United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L.ELLIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
learning she was pregnant, fire paramedic Sarah Spriesch (at
the time, Sarah Murphy) faced gender and pregnancy
discrimination and retaliation at the City of Chicago's
(the “City”) fire department. Spriesch sues the
City alleging violations of the Illinois Human Rights Act
(“IHRA”), 775 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/1-101 et
seq., Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
(“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et
seq., the Illinois Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act
(“INMWA”), 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. 260/1 et
seq., and the Fair Labor Standards Acts of 1938
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq.
The City moves to dismiss some of her claims, and the Court
grants in part and denies in part the motion. Because
Spriesch alleges enough facts to suggest a continuing
violation, she can pursue claims related to the decision to
place her on leave. However, Spriesch fails to allege any
injury from the classification of her leave as off-duty after
she returned to work; thus, she fails to establish standing
to pursue her claims arising from the classification. Because
the IHRA's pregnancy accommodation amendment was not
retroactive, she cannot pursue IHRA accommodation claims
arising from acts committed before January 1, 2015. Spriesch
sufficiently alleges that a City assignment policy caused her
injury and may pursue her disparate impact claim. Finally,
the City fails to show that there is no private right of
action under the INMWA and thus, Spriesch may pursue her
claim pursuant to the INMWA .
was working for the City's fire department as a fire
paramedic when she learned she was pregnant, in June 2014.
Soon after, she informed her supervisor that she was
pregnant. Spriesch's supervisor asked her to go on leave
immediately. The City required Spriesch to stay on leave
throughout her pregnancy, requiring her to report monthly in
person or by phone to confirm she was still pregnant. In
contrast to other City fire employees who received temporary
assignments, the City has a pattern and practice of placing
pregnant employees on immediate leave.
gave birth to her child on February 4, 2015. She returned to
work two months later on April 8, 2015. When she returned to
work, the City designated her leave as off-duty injury leave,
which can be used for up to twelve months every two years,
rather than on-the-job injury leave, which can be used for up
to twelve months as often as is needed. The City has a
pattern and practice of designating pregnancy leave as
off-duty injury leave. Spriesch used 308 days of leave.
was breastfeeding when she returned to work. Because she
could not breastfeed her child at work, she pumped breastmilk
for her child. She informed City fire department officials
that she was breastfeeding and needed to pump. No one told
Spriesch about any accommodations for pumping. When she
needed to pass a re-training course to reenter the field, she
was not allowed to pump and express breastmilk for hours.
Despite experiencing pain and leaking that day at
re-training, no one allowed her to pump for more than eight
hours, and she faced threats if she were to leave early.
Eventually Spriesch was allowed leave to pump and express
breastmilk, only to return and be told frequently over the
rest of the day that she could not take breaks to pump.
Spriesch requested a reasonable accommodation for pumping and
expressing breastmilk, the instructor in re-training required
her to perform two more re-training days and required her to
stay later than other employees. Spriesch submitted a union
grievance and complained to the City's equal employment
opportunity division on or around April 8, 2015. When
Spriesch returned to active duty, she received unfavorable
asked for accommodations from the assistant deputy fire
commissioner and human relations coordinator. Although the
assistant deputy acknowledged that Spriesch should have a
private, non-bathroom space to pump, she expressed doubt
about the existence of such a place and suggested that
Spriesch use someplace like an ambulance, hospital, or quiet
she went on leave, Spriesch lost her assignment to her
regular ambulance. Instead she began receiving her
assignments from the relief pool, which sourced paramedics to
temporary firehouse assignments. Many firehouses in the
relief pool did not have a private, non-bathroom space
suitable for Spriesch to pump and express breastmilk.
Spriesch was assigned to many of those firehouses, and she
often had to pump in a restroom or ambulance and discard her
breastmilk. Spriesch received a promotion to paramedic in
charge in June 2015, but she still was part of a relief pool.
Although there were some relief pool firehouses that provided
access to a private, non-bathroom area for pumping and
expressing breastmilk, there were firehouses that did not.
Spriesch did not always receive assignments to firehouses
that contained private, non-bathroom areas.
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the
sufficiency of the complaint, not its merits. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6); Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510,
1520 (7th Cir. 1990). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts
in the plaintiff's complaint and draws all reasonable
inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor.
AnchorBank, FSB v. Hofer, 649 F.3d 610, 614 (7th
Cir. 2011). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint
must not only provide the defendant with fair notice of a
claim's basis but must also be facially plausible.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct.
1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009); see also Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d
929 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
Format of the City's Motion
parties debate whether some of the City's motion is
procedurally proper because it attacks some of Spriesch's
claims in her enumerated Counts. In its own words, the City
has moved to partially dismiss Counts I, II, and III.
Spriesch says the City cannot partially dismiss counts in her
complaint, pointing out that the Seventh Circuit noted in
BBL, Inc. v. City of Angola, 809 F.3d 317 (7th Cir.
2015), that a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)
doesn't permit “piecemeal dismissals of parts of
claims.” BBL, Inc., 809 F.3d at 325. But the
City does not move to dismiss parts of claims or parts of a
single-element claim. Spriesch pleads multiple claims