United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. Durkin, Judge
Ricardo Gomez brings this lawsuit alleging employment
discrimination and a hostile work environment under federal
and state law. The Defendant City of Chicago moves to
dismiss. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's
motion is granted in part and denied in part.
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.
is from Puerto Rico and identifies as Hispanic. He is a
firefighter, and has been employed by the City of Chicago in
that capacity since 2005. He has worked at multiple fire
stations in the course of his career. In this lawsuit, he
alleges that at the stations at Peterson and Pulaski and
Foster and Claremont, he was subjected to a hostile work
environment on account of his ethnicity and national origin.
He does not allege the dates he worked at these locations,
but from a review of his complaint to the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), it appears to
have been some time in 2014.
support of his claims, Plaintiff alleges that he was harassed
by superiors for wearing casual clothes around the fire
station, while non-Hispanic firefighters were not. He alleges
to have been “treated like a rookie” despite his
experience on the job, subjected to pranks (including the
theft of his paycheck), and excluded from jokes targeted at
Hispanics, left a note in his locker that contained “a
derogatory term for people of Hispanic origin and/or
ethnicity, ” and placed a note with his gear that said
“Get out and swim back to your s*** hole, ” which
he understood to refer to his country of origin, Puerto Rico.
furthermore alleges that he was targeted on account of his
ethnicity in a manner that threatened his life and physical
wellbeing. For example, he alleges that his colleagues
“sabotaged” his safety gear by smearing dirt on
the visor attached to his helmet, removing the coverings from
the helmet intended to protect his ears, placing a nail in
his boot with the sharp end toward his foot, and removing his
mask from its designated pouch. Finally, Plaintiff alleges
that another firefighter moved toward him in a threatening
manner while holding a knife. He states that the hostility he
faced in the workplace caused him severe anxiety, elevated
blood pressure requiring emergency medical treatment, and
ultimately required him to take medical leave from the fire
department (for an unspecified period of time).
alleges that he reported these acts of discrimination
internally to several of his superiors: Lieutenant Peters,
Battalion Chief Santucci, Lieutenant Ted Maj, and Assistant
Deputy Fire Commissioner Mark Nielsen. He alleges that he was
informed (though he does not allege by whom) that the Fire
Department's Internal Affairs division would conduct an
investigation of his allegations. However, he was never
advised of any investigation or action taken in the matter.
He was transferred to another fire station.
also alleges that on or about June 20, 2014, he filed a
complaint with the Department of Human Resources of the City
of Chicago. To date, he has not been advised whether the
department concluded its investigation. To his knowledge, no
action has been taken to punish past discrimination or to
prevent ongoing discrimination.
October 17, 2014, Plaintiff filed a written complaint of
discrimination with the EEOC. The EEOC complaint contains a
catalogue of alleged discriminatory acts similar to the ones
set forth in the complaint. On May 12, 2016, the EEOC issued
Plaintiff a Right to Sue letter. He then filed this action
within the 90-day deadline set forth in the letter.
first sentence of his lawsuit, Plaintiff generally alleges
civil rights violations under Title VII, § 1981, and
§ 1983, and state law. Title VII permits hostile work
environment claims against employers, as does Section 1981
when those claims are made on the basis of race, and Section
1983 when the defendant employer is a municipal body.
Plaintiff never identifies in his complaint any Illinois
statute or common law claim as a basis for recovery, and
neither party addresses whether the factual allegations
plausibly state a claim for relief under Illinois law.
“[a] plaintiff need not plead legal theories nor allege
all the facts necessary to establish the essential elements
of a legal theory, ” he must nevertheless put the
defendant “on notice of the claims and the grounds they
rest upon.” Pierce v. Ill. Dep't of Human
Serv., 128 Fed.Appx. 534, 536-37 (7th Cir. 2005).
Without even a reference to a state law cause of action, the
Court does not consider Plaintiff to have put Defendant on
notice of any claim under Illinois law. The ...