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Carr v. Zaruba

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

April 5, 2017

COPRES CARR, Plaintiff,
SHERIFF JOHN ZARUBA, individually and in his official capacity, JAMES KRUSE, ANTHONY ROMANELLI, JAMES WILLIAMS and JACK DELLINGER in their official capacity, and THE COUNTY OF DUPAGE Defendants.


          Robert W. Gettleman United States District Judge

         Pro se plaintiff Copres Carr filed a five-count fourth amended complaint against defendants based on racial discrimination and retaliation he 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 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim on all counts. For the reasons described below, defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.


         Plaintiff's complaint alleges five counts: discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in violation of Title VII (Counts I, II, and V); discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count III); and retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Count IV). At the heart of plaintiff's complaint are actions taken by his supervisors, which plaintiff claims were adverse and racially motivated.

         Plaintiff, an African-American man, began working for the Dupage County Sheriff's Office in March of 1997 and continues to do so to this day. Defendants Dellinger and Williams are Sergeants with the Dupage County Sheriff's Office that supervise plaintiff. Defendant Romanelli is a Major with the Dupage County Sheriff's Office and also supervises plaintiff. Defendant Kruse is a Chief with the Dupage County Sheriff's Office and is another of plaintiff's supervisors. Defendant Zaruba is the Sheriff of Dupage County. Plaintiff does not allege any personal involvement on Zaruba's part.

         In his complaint, plaintiff alleges a number of adverse employment actions based on race. First, plaintiff alleges that Dellinger ordered plaintiff to obtain a doctor's note regarding a skin condition that prevented plaintiff from complying with the office's appearance policy that required male employees to shave. According to plaintiff, his skin condition, which “greatly affects African Americans, ” had already been documented in his personnel file in 2007, and obtaining an updated doctor's note cost him one day of paid leave as well as his copay. At the time, plaintiff requested documentation that he was required to obtain another doctor's note, but never received any such documentation. Plaintiff filed a complaint regarding the incident with Kruse on January 15, 2015.

         Plaintiff further alleges that Dellinger has twice given plaintiff written reprimands for tardiness, first on September 11, 2014, and again on January 13, 2015. According to plaintiff, he had been tardy only five times before receiving each of these reprimands, and the office's attendance policy did not call for a written reprimand under such circumstances. Plaintiff complained to Romanelli regarding the reprimands and documented his complaint during his January 14, 2015, performance review. Presumably related to the above incidents, plaintiff alleges that Dellinger “enforced unauthorized discipline on Plaintiff concerning Sheriff Department appearance and attendance policy.” Plaintiff additionally alleges that on July 22, 2014, Dellinger ordered plaintiff to complete reports in a way that differed from the manner in which his reporting sergeant had instructed him. When plaintiff informed Dellinger that he had been taught to compete reports a different way, Dellinger instructed plaintiff to tell his reporting sergeant that Dellinger's way was “the correct way.” Plaintiff refused, informing Dellinger that doing so could subject plaintiff to discipline for insubordination. Plaintiff does not allege that Dellinger took any further action on the issue.

         At some point, which plaintiff does not specify, Dellinger conducted a performance review of plaintiff.[2] Plaintiff alleges that Dellinger gave him a “low” evaluation despite having been assigned to the courthouse (presumably, where plaintiff works) for only five weeks. According to plaintiff, he did not interact with Dellinger often enough for the review to be based on plaintiff's job performance, so “Dellinger had predetermined Plaintiff's job performance, and abilities based on Assumptions and stereotypes.” Plaintiff complained to Kruse while reviewing his personnel file, but Kruse allegedly “failed to investigate, address, or remedy the issue.”

         Williams also conducted a performance review of plaintiff on July 22, 2014. Plaintiff alleges that Williams had also “predetermined Plaintiff's job performance, and abilities based on Assumptions and stereotypes, not based on Plaintiff's performance.” As with Dellinger, plaintiff alleges that he did not have sufficient interactions with Williams for the performance review to be based on plaintiff's actual performance. According to plaintiff, his “evaluation decreased two points, ” but plaintiff does not state the result of the evaluation beyond that it was “low.” Plaintiff alleges that he spoke with Williams regarding the evaluation, but does not explain what that conversation consisted of or what, if anything, resulted from the conversation. Plaintiff filed a formal complaint on July 23, 2014, stating that Williams could not accurately evaluate plaintiff's performance because plaintiff “took assignments from and was directly supervised by” someone else. Plaintiff alleges that Kruse and Romanelli ignored the complaint. According to plaintiff, he “was not permitted to test for promotion” due to the low scores he received on his performance evaluations.

         Plaintiff alleges that, in sum, “Zaruba, Kruse, Romanelli, Dellinger, [and] Williams in their official capacity have intentionally discriminated against African Americans by manipulating performance evaluation scores, preventing or hindering advancement of African American Deputies within the Court Security division, ” all while “similarly situated Caucasian employees were treated more favorably.”

         In addition to discrimination, plaintiff alleges that he was retaliated against after lodging complaints regarding his alleged mistreatment. As evidence of retaliation, plaintiff alleges that lesser qualified employees were promoted to positions for which plaintiff was eligible. Additionally, on January 17, 2015, plaintiff alleges that he was ordered to remove his three children, aged 11, 12, and 15, from the courtroom where he was working, while other employees' children were allowed to attend court as spectators. According to plaintiff, this too was retaliatory.

         Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on March 27, 2015, alleging ongoing misconduct that subjected plaintiff to “different terms and conditions of employment, including, but not limited to, poor performance evaluations.” In his complaint, plaintiff alleged that he was “denied the opportunity to test for promotion” based on his race and that, after complaining of his mistreatment, he was retaliated against for “engaging in protected activity, in violation of Title VII.” The EEOC issued a right to sue letter on September 28, 2015.


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