United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
CHRISTIE VAN, CHARMELLA LEVIEGE, MARIA PRICE, HELEN ALLEN, JACQUELINE BARRON, THERESA BOSAN, SHRANDA CAMPBELL, KETURAH CARTER, MICHELLE DAHN, TONYA EXUM, JEANNETTE GARDNER, ARLENE GOFORTH, CHRISTINE HARRIS, ORISSA HENRY, LAWANDA JORDAN DANIELLE KUDIRKA, TERRI LEWIS-BLEDSOE, CONSTANCE MADISON, CEPHANI MILLER, MYOSHI MORRIS, STEPHANIE SZOT SHIRLEY THOMAS-MOORE, ROSE THOMAS, TONI WILLIAMS, BERNADETTE CLYBURN, MARTHA CORBIN, ANGELA GLENN, LADWYNA HOOVER, OGERY LEDBETTER, LATRICIA SHANKLIN, ANTOINETTE SULLIVAN, DERRICKA THOMAS, AND NICHEA WALLS, individually and on behalf of all similarly situated persons, Plaintiffs,
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JOHNSON COLEMAN United States District Judge.
filed a 123-Count Second Amended Complaint on behalf of
themselves and all similarly situated persons, alleging
sexual harassment and hostile work environment, gender/sex
discrimination, race discrimination, retaliation, national
origin discrimination, failure to accommodate under the
Americans with Disabilities Act, battery, and
assault. Defendant, Ford Motor Company
(“Ford”), moves for dismissal of Counts 39-92 of
the Second Amended Complaint . For the reasons set forth
herein, the motion is denied.
following is a summary of the allegations in the Second
Amended Complaint. Defendant, Ford, manufactures vehicles.
Ford employs more than 4, 000 employees at its Chicago
Assembly Plant and more than 800 employees at its Chicago
Stamping Plant. All the named plaintiffs were employed at one
of the Chicago plants between January 1, 2012, and the
complaint alleges that male employees and supervisors
routinely make discriminatory and harassing remarks and
gestures based on race and gender towards female Ford
employees and the company takes no action. Plaintiffs allege
that Ford maintains a pattern and practice of harassment and
inferior treatment of female employees with respect to the
terms and conditions of employment, including job
assignments, training, promotions, and overtime assignments.
This pattern and practice of harassment and discrimination
created a hostile work environment that has continued at the
Chicago plants since the 1980s. In addition to the
allegations of a sexually and racially charged hostile work
environment contributing to gender and race discrimination
and retaliation, the plaintiffs allege battery and assault.
survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain sufficient
factual allegations to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
62, 678 (2009). The plaintiff does not need to provide
detailed factual allegations, but must provide enough factual
support to raise his right to relief above a speculative
level. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause
of action, supported by mere conclusory statements” are
insufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. When reviewing a motion to
dismiss, the court must accept all well-pleaded factual
allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the
plaintiff's favor. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007); Pisciota v. Old Nat. Bancorp, 449
F.3d 629, 633 (7th Cir. 2007).
moves to dismiss Counts 39-92 of the Second Amended
Complaint, which allege Illinois intentional torts of assault
and battery. Ford argues the Illinois Workers Compensation
Act (“IWCA”), 820 ILCS 305/5, 305/11, preempts
plaintiffs' state-law tort claims. The Court dismissed
these claims from plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint
without prejudice after finding plaintiffs had failed to
sufficiently allege that the perpetrators of the assault and
battery claims had “the authority to make decisions and
set policy on behalf of” Ford. See Dkt. 53 at
13 (quoting Daulo v. Commonwealth Edison, 938
F.Supp. 1388, 1406 (N.D. Ill. 1996)).
IWCA is the exclusive state law remedy against an employer
for accidental injuries sustained by an employee arising out
of and in the course of her employment. See 820 ILCS 305/5,
305/11; Meerbrey v. Marshall Field & Co., 139
Ill.2d 455, 151 Ill.Dec. 560, 564 N.E.2d 1222, 1225-26
(1990). To avoid preemption plaintiffs must show that Ford
committed, commanded, or expressly authorized a supervisor to
commit an intentional tort. Meerbrey, 139 Ill.2d at
464. “A claim that management ignored evidence that the
conduct was taking place is not sufficient; what is required
is ‘actual direction, encouragement, or
participation' by management. Temores v. SG
Cowen, 289 F.Supp.2d 996, 1007 (N.D. Ill. 2003);
Collier v. Wagner Castings Co., 81 Ill.2d 229, 239,
408 N.E.2d 198, 203, 41 Ill.Dec. 776 (1980).
their Second Amended Complaint, plaintiffs allege that Ford
was aware of and received numerous complaints regarding the
unwelcome, unwanted, harmful or offensive touching or
threatened touching of female employees by supervisors since
2012. Dkt. 59 at ¶522. Plaintiffs further allege that
the conduct was committed by management or in the presence of
management. Id. at ¶523. Additionally,
plaintiffs assert that Ford actively and effectively
encouraged the behavior by allowing it to occur without
repercussion. Id. at ¶530. Plaintiffs identify
numerous superintendents, supervisors, and a Union
chairperson as the perpetrators of the alleged conduct, and
allege that these managers had authority to establish working
conditions, make employment decisions, and to set policy
within their departments and on behalf of Ford. Id.
at ¶532. Moreover, plaintiffs allege that Ford has
established a policy by which it actively has interfered with
plaintiffs obtaining Orders of Protection from the police for
batteries, assaults and other acts of workplace violence they
have suffered at Ford. Id. at ¶536. The
complaint then sets forth specific examples. Id. at
claim that management ignored evidence that the conduct was
taking place would not be sufficient to avoid preemption,
allegations of “actual direction, encouragement, or
participation” by management may be sufficient to avoid
the preemption bar. See Temores, 289 F.Supp.2d at
1007 (citing Jaskowski v. Rodman & Renshaw,
Inc., 813 F.Supp. 1359, 1362 (N.D. Ill. 1993)). The
managerial role of the identified perpetrators alone does not
make their conduct that of Ford for purposes of the
preemption analysis. See Daulo v. Commonwealth
Edison, 938 F.Supp. 1388, 1406 (N.D. Ill. 1996).
However, at the dismissal stage this Court must view the
allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs and
plaintiffs have alleged that these individuals had policy
making authority and exerted control over the workplace. This
Court therefore finds that it is premature to dismiss
plaintiffs' assault and battery claims based on
preemption by the IWCA. See e.g., Fondrliak v.
Commonwealth Edison, No. 98 C 5985, 1999 WL 51804, *5,
1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1000 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 29, 1999);
Bruce v. S. Stickney Sanitary Dist., No. 01 C 3578,
2001 WL 789225, at *5 (N.D. Ill. July 12, 2001).
based on the foregoing, Ford's partial motion to ...