United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
CLAUDIA S. MARTIN, Plaintiff,
COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, a municipal corporation within the State of Illinois, THE OFFICE OF THE CHIEF JUDGE OF THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, as the employer directing personnel of the COOK COUNTY ADULT PROBATION DEPT., LAVONE HAYWOOD, MATTHEW SOBIESKI, DARRYL GRAY, and NOREEN LARSON, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Martin, a probation officer employed by the Cook County Adult
Probation Department, sues Cook County, the Office of the
Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, and several
Probation Department employees under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §
2000e et seq., and state law for allegedly
discriminating against and harassing her due to her religious
beliefs and union activities. Doc. 46. Cook County and the
Probation Department employees move under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for partial dismissal of the
operative complaint. Doc. 50. Specifically, Cook County moves
to dismiss all claims against it-save a state law
indemnification claim-on the ground that it is not
Martin's employer and thus not liable for the misconduct
she alleges, while Probation Department employees Lavone
Haywood, Matthew Sobieski, Darryl Gray, and Noreen Larson
move to dismiss Martin's intentional infliction of
emotional distress claim on the ground, among others, that it
is preempted by the Illinois Human Rights Act
(“IHRA”), 775 ILCS 5/8-111(D). The motion is
resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court assumes the truth
of the operative complaint's well-pleaded factual
allegations, though not its legal conclusions. See Zahn
v. N. Am. Power & Gas, LLC, 815 F.3d 1082, 1087 (7th
Cir. 2016). The court must also consider “documents
attached to the complaint, documents that are critical to the
complaint and referred to in it, and information that is
subject to proper judicial notice, ” along with
additional facts set forth in Martin's brief opposing
dismissal, so long as those additional facts “are
consistent with the pleadings.” Phillips v.
Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 714 F.3d 1017, 1019-20 (7th
Cir. 2013). The facts are set forth as favorably to Martin as
those materials allow. See Pierce v. Zoetis, Inc.,
818 F.3d 274, 277 (7th Cir. 2016). In setting forth those
facts at the pleading stage, the court does not vouch for
their accuracy. See Jay E. Hayden Found. v. First
Neighbor Bank, N.A., 610 F.3d 382, 384 (7th Cir. 2010).
is a probation officer for the Cook County Adult Probation
Department. Doc. 46 at ¶ 14. In 2006, she became a
steward for Local 3468 of the American Federation of County,
State, and Municipal Employees (“AFCSME”), the
union that represents Probation Department employees, and she
was promoted to chief steward in 2012. Id. at
¶¶ 17, 21, 29, 177-178. A practicing Muslim, Martin
typically wears a hijab. Id. at ¶¶ 24-25.
During the relevant time period, Martin's supervisors
favorably reviewed her work. Id. at ¶¶
point in 2013 or 2014, Martin filed a discrimination charge
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”), alleging that her then-supervisor had
an “issue” with her hijab. Id. at ¶
72. Larson, the Probation Department's director of human
resources, pressured Martin to drop the charge. Id.
at ¶¶ 73-74. The Probation Department otherwise
took no action regarding Martin's complaint. Id.
at ¶ 75.
January 20, 2015, Martin received an anonymous letter
expressing anti-union sentiment. Id. at ¶ 20.
The letter stated in relevant part: “The Union's
tjme [sic] is up You don't work for ASFSCME [sic]! You
work for the Adult Probation Department! You need to decide
if you want to risk your children not eating, because you are
defending people who don't do their work and lie about
and justify their actions.” Ibid. (emphasis
omitted). The president of Local 3468, James Dunaway, wrote
to Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans, asking him to
address the letter. Id. at ¶ 21. Chief Judge
Evans did not respond. Id. at ¶ 22.
in October 2015 and continuing for the next several months,
Gray, a Deputy Chief Probation Officer, told Martin on
several occasions that unidentified coworkers had complained
about her wearing a hijab and cautioned her that wearing a
“hat” in the workplace was against Probation
Department policy. Id. at ¶¶ 23, 26, 28,
31, 37-38. Martin felt bullied by these interactions, and
consulted with Dunaway, who contacted the Probation
Department's human resources department on her behalf.
