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Richardson v. Swift Transportation Co. of Arizona, LLC

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

April 17, 2018

BRANDY L. RICHARDSON, Plaintiff,
v.
SWIFT TRANSPORTATION CO. OF ARIZONA, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Ronald A. Guzmán United States District Judge.

         For the reasons explained below, defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint is granted in part and denied in part.

         BACKGROUND

         Brandy L. Richardson brought this action against her former employer, Swift Transportation Co. of Arizona, LLC (“Swift”), for sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (ECF No. 53, 2d Am. Compl.) The relevant allegations are as follows.

         Plaintiff began employment with Swift in May 2010 as an over-the-road truck driver. (Id. ¶ 4.) In August 2015, she became a “yard hostler, ” also known as a “spotter” truck driver, and was assigned to a distribution warehouse.[1] (Id.) Beginning in September 2015, plaintiff was subjected to “severe and pervasive” “unwelcome[] verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature” by a coworker and a supervisor. (Id. ¶¶ 13-14.) The coworker, Tim Davis, rubbed plaintiff's shoulders and “push[ed] his groin up against Plaintiff's seat”; yelled and screamed at plaintiff on numerous occasions; “grabbed Plaintiff's butt”; and “gawked at Plaintiff while simultaneously grabbing his penis.” (Id. ¶ 14.) The supervisor, Nate Love, “repeatedly stared at Plaintiff's breasts and vaginal area on numerous occasions.” (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that the sexual harassment created a hostile work environment, and when she complained about it to Swift, Swift “caused other co-workers to learn of the sexual harassment complaint.” (Id. ¶¶ 13, 17.) Those coworkers then retaliated against plaintiff by not speaking to her anymore; telling her she should quit; “violating the proper driving protocol”; “raising the Spotter Truck Cab while Plaintiff was on the Cat Walk”; moving her truck to another parking position, causing plaintiff to be delayed in starting work; and staring at her while she walked the long distance to reach her truck. (Id. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff's “group leader, ” Michael Hatch, “stopped training Plaintiff properly” and was hostile. (Id.) Tim Davis placed a nail in plaintiff's tire, causing it to go flat. (Id.)

         Plaintiff further alleges that Swift subjected her to different terms and conditions of employment than her male coworkers by failing to timely repair her spotter truck and equipment in her truck, which unreasonably interfered with her work performance; failed to allow plaintiff time off; and reprimanded her about equipment issues. (Id. ¶¶ 17-18.) After plaintiff complained to Swift about the sexual harassment, her coworkers' retaliatory conduct, and the differential treatment, the “retaliatory actions and comments did not stop, ” and Swift failed to discipline plaintiff's “co-workers, group leaders and/or supervisors who were found to have engaged in harassment and discrimination towards” plaintiff. (Id. ¶¶ 21, 25.)[2] Plaintiff “left employment” by Swift “sometime between the end of June, 2017 and the first two weeks of July, 2017 because of the working conditions.” (Id. ¶ 29.)

         On July 11, 2016, plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination (“Charge”) with the Illinois Department of Human Rights. In the section of the Charge form that contains boxes to check for the type of discrimination alleged, plaintiff checked the boxes for “Sex” and “Retaliation.” (ECF No. 53-2.) In the “particulars” section of the form, plaintiff stated in full:

I began my employment with [Swift] in or around May 2010. My current position is Spotter. During my employment, I was sexually harassed. I complained to [Swift], and subsequently, I have been subjected to further harassment.
I believe that I have been discriminated against because of my sex, female, and in retaliation for engaging in protected activity, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.

(Id.) The Charge was presented to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). (Id.) The EEOC dismissed the Charge on March 1, 2017, stating that it was “unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of the statutes.” (ECF No. 53-3.)

         This lawsuit ensued. Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint is organized into three claims, labeled “sexual harassment on basis of sex-hostile work environment”; “sexual harassment on basis of gender-hostile work environment”; and “constructive discharge based on gender-hostile work environment.” Regardless of these labels, however, in substance the complaint alleges claims for hostile work environment; disparate treatment; retaliation; and constructive discharge. Swift moves to dismiss plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standards

         When evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accepts as true all well-pleaded facts therein, and draws all reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor. Cincinnati Life Ins. Co. v. Beyrer, 722 F.3d 939, 946 (7th Cir. 2013). The complaint must “give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (ellipsis omitted). It “does not need detailed factual allegations” but must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 555, 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual ...


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