United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
suit against their former employer, Sloan Valve Company,
Derrick Moses and Dodd Davis allege disparate treatment and a
hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et
seq., and Moses alleges breach of contract. Doc. 13.
Sloan moves under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to
dismiss the hostile work environment and contract claims.
Doc. 19. The motion is denied as to the hostile work
environment claim and granted as to the contract claim.
Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must accept the operative
complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations, with all
reasonable inferences drawn in Plaintiffs' favor, but not
its legal conclusions. See Smoke Shop, LLC v. United
States, 761 F.3d 779, 785 (7th Cir. 2014). The court
must also consider “documents attached to the
complaint, documents that are critical to the complaint and
referred to in it, and information that is subject to proper
judicial notice, ” along with additional facts set
forth in Plaintiffs' brief opposing dismissal, so long as
those additional facts “are consistent with the
pleadings.” Phillips v. Prudential Ins. Co. of
Am., 714 F.3d 1017, 1020 (7th Cir. 2013) (internal
quotation marks omitted). The facts are set forth as
favorably to Plaintiffs as those materials permit. See
Meade v. Moraine Valley Cmty. Coll., 770 F.3d 680, 682
(7th Cir. 2014). In setting forth those facts at the pleading
stage, the court does not vouch for their accuracy. See
Jay E. Hayden Found. v. First Neighbor Bank, N.A., 610
F.3d 382, 384 (7th Cir. 2010).
and Davis joined Sloan in the late 1980s. Doc. 13 at
¶¶ 10, 12. Both men are African-American and at all
relevant times were members in good standing of Local 7999 of
the United Steel, Paper & Forestry, Rubber,
Manufacturing, Energy Allied Industrial & Service Workers
International Union, AFL-CIO. Id. at ¶¶ 1,
about February 24, 2012, a Sloan manager found an anonymous
note suggesting that he review “receiving cameras on
feb. 09 around 11 a” because they showed three
African-American employees, including Moses, “stealing
drums of rod ends.” Id. at ¶ 14; Doc.
13-1 at 5. Rod ends, the remnants of brass rods used by Sloan
to manufacture many of its products, are typically stored in
large barrels, called “drums, ” before they are
recycled or sold to a scrap metal dealer. Doc. 13 at ¶
9; Doc. 13-1 at 4. On or about March 1, 2012, after
conducting an investigation, Sloan fired Moses and the two
other African-American employees named in the note, and asked
Franklin Park police to arrest them. Doc. 13 at ¶ 16.
Moses ultimately was acquitted of all charges. Id.
at ¶ 17.
Union grieved Moses's termination. In September 2013, an
arbitrator ruled that Sloan had failed to “demonstrate
by a clear and convincing preponderance of the evidence that
Moses stole anything from his employer, ” and ordered
that Moses be reinstated “to his previous
position.” Doc. 13-1 at 29-30. The Union filed suit to
enforce the arbitration award; the suit was resolved by a
“Settlement Agreement and Release, ” and Moses
resumed his position at Sloan in May 2014. Doc. 13 at
¶¶ 23-25. The agreement provided, in relevant part,
that the parties “fully release[d] and discharge[d]
each other … from any and all claims and liabilities,
whether known or unknown at this time, arising out of the
arbitration award, occurrences and transactions that were the
subject of the Lawsuit in this case.” Doc. 13-2 at 3.
2016, the manager who received the anonymous note back in
February 2012 resumed his investigation into the thefts.
During an interview with a Sloan employee, the manager
“stat[ed] that he had questioned 40 other people
[regarding the thefts] and demanded to know what Moses had
told [the employee] about the alleged thefts.” Doc. 13
at ¶ 28.
about August 8, 2016, the manager, accompanied by a Sloan
lawyer and an “unknown investigator, ” met with
Davis. Id. at ¶ 29. The manager told Davis that
he “had been told by unknown parties that [Davis] was
‘the lookout guy'” and advised Davis that it
would be “in his ‘best interests' to
cooperate” and explain “how the thefts were
perpetrated.” Id. at ¶¶ 29-30. The
manager, lawyer, and investigator repeatedly called Davis
“a fucking liar” during the meeting and, at its
conclusion, the manager told Davis that he was suspended.
Id. at ¶¶ 30-31.
following day, the manager, a Sloan lawyer, and an
“unknown law enforcement representative” asked
Moses if he “had ever stolen anything from the
Company.” Id. at ¶ 32. When Moses refused
to respond, the manager told him that he was fired because he
had “‘new evidence' regarding the 2012
thefts, in the form of affidavits and statements.”
Id. at ¶¶ 34-35. After Moses reminded the
manager of the arbitration award that had resulted in his
reinstatement, the manager told Moses that he was suspended.
Id. at ¶ 36. Sloan did not provide Moses or
Davis with any of this “new evidence” and, on
October 20, 2016, it notified them both that they were
terminated. Id. at ¶¶ 38-39.
Plaintiffs' Title VII Hostile Work Environment
allege that they were subjected to a hostile work
environment. Doc. 13 at ¶¶ 57-68. Sloan seeks
dismissal on the ground that the complaint fails to allege
facts sufficient to state such a claim. Doc. 21 at 5-8.
(Sloan initially sought dismissal on exhaustion grounds as
well, id. at 4-5, but it withdrew that argument in
open court, Doc. 38, in light of Plaintiffs' supplemental
filing, Doc. 30.)
VII prohibits discrimination “against any individual
with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or
privileges of employment, because of such individual's
race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” 42
U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). “This prohibition
encompasses the creation of a hostile work environment that
is severe or pervasive enough to affect the terms and
conditions of employment.” Lord v. High Voltage
Software, Inc., 839 F.3d 556, 561 (7th Cir.
2016) (internal quotation marks omitted). For Plaintiffs'
hostile work environment claim to survive dismissal, they
must allege: “(i) that [their] work environment was
objectively and subjectively offensive; (ii) that the
harassment was based on [their] race; (iii) that the
harassment was pervasive or severe; and (iv) that a ...