United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
HONORABLE THOMAS M. DURKIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Heidi Varela has sued defendants Board of Control of Lake
County High School Technology Campus (“the
Board”), and Constance Collins, Jim McKay, and
Roycealee Wood in their official capacities as officers of
the Board, for employment discrimination and retaliation.
Currently before the Court is defendants' partial motion
to dismiss Varela's complaint. R. 10. For the reasons
explained below, the Court grants in part and denies in part
complaint must provide “a short plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Through this statement, defendants must
be provided with “fair notice” of the claim and
the basis for it. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007). This means the 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).
“‘A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.'” Mann, 707
F.3d at 877 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). In
applying this standard, the Court accepts all well-pleaded
facts as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of
the non-moving party. Mann, 707 F.3d at 877.
County High School Technology Campus hired Varela as an
instructor in August 2013. R. 1 ¶ 12. Derrick Burress
was the principal of the school and Varela's immediate
supervisor. Id. ¶¶ 14-15.
August 2013 through December 2015, Burress did not formally
observe Varela in her classroom, Varela was never told that
she was performing her job unsatisfactorily, and Varela was
not disciplined or reprimanded. Id. ¶¶
18-20. In September 2013, Varela's teacher evaluation
ranked her with two excellent marks, 23 proficient marks,
seven needs improvement marks, and no unsatisfactory marks.
Id. ¶ 16. Varela's January 2014 teacher
evaluation ranked her with nine excellent marks, 36
proficient marks, two needs improvement marks, and no
unsatisfactory marks. Id. ¶ 17.
September 9, 2015, Varela told Burress that she was pregnant.
Id. ¶ 21. Burress asked Varela about her plans
after the baby was born, and Varela responded with her due
date. Id. ¶¶ 22-23. Burress then
“asked in a negative, condescending tone ‘so you
don't have a plan?'” Id. ¶ 24. A
few weeks later, on September 29, 2015, Varela requested from
assistant principal Sebastian Kapala and executive director
Steve Clark an aide to assist in heavy lifting and cleaning a
printer with chemicals in light of her pregnancy.
Id. ¶ 28. On December 8, 2015, Varela
communicated again with Kapala and Clark regarding her
pregnancy and lack of assistance with heavy lifting and
cleaning the printer. Id. ¶ 32.
conducted his first formal observation of Varela's
classroom on December 8, 2015. Id. ¶ 29.
Varela's December 8, 2015 teacher evaluation gave her six
excellent marks, 30 proficient marks, four needs improvement
marks, and no unsatisfactory marks. Id. ¶ 30.
2016, Burress permanently removed Varela's classroom aide
from her classroom. Id. ¶¶ 26-27. On
February 19, 2016, Burress conducted a second formal
observation of Varela's classroom. Id. ¶
33. Varela's February 19, 2016 teacher evaluation rated
her overall performance as needs improvement, and gave her
five excellent marks, 27 proficient marks, eight needs
improvement marks, and no unsatisfactory marks. Id.
¶ 34. After meeting with Burress to receive her February
19, 2016 evaluation, Varela became visibly upset and left his
office in tears. Id. ¶ 35.
early March 2016, Varela submitted rebuttals to Burress'
evaluation reports from his December 2015 and February 2016
formal observations. Id. ¶¶ 31, 36. On
March 17, 2016, defendants notified Varela that she would not
be re-employed as a full-time instructor and that her
employment would end on June 3, 2016. Id. ¶ 37.
filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) against Lake
County High School Technology Campus on March 30, 2016, which
the EEOC received on April 4, 2016. R. 10-2. In her EEOC
charge, Varela checked the boxes for sex and disability
discrimination, but not for retaliation. See Id. And
the narrative section of the EEOC charge alleges that Varela
was “discriminated against because of [her] sex female
and due to pregnancy . . . [and] because of [her] disability,
” but does not mention retaliation. See id.
requested leave pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”) for the birth of her child from May 6,
2016 through May 26, 2016, and that request was approved. R.
1 ¶¶ 38-40. After her leave, Varela was never
rehired. Id. ¶ 42.
10, 2017, the EEOC issued Varela a notice of right to sue,
which Varela received on May 13, 2017. Id. ¶ 9.
Varela filed her complaint in this case on August 10, 2017,
within 90 days of ...