago, IL.

For International Association of Firefighters Local 3766, Defendant: Martin Phillip Barr, LEAD ATTORNEY, Lisa Beth Moss, Carmell Charone Widmer Moss & Barr, Chicago, IL.

ORDER

Manish S. Shah, United States District Judge.

Defendants Village of Dolton, Terry Hughes, Daniel Manning, and David Duvall's motion to dismiss [18] is granted in part, and denied in part as moot, and their motion for a more definite statement [16] is denied as moot. Defendant International Association of Firefighters Local 3766's motion to dismiss [21] is granted in part, and denied in part as moot, and its motion for a more definite statement [24] is denied as moot. Counts I and II are dismissed without prejudice.

Statement

Plaintiff Gordie Taylor has brought suit against his former employer, supervisors, and union, alleging violations of state and federal law in connection with his termination from the Dolton Fire Department. All defendants have moved to dismiss Count I (due process - property interest), Count II (due process - liberty interest), and Count IV (violation of 29 U.S.C. § 185). Dolton has additionally moved to dismiss Count V (defamation). After defendants filed their motions, plaintiff clarified that he does not bring Counts I and II against the union, or Count V against Dolton. [31] at 7 n.1. Plaintiff has also withdrawn Count IV in its entirety. [32] at 1. As a result, all that remains before me is the Dolton defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss Counts I and II for failure to state a claim.

" A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) tests whether the complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted." Richards v. Mitcheff, 696 F.3d 635, 637 (7th Cir. 2012). Under Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must include " a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain statement under Rule 8(a)(2) must " give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (quotation omitted). In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, I accept the well-pleaded facts as true. Alam v. Miller Brewing Co., 709 F.3d 662, 665-66 (7th Cir. 2013).

According to plaintiff's complaint, he started as a firefighter in the Dolton Fire Department in September 2009. [1] ¶ 15. In 2010, defendants Duvall and Manning began directing racially offensive comments and conduct toward him. Id. ¶ 17. Although he complained to Jerry McCullough, Chief of the Dolton Fire Department, nothing was done to address the problem. Id. ¶ 19. Likewise, when plaintiff complained about the racism to the defendant union, it refused to help. Id. ¶ 20.

In January 2013, Duvall, who was both plaintiff's supervisor and the president of plaintiff's union, falsely accused plaintiff of drinking on the job. Id. ¶ ¶ 9, 22. This was the last straw for plaintiff--having endured racial discrimination, having had his complaints ignored, and, now, having been falsely accused of misconduct, plaintiff decided to report the discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Id. ¶ 23.

In March 2013, Manning, who was plaintiff's supervisor as well, retaliated against plaintiff for having gone to the EEOC. Id. ¶ 24. He too falsely accused plaintiff of drinking on the job. Id. Manning told plaintiff he would either be suspended for three days, or have to go before the Board of Police and Fire Commissioners for disciplinary action. Id. Plaintiff filed another charge with the EEOC, this time for racial discrimination and retaliation. Id. ¶ 25.[1]

In September 2013, based on the false allegations of drinking on the job, Duvall presented plaintiff with a " last chance agreement" under which plaintiff would be subjected to discipline that could not be grieved. Id. ¶ 26. The agreement further provided that, if plaintiff violated any rule or regulation in the future, he would be immediately discharged with no grievance right. Id. Duvall told plaintiff that if he did not sign the agreement, he would be brought before the Board of Police and Fire Commissioners for discharge proceedings. Id. Finally, Duvall stated that the union would not grieve the last chance agreement, nor would it represent plaintiff in any way if he refused to sign the document. Id. Plaintiff refused to sign the agreement and was sent home on administrative leave. Id.

When plaintiff returned to work a week or so later, Hughes presented him with another last chance agreement and said he would be discharged unless he signed it. Id. ¶ 28. Again refusing to sign, plaintiff contacted Duvall to ask that the union represent him in the matter. Id. ¶ 29. Duvall told plaintiff the union would not assist him in any way. Id.

Hughes discharged plaintiff on October 10, 2013. Id. ¶ 30. On November 6, 2013, plaintiff again contacted the union and asked it to grieve his discharge. Id. ΒΆ 31. The union did ...


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