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Flores v. Board of Trustees of Community College District No. 508

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

May 6, 2015


For Rebecca M Flores, Plaintiff: Robert Eliot Shapiro, LEAD ATTORNEY, Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg LLP, Chicago, IL.

For Board of Trustees of Community College District No. 508, doing business as City Colleges of Chicago Kennedy King College, Defendant: David M. Novak, Edward Michael Graham, James Patrick Daley, James Daniel Thomas, Jackson Lewis, P.C., Chicago, IL.


Young B. Kim, United States Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Rebecca Flores brings this suit against Defendant Board of Trustees of Community College District No. 508 (" City Colleges" ), alleging violations of the Illinois Human Rights Act (" IHRA" ) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (" ADA" ), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. Flores alleges in part that City Colleges unlawfully retaliated against her because she sought accommodation for her disability (Asperger's Syndrome). Before the court is City Colleges' motion to dismiss Flores's retaliation claims and to strike all retaliation related allegations in the amended complaint. For the following reasons, City Colleges' motion to dismiss a portion of the amended complaint and to strike certain allegations is denied:


Taking Flores's allegations as true for purposes of this motion, City Colleges hired Flores as Dean of Instruction in 2012. (R. 18, Am. Compl. ¶ 9.) The following year, in January 2013, City Colleges hired Erica Holmes as the Vice President of Instruction and direct supervisor to Flores. (Id. ¶ 11.) According to Flores, Holmes has an " extremely difficult personality," resulting in Flores being put under " unnecessary, improper and unwarranted stress, thereby triggering various effects from her Asperger's Syndrome." (Id. ¶ 2.) For example, on January 16, 2013, Flores " suffered a major incident relating to her condition," causing her to seek assistance from a counselor with her employer's Wellness Center. (Id. ¶ 11.)

As early as January 22, 2013, Flores informed City Colleges " of the unwarranted stress she had been put under, her condition, and her need for accommodation, needing time off to obtain proper psychological care." (Id. ¶ 3; see also ¶ ¶ 12-13.) Shortly thereafter, Holmes allegedly " launched a series of attacks on Flores." (Id.) For example, Flores alleges that from January 29 through January 31, 2013, Holmes " chastised" her for an alleged breach of protocol, questioned Flores's ability to continue to serve as a Dean, made a " caustic remark" to Flores regarding her tardiness to a meeting, attacked Flores for taking time off to attend to her medical condition, accused Flores of misconduct in a meeting, and scheduled a " behavioral standards in the workplace" meeting with Flores. (Id. ¶ 16.)

On February 6, 2013, during her time off for psychological care, Flores delivered a letter to the Human Resources Director setting forth her diagnoses of Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety and Asperger's Disorder. (Id. ¶ 18.) The letter requested accommodations " to assist Flores in the performance of her job." (Id.) When Flores returned to work on February 11, 2013, she discovered that Holmes had scheduled several ad hoc meetings, without agendas, in contravention of the requested accommodations. (Id. ¶ 20.) The following day, Flores spoke with the District EEO Officer regarding the requested accommodations and Holmes's " threaten[ing] and humiliat[ing]" conduct toward Flores. (Id. ¶ 22.) On February 15, 2013, Holmes emailed Flores, complaining about what she characterized as Flores's " excessive absences" from work. (Id. ¶ 23.) Flores responded that she found Holmes's approach to be " hostile and intimidating and completely inconsistent with [Flores's] recent diagnosis." (Id. ¶ 24.) Flores further complained about her " total disregard for . . . the accommodations I am requesting and need." (Id. ¶ 24.)

On February 18, 2013, Flores resigned from City Colleges. (Id. ¶ 26.) Flores expressed in her resignation letter that she " found herself frustrated, fearful, intimidated and inexorably stressed at the continued hostility generated by the words and actions of [Vice President] Holmes." (Id.) Flores further noted that Holmes had " not only disregarded nine of the thirteen documented requests in this past week alone, but ha[d] appeared to retaliate against [Flores] for having made them in the first place." (R. 28-1(C), Pl.'s Resp., Resignation Ltr.)

Procedural History

Flores, proceeding pro se, filed a charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (" IDHR" ) on April 8, 2013. (R. 24-1, Def.'s Mot., IDHR Charge[1]; R. 28, Pl.'s Resp. at 1.) The charge sets forth two claims: (1) failure to accommodate her disability; and (2) constructive discharge based on the failure to accommodate. (R. 24-1, Def.'s Mot.) The charge does not mention " retaliation." (Id.) On the same day that Flores filed her IDHR charge, she submitted an IDHR intake form, (R. 28-1(A), Pl.'s Resp.), and attachments, including the following:

o Flores's " Issue, Basis and Allegation of Discrimination," (R. 28-1(B), Pl.'s Resp.);
o February 18, 2013 resignation letter from Flores to Dr. Joyce Ester, President of Kennedy-King College (" KKC" ), (R. 28-1(C), Pl.'s Resp.);
o Flores's timeline of events, (R. 28-1(D), Pl.'s Resp.); and
o February 6, 2013 letter from Flores to Araceli Cabrales-Medina, the Human Resources Director of KKC, (R. 28-1(E), Pl.'s Resp.).

The IDHR issued a Notice of Dismissal on July 16, 2014. (R. 24-2, Def.'s Mot., IDHR Notice of Dismissal.) Thereafter, Flores filed this lawsuit, and the parties consented to this court's ...

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