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Aku v. Chicago Teachers Union

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

December 12, 2017

LU AKU, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Lu Aku brings this Complaint against defendants the Chicago Teachers Union (“CTU”), the Board of Education of the City of Chicago[1] (the “Board”), D'Andre Weaver, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”), the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (“IELRB”), Robin Potter, and the law firm Robin Potter & Associates. Aku alleges that the Board discriminated against him on account of his race, national origin, color, sex, age, and disability, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and in civil conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. § 1985. Aku also alleges that CTU aided and abetted the Board in its violations of his rights and retaliated against him for engaging in protected activities. With respect to the remaining defendants, it is unclear from the Complaint exactly what Aku alleges they did. Construing the Complaint as liberally as possible, the Court also reads the Complaint as alleging conspiracy or aiding and abetting violations against IDHR, IELRB, Potter, and Robin Potter & Associates. In three separate motions, Defendants all now move to dismiss [39, 48, 50] Aku's claims. Because Aku did not have an employment relationship with IDHR and IELRB and there is no aiding and abetting liability for the employment discrimination statutes under which Aku sues, the Court dismisses the claims against IDHR and IELRB with prejudice. Because the remaining claims in this case against the remaining defendants are materially identical to claims against those same defendants in another, previously filed case in this district, Aku v. Chicago Board of Education, 17 C 1226, Doc. 1., the Court dismisses those claims with prejudice. Finally, Aku filed a motion [66] titled “Pleading of Special Matters That Include Defendants' Knowledge of and Intent and Attempt to Discriminate and Aid and Abet.” The Court construes this as a motion for leave to amend his Complaint. Because the proposed amendments do not cure the deficiencies in his Complaint and the Court dismisses the initial Complaint with prejudice, denies this motion, and terminates Aku's case.


         Aku, who is an African American man born in 1967, was a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (“STEM”) teacher at Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy (“Brooks”). In 2014, he and all other STEM teachers at Brooks who are African American or over the age of 40 (with the exception of one) were fired. After his termination, the Board offered him a position as a teacher at a grammar school and as a substitute teacher. Aku, believing he had suffered unlawful employment discrimination, brought his concerns to his union, the CTU. The CTU refused to file a grievance on his behalf and delayed filing a grievance on his behalf.

         On April 23, 2015, the CTU's legal counsel, Robin Potter, contacted Aku about a letter he wrote to Larry Yellen of Fox News regarding a story Yellen had done about Angela Mason-Johnson, the former director of staffing services of the Board, who Aku alleges was a whistle blower. The Complaint does not state what the content of Potter's communication was or the content of Aku's letter to Yellen.

         On February 10, 2017, Aku received an email from his union field representative Lois Jones informing him that she was not available to represent him at his February 13th appeal hearing and that Alicia Cervantes would stand in for her.[3] Aku arrived at the location of the hearing and met Cervantes. Cervantes advised him to represent himself during the hearing. Aku insisted that the CTU represent him and that Jones herself be present to represent him. A few minutes later a representative for the Board informed Aku that its witness was running late and that he could wait or reschedule the hearing; Aku opted to reschedule the hearing.[4]

         In additional to the above conduct, Aku alleges that at some point during his employment, he suffered an ankle injury. He alleges that this injury has in some way rendered him disabled and that that he suffered discrimination based on his disability. Aku does not describe the timing, cause, and severity of this injury in the Complaint nor the nature of the discrimination he experienced.

         Finally, prior to filing this Complaint, Aku filed a complaint in Aku v. Chicago Board of Education, 17 C 1226, (“Aku I”), currently pending in this district before Judge Lee, against many of the same defendants alleging, with more specificity, nearly identical claims. Judge Lee has already ruled on the motions to dismiss filed in that case, granting the motions with respect to IDHR, CTU, Potter, and Potter & Associates. Judge Lee also granted in part Weaver's motion to dismiss, dismissing the official capacity claims against Weaver. Aku still has live claims in Aku I against the Board and Weaver in his personal capacity.


         A 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. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937.


         I. Claims Against IDHR and IELRB

         Aku does not allege any facts in his Complaint regarding Defendants IDHR and IELRB. References to IDHR and IELRB in the Complaint are limited to requests for relief. These requests are:

“Execute an injunction that orders: i. IDHR director Rocco Claps testify as to why the plaintiff's complainants form for aiding & abetting was rejected and why the promised documentation to complete a third complaint was never issued. ii. IELRB to reopen investigations of ...

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