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Shirley v. Staffing Network Holdings, LLC

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

November 8, 2016

SIDNEY SHIRLEY on behalf of himself and other similarly situated laborers, Plaintiff,
v.
STAFFING NETWORK HOLDINGS, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          James B. Zagel, United States District Judge.

         In this proposed class action, Plaintiff Sidney Shirley alleges that Defendant Staffing Network Holdings, LLC, an employment agency, discriminated against African American job applicants in favor of Latino applicants. Staffing Network moves to dismiss all claims against it and also moves to strike and dismiss Shirley's class action allegations. For the reasons below, both of Staffing Network's motions are denied.

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are taken from the Plaintiff's complaint and are accepted as true for purposes of resolving these motions. Plaintiff Sidney Shirley is an African American. At various times from June 2012 to June 2014, Shirley visited the branch office of Defendant Staffing Network in Hanover Park, Illinois. Staffing Network operates as an employment agency, providing third-party client companies with low and moderately skilled laborers to fill jobs on a daily basis. The company permits individuals who are seeking employment to walk into one of its branch offices to request a referral to an employer. When an applicant walks into a Staffing Network branch office, the applicant provides his contact information to a Staffing Network employee.

         When Shirley sought work at the Hanover Branch, he signed in on a form that would indicate the order in which applicants had arrived. Shirley would wait at the office in an attempt to receive work.

         Shirley observed that during the two years he was seeking work through Staffing Network, about a quarter of the applicants seeking work were African American. While at the Hanover Park branch office, Shirley observed that job applicants who appeared Hispanic and spoke Spanish were assigned to jobs, while the applicants who appeared African American were not assigned jobs. Shirley states that on many occasions he would seek work at the office and was not assigned work, despite being qualified for work. Shirley alleges that the non-African Americans who received job assignments were no more qualified than Shirley and had not arrived at the office before Shirley. Furthermore, Shirley alleges that when he was not present at the office, he did not receive assignments even though non-African American laborers were contacted about work assignments.

         At one point between June 2012 and June 2014, Shirley and other African Americans were assigned by Staffing Network to work at a company called Philips-Norelco. When this job ended, Shirley alleges he was passed up on further assignments for Hispanic employees.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A plaintiff will survive a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) if the complaint “(1) describes the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests and (2) plausibly suggests that the plaintiff has a right to relief above a speculative level.” Bravo v. Midland Credit Mgmt., Inc., 812 F.3d 599, 601-02 (7th Cir. 2016).

         In making its determination, the Court will “accept all well-pleaded factual allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor.” White v. Keely, 814 F.3d 883, 887-88 (7th Cir. 2016). A complaint “need not contain detailed factual allegations, but it must provide more than an unadorned the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)) (internal quotations omitted).

         Employment discrimination claims “are not subject to a heightened pleading standard.” Carlson v. CSX Transp., Inc., 758 F.3d 819, 827 (7th Cir. 2014). Because employers are familiar with discrimination claims and know how to investigate them, “little information is required to put the employer on notice of these claims.” Id.

         DISCUSSION

         Shirley alleges that Staffing Network discriminated against him and other African American job applicants at the Hanover Park branch in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1962, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq.

         I. Statute ...


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