United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
HARRY D. LEINENWEBER, District Judge.
Plaintiff LaShondra Peebles ("Peebles") initially filed this lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois alleging a single cause of action under the Illinois State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (the "Ethics Act"), 5 ILCS 430/15-5, et seq. On March 25, 2015, Defendants removed the action to the Northern District of Illinois. Before the Court is Peebles' Motion to Remand the Case to State Court and for Attorneys' Fees and Costs [ECF No. 11]. For the reasons stated herein, Peebles' Motion to Remand is granted, and her Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs is denied.
The allegations of Peebles' Complaint are briefly summarized below. Prior to her termination on June 2, 2014, Peebles served as Interim Vice President of Enrollment and Student Affairs for Defendant Chicago State University ("CSU"). Peebles' Ethics Act claim is premised on three incidents that allegedly occurred during her employment and gave rise to her wrongful termination.
The first incident involves Peebles' disclosure of certain information to the United States Department of Education (the "DOE"). In April 2012, Peebles was charged with renewing the Participation Agreement between CSU and the DOE, which enables CSU to receive Title IV federal student financial aid. When Peebles discovered that CSU's prior Participation Agreement falsely stated that CSU did not offer off-site classes, she contacted the DOE. Ultimately, the DOE conducted a review and provisionally approved a renewed Participation Agreement. However, CSU administrators prevented Peebles from reporting the university's provisional status to the CSU board.
The second incident involves Peebles' refusal to authorize payments to a university food vendor in the absence of a contract. Although Peebles asked for a copy of the contract between CSU and the vendor, CSU administrators failed to produce one and urged Peebles to sign off on the payments anyway. Peebles threatened to call the Illinois Auditor General.
The final incident involves Peebles' failure to file a sexual harassment claim against a CSU professor who was critical of the CSU administration. Although Peebles repeatedly denied that she had been sexually harassed by the professor, CSU administrators urged her to lodge a complaint. Peebles refused.
On June 2, 2014, without the pre-termination hearing required under university regulations, CSU terminated Peebles' employment.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, a defendant may remove a case from state court to federal court if the federal district court would have original subject matter jurisdiction over the action. Disher v. Citigroup Global Markets Inc., 419 F.3d 649, 653 (7th Cir. 2005), vacated on other grounds, 548 U.S. 901 (2006). The party seeking to invoke federal subject matter jurisdiction bears the burden of showing that removal is proper. Boyd v. Phoenix Funding Corp., 366 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2004).
Defendants seek to invoke federal jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, which provides federal district courts with original jurisdiction over "all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." Most often, a case arises under federal law "when federal law creates the cause of action asserted." Evergreen Square of Cudahy v. Wis. Hous. & Econ. Dev. Auth., 776 F.3d 463, 465 (7th Cir. 2015) (citation and internal quotations omitted). However, in a small category of cases, federal question jurisdiction may arise "even when a claim finds its origins in state rather than federal law." Gunn v. Minton, 133 S.Ct. 1059, 1064 (2013). Federal jurisdiction over a state-law claim is proper when a federal issue is: "(1) necessarily raised, (2) actually disputed, (3) substantial, and (4) capable of resolution in federal court without disrupting the federal-state balance approved by Congress." Id. at 1065.
Peebles seeks to remand the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Defendants argue this Court has jurisdiction, and removal is proper, because Peebles' complaint (1) contains claims arising under federal ...