United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
ANTHONY JORDAN, KENNETH GREENLAW, THEODIS CHAPMAN, PATRICK NELSON, and A CLASS OF UNKNOWN PERSONS SIMILARLY SITUATED, Plaintiffs,
TIMOTHY EVANS, CHIEF JUDGE OF THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
L. ELLIS, United States District Judge
Anthony Jordan, Kenneth Greenlaw, Theodis Chapman, and
Patrick Nelson, (“Plaintiffs”) are current and
former employees of the Cook County Probation Department.
Plaintiffs bring this suit against Timothy Evans, Chief Judge
of the Circuit Court of Cook County (“Chief
Judge”) on behalf of themselves and seek to represent a
class of similarly situated persons, alleging race
discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42
U.S.C. 2000e, et seq. Plaintiffs assert that the
Chief Judge abandoned his statutory duty in violation of the
Illinois Probation and Probation Officers Act, 730 Ill. Comp.
Stat. 110/13 (“Probation Act”). Plaintiffs also
allege race discrimination in violation of the Illinois Civil
Rights Act of 2003, 740 Ill. Comp. Stat. 23/5(b)
(“ICRA”). The Chief Judge moves for partial
judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) on
Plaintiffs' Title VII and ICRA claims (Counts I, II, and
IV) insofar as they are alleged against him in his individual
capacity, and on Plaintiffs' Probation Act claim (Count
III) on the bases that the Eleventh Amendment bars this claim
and that there is no private right of action under the
Probation Act. Pl.'s Mem., 1, ; Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c).
The Court grants in part and denies as moot in part the Chief
Judge's motion. Because Plaintiffs concede that they only
bring this suit against the Chief Judge in his official
capacity, the Court denies as moot the Chief Judge's
motion for partial judgment on Counts I, II, and IV.
Additionally, because sovereign immunity bars Plaintiffs'
claim under the Probation Act, the Court grants the Chief
Judge's motion for judgment on Count III.
is an African American who worked as a probation officer from
1998 to 2015. On February 4, 2015, the Probation Department
terminated him for failing to properly monitor and respond to
electronic monitoring (“EM”) alerts of a
particular youth assigned to his EM Unit. When this
particular youth committed a crime while on Jordan's EM
Unit, the Probation Department fired him. Although the
Probation Department had never disciplined Jordan previously
for failure to properly monitor and respond to EM alerts, he
had entered into a “Last Chance Agreement” as a
result of a prior allegation of poor work performance. The
Probation Department invoked this Last Chance Agreement as
the reason for his firing. Plaintiffs allege that the Last
Chance Agreement was unfair and that Jordan, “as an
African American, was a convenient scapegoat for the
Department.” Second Am. Compl. ¶ 57, ECF No. 55.
is an African American, who worked as a probation officer
from 1999 to 2014, assigned to the Intensive Probation
Services Unit, which requires frequent contact with youths on
probation and extensive driving. In 2014, the Probation
Department terminated Greenlaw for misusing an assigned gas
card and failing to submit gas receipts and vehicle
inspection forms at certain times. Plaintiffs again allege
that the Probation Department fired Greenlaw because of his
race and to provide a convenient scapegoat and example for
other probation officers who made record keeping errors.
is an African American who began working as a probation
officer in 2003, and continues to work in that position
currently. He has consistently received positive performance
reviews and has no history of discipline. He has applied for
the position of Supervisor, but he has failed the
supervisor's written examination twice despite diligent
preparations. Chapman has requested and been denied copies of
his results for the supervisor's written examination.
Plaintiffs allege that African Americans are
disproportionately told that they fail this written
examination and are not allowed to review their results.
Plaintiffs allege that the examination is either
intentionally or effectively discriminatory.
is an African American who began working as a probation
officer in 2001, and currently holds that position. Both
Nelson and Chapman traveled to job-related training but were
denied compensation for their travel time, whereas white
employees engaging in similar travel received compensation.
Chapman and Nelson have filed grievances related to their
lack of compensation. These grievances were denied, and
Nelson and Chapman allege that they were reassigned to field
positions in retaliation for filing grievances.
further allege that from 2008 to 2013, African American
probation officers constituted three quarters of the total
officers suspended and/or terminated by the Probation
Department. Plaintiffs contend that this disparity in
disciplinary practices suggests a pattern of racial
discrimination. Plaintiffs allege that the Chief Judge did
not exercise his supervisory authority in taking any of the
above adverse employment actions to ensure that such actions
did not violate any State or federal laws.
motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is governed by the same
standards as a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
under Rule 12(b)(6).” Adams v. City of
Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 727-28 (7th Cir. 2014). A
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the
sufficiency of the complaint, not its merits. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6); Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510,
1520 (7th Cir. 1990). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts
in the plaintiff's complaint and draws all reasonable
inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor.
AnchorBank, FSB v. Hofer, 649 F.3d 610, 614 (7th
Cir. 2011). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint
must not only provide the defendant with fair notice of a
claim's basis but must also be facially plausible.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct.
1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009); see also Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d
929 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
Probation Act Claim
claim that the Chief Judge failed to exercise his general
supervisory authority over disciplinary actions in violation
of the Probation Act and seek injunctive relief. The Chief
Judge moves for judgment on Plaintiffs' claim arguing
that it is barred by sovereign immunity, and that Plaintiffs
do not have a private right of action to bring a claim under
the Probation Act. For the reasons stated below, the Court
grants the Chief Judge's motion.