United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. DURKIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Adam, who is African-American, alleges she was discriminated
and retaliated against on account of her race when she worked
for Obama for America (“OFA”), in violation of 42
U.S.C. § 1981 and in breach of an alleged contract
between Adam and OFA. R. 52. OFA has moved to dismiss
Adam's claims for failure to state a claim pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). R. 56. For the
following reasons, OFA's motion is granted.
12(b)(6) motion challenges the sufficiency of the
complaint. See, e.g., Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of
Police of Chi. Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir.
2009). A complaint must provide “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), sufficient to
provide defendant with “fair notice” of the claim
and the basis for it. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). This standard “demands more
than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me
accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). While “detailed factual allegations”
are not required, “labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The
complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
“‘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.'” Mann v.
Vogel, 707 F.3d 872, 877 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). In applying this standard,
the Court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true and draws
all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.
Mann, 707 F.3d at 877.
September 2, 2011, Adam received an email offering her a
fulltime internship position in OFA's political
department in Chicago. R. 52 at 1, 13. The online application
notes that internship positions at OFA “are unpaid,
volunteer positions, ” and that interns “will not
receive financial compensation from any person or entity,
including any corporation, for any services [interns] provide
to the campaign.” Id. at 18. Adam began work
on September 19, 2011 by participating in a new hire
orientation. Id. at 1. Adam was also given a laptop
to use on her first day and told about OFA's policy
regarding its use. Id. Adam also received a key
card. Id. at 3.
was the only African-American in the political department.
Id. at 3. On September 25, 2011, six days into her
internship, Adam sent an email to the Intern Coordinator,
Kate Cummings, asking to have a meeting because although she
was “having a blast and really happy, ” she was
“not necessarily comfortable working with some of the
interns in the political department.” Id. at
17. At their meeting the next day, Adam told Cummings that
she felt uncomfortable as the only African-American in the
department and that she “wanted to switch groups after
being left out of meetings and being treated rudely.”
Id. at 3. Adam does not describe Cummings's
response or the immediate outcome of their meeting. Adam
alleges that Cummings told Abigail Witt (the “Political
Director of Operations” and supervisor of the interns
in the political department) about their meeting on October
4, 2011. Id.
alleges that other interns were disrespectful to her and
excluded her from group activities. Id. at 3. She
alleges that Cummings and other interns laughed at Adam's
expense and gave her dirty looks. Id. Adam alleges
two additional incidents with Cummings in October 2011. On
one occasion, Cummings allegedly “pulled Adam's
hair, inspected her scalp, and told her how to wear
it.” Id. at 4. On a separate occasion,
“while passing in the hall, Cummings touched
[Adam's] skin and said, ‘ooh.'”
these events, Adam wanted to continue to work for OFA. In
November 2011, Adam informed both Cummings and Witt that she
wanted to stay on “after December 16” and after
“January 9, 2012.” Id. at 4. Adam
alleges that Cummings and Witt “solely presented [the]
African American Leadership Council as an option for her to
switch to after December 16, 2011.” Id. Adam
had a meeting with the finance department and learned that
there might be an opportunity for her there. Id.
December 1, 2011, Adam met with Sheena Patton, OFA's
Director of Human Resources, and told her that Cummings and
Witt were mistreating her because she was African-American.
Id. at 4. Patton told Adam that she had the option
to file a complaint. Id. Adam noticed that Witt
witnessed Adam leave Patton's office, so Adam returned to
Patton's office to tell her that she was scared that Witt
had seen them talking. Id. Witt later screamed at
Adam that she had “to leave the campaign.”
Id. According to Adam, Witt told her “that if
the President loses she was sure he had something else
planned and Adam could look into those options after the
campaign.” Id. Witt again suggested that Adam
look into working with the African American Leadership
Council “because it was good for her.”
Id. at 5. Witt also “told Adam that she saw
that Adam worked hard and was dedicated to the
this conversation with Witt, Adam told Human Resources she
wanted to transfer out of the political department for the
time being until she started with the finance department.
Id. at 5. Later, Witt again screamed at Adam and
“told her to pack her things up and leave”
because “it was Adam's last day.”
Id. In response, Adam told Witt that she was
transferring to the finance department. Id.
next day, Adam sent an email to Human Resources explaining
that she was being mistreated and was interested in filing a
complaint. Id. Two days after that, Adam met with
Patton and two other Human Resources employees. Id.
Adam recounted how Cummings, Witt, and the interns in the
political department had been mistreating her. Id.
at 5-6. Patton explained that Cummings and Witt had
“provided conflicting information from what Adam was
telling her.” Id. at 6.
alleges that “[a]s a result of her complaints to Human
Resources against two White supervisors [i.e., Cummings and
Witt]” Patton demoted Adam from “intern” to
“volunteer.” Id. This meant that Adam
had to return the laptop she was issued and instead use her
personal laptop. Adam alleges that this also meant that
“she would no longer be helped by Human Resources with
obtaining a paid position.” Id. at 8, 10. She
also alleges that as a “volunteer” she did not
have the “sessions with senior campaign staff,
networking opportunities, and interviews” that
“interns” had. Id. at 10.
point thereafter, Adam began working with Lora Whitticker in
the finance department. See Id. at 26; R. 62 at 11.
On January 16, 2012, however, Adam sent Whitticker an email
stating that she needed to “take a leave of absence . .
. due to everything that happened over the past few
months.” R. 52 at 26. Adam alleges that other OFA
interns who were white and had lesser credentials went on to
paid positions associated with the President and the
Democratic Party. Id. at 9-10. Adam alleges that she
suffered “psychological and professional damage,
” and that she “remembers not eating or going to
the bathroom because she was anxious and scared of interns,
Cummings, and Witt.” Id. at 11. She also
alleges that she suffered from “anxiety, depressions,
loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, low ...