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Gentry v. Allied Tube & Conduit Corp.

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

January 24, 2017



          Robert W. Gettleman, United States District Judge

         Pro se plaintiff Evelyn Gentry brought a complaint against Allied Tube & Conduit Corporation, Atkore International, Inc., Steve Bishara, and Kevin Fitzpatrick alleging seven claims, all based on racial discrimination she allegedly suffered in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq., 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/1-101 et seq. Defendants moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim on six of plaintiff's claims (Docs. 10 and 13). For the reasons described below, defendants' motions are granted.


         Plaintiff's complaint alleges seven claims: (1) Breach of Contract; (2) Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing; (3) Tortious Interference with Contract; (4) Conspiracy to Deprive Plaintiff of Contractual Rights; (5) Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981; (6) Violation of Title VII; and (7) Violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act. At the heart of plaintiff's complaint are decisions made by her employers, defendants Allied Tube & Conduit Corporation and its parent company, Atkore International, Inc. (“Allied”).[2] Plaintiff holds Vice President of Global Human Resources, Kevin Fitzpatrick (“Fitzpatrick”), and Vice President of Human Resources, Mechanical Products and Solutions, Steve Bishara (“Bishara”), responsible for those decisions.

         Plaintiff, an African-American woman, began working for Allied as a Senior Human Resources Generalist on July 29, 2013. At some point in July 2014 plaintiff was offered a Project Management position, which she accepted on the condition that Allied pay for her to complete a Project Management Certification Program, which it did. According to plaintiff, Fitzpatrick and Allied's then-Director of Human Resources told plaintiff that she would maintain the Project Management role until July 1, 2015, and she would be working exclusively in that role (presumably with no additional duties) until at least February 1, 2015.

         Plaintiff was working, exclusively, in the Project Management role in October 2014 when Bishara told plaintiff that she was also to resume her former duties as a Senior Human Resources Generalist. Plaintiff refused to do so. Later that month, Bishara and Fitzpatrick called a meeting with plaintiff, in which they again informed plaintiff that she was to resume her duties as a Senior Human Resources Generalist in addition to performing her duties as a Project Manager. Plaintiff again refused. Shortly thereafter, in November 2014, Bishara and Fitzpatrick removed plaintiff from the Project Management position and she resumed her role as a Senior Human Resources Generalist, which she continues to this day.

         Plaintiff alleges that she was denied advancement opportunities when she was returned to her original position. Plaintiff further alleges that she was rated below expectations in certain categories of her 2014 fiscal year performance review, and that those ratings resulted in a relatively low merit increase, presumably in salary. Plaintiff's 2014 fiscal year performance review was conducted by neither Bishara nor Fitzpatrick, but the human resources employee who conducted the review was aware of plaintiff's disagreements with Bishara and Fitzpatrick. According to plaintiff, employees outside of her protected class were awarded promotions, additional compensation for performing additional work responsibilities, and higher merit increases, while plaintiff was not.


         I. Legal Standard

         When ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court accepts the complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Sprint Spectrum L.P. v. City of Carmel, Indiana, 361 F.3d 998, 1001 (7th Cir. 2004). The pleading must describe the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds on which the claim rests. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The allegations must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising the possibility above the “speculative level.” Id.

         This standard demands that a complaint allege more than legal conclusions or “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “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.” Id.

         II. Analysis

         Defendant Allied argues that plaintiff's first, second, fifth, and seventh claims should be dismissed for failure to state a claim. Defendants Bishara and Fitzpatrick argue that plaintiff's third, fourth, and fifth claims should be dismissed for the same reason. The court will address each of these claims in turn.

         A. Plaintiff's First ...

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