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Bumphus. v. UniQue Personnel Consultants

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 30, 2018



          STACI M. YANDLE, United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court are the motions to dismiss filed by Defendants Synergy Coverage Solutions, L.L.C. (Doc. 13), Jennifer Katherine Yates Weller and Hennessy & Roach, P.C. (Doc. 23), Andrew Toennies (Doc. 26), and UniQue Personnel Consultants, Inc. (Doc. 38). Plaintiff filed responses to each motion (Docs. 25, 27, 37 and 42). For the reasons discussed below, the motions filed at Docs. 13, 23 and 26 are GRANTED in their entirety; the motion filed at Doc. 38 is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         Plaintiff John Bumphus filed the instant lawsuit pro se against UniQue Personnel Consultants, Inc., (“Unique”), Krista Findlay, Jennifer Katherine Yates-Weller, Hennessy & Roach, P.C., (“Hennessy & Roach”), Andrew G. Toennies, and Synergy Coverage Solutions, L.L.C. (“Synergy”) alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (“Title VII”), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”), and asserting unlawful discharge from employment, retaliation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress under Illinois state law (Doc. 2).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff John Bumphus sets forth the following facts and allegations in his Complaint. Bumphus suffers from symptoms of PTSD and “acute medical conditions and physical disorders, ” including “mild obesity, sleep apnea, heart attack, ruptured aorta, hypertension, spinal stenosis, hernia surgery on the right side and problems with [my] kidney function.” Id. at ¶ 8. On June 21, 2015, he began his employment with Defendant UniQue as a machine operator, working the third shift. He was promoted to lead product coordinator on July 5, 2015. The third shift was subsequently discontinued and Bumphus worked as a lead product coordinator on the second shift from July 13, 2015 until July 16, 2015.

         On July 14, 2015, Bumphus was given an unscheduled overtime assignment, which he was told was mandatory for second shift workers. The assignment involved work that caused Bumphus back pain, so he received a reasonable accommodation from Krista Findlay, UniQue's human resources manager. Before speaking with Findlay, Bumphus also spoke to his supervisors, Donna May and Dana Felton.

         On July 17, 2015, Findlay rescinded the work accommodation. In response, Bumphus provided her with medical documentation and a copy of “Necessary Candor, ” a book that Bumphus authored and that recounts many of his physical difficulties. Findlay advised Bumphus that in order to have the accommodation reinstated, he needed to submit a signed statement on a physician's stationery. He was terminated around this time.

         On July 23, 2015, Bumphus produced a statement from his doctor's office, requesting that he be exempted from mandatory overtime that required heavy lifting. Findlay stated that she would “pass it on to corporate” and would let him know of their decision by the end of the day. Findlay did not follow up with Bumphus that day. Bumphus submitted a written complaint to UniQue on July 28, 2015, and provided copies to Findlay, May and Felton.

         On August 6, 2015, Bumphus filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), asserting disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act against UniQue (Doc. 38-1).[1] Bumphus received a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC on or about December 23, 2015.

         On August 17, 2015, Bumphus filed a Worker's Compensation action against UniQue. Defendant Jennifer Katherine Yates-Weller, who is associated with Defendant Hennessy & Roach, was the attorney for Defendant Synergy, UniQue's Worker's Compensation insurer. On November 23, 2015, Yates-Weller issued subpoenas duces tecum to two medical offices. Bumphus alleges that she did so fraudulently, in furtherance of a conspiracy, and in violation of the law governing the issuance of subpoenas.

         Bumphus invokes the Court's federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. Section 1331, and asserts the defendants are liable for violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1967, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the American with Disabilities Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, and for unlawfully discharging him and subjecting him to the intentional infliction of emotional distress under Illinois law.


         Defendants Synergy, Yates-Weller, Hennessey & Roach, and Toennies

         A motion brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) challenges a district court's subject-matter jurisdiction over the action in question. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). It is “fundamental that if a court is without jurisdiction of the subject matter it is without power to adjudicate and the case [must] be properly disposed of only by dismissal of the complaint for lack of jurisdiction.” Stewart v. United States, 199 F.2d 517, 519 (7th Cir. 1952).

         Moreover, a court's lack of subject-matter jurisdiction is a defense that cannot be waived. United States v. Cotton, 535 U.S. 625, 630 (2002). If subject-matter jurisdiction is challenged, the party seeking to invoke jurisdiction bears the burden of supporting his or her jurisdictional allegations by “competent proof.” Grafon Corp. v. Hausermann, 602 F.2d 781, 783 (7th Cir. 1979). “'Competent proof'…has been interpreted to mean a preponderance of the evidence or proof to a reasonable probability that jurisdiction exists.” NLFC, Inc. v. Devcom Mid-America, Inc., 45 F.3d 231, 237 (7th Cir. 1995). Defendants Synergy, Yates-Weller, Hennessey & Roach, and Toennies each assert that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims and that dismissal is required under F.R.C.P. 12(b)(1).

         Synergy argues that the numerous federal employment statutes Bumphus cites in his Complaint do not apply to it as the only allegation Bumphus makes against it is that its attorney “illegally” issued subpoenas while ...

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