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Duignan v. City of Chicago

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

April 6, 2017

Jamie Duignan, Plaintiff,
v.
City of Chicago, a Municipal Corporation Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ELAINE E. BUCKLO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Jamie Duignan was working as a detective for the Chicago Police Department (“CPD”) when, on approximately March 17, 2013, she engaged in conduct that led the Superintendent of Police to file charges against her before the City's Police Board on August 26, 2014.[1] In April of 2014 (i.e., after plaintiff's alleged misconduct, but before the Superintendent filed charges), plaintiff was hospitalized and provisionally diagnosed with acute psychosis delusional disorder. She later tested positive for Huntington's disease, which she states is “a terminal genetic neurodegenerative disorder that is characterized by progressively worsening motor, cognitive, behavioral, and psychiatric symptoms.” Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) at ¶ 12. Plaintiff alleges that her psychosis and Huntington's disease “were active for about two or three years prior to April of 2014, ” and that she was temporarily disabled from performing her duties as a detective, but that “her condition was medically resolved by September 29, 2014, ” at which time she “experienced a total remission of her psychosis and no longer exhibited any active signs of Huntington's disease.” Id. at ¶¶ 13-15.

         In the meantime, the Police Board held a hearing on the Superintendent's charges against plaintiff on November 21 and 24, 2014. Plaintiff admitted to the conduct attributed to her, but she presented unrebutted expert testimony that she was suffering, at the time, from “acute psychosis delusional disorder, secondary to a general medical condition, Huntington's disease.” SAC at ¶ 20. In a decision issued on February 19, 2015, the Police Board found that plaintiff was not guilty of the alleged violations, as her behavior was the result of a paranoid delusional state that was substantially related to her medical condition. Id. at 22. The Police Board further concluded that the case involved “a medical rather than disciplinary matter and should be handled by the Department as such.” SAC, Exh. B at 11.

         Thereafter, at defendant's direction, plaintiff underwent a psychological evaluation at the Center for Applied Psychology and Forensic Studies on March 6, 2015. The psychologist who evaluated her concluded that plaintiff was unfit for duty as a police detective. SAC, Exh. D. The decision states that it is “based on the background information, current test findings, observations, as well as interview data.” Id. It goes on to elaborate, “[t]his decision is based upon the progressive course of Huntington's disease and the lack of an adequate departmental system to continuously monitor medication compliance and the Detective's psychological state.” Id. Plaintiff grieved this determination on March 13, 2015.

         On March 27, 2015, the Superintendent filed an action in the Circuit Court of Cook County seeking administrative review of the Police Board's decision finding plaintiff not guilty of misconduct. That action was dismissed, and the Police Board's decision thus affirmed, on July 27, 2016. In the meantime, plaintiff had been referred by her union for a second psychological examination by a different provider. The psychologist who examined her on April 7, 2015, found that she was fit for duty. The complaint does not indicate whether defendant is aware of the results of that examination. Plaintiff has not been returned to work.

         On September 16, 2015, the Superintendent filed a second set of charges with the Police Board (the “second charges”), again seeking plaintiff's discharge from the Chicago Police Department. Plaintiff does not describe the second charges, the events that gave rise to them, or when those events occurred. A hearing proceeded on the second charges on June 29, 2016. So far as the record reveals, no decision in that case has been rendered.

         In Count I of her complaint, plaintiff alleges that defendant discriminated against and harassed her as a result of her disability, and failed to accommodate her disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). In Count II, she asserts claims under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”), alleging that defendant wrongfully requested her genetic information and wrongfully discriminated against her on the basis of her genetic information.

         Defendant has moved to dismiss both of plaintiff's claims, arguing that she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies by filing a timely charge with the EEOC. In defendant's view, plaintiff's 300-day window to file an EEOC charge opened on March 6, 2015, when she was found to be unfit for duty. Defendant further argues that plaintiff has not stated a claim for ADA discrimination because: 1) she does not sufficiently allege that she is a qualified individual, and 2) she does not allege “but-for” causation. Additionally, defendant argues that plaintiff's failure to accommodate claim fails on the pleadings because she does not allege that she ever requested an accommodation. Finally, defendant argues that plaintiff pleads herself out of her claims that defendant unlawfully requested her genetic information, and took adverse action against her based on her genetic information, in violation of GINA. For the following reasons, I grant defendant's motion.

         I.

         When considering a motion to dismiss, I draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party, and I assume the truth all well-pleaded allegations. See Killingsworth v. HSBC Bank, 507 F.3d 614, 618 (7th Cir. 2007). To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must set forth enough facts that, if taken as true, “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         Ordinarily, a plaintiff need not anticipate and attempt to plead around an affirmative defense such as noncompliance with the statute of limitations. See, e.g., Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980); United States Gypsum Co. v. Indiana Gas Co., 350 F.3d 623, 626 (7th Cir. 2003). But where the complaint alleges facts that establish “everything necessary to satisfy the affirmative defense, ” dismissal on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is appropriate. U.S. v. Lewis, 411 F.3d 838, 842 (7th Cir. 2005).

         In Illinois, an employee alleging disability discrimination must file an EEOC charge within 300 days of the allegedly discriminatory act. Stepney v. Naperville School Dist. 203, 392 F.3d 236, 239 (7th Cir. 2004) (“Because the ADA's enforcement provision expressly incorporates § 2000e-5 of Title VII, claims for discrimination under the ADA also must be filed within 300 days.”). Here, the complaint does not allege, nor does the unsigned, undated version of the charge attached to the complaint reflect, the date on which plaintiff filed her charge. In her opposition, however, plaintiff acknowledges that the charge was filed on February 12, 2016, the date that appears on the document defendant attaches to its motion, and which appears to be the version of the charge that plaintiff ultimately filed.[2]Accordingly, for her claims to be timely, the complaint must allege discriminatory conduct within the 300-day window preceding that date, i.e., on or after April 18, 2015.[3]

         Plaintiff argues that her claim accrued on September 16, 2015, the day defendant filed the second charges. Resp. at 4. I agree with defendant, however, that the filing of these charges does not amount to an adverse employment action, and that the complaint articulates no actionable discriminatory conduct after March 6, 2015, the day the CPD-endorsed psychologist determined that plaintiff was unfit for duty.

         “In a discrimination case, a materially adverse employment action is one which visits upon a plaintiff a significant change in employment status.” Boss v. Castro, 816 F.3d 910, 917 (7th Cir. 2016) (internal quotations and citation omitted). Examples of materially adverse actions include changes involving “the employee's current wealth, his career prospects, or changes to work conditions that include humiliating, degrading, unsafe, unhealthy, or otherwise significant negative alteration in the workplace.” Id. According to the complaint, at the time the second charges were filed, plaintiff had been on medical leave since at least April of ...


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