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Hale v. Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

November 7, 2016

LOUISE HALE, Plaintiff,
v.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, Defendant.

          OPINION

          SUE E. MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) (d/e 1) filed by Defendant Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University. The Motion is GRANTED IN PART. Plaintiff Louise Hale's Title VII claims pertaining to a failure to promote and a failure to stop harassment and her Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claim alleging a failure to reasonably accommodate her disabilities are outside the scope of the charge of discrimination Plaintiff filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (the Department) and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

         I. BACKGROUND

         On June 28, 2016, Plaintiff filed in this Court a pro se Complaint of Employment Discrimination using a pre-printed form (d/e 1). The attachments to the Complaint indicate that Plaintiff, who was born in Mexico, worked as a licensed practical nurse for Defendant for nearly 20 years until she was allegedly forced to resign in November 2014.

         Plaintiff marked the boxes on the pre-printed complaint form alleging that Defendant discriminated against her on the basis of her color, national origin, and race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and discriminated against her on the basis of her race in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. In particular, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant intentionally discriminated against her by terminating Plaintiff's employment; failing to promote Plaintiff; failing to stop harassment; failing to reasonably accommodate Plaintiff's disabilities; retaliating against Plaintiff; and coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with Plaintiff's exercise or enjoyment of rights. She also alleges that Defendant intentionally discriminated against her with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.

         In the “facts” section of the form, Plaintiff alleges she was subjected to a hostile work environment because she was held in a room against her will. She also alleges she was retaliated against for being a whistle blower by reporting bed bugs and the improper cleaning of surgical equipment. Plaintiff further alleges racial discrimination, noting she was “a member of AFSCME Local 370.” Compl. ¶ 12. Finally, Plaintiff alleges she is diabetic and had breast cancer but had a hard time taking time off even with a doctor's note. Id. Plaintiff seeks appropriate injunctive relief, lost wages, liquidated/double damages, front pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, prejudgment interest, post-judgment interest, and costs, including reasonable attorney's fees and expert witness fees. Id. ¶ 13(g).

         Plaintiff also marked the boxes on the pre-printed complaint form indicating that she had filed a charge before the EEOC and the Department. Plaintiff received a Right to Sue Notice on or about June 1, 2016.

         Plaintiff attached various documents to the Complaint, including the EEOC Right to Sue letter, the amended charge of discrimination filed December 10, 2015 with the Department, and the Department's investigation report. In the amended charge of discrimination, Plaintiff listed national origin and retaliation as the cause of the discrimination. Plaintiff alleged that she was forced to resign in November 2014 because of her national origin (Mexico) and in retaliation for previously filing a charge of discrimination against Defendant.

         The investigation report indicates that the Department investigated Plaintiff's claim that she was forced to resign in November 2014 after a co-worker claimed Plaintiff assaulted her. Plaintiff complained that other employees whose national origin was the United States did worse things and were not “singled out.” See d/e 1-3 p. 7 of 8 ¶ 3. Plaintiff also reported that Angie Doolin, the Assistant Director of Human Resources, once told Plaintiff she needed to go back to where Plaintiff was raised, which Plaintiff indicated was Texas. Id. at ¶ 4. The investigation report also references an earlier suspension of Plaintiff in December 2013 for failing to follow the chain of command. It appears that this earlier suspension was the subject of Plaintiff's March 2014 charge of discrimination, which formed the basis of Plaintiff's retaliation claim.

         On September 21, 2016, Defendant filed an Answer to Complaint of Employment Discrimination (d/e 10). Defendant also filed the Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) at issue herein (d/e 8). In the Motion to Dismiss, Defendant argues that Plaintiff's allegations that Defendant discriminated against her by failing to promote her, failing to stop harassment, and failing to reasonably accommodate her disabilities are beyond the scope of the charge of discrimination and should be dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.

         On October 14, 2016, the Clerk of the Court sent Plaintiff a Notice (d/e 11) that a case-dispositive motion was filed. The Notice advised Plaintiff that a response was due within 14 days from service of the motion and, if Plaintiff did not respond, the motion may be granted and the case terminated without a trial. The Notice also indicated that, under the Court's local rules, a motion is deemed uncontested if no opposing brief is filed. That same day, the Court entered a Text Order granting Plaintiff until October 31, 2016 to file a response. Plaintiff has not filed a response to the Motion to Dismiss.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A claim that a plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies is appropriately addressed in a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) when the plaintiff pleads facts showing that the claim is outside the scope of the charge of discrimination. See McQueen v. City of Chi., 803 F.Supp.2d 892, 903 (N.D. Ill. 2011) (citing Leskovec v. Circuit Works Corp., No. 08 C 4846, 2008 WL 5236006, at *2 (N.D. Ill.Dec. 15, 2008)). When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court reviews the complaint and the exhibits attached to the complaint. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c) (“A copy of a written instrument that is an exhibit to a pleading is a part of the pleading for all purposes.”); Bogie v. Rosenberg, 705 F.3d 603, 609 (7th Cir. 2013).

         A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint. Christensen v. Cnty. of Boone, 483 F.3d 454, 458 (7th Cir. 2007). To state a claim for relief, a plaintiff need only provide a short and plain statement of the claim showing she is entitled to relief and giving the defendants fair notice of the claims. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008). The Court construes the complaint in the light most favorable to ...


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