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Taylor v. Metropolitan Water Reclanation District of Greater Chicago

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

January 26, 2017

TIA T. TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
METROPOLITAN WATER RECLAMATION DISTRICT OF GREATER CHICAGO, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Robert M. Dow, Jr., United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Tia Taylor (“Plaintiff”) brings this Title VII employment discrimination suit against her employer, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (“Defendant”) based on allegations that Defendant discriminated against her on the basis of gender and color. See [1]. Currently before the Court are Defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim [15] and motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of prosecution [20]. For the reasons explained below, Defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of prosecution [20] is denied and Defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim [15] is granted in part and denied in part. Plaintiff's claims for discrimination based on color under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 are dismissed. Plaintiff's Title VII claim for discrimination based on gender remains in the case. This matter is set for status hearing on February 7, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. The parties should come prepared to discuss deadlines for completing discovery.

         I. Background[1]

         Plaintiff began working for Defendant in July 2009 at the Calumet Plant in Chicago. Her position was maintenance laborer. Plaintiff was part of a ten-person crew responsible for cleaning the plant. Plaintiff was the only member of the crew who was assigned duties both inside and outside the plant's administration building. Beginning in April 2010, the foreman of the crew was Hollee Davis (“Davis”). Plaintiff alleges that from the beginning of their relationship Davis expressed disdain for and made disparaging remarks to Plaintiff, such as, “you think you're so cute” or “aren't your pants too tight?” [1] at 20.

         In September 2010, Plaintiff discovered that she was pregnant. In December 2010, she suffered hemorrhaging and was rushed to the hospital with heavy cramping and pain. When she returned to work, she submitted documentation requesting light duty. Davis did not respond to her request. After Plaintiff made several inquiries, Davis told Plaintiff that Defendant did not allow light duty for maintenance laborers and that, if Plaintiff could not complete the work assigned to her, she should not come to work. Plaintiff complained about this treatment to Davis' supervisor and her union representative, neither of whom took any action.

         On January 4, 2011, Plaintiff was again hospitalized with hemorrhaging. Plaintiff called Davis and told Davis that she was in the hospital and did not know when her physician would release her to work. Plaintiff was released the following day, January 5, and advised by her physician to perform light duty only. Plaintiff called Davis and told her that she would not be reporting to work until her physician gave her authorization to do so. On January 14, Defendant provided Plaintiff with a written warning, even though Plaintiff had provided paperwork to support her absence, had enough accrued time (vacation, personal, and optional time) to cover the absence, and was entitled to leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).

         In March 2011, Plaintiff went on maternity leave. She applied for FMLA leave and was denied. Plaintiff learned that Davis had not properly signed her FMLA application, which resulted in it being denied. Plaintiff was forced to take leave on “ordinary disability.” [1] at 22. Plaintiff had her baby in April by cesarean section. Plaintiff alleges that her baby was born a month early because of the extra work and stress that she had been exposed to while working for Defendant.

         In June 2011, Plaintiff returned to work. Plaintiff was subjected to stressful working conditions and given work assignments that should have belonged to other members of her crew. According to Plaintiff, Davis continued to make lewd comments to and stare and roll her eyes at Plaintiff.

         On May 30, 2012, Plaintiff came to work dressed better than she usually would, because it was her birthday. Davis told Plaintiff that her pants were not fit for work and that she would be sent home if she did not cover her outfit in a yellow plastic suit. Plaintiff donned the yellow plastic suit. Later that day, Davis told Plaintiff that she had received emails about another member of the crew not properly cleaning the scale houses and permanently reassigned the scale houses to Plaintiff. Pursuant to the governing union contract, Plaintiff was entitled to gas mileage reimbursement for gas that she used driving her personal vehicle to the scale houses. After cleaning the scale houses for a month, Plaintiff asked Davis for a mileage reimbursement form. Davis said that she did not have any forms and subsequently told Plaintiff that she could not reimburse Plaintiff because one of her co-workers had already received the reimbursement.

         Plaintiff protested and Davis became confrontational. Plaintiff was never reimbursed for gas mileage.

         Plaintiff became depressed and worried about being fired from or quitting her job. Davis called a meeting in July 2012 to discuss tardiness. When Plaintiff raised her hand to speak, one of Plaintiff's crew members, Franklin Enyard (“Enyard”) jumped out of his seat and began yelling profanities at her, and Davis told Plaintiff to put her hand down because she didn't “want to hear it.” [1] at 26.

         Davis continued to harass Plaintiff into the fall of 2013. In November 2013, Plaintiff filed a grievance with Defendant. She complained that Davis was assigning her the work of her co-workers, was denied light duty while pregnant, and was disciplined inappropriately and treated rudely because of her gender. Defendant responded in January 2014 that there was no evidence that Davis' actions violated applicable administrative procedures. Davis continued to harass Plaintiff.

         On April 28, 2014, Plaintiff and Enyard had an altercation at the plant after Plaintiff asked to use Enyard's cart. Enyard yelled profanities at Plaintiff, spit in her face, and threatened to kill her. Plaintiff called police, but they never showed up, and plant supervisors ignored her requests for help. The next day, Plaintiff filed a report with plant security.

         The day after that, Plaintiff was informed that she was being promoted and on May 5, 2014, she began work at a different plant, in Egan. Davis called Plaintiff on the phone and told her that she “would not get away while she [Davis] was gone” from work at the Calumet plant. [1] at 33. On May 8, 2014, Plaintiff was informed ...


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