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Jackson v. Dakkota Integrated Systems, LLC

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

March 10, 2015

CIARA JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
DAKKOTA INTEGRATED SYSTEMS, LLC, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge.

Plaintiff Ciara Jackson has filed this action against Defendant Dakkota Integrated Systems, LLC, alleging claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) et seq ; the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq ; and the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/1 et seq. Defendant has moved, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), to dismiss Plaintiff's FMLA claim, as contained in Count IV of the Complaint. For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's Motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are drawn from Plaintiff's Complaint and are accepted as true for purposes of the Motion to Dismiss. See Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008). Plaintiff was hired by Defendant to work as an Overhead Operator on or about February 2012. (Compl. ¶ 9.) From May 2012 until she was terminated in September 2013, Plaintiff was subject to unwelcome sexual advances, sexual comments, and other physical and verbal conduct of a sexual nature from her supervisor, other supervisors, her co-workers, and a human relations manager. ( Id. ¶¶ 10-21.) Plaintiff repeatedly complained to Defendant about the sexual harassment directed at her. ( Id. ¶ 22.)

On August 21, 2013, Plaintiff called Defendant's corporate headquarters to make a formal complaint. ( Id. ¶ 23.) On September 4, 2013, Plaintiff filed a charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights. ( Id. ¶ 24.) Defendant failed to respond to its employees' conduct. ( Id. ¶ 36.)

On or around September 10, 2013, Plaintiff called off work to see her physician regarding treatment for a serious health condition. ( Id. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff's physician instructed her that she was unable to return to work on September 10, 2013, and provided her with a note saying that she was released to return to work on September 11, 2013. ( Id. ¶¶ 26-27.) On September 11, 2013, Plaintiff returned to work and provided Defendant with a copy of the doctor's note. Defendant failed to notify Plaintiff of her FMLA eligibility status and rights and responsibilities under the FMLA. ( Id. ¶¶ 28-29.) On September 12, 2013, Plaintiff was terminated. ( Id. ¶ 30.)

LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 12(b)(6) permits a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Rather, the complaint must provide a defendant "with fair notice' of the claim and its basis." Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) and Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). When ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court accepts all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and construes all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Tamayo, 526 F.3d at 1081.

ANALYSIS

In Count IV, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant violated the FMLA by interfering with Plaintiff's FMLA rights and by retaliating against her for attempting to exercise those rights. Defendant argues that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for either inference or retaliation under the FMLA because Plaintiff has failed to plead facts sufficient to show she has a serious health condition or that she put Defendant on notice that she intended to take FMLA leave.

The FMLA provides that an eligible employee can take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave each year for specific reasons, including "a serious health condition." 29 U.S.C. § 2612(a)(1)(D). Upon return from FMLA leave, an employee is entitled to be restored "to the position of employment held... when the leave commenced" or "to an equivalent position." 29 U.S.C. § 2614(a)(1)(A)-(B). The FMLA prohibits an employer from interfering with or retaliating against an employee's exercise of her FMLA rights. 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)-(b); Burnett v. LFW, Inc., 472 F.3d 471, 477 (7th Cir. 2006).

FMLA Interference Claim

To state a claim for FMLA interference, a plaintiff must allege:

(1) she was eligible for FMLA protection; (2) her employer was covered by the FMLA; (3) she was entitled to FMLA leave; (4) she provided sufficient notice of her intent to take leave; and (5) her ...

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