Id. at ¶¶ 39-41.
mid-December 2015, after Martin came to work on several
occasions without her hijab, Gray conveyed to her an
anonymous complaint about her “apparent
inconsistency” in wearing the hijab. Id. at
¶¶ 42-43. Martin explained that she had chosen not
to wear her hijab at certain times due to a scalp condition.
Id. at ¶ 44. Gray asked Martin to provide a
doctor's note about her scalp condition, which prompted
Martin to email Larson to ask why the documentation was
necessary. Id. at ¶¶ 45-46. Larson
responded: “The Office of Human Resources has approved
your wearing of [a] head covering. Though it is against
policy and procedure, this exemption will be allowed as it is
for religious reasons. You are now, however, indicating that
it will be intermittent due to medical reasons. Therefore, we
are requesting medical documentation.” Id. at
¶ 48. Martin provided a doctor's note, and on the
day that she received Larson's response, she filed a
discrimination charge with the Illinois Department of Human
Rights (“IDHR”). Id. at ¶¶ 47,
December 18, Martin discovered an anonymous note on her desk
chair, written in printed cutout letters and stating:
“What R U an Isis Muslim no bombs allowed.”
Id. at ¶ 50. Martin immediately sought out
Dunaway. Id. at ¶ 51. Later that day, Gray
intercepted Martin when she was on her way to speak with her
direct supervisor about the note. Id. at
¶¶ 53-56. After leaving Gray's office, Martin
stopped to talk with her supervisor. Id. at
¶¶ 57-59. Gray walked over to join the pair, and
then “raised his voice, and embarrassed, insulted,
humiliated, and berated” Martin in front of her
supervisor. Id. at ¶ 60. Martin attempted to
file a police report, but was instructed to instead report
the incident to the IDHR. Id. at ¶¶ 62-64.
December 22, Martin emailed Chief Judge Evans as well as
Haywood, the Chief Probation Officer, and Sobieski, a Deputy
Chief Probation Officer, to inform them of the hijab-related
incidents, including Gray's conduct after learning of the
anonymous note. Id. at ¶¶ 65-66.
Martin's email stated that after she received the
“hateful and humiliating letter, Mr. Gray …
publicly humiliated [her] by speaking to [her] in a very
hostile and aggressive tone and in an unprofessional manner
in front of other coworkers.” Id. at ¶
66. Martin received no response. Id. at ¶ 67.
also prepared a formal incident report. Id. at
¶ 76. Sobieski later spoke with Martin, insisting that
she remove references to Gray's harassment and promising
that the Cook County Sheriff's Office would investigate.
Id. at ¶¶ 76-77. At Sobieski's
direction, Martin revised the incident report several times.
Id. at ¶ 78. Neither the Sheriff's Office
nor the Probation Department investigated the note.
Id. at ¶¶ 79-82.
experienced additional harassment beginning on June 14, 2016.
Id. at ¶¶ 84-85. Another probation
officer, David Neeley, alleged that Martin had interfered
with his official duties in the courtroom where the case of a
probationer assigned to Neeley was scheduled to be heard.
Id. at ¶¶ 86-91. On September 14, 2016,
Martin was suspended based on Neeley's allegations.
Id. at ¶ 97. The suspension letter was prepared
before Martin received the opportunity to respond.
Id. at ¶¶ 96, 103-104.
Chief Judge Evans authorized and approved the suspension, the
union filed a grievance, charging that the suspension
constituted retaliation for Martin's union activity and
the agency charges she had filed. Id. at
¶¶ 107-108. The day of her suspension, Martin filed
a second charge with the IDHR. Id. at ¶ 109.
Martin's workstation was then reassigned, forcing her to
sit next to a probation officer who had sought to have her
removed as a union official. Id. at ¶¶
111-112, 117. In addition, Gray shared with other Probation
Department employees the details of a ...