United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
R. Herndon United States District Judge.
before the Court is defendant William M. BeDell Achievement
and Resource Center's (hereinafter “the
Center”) motion to dismiss or alternatively to strike
(Doc. 10). The Center contends that Counts III and IV of
Laurie's complaint should be dismissed for failure to
state a claim. The Center also moves to dismiss or strike the
alleged common-law retaliation claim for reporting
“on-the-job injuries” in Count V of the
complaint. Laurie responded opposing the motion (Doc. 29), to
which the Center replied (Doc. 30). For the reasons discussed
below, the Center's' motion is DENIED.
Geneva Laurie alleges that she was hired as an employee by
the Center in August 2008. Thereafter, around August 2013,
Program Director, Rosjean Custer, began making inappropriate
age and health related comments about Laurie (Doc. 1-1). On
May 22, 2014, Laurie filed a written grievance with her
employer in which she indicated that she felt harassed and
discriminated by Ms. Custer because of her age
(Id.). Thereafter, on May 23, 2014, Laurie was
terminated due to “concerns over the safety of staff,
failure to meet performance standards, [and] gross
misbehavior and insubordination.” (Id.).
later filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (“EEOC”) on September 10, 2014, in
which she alleged that the Center violated provisions of the
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”).
(Doc. 29-1). The complaint was immediately cross-filed with
the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”)
according to the workshare agreement between the two
agencies. (Doc. 1-1); See 775 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann.
§ 5/7A-102(A-1) (West 2012); Kaimowitz v. Bd. of
Trustees of the Univ. of Ill., 951 F.2d 765 (7th Cir.
1991). On March 29, 2016, the EEOC issued its “right to
sue” letter to Laurie notifying her that the EEOC was
closing her case, and that she had the right to sue in
federal or state court within 90 days of her receipt of the
notice (Doc. 1-1, pg. 15).
to Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”), a
complainant must “submit a copy of the EEOC's
determination [to the IDHR] within 30 days after service of
the determination by the EEOC on complainant.” §
5/7A-102(A-1)(1). Laurie submitted the copy of EEOC's
right to sue letter to the IDHR on May 19, 2016, 51 days
after receiving it (Doc. 29-1). On that basis, the IDHR sent
the parties an Investigation Report stating that they lack
jurisdiction to hear the case because Laurie did not timely
file a copy of the EEOC's determination. On August 2,
2016, the IDHR issued a Notice of Dismissal for Lack of
Jurisdiction to notify the parties that the case was
dismissed, and if the complainant disagreed with this action,
the complainant could “(a) seek review of this
dismissal before the Illinois Human Rights Commission”
or “(b) commence a civil action in the appropriate
state circuit court within ninety (90) days after receipt of
this Notice.” (Doc. 29-1).
subsequently filed an action arising from the same operative
facts as the instant case on May 23, 2016, in the Circuit
Court of Madison County, Illinois (Doc. 1-1). Plaintiff's
initial complaint alleged six counts: Count I ADEA
(discrimination); Count II ADEA (retaliation); Count III IHRA
(discrimination); Count IV IHRA (retaliation); Count V
Illinois Common Law Retaliation; and Count VI Complaint
against Rosjean Custer.
7, 2016, defendants removed this case to the United States
District Court for the Southern District of Illinois
asserting this Court has original jurisdiction on the basis
of a federal question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (Doc. 1).
Defendants, on July 14, 2016, moved to dismiss or strike
plaintiff's complaint arguing that Counts III and IV of
the complaint should be dismissed due to Laurie's failure
to exhaust administrative remedies pursuant to the procedures
enumerated by the IHRA (Doc. 10). Additionally, the Center
claims that Laurie failed to state a claim for common law
retaliatory discharge (Count V) for reporting
“on-the-job injuries.” (Id.). Plaintiff
Laurie opposes the dismissal by arguing that she has
exhausted her administrative remedies under the IHRA for
Counts III and IV and that she sufficiently pled the Illinois
common law claim retaliation claim (Doc. 29)
Motion to Dismiss
motion to dismiss is made pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion challenges the
sufficiency of the complaint to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of
Police Chicago Lodge 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir.
2009). The Supreme Court explained in Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), that Rule 12(b)(6)
dismissal is warranted if the complaint fails to set forth
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” In making this assessment, the
district court accepts as true all well-pled factual
allegations and draws all reasonable inferences in the
plaintiff's favor. See Rujawitz v. Martin, 561
F.3d 685, 688 (7th Cir. 2009); St. John's United
Church of Christ v. City of Chicago, 502 F.3d 616, 625
(7th Cir. 2007).
though Twombly (and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662 (2009)) retooled federal pleading standards, notice
pleading remains all that is required in a complaint.
“A plaintiff still must provide only enough detail to
give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests and, through his allegations,
show that it is plausible, rather than merely speculative,
that he is entitled to relief.” Tamayo v.
Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1083 (7th Cir. 2008)
(citations and quotations omitted).
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals offers further guidance on
what a complaint must do to withstand dismissal for failure
to state a claim. The Court in Pugh v. Tribune Co.,521 F.3d 686, 699 (7th Cir. 2008) reiterated the premise:
“surviving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion requires more than
labels and conclusions;” the complaint's
allegations must “raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” A plaintiff's claim “must
be plausible on its face, ” that is, “the
complaint must establish a non-negligible probability that
the claim is valid…” Smith v. Medical
Benefit Administrators Group, Inc.,639 F.3d 277, 281
(7th Cir.2011); See also Scanlan v. Eisenberg, 669