United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Michael J. Reagan United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to
Strike the Affirmative Defenses (Doc. 17) set forth by
Defendants in their answer to the complaint (Doc. 12). This
Court enjoys jurisdiction to hear the case as a matter of
federal question jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1343. The underlying dispute contains a litany
of claims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliatory
termination by Plaintiff against her former boss, Sheriff
Michael Everett, and employer, Wayne County Sheriff's
Department and Wayne County (Doc. 1). There are 17 claims in
total. Defendants answered the complaint, and in doing so,
they also raised six ‘affirmative defenses' (Doc.
12). Plaintiff responded in a timely fashion (Doc. 20). The
matter is now before the Court for a ruling.
Plaintiff's claims stem from two essential
contentions-(1) that she was treated unfairly on the job
based on her age and gender; and (2) that she never received
appropriate accommodations for her documented disabilities.
As a culmination of these problems, Plaintiff alleges that
she was ultimately terminated in a retaliatory fashion.
Plaintiff is a 62-year-old female who was (or is) employed by
the Wayne County Sheriff's Department (Doc. 1 at 4). Her
employment began on December 1, 1996, and continued by her
account until March 1, 2016, when she alleges that she was
constructively terminated (Id. at 4, 11-12).
Defendants take issue with the end date of her employment by
denying it, seemingly claiming that she is still employed but
is not allowed to work because she has refused to participate
in a ‘fit for duty' examination to assess her
on-the-job capabilities (See Doc. 12 at 4,
During the relevant time period for this case, Plaintiff was
first in seniority of all of her colleagues (Doc. 1 at 4;
Doc. 12 at 5).
alleges that while on the job she was subject to an ongoing
saga of harassment, intimidation, and unequal treatment (Doc.
1 at 4). For example, in June 2014 she claims to have been
subject to verbal harassment when a co-worker accused her of
‘flipping her tits' at an inmate who had a medical
issue (Doc. 1 at 4-5). Her attempts to address this treatment
with higher-ups were met with further mockery by Defendant
Everett (Id.). Plaintiff also tried to grieve the
fact that male employees allegedly left the bulk of cleaning
duties for the females, verbally commenting on how they
preferred for females to do such work (Id. at 5).
Derogatory language such as, “bitch, ” was
directed at Plaintiff (Id.). After reporting these
issues in a meeting with Defendant Everett, Plaintiff's
working conditions deteriorated (Id.).
September 2014, department positions came ‘up for
bid', a process which happened a number of times during
the course of conduct Plaintiff is grieving in this lawsuit
(Id.). Plaintiff bid on a dispatcher position, the
type she held at the time, and that she believed she was
entitled to based upon a collective bargaining agreement and
seniority (Id. at 5-6). Rather than grant the
position, Defendant Everett reassigned her to
‘jailer' and told her he did so to “stop her
grievances” (Id. at 6). The dispatcher
position was given to a younger, less experienced male
passed, harassment from male co-workers allegedly intensified
(Id.). Plaintiff attempted to report the harassment
to Defendant Everett, but he told her, “those making
the most money should do the most work”-something she
took as a reference to her age and seniority (Id.).
October 2014, male colleagues harassed Plaintiff about an
August incident, calling her a “fucking lying
bitch” that got “knocked off her high
horse” (Id.). In November 2014, Plaintiff
requested an accommodation to work some shifts as a
dispatcher because of her medical conditions (Id.).
Defendant Everett refused the request (Id.).
November 26, 2014, Correctional Officer Curry withdrew his
service weapon, pointed it at Plaintiff, and pretended to
discharge it, which caused Plaintiff to be fearful
(Id.). The weapon draw was apparently the third such
incident in a few weeks (Id.).
spilled something in her work area in early December 2014,
and as she went to clean the area a male colleague berated
her (Id. at 6-7). As the verbal harassment
escalated, inmates attempted to intervene on Plaintiff's
behalf (Id. at 7). That same month Plaintiff was
harassed for refusing to smuggle contraband from another
correctional officer to an inmate (Id. at 7). In
December of 2014, Plaintiff was also mocked about her hearing
unspecified time, Correctional Officer Pope allegedly drew
his service weapon in Plaintiff's presence, causing her
to fear for her safety (Id.). On January 6, 2015,
Correctional Officer Curry apparently sought Plaintiff out to
perform a vehicle check in a degrading manner (Id.).
alleges that by January of 2015 her medical condition
continued to deteriorate as a result of the harassment at
work. On or about January 12, 2015, she sought, and Defendant
Everett denied, an accommodation to work a portion of her
weekly hours at the dispatch station-a sedentary role
(Id.). She also sought assistance from co-workers on
a variety of tasks, like kitchen duty, but no one helped her
(Id. at 8).
alleges that Defendant Everett made a disingenuine attempt to
correct the uneven sharing of workplace tasks by
redistributing the workload across shifts and banning
electronic devices (Id. at 8). However, the policy
shift apparently did not help because it was not routinely
enforced; so many duties still fell on Plaintiff's
shoulders (Id.). Around this time, ...