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Calabotta v. Phibro Animal Health Corp.

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

February 9, 2018

DAVID F. CALABOTTA, Plaintiff,
v.
PIBRO ANIMAL HEALTH CORP., Defendant.

          OPINION

          SUE E. MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant's[1] Motion to Dismiss (d/e 6). Defendant argues that Plaintiff David F. Calabotta has not met the administrative prerequisites to sue under the Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”) because he did not file his claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) within 180 days. Therefore, Defendant argues Plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Defs. Mot. (d/e 6). Because the Court finds that Plaintiff only needed to file his claim with the EEOC within 300 days, Defendant's Motion is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The facts as stated in the complaint must be accepted by the Court as true when ruling on a motion to dismiss. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008). This action arises from claims of disability discrimination under the ADA, 42 U.S.C § 12113(b)(4). Plaintiff does not allege state law claims. Plaintiff was employed by Defendant from 2008 until August 19, 2016. Compl. ¶¶ 10 and 37 (d/e 1). In 2014, Plaintiff's wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, and her condition continued to deteriorate through 2015 and 2016. Id. at ¶¶ 15 and 16. At work, “Plaintiff was open about his wife's health issues and discussed her condition and prognosis with his co-workers and superiors.” Id. at ¶ 16. Plaintiff alleges he was discriminated against “on account of his association with a person with a disability by, among other things, failing and refusing to consider him for the position of Senior Vice President of Marketing and Product Management in or about July and August 2016 and terminating his employment on August 19, 2016.” Id. at ¶ 48.

         On June 10, 2017, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. Compl. at ¶ 4 (d/e 1). The parties agree that Plaintiff filed his charge more than 180 days, but less than 300 days after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred. On July 7, 2017, the EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue. Id. Plaintiff filed this complaint on September 18, 2017.

         II. JURISDICTION AND VENUE

         This Court has subject matter jurisdiction because Plaintiff brings a claim based on the ADA, a federal law. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (“The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States”). Venue is proper because the events giving rise to the claim occurred in Adams County, Illinois. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) (a civil action may be brought in a judicial district where a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred).

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint. Christensen v. Cnty. of Boone, 483 F.3d 454, 458 (7th Cir. 2007). To state a claim for relief, a party need only provide a short and plain statement of the claim showing he is entitled to relief and giving the defendant fair notice of the claims. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008).

         When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court construes the pleading in the light most favorable to the pleader, accepting all well-pleaded allegations as true and construing all reasonable inferences in pleader's favor. Id.

         IV. ANALYSIS

         A plaintiff must exhaust all administrative requirements before filing a suit in federal court under the ADA, including the requirement that the plaintiff timely file a charge with the EEOC. Normally, the charge must “be filed within one hundred and eighty days after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1). However, where the plaintiff “has initially instituted proceedings with a State or local agency with authority to grant or seek relief from such practice” the plaintiff's time to file with the EEOC is extended and must be filed “within three hundred days after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred.” Id. (emphasis added). See also, 42 U.S.C. § 12117 (stating that the procedures set forth in § 2000e-5 apply to claims brought under the ADA). State or local agencies with such authority are designated as fair employment agencies or “FEP agencies.” 29 C.F.R. § 1601.70. However, the EEOC regulations clarify that, “[a] jurisdiction having a FEP agency without subject matter jurisdiction over a charge (e.g., an agency which does not cover sex discrimination or does not cover nonprofit organizations) is equivalent to a jurisdiction having no FEP agency.” 29 C.F.R. § 1601.13.

         Here, the parties agree that the relevant state agency, the Illinois Department of Human Rights, is authorized to grant relief from unlawful employment practices. Therefore, Illinois is generally “considered a ‘deferral' state whose residents are not required to file with the EEOC until 300 days after the act of discrimination so long as they meet the statutory prerequisite for the extended filing period.” Gilardi v. Schroeder, 833 F.2d 1226, 1230 (7th Cir. 1987) (citing Lorance v. AT & T Technologies, Inc., 827 F.2d 163, 165 n. 2 (7th Cir. 1987). Further, Plaintiff did not need to actually file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights in order to benefit from the 300-day filing period because the EEOC and the Illinois Department of Human Rights have a worksharing agreement. Under this agreement, state proceedings were considered initiated and terminated upon receipt of Plaintiff's charge by the EEOC. See Sofferin v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 923 F.2d 552, 554 (7th Cir. 1991) (explaining worksharing agreement). Therefore, so long as the Illinois Department of Human Rights was an agency “with authority to grant or seek relief” from the unlawful practice alleged by Plaintiff, the 300-day time period applies.

         Defendant argues that Plaintiff was required to file his charge within 180 days because the Illinois Department of Human Rights does not have “authority to grant or seek relief from” an associational disability discrimination claim. See Defs. Memo. at 4-5 (d/e 7). Defendant points to a number of cases where courts have found that the 180-day time period applies, despite the existence of an FEP agency, where the FEP agency had no jurisdiction over the defendant-employer at all. In this Circuit, the Northern District of Illinois has held that the 180-day filing deadline applied to a plaintiff's discrimination charge even though Illinois has an FEP agency. Vitug v. Multistate Tax Comm'n, 860 F.Supp. 546, 550-51 (N.D. Ill. 1994), aff'd,88 F.3d 506 (7th Cir. 1996). The Vitug court reasoned that because “the Illinois Human Rights Act does not ...


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