United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. GETTLEMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
John Zinkel has brought a six count revised second amended
complaint against defendants Vicky Piper, Pradipta Komanduri,
Carolyn Nelson, and his and their employer, Loyola University
Health System (“Loyola”), alleging intentional
infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”) against
Piper, Komanduri, and Nelson (Count I); IIED against Loyola
(Count II); tortious interference with a business
relationship or expectancy against Piper, Komanduri, and
Nelson (Count III); and discrimination in violation of Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act, 1964, the Age Discrimination and
Employment Act (“ADEA”) and the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”) against Loyola (Counts
IV through VI). Early on the parties began settlement
negotiations and thought they had reached an agreement.
Unable to agree on the release language, the settlement broke
down. After the court denied plaintiff's motion to
enforce what he thought was a binding agreement, defendants
moved to dismiss Counts I through III of the revised second
amended complaint. For the reasons described below, that
motion (Doc. 48) is denied.
worked for Loyola for 33 years before his employment was
terminated on February 20, 2015. His last position was
Director of Respiratory Care. During the period in question
Piper was Loyola's Human Resources Vice-President. Nelson
was Director of Human Resources, and Komanduri was a Vice
was diagnosed with lymphocytic leukemia in December 2011. At
that time his condition was monitored but he did not undergo
any treatment. By June 2013 his condition had worsened, and
he was hospitalized at Loyola. Piper and Nelson were aware of
plaintiff's condition from that point forward, both
having approved his leave under the Family and Medical Leave
his FMLA leave ended, plaintiff returned to work in September
2013. He completed a six month round of chemotherapy in
December 2013. On September 30, 2014, he met with Komanduri,
Nelson, Piper, and Loyola's Chief Executive Officer
(“CEO”) Wendy Leutgens. Leutgens told plaintiff
to prepare a plan to reduce the number of full time
equivalent employees (“FTEs”) on his staff by
seven, a cut of greater than 8% of the full time staff. Piper
told him that they settled on seven after consulting
“Decision Support, ” the hospital unit charged
with determining staffing levels. Not happy, plaintiff
himself met with Decision Support and was told that seven was
too many, and that the appropriate number of cuts was four.
told Komanduri of his discussion with Decision Support and
she confirmed that plaintiff should reduce his department by
four FTEs. Plaintiff began submitting plans for the
reductions, each of which was rejected and met with ridicule
from Leutgens. On October 24, 2014, Komanduri and plaintiff
communicated by email about his latest plan. Plaintiff
thought the plan might be accepted. Komanduri closed her
final email by telling plaintiff to have a good weekend.
Eighteen minutes later plaintiff was called into
Komanduri's office where Komanduri and Nelson waited.
Plaintiff was issued a work improvement plan
(“WIP”). According to plaintiff the WIP contained
false statements about his performance. Nelson yelled and
screamed at plaintiff, stating that he was wasting
everyone's time with his proposed plans. Nelson
threatened plaintiff that he would lose his job, benefits,
and whole career if he did not develop an acceptable
October 24 meeting, plaintiff told defendants that he had
been an employee for 33 years, always had positive reviews,
that he had leukemia and needed his job and benefits.
Plaintiff began to cry, but got no response from defendants.
Three days later, plaintiff collapsed in his office. He
collapsed again at the Cancer Center. His condition had
worsened, and he needed triple chemotherapy for six months.
Plaintiff subsequently went on three months FMLA leave. He
returned to work early, after only two months.
early January 2015 he met with Komanduri and Nelson to review
his most recent reorganization plan. Nelson again screamed
that he was wasting her time and that he was going to lose
his job, benefits, and career. Komanduri claimed the plan
made no sense even though it was the same plan that was
ultimately submitted by one of plaintiff's subordinates
and approved after plaintiff had stopped working.
February 20, 2015, plaintiff was called into a meeting with
the HR Department. His WIP had not yet been completed. He was
given a “Confidential Separation Agreement and
Release.” He told Komanduri and Nelson that he was
still receiving chemotherapy and that their actions might
violate the ADA. Komanduri and Nelson left the room for 30
minutes and upon their return told plaintiff that he could
extend his short-term disability leave for another three
months, and that after he returned they could either finalize
the Separation Agreement or he could start a long-term
disability claim. In either event, he would be terminated
when his leave ended.
have moved to dismiss Counts I through III, arguing that the
claims are preempted by the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775
ILCS 5/8-111, which provides:
Except as otherwise provided by law, no court of this state
shall have jurisdiction over the subject of an alleged civil
rights violation other than as set forth in this Act.
IHRA outlaws employment discrimination based on sex or
disability. Employment discrimination is described as
“incidents in which an employer acts with respect to
promotion, renewal of employment . . . discharge, discipline,
tenure or terms, privileges or conditions of employment on
the basis of unlawful discrimination or citizenship
status.” Naeem ...