United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
Decided April 11, 2015.
For Karen Carwyle, Plaintiff: D. Jeffrey Ezra, LEAD ATTORNEY, Ezra & Associates, LLC, Collinsville, IL.
For Anna Hospital Corporation, doing business as Union County Hospital, Ivy Roach, Individually, Defendants: Richard J. Behr, LEAD ATTORNEY, Jason W. Kinser, Behr, McCarter et al., St. Louis, MO.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
David R. Herndon, United States District Judge.
Now before the Court is defendants' Anna County Hospital d/b/a Union County Hospital and Ivy Roach (collectively " defendants" ) motion for summary judgment (Doc. 27), to which plaintiff filed a response (Doc. 37). For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part defendant's motion for summary judgment.
I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
In October 1997, plaintiff began working at Union County Hospital (UCH). As of October 2009, she worked in UCH's Emergency Room as a registered nurse, in addition to " floating" to cover in various departments around the hospital and teaching courses (Doc. 3, P 7). Plaintiff Carlyle allegedly worked under the supervision of defendant Roach, who served as the Nurse Manager of the Medical/Surgical Department and the Education Coordinator for UCH.
Beginning in the fall of 2009, Carwyle alleges that Roach sent inappropriate messages and images via text message to proposition plaintiff to join in sexual activity with Roach, Roach's husband, and another UCH employee. (Doc. 3, P 10; Doc. 28-2, p.17-18, 22 & 31). Thereafter, plaintiff requested that such texts cease.
During spring 2010, Roach and another UCH employee, Amy Hileman, had a " falling out" . (Doc. 37-1,). Subsequently, plaintiff encountered a reduction in hours, work in other departments, and overtime availability (Doc. 37-1, p. 36-39, Doc. 37-15). Plaintiff also alleges that she was unwillingly relieved of her teaching duties at UCH (Doc. 28-2, pg. 37.). Subsequent to these incidents, plaintiff took FMLA leave following receipt of medical certification. Prior to granting approval for such leave, UCH allowed for a second medical certification. According to plaintiff, this was outside typical FMLA procedure at UCH (Doc. 37-17, p. 86-88).
Subject to the various alleged instances of reprisal, upon returning from leave in November 2011, plaintiff alleges she " constructively discharged" herself from UCH on November 3, 2011(Doc. 37). Thereafter, on or about March 2, 2012, Carwyle filed a charge of harassment and retaliation against UCH with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) (Doc.37-32). The charge was simultaneously cross-filed with the local office of the EEOC. ( Id. ). Plaintiff filed her initial complaint in this Court on April 16, 2013 (Doc. 2), with an amended complaint to follow (Doc. 3).
Relevant to the instant dispute, defendants contend first that plaintiff did not properly obtain a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC (Doc. 27). In the alternative, defendants argue that plaintiff did not face " adverse employment actions" based on the facts pled, nor was UCH aware of the alleged sexual harassment at the time of these alleged retaliatory acts. Additionally, defendants argue that Carwyle's intentional infliction of emotional distress claim is time-barred or statutorily preempted.
The Court refers to defendants' motion and supporting memorandum (Docs. 27 & 28) and plaintiff's " statement of additional facts to consider" in her response to the motion (Doc. 37) for the remainder of the factual allegations.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Summary judgment is proper when the pleadings, discovery, and disclosures establish that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Winsley v. Cook Cnty., 563 F.3d 598, 602-03 (7th Cir. 2009); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists if " the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Pugh v. City of Attica, Indiana, 259 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir. 2001); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor, as well as resolve all factual disputes in favor of the non-moving party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007); Fischer v. Avanade, Inc., 519 F.3d 393, 401 (7th Cir. 2008).
The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of factual issues and entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Santaella v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 123 F.3d 456, 461 (7th Cir. 1997) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323). In response, the non-moving party may not rest on bare pleadings alone, but instead must highlight specific material facts to show the existence of a genuine issue to be resolved at trial. Insolia v. Philip Morris Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 598 (7th Cir. 2000). The Court will enter summary judgment against a party who does not " come forward with evidence that would reasonably permit the finder of fact to find in [its] favor on a material question." McGrath v. Gillis, 44 F.3d 567, 569 (7th Cir. 1995).
a. Right-to-sue Notice
Defendants move for summary judgment arguing untimeliness as to certain claims raised in plaintiff's amended complaint. Defendants note that Carwyle had not yet received a right-to-sue notice from the EEOC at the time her amended complaint was filed, which is required before bringing a Title VII claim. See Hill v. Potter, 352 F.3d 1142, 1145 (7th Cir. 2003). Defendants argue that plaintiff's filing of her claims with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDRH), and cross-referencing with the EEOC, does not satisfy the EEOC notice requirement.
" There are several prerequisites for bringing a Title VII claim. A plaintiff must file a charge with the EEOC detailing the alleged discriminatory conduct within the time allowed by statute, and the EEOC must issue a right-to-sue letter." Conner v. Illinois Dep't of Natural Res., 413 F.3d 675, 680 (7th Cir. 2005)(citing Hentosh v. Herman M. Finch Univ. of Health Scis./The Chi. Med. Sch., 167 F.3d 1170, 1173 (7th Cir. 1999); Rush v. McDonald's Corp., 966 F.2d 1104, 1110 (7th Cir. 1992)). Thus, defendants argue that dismissal of Counts I and II is appropriate. Piggybacking off of that basis, defendants argue that because the remainder of plaintiff's claims arises solely under Illinois law, the Court should dismiss Counts III, IV, and V based on lack of supplemental jurisdiction (Doc. 28).
In this case, plaintiff's amended complaint does not allege receipt of the right-to-sue letter from the EEOC, only that a request was made. However, plaintiff responds to defendants' motion asserting that the delayed receipt of such a letter was due to EEOC error (Doc. 37). Specifically plaintiff states that the EEOC " mistakenly referred Carwyle's original EEOC complaint to the DOJ for investigation and disposition" ( Id. ). As such, the mistake was acknowledged and rectified when EEOC issued a right-to-sue notice back-dated to June 6, 2013 (Doc. 37-37). " While they may have been subject to dismissal at any time prior to  receipt of a right-to-sue letter, the receipt of that letter after the complaint had been filed, but before it had been dismissed, effectively cured the deficiency in the original complaint." Perkins v. Silverstein, 939 F.2d 463, 471 (7th Cir. 1991)
Here, plaintiff effectively cured the deficiency in her amended complaint by attaching the letter from the EEOC to her response (Doc.37-37), which exhibits plaintiff's right to sue, and her compliance with the statutory requirement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Perkins, 939 F.2d at 471. In light of the foregoing, the Court finds that plaintiff effectively cured the ...