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Johnson v. Lew

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

August 10, 2016

DAVID JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
JACOB J. LEW, Secretary of the Treasury, SERGIO ARELLANO, SUSAN J. KASS, DAVID OYLER, LARRY G. KOTTKE, JAMES M. JOHNSON, LYNN G. GANZ, PATRICK WOZEK, FRED SAVAGLIO ROBERT TRZAKUS, DARLENE MCVEY, NATIONAL TREASURY EMPLOYEES UNION, UNKNOWN DEFENDANTS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN Z. LEE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff David Johnson has filed suit against his former employer, the Internal Revenue Service, alleging that the IRS and several of its employees violated his constitutional, statutory, and common law rights by discriminating against him on the basis of his race, by retaliating against him for objecting to the race-based discrimination, and by failing to honor a collective bargaining agreement between the IRS and Johnson’s union. Defendants have moved to dismiss the entire complaint for failure to state a claim. For the reasons given below, the Court grants Defendants’ motion in part and denies it in part.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Johnson, an African American man, worked as a revenue agent at the IRS until his employment was terminated on May 7, 2010. 2d Am. Compl. ¶ 5. The terms and conditions of his employment were specified in a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the IRS and the National Treasury Employees Union. Id. ¶ 22.

         According to Johnson, his supervisors at the IRS repeatedly discriminated against him on the basis of race and then retaliated against him for complaining about that discrimination. They also, he claims, violated the terms of the CBA governing his employment and denied him a fair hearing before firing him.

         Johnson filed this lawsuit in March 2014, ECF No. 1, and filed an amended complaint on April 14, 2014, ECF No. 9. He brought claims ostensibly under the Fifth Amendment; the Thirteenth Amendment; 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1985, and 1986; 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h); the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Labor Management Relations Act; and state common law. The Court dismissed the amended complaint on December 4, 2015, for failure to state a claim but allowed Johnson to file a second amended complaint to attempt to “correct the defects in his complaint.” Order of 12/4/15 at 1, ECF No. 147. The Court presumes familiarity with the December 2015 order.

         In his second amended complaint, as in his first, Johnson alleges that Defendants discriminated against him because he is African-American and retaliated against him because he complained about this discrimination. He claims that Defendants’ actions against him violated the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, and the Stored Communications Act, as well as 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985 and 1986. 2d Am. Compl ¶¶ 66-67, 87, 100, 120, 136-38, 147-50. He also asserts claims for breach of contract and denial of due process. Id. at ¶¶ 110, 275-76. Additionally, Johnson brings discrimination and retaliation claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Id. ¶¶ 157-269.

         Legal Standard

         When deciding a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court must view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept all well-pleaded facts as true. Lavalais v. Vill. of Melrose Park, 734 F.3d 629, 632 (7th Cir. 2013). A complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), and must plead facts that, when accepted as true, “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Pro se complaints are to be construed liberally. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 651 (7th Cir. 2013).

         Analysis

         I. Preliminary Matters

         The Court notes that, throughout his response brief, Johnson argues that the Court “lacks jurisdiction” over Defendants’ motion to dismiss. But because Johnson asserts federal claims in his complaint, the Court has jurisdiction over this case under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and that jurisdiction of course extends to a motion to dismiss the complaint.

         Additionally, Johnson’s second amended complaint names a new defendant, the National Treasury Employees Union. But Johnson did not request leave to add a new defendant, and, in any event, the complaint includes no specific allegations against the Union. For those reasons, the Union is dismissed as a defendant.

         II. Claims Precluded by Title VII

         A. Claims previously dismissed (Counts IV-VI)

         In the December 2015 order, the Court dismissed Johnson’s claims brought under the Fifth Amendment, the Thirteenth Amendment, and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1985, and 1986, explaining that Title VII was his “only option for bringing claims of race discrimination and related retaliation” against his former employer. Order of 12/4/15 at 2 (citing Brown v. Gen. Serv. Admin., 425 U.S. 820, 835 (1976) (Title VII “provides the exclusive judicial remedy for claims of discrimination in federal employment”)). Johnson’s second amended complaint reasserts his discrimination claims under the ...


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