United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. ELLIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Suzette Robinson, the former Director of Public Works for the
City of Evanston (the “City”), claims that
Defendant Walter Bobkiewicz, the City Manager for the City,
discriminated against her on the basis of her race and that
Bobkiewicz and Defendants Jennifer Lin and Grant Farrar
retaliated against her under 42 U.S.C. §
in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and the Illinois Human
Rights Act (“IHRA”), 775 Ill. Comp. Stat.
5/6-101, for filing complaints about racial discrimination.
Bobkiewicz moves to dismiss  Robinson's suit, as do
Farrar and Lin . Because Robinson has failed to allege
sufficient facts to state a claim for retaliation against Lin
and Farrar the Court grants their motion to dismiss Count V.
The Court also grants their motion to dismiss Count X because
the IHRA does not provide for individual liability in
retaliation cases. The Court denies Bobkiewicz's motion
to dismiss Counts III and IV because he has failed to show
that his decision to terminate Robinson before the City
Council eliminated her position was legislative in nature.
However, because the IHRA does not allow for individual
liability for retaliation claims, the Court dismisses Count
an African American woman, was the Director of Public Works
for the City from March 2010 until August 21, 2015. While in
this position, she reported directly to Bobkiewicz, the City
Manager. In her role as Director of Public Works, Robinson
oversaw five divisions, which employed over 100 people. In
May 2014, Robinson completed a performance evaluation of
Bobkiewicz, and she noted her belief that Bobkiewicz treats
members of the City's African America community and its
African American employees poorly. Bobkiewicz learned of
Robinson's comments in August 2014.
November 7, 2014, Bobkiewicz reprimanded Robinson publicly in
front of her assistant directors and other employees of the
Public Works Department. Bobkiewicz also falsely told at
least two of Robinson's subordinates that Robinson was
seeking to leave her position in order to undermine her
authority. In response, Robinson filed a Healthy Work
Environment Complaint (“HWE Complaint”) against
Bobkiewicz. Marty Lyons, Assistant City Manager, investigated
the HWE Complaint and sustained three of the five complaints
against Bobkiewicz. Elizabeth Tisdahl, the City's Mayor,
issued a written reprimand to Bobkiewicz. After Robinson
filed the HWE Complaint, Bobkiewicz reassigned some of her
duties to other members of the staff.
believing that her concerns regarding Bobkiewicz remained
unresolved, sent a written demand letter to the City
describing her concerns about Bobkiewicz's disparate
treatment of African American employees on March 4, 2015.
Farrar, Corporation Counsel/City Attorney, responded and
asked Robinson to submit a detailed settlement demand, which
she did on March 30, 2015. In this demand letter Robinson
stated that if her demands were not satisfied she would file
a discrimination charge against the City. On April 14, 2015,
Farrar responded on behalf of the City stating that the City
would not resolve her demands unless she left employment with
the City. He also noted in the letter that Robinson was the
subject of numerous HWE Complaints herself. On April 23,
2015, Robinson, through her attorney, responded to the letter
stating that she would proceed with filing her discrimination
charge, and she filed a charge on April 30, 2015 with the
Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”),
alleging retaliation and discrimination.
April 27, 2015, Farrar directed Lin, Human Resources Division
Manager for the City, to conduct interviews with City
employees to uncover unfavorable information about Robinson.
Lin conducted these interviews between April 27 and May 5,
2015. Lin documented these interviews in a memorandum she
wrote to Lyons and Farrar on May 8, 2015, concluding that
Robinson created an unhealthy work environment.
12, 2015, Bobkiewicz announced that Lyons and another city
employee, Ricky Voss, would conduct an examination of the
Public Works and Utilities Departments and he expected that
this examination would lead to the elimination of both
departments. As part of this examination, Bobkiewicz changed
Robinson's reporting structure and directed her to report
directly to Lyons. Lyons removed Robinson's
decision-making authority and ordered the employees who
directly reported to Robinson to instead report to him.
August 21, 2015, Lyons informed Robinson that her employment
was terminated but did not provide her a reason for the
termination. The same day, Robinson received a letter from
Bobkiewicz stating that the City planned to combine Public
Works and Utilities into one department named the Public
Works Agency. As a result of this combination, Bobkiewicz
stated that the City was eliminating Robinson's position
from the City's Fiscal Year 2016 budget and terminated
her employment, effective immediately.
August 27, 2015, Lyons sent a memorandum to the City Council
describing the proposed organizational changes to the Public
Works and Utilities Departments. The memorandum stated that
appointment of the head of the new combined agency would
occur around mid-October 2015. The City Council approved the
proposed reorganization on September 23, 2015.
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the
sufficiency of the complaint, not its merits. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6); Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510,
1520 (7th Cir. 1990). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts
in the plaintiff's complaint and draws all reasonable
inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor.
AnchorBank, FSB v. Hofer, 649 F.3d 610, 614 (7th
Cir. 2011). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint
must not only provide the defendant with fair notice of a
claim's basis but must also be facially plausible.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct.
1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009); see also Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d
929 (2007). “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.