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McGuire v. Chicago Transit Authority

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois

February 15, 2018

DONALD A. MILLER and JOHN W. MCGUIRE, Plaintiffs,
v.
CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY and DONALD BONDS, in his individual capacity, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          SHARON JOHNSON COLEMAN, United States District Court Judge.

         Plaintiffs, Donald A. Miller (“Miller”) and John W. McGuire (“McGuire”) bring this action against Defendants, Chicago Transit Authority (“CTA”) and Donald Bonds (“Bonds”) alleging racial discrimination and retaliation for complaining about the racial discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. §1981, and 775 ILCS 5/1-101 et seq.. Plaintiff McGuire independently brings claims of racial discrimination and retaliation against CTA pursuant to Title VII of 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.. Now Defendants CTA and Bonds separately move to dismiss Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the foregoing reasons, Defendants' Motions are granted in part and denied in part.

         Background

         The following facts are taken as true for the purpose of deciding this motion. McGuire, who is Caucasian, worked for CTA for 30 years before he was terminated on July 6, 2016. McGuire was rated a satisfactory employee and received regular raises and promotions. The last promotion occurred in June of 2014 when he was designated the Mechanical Officer. Miller, also Caucasian, worked for CTA for nearly 31 years until he was fired on July 6, 2016. Similar to McGuire, Miller was rated a satisfactory employee, receiving regular promotions and raises. His last position was General Manager. Miller reported directly to McGuire. Both McGuire and Miller began reporting to Bonds, an African-American, when he assumed the role of Vice President of Vehicle Maintenance in January of 2015.

         From the time of Bonds' hiring, McGuire and Miller contend that Bonds subjected them to racially discriminatory treatment. McGuire stated that, in March of 2016, Bonds told him that he intended to create a new position-Manager of Bus Maintenance, and hire Teresa Williams to fill it. McGuire suggested that Bonds also consider Todd Dudek for the position, which McGuire contends angered Bonds. McGuire believed that Bonds falsely concluded that McGuire indicated a preference for a Caucasian manager, Dudek, over the African-American candidate, Williams. McGuire has not indicated how he knew Bonds was angry or how the anger manifested itself.

         On June 20, 2016, Bonds spoke with McGuire about whether McGuire intended to retire prior to July 1, 2016 so that he would be eligible for reduced-cost health insurance under CTA's plan. McGuire responded that he planned to continue working for CTA. According to McGuire, Bonds responded that he might demote or fire McGuire, but did not cite any misconduct, violation, or performance deficiencies warranting such action at the time. McGuire contends that Bonds had a similar retirement discussion with a CTA General Manager, who was African-American, around the same time. Bonds requested that the General Manager rescind his intent to retire and continue working for CTA.

         After that conversation with Bonds, on June 21, 2016, McGuire contacted CTA's Equal Employment Officer (“EEO”), Rita Kopida (“Kopida”), to report his belief that Bonds was discriminating against him based on his race. The Kopida initiated an investigation into the allegations and scheduled a follow-up meeting for July 7, 2017 in order for McGuire to provide her with his supporting documentation.

         Miller also alleges that Bonds racially discriminated against him because Bonds showed favoritism towards African-American employees over him. As an example, Miller claims that Bonds was angry with Miller about his decision to place an African-American manager who reported to him on a “Performance Improvement Plan.” Miller did not indicate how he knew Bonds was angry or how the anger was demonstrated. On July 5, 2016, Miller contacted Kopida to express his concerns about the racial discrimination. Kopida initiated the investigation process and scheduled a follow-up meeting on the same day as McGuire's meeting, July 7, 2016.

         On July 6, 2016, McGuire and Miller were invited to morning meetings with Bonds. When McGuire arrived at his meeting, he found Bonds, the Chief Transit Officer, and a Human Resources representative, all of whom were African-American. Bonds informed McGuire that he was being terminated, effective immediately, but provided no explanation other than that the department was moving in a different direction. When McGuire asked for a reason for his termination, Bonds told him that he was an “at-will” employee and a reason was not required. McGuire requested that Bonds wait to decide on his employment until after the EEO investigation was complete. The Human Resources representative responded that the decision was ultimately up to Bonds and the Chief Transit Officer. Both men decided that CTA would move forward with the termination.

         Miller was also terminated at his meeting and given no reason since he was also an “at-will” employee. Miller was replaced by an African-American manager who he contends had significantly less experience and qualifications than he did. Plaintiffs believe that Bonds knew about their EEO complaints and that they were scheduled to meet with the EEO the next morning when he terminated their employment.

         Plaintiffs now seek damages, alleging that CTA had a custom or practice of discriminating against people based on race, and that Bonds personally perpetuated this unlawful discrimination and retaliation against them. Defendants both rebut these claims, contending that the Second Amended Complaint fails to adequately plead sufficient causes of action.

         Legal Standard

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint, not the merits of the allegations. Gardunio v. Town of Cicero,674 F.Supp.2d 976, 983 (N.D. Ill. 2009) (Dow, J.). “The issue involved is not whether the claimant is entitled to prevail, but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence in support of the claims.” Id. (citation omitted). When ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in a plaintiff's favor. Park v. Ind. Univ. Sch. of Dentistry, 692 F.3d 828, 830 (7th Cir. 2012). The allegations must contain sufficient factual material to raise a plausible right to relief. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 569 n. 14, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). A claim has facial plausibility when the ...


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