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Radek v. Target Corp.

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

December 19, 2017

ESMERALDA RADEK, Plaintiff,
v.
TARGET CORP., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN Z. LEE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Esmeralda Radek (“Radek”) has sued Defendant Target Corporation (“Target”) for national origin discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Count I), and national origin and race discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Count II). Radek also asserts a state law negligence claim (Count III). Target moves to dismiss Radek's amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, Target's motion to dismiss is granted in part and denied in part.

         Factual Background[1]

         In January 2012, Radek, who is Hispanic, started working as a Logistics Team Member at a Target store located in Hodgkins, Illinois. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 10, 11, 18, ECF No. 27. Prior to being hired, Radek passed a background check, and Target's hiring representative did not mention that anything was amiss with her social security number. Id. ¶¶ 14, 15, 17. In December 2012, Radek received a promotion to a trainer position, and in January 2013 she received a “great” performance review. Id. ¶¶ 25-29.

         Throughout her employment, Radek received biweekly paychecks that indicated deductions for social security taxes. Id. ¶¶ 30, 34. For 2013 and 2014, Radek received W-2 forms from Target, and she filed her income taxes. Id. ¶¶ 31, 35. Furthermore, during the first two years of her employment, no Target representative expressed that there were any problems with Radek's social security number. Id. ¶¶ 30, 88, 89.

         On February 12, 2014, Target's store management received a letter from a third party stating that Radek, a “large dark haired ponytailed Hispanic woman, ” was stealing items from the store, selling those items on eBay, and using a fraudulent social security number for her employment with Target. Id. ¶ 61.

         Approximately one week later, on or about February 20, 2014, a Target human resources representative at the Hodgkins store called Radek into the human resources office and accused her of using a fraudulent social security number. Id. ¶ 37. The Target representative asked Radek to verify her social security number and the state in which it was issued. Id. ¶ 38. Radek provided her social security number and told the representative that she was born in Texas and believed that her mother obtained the social security number for Radek while in Texas, before the family had moved to Illinois. Id. ¶ 39. The next day, on February 21, 2014, Radek was called again into the human resources office and was terminated for using a fraudulent social security number. Id. ¶¶ 41, 65.

         According to Radek, the management at the Hodgkins Target store often targeted Hispanic employees and accused them of using fraudulent social security numbers. Id. ¶¶ 44, 45, 49, 59. This targeting resulted in the firing of Hispanic employees. Id. ¶¶ 46, 59. For example, a year or two prior to Radek's termination, two other employees had been terminated for having allegedly used fraudulent social security numbers. Id. ¶ 46. They were rehired after it was confirmed that their social security numbers were valid. Id. ¶ 47.

         Radek filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the Illinois Department of Human Rights on or about April 9, 2014. Id. ¶ 6, 7; Ex. A, 4/9/14 EEOC Charge, ECF No. 27. The charge claimed that Target had terminated Radek on the basis of her national origin. Id. Plaintiff received a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC in June 2014, and she timely commenced this lawsuit. Id. ¶¶ 8, 9.

         Legal Standard

         A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the plaintiffs complaint. Christensen v. Cty. of Boone, 483 F.3d 454, 457 (7th Cir. 2007). The federal notice pleading standard requires a complaint to “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2009)). A complaint need provide only “enough detail to give [defendants] fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, and, through his allegations, show that it is plausible, rather than merely speculative, that he is entitled to relief.” Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1083 (7th Cir. 2008). In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint are accepted as true, and courts must draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. See Cole v. Milwaukee Area Tech. Coll. Dist., 634 F.3d 901, 903 (7th Cir. 2011); Justice v. Town of Cicero, 577 F.3d 768, 771 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Analysis

         I. Count I: Title VII Claims

         In Count I, Radek alleges that Target wrongfully terminated her on the basis of national origin. Radek also alleges that Target created a hostile work environment and discriminated against her in the terms ...


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