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Gillon v. Board of Trustees of Univeristy of Illinois

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

February 15, 2018

BEVERLY R. MAYS GILLON, Plaintiff,
v.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE UNIVERISTY OF ILLINOIS and DIANE OIKLE, individually, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          AMY J. ST. EVE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE:

         Plaintiff Beverly R. Mays Gillon (“Plaintiff” or “Gillon”) brings this action against Defendants Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (the “Board”) and Diane Oikle, individually, (“Oikle, ” and collectively with the Board, “Defendants”) alleging employment discrimination based on her race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended 42 U.S.C. §2000e et seq., and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981/1983. (R. 21 at ¶ 1.) Specifically, Gillon brings Title VII and §§ 1981/1983 claims against the Board, and a §§ 1981/1983 claim against Oikle. Before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss all three counts of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (“Amended Complaint”).[1] (R. 24.) For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendants' motion to dismiss without prejudice in part and with prejudice in part, and grants Plaintiff leave to amend her complaint consistent with this Opinion.

         BACKGROUND[2]

         Plaintiff Gillon is an African-American woman who resides in Illinois. (R. 21 at ¶ 1-2.) Defendant Board “is the governing body of the University of Illinois system.” (Id. at ¶ 3.) Defendant Oikle “at all relevant times was the Assistant Director of [the] Gastroenterology Lab for the University of Illinois Health and Science Systems a/k/a University of Illinois at Chicago Hospital.” (Id. at ¶ 4.)

         According to Plaintiff, the Board employed her from 1993 to the present in various positions as a nurse at the University of Illinois at Chicago. (Id. at ¶ 10-12.) Gillon alleges that in the spring of 2016, “Defendants began to exclude Gillon from Charge Nurse duties and rotation[, ] and excluded her from training. As a result, Gillon suffered a loss in pay and promotional opportunities.” (Id. at ¶ 13.) Specifically, “Oikle made the decision to remove Gillon from Charge Nurse duties and rotation[, ] and to exclude her from training.” (Id. at ¶ 4.)

         Plaintiff claims that at all times material to this action, Defendants gave her “performance evaluations of satisfactory or better, ” “took no disciplinary action against” her, and provided “no valid criticism of her work.” (Id. at ¶ 14, 16.) Further, Gillon “was qualified to perform the duties of Charge Nurse.” (Id. at ¶ 15.)

         Gillon also alleges that “Defendant Board has a policy, practice or custom of demoting and/or taking adverse employment[] actions against African-American nurses….[which] was established with deliberate indifference….[and] was the cause of the wrong suffered by Gillon.” (Id. at ¶ 21-23.) As to Oikle, Gillon states that “Defendant Oikle was personally responsible for the deprivation of Gillon's constitutional rights guaranteed under 42 U.S.C. §1981 by directing or causing the constitutional violation.” (Id. at ¶ 25.) Plaintiff makes no other factual allegations in support of her statements or regarding Defendants' alleged wrongful conduct on account of her race.

         In December 2016, Gillon filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). (R. 21 at ¶ 5.) In March 2017, Gillon received a right to sue letter from the EEOC. (Id. at ¶ 6.) Gillon filed this lawsuit in June 2017, alleging three counts: Count I, “demotion and/or adverse employment action in violation of Title VII against Defendant Board;” Count II, “prohibited discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 regarding Defendant Board;” and Count III, “prohibited discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 regarding Defendant Oikle in her individual capacity.” (R. 1.) Gillon seeks a permanent injunction, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney's fees and costs. (Id.) Before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. (R. 24.)

         LEGAL STANDARD

         “A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the viability of a complaint by arguing that it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” Camasta v. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Inc., 761 F.3d 732, 736 (7th Cir. 2014) (referencing Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)); see also Hill v. Serv. Emp. Int'l Union, 850 F.3d 861, 863 (7th Cir. 2017). Under Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must include “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The complaint must “give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted). A plaintiff's “factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. Put differently, a “complaint must 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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         When determining the sufficiency of a complaint under the plausibility standard, courts must “accept all well-pleaded facts as true and draw reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs' favor.” Roberts v. City of Chi., 817 F.3d 561, 564 (7th Cir. 2016); Mann v. Vogel, 707 F.3d 872, 877 (7th Cir. 2013). However, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see also Thulin v. Shopko Stores Operating Co., LLC, 771 F.3d 994, 997 (7th Cir. 2014). Pleadings do not require “detailed factual allegations, ” but they do demand “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 at 678. “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions.” Camasta, 761 F.3d 732 at 739 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         ANALYSIS

         Defendants move to dismiss all three counts of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule 12(b)(6). (R. 24.) Defendants argue that Gillon's Amended Complaint “simply alleges, without support, that Plaintiff was discriminated against due to her race.” (Id. at 1.) They urge the Court to dismiss Gillon's complaint because she has not suffered an adverse employment action and has in general failed to state a claim for discrimination. (Id. at 3-7.) Further, they claim the Court should dismiss the claim against the Board and Oikle because of Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity. (Id. at 7-10.)

         I. Count I: Alleged Violation of Title VII ...


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