United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
DANIEL M. FILIPEK, Plaintiff,
OAKTON COMMUNITY COLLEGE, Defendant. DONALD A. KRZYZAK, Plaintiff,
OAKTON COMMUNITY COLLEGE, Defendant. BARRY H. DAYTON, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
OAKTON COMMUNITY COLLEGE, et al. Defendants
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, District Judge:
separate cases, Daniel Filipek and Donald Krzyzak have sued
Oakton Community College, alleging that OCC violated the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act by instituting a policy not
to employ as part-time faculty anyone who is an annuitant of
the State University Retirement System. Barry Dayton has
filed a similar suit on behalf of a class of similarly
situated persons, and about eighteen others have opted into
Dayton's case. All three cases have been consolidated.
OCC has moved to stay the proceedings in the three cases
pending the determination of an unfair labor practice charge
brought by the Oakton Community College Adjunct Faculty
Association, a labor union, before the Illinois Educational
Labor Relations Board, a state administrative agency. OCC
relies on Colorado River Water Conservation District v.
United States, 424 U.S. 800 (1976), and Younger v.
Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971).
Colorado River, "[a]bstention from the exercise
of federal jurisdiction is the exception, not the rule,
" Colorado River, 424 U.S. at 813, and it may
be invoked only in those "exceptional
circumstances” in which abstention "would clearly
serve an important countervailing interest."
Int'l Coll. of Surgeons v. City of Chicago, 153
F.3d 356, 360 (7th Cir. 1996) (quoting County of
Allegheny v. Frank Mashuda Co., 360 U.S. 185, 188- 89
(1959)). A court conducts a two-part inquiry to determine if
abstention is appropriate under Colorado River.
First, the court determines whether the state and federal
suits are parallel. If they are, the court then considers
several factors to determine if there are exceptional
circumstances that justify abstention. Tyrer v. City of
S. Beloit, 456 F.3d 744, 751 (7th Cir. 2006).
request for abstention founders on the first step of this
analysis; this case and the unfair labor practice proceeding
are not parallel. For actions to be parallel, formal symmetry
is not required; "a suit is parallel when substantially
the same parties are contemporaneously litigating
substantially the same issues in another forum."
Id. at 752. To determine whether two suits are
parallel, a district court "should examine whether the
suits involve the same parties, arise out of the same facts,
and raise similar factual and legal issues."
Id. The union represents some, though not all, of
the plaintiffs and potential plaintiffs in the ADEA cases,
and the labor board proceeding and these cases arise out of
the same general factual scenario. But they do not present
the same or even similar legal issues. The central issue in
this case is whether OCC's policy amounts to
discrimination based on age. The central issue in the
proceeding before the state labor board is whether OCC
bargained in good faith when it changed its policy. These
issues are not even close to being similar. In addition, as
plaintiffs correctly point out, a favorable ruling by the
labor board likely would amount to an order to bargain in
good faith; it would not necessarily result in relief for the
aggrieved faculty members. And one way or another, the
present case would have to proceed irrespective of the state
labor board's ruling, because the plaintiffs in the ADEA
cases are entitled to have their federal statutory rights
adjudicated, a task that the state labor board cannot and
will not undertake. For these reasons, assuming for the sake
of argument that Colorado River abstention applies
where the purportedly parallel proceeding is before a state
administrative agency and not a court, abstention is
inappropriate in this case.
Younger, absent extraordinary circumstances, a
federal court should not interfere with a pending state
criminal proceeding. Younger, 401 U.S. at 53-54. The
Younger doctrine has also been applied when the
parallel proceeding is a state administrative proceeding.
See AFSCME v. Tristano, 898 F.3d 1302, 1303 (7th
Cir. 1990). Abstention is appropriate, absent extraordinary
circumstances, if there is an ongoing state proceeding that
is judicial in nature, implicates important state interests,
and offers an adequate opportunity for review of the federal
plaintiff's federal claims. See, e.g., Forty One
News, Inc. v. Cty. of Lake, 491 F.3d 662, 665-66 (7th
Cir. 2007). The labor board proceeding is a quasi-judicial
proceeding, and it is fair to assume that it implicates an
important state interest. But it does not offer any
opportunity for review of the plaintiffs' age
discrimination claims; OCC does not even suggest otherwise.
Thus Younger abstention is inappropriate. The Court
also notes that more generally, OCC has ...