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Craig v. International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees

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

July 11, 2019

DANIELLE CRAIG, Plaintiff,
v.
INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE OF THEATRICAL STAGE EMPLOYEES; INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE OF THEATRICAL STAGE EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 217; SMG, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CHARLES P. KOCORAS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees' (“International”) motion to dismiss Danielle Craig's (“Craig”) first amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the Court grants the motion.

         The following facts are taken from Craig's first amended complaint and are assumed to be true for purposes of this motion. Murphy v. Walker, 51 F.3d 714, 717 (7th Cir. 1995). The Court draws all reasonable inferences in Craig's favor. Tamayo v. Blagojevich. 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008).

         Craig is a rigger at BMO Harris Bank Center. As a rigger, Craig loads, unloads, and installs temporary rigging equipment used in the production of live and filmed entertainment events. She is a member of both International and its local affiliate International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 217 (“Local 217”).

         International is an international union that represents behind-the-scene workers throughout the entertainment industry. It is a labor organization within the purview of Title VII, the Labor and Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (“LMRDA”), and the Labor-Management Relations Act (“LMRA”).

         Local 217 is a local union that represents International craft workers in and around Rockford, Illinois. It is a labor union within the purview of Title VII, the LMRDA, the LMRA, and the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).

         SMG is a multinational company that manages entertainment venues, including BMO Harris Bank Center (“BMO”) in Rockford, Illinois. SMG is an employer within the purview of Title VII, the LMRDA, LMRA, and the NLRA. SMG and Local 217 are governed by a collective bargaining agreement covering the production and technical services employees at BMO Harris Bank Center. Rick Abrams (“Abrams”) is Local 217's business agent and refers employees to SMG via a referral hall.

         At all relevant times, Craig was a lead rigger at BMO and a member and officer[1]of Local 217. Craig alleges that sexual harassment of women is “common at [BMO], ” and that she began to experience “more frequent and more intense harassment” after her promotion to lead rigger in July of 2017. Craig highlighted a particular incident which served as the basis of her complaint.

         On or about July 11, 2017, Craig was working with fellow co-worker Scott Dixon (“Dixon”) on a “catwalk-like structure” 75 feet in the air. While working, Craig claims that she pointed out an error Dixon made. In response, Dixon clenched his fist and threatened to strike her. He subsequently called her a “fucking bitch” and told her to “suck [his] dick.” Craig alleges that SMG supervisors heard Dixon's remarks.

         Craig immediately reported the incident to Local 217's steward, Michael Peterson (“Peterson”). Craig states that Peterson represented to her that because Dixon “had already apologized, ” no further action was needed. Craig then called Local 217's President, Chuck Whitmore (“Whitmore”). Again, no action was taken. Craig subsequently asked the Board of Local 217 to ensure that Dixon would no longer work on the same shift as her and requested that he issue her a written apology. The Board of Local 217 denied both requests.[2]

         Craig alleges that following her complaints against Dixon, she “began to face persistent harassment from [Local 217] members.” Specifically, Craig claims whenever she received praise or thanks for a job well done, “Abrams and the others would loudly or insinuate that [Craig] earned the praise by performing sexual favor[s].” Craig also alleges that Abrams attempted to make her “appear incompetent” by accusing her of unsafely setting up equipment and blaming her for workplace drama. She also alleges discrimination based on her sex and differential treatment regarding her clothing. Abrams continued his retaliation against her by denying her work and preventing her from “receiving work from other [International] locals.” Despite this harassment, Craig continued to attend union meetings and “speak out in favor of reforms.”

         On or about March 23, 2018, Craig attended a Local 217 general meeting and explained how she had been forced to seek other work because of Local 217's failure to adequately protect her. As she spoke, Craig alleges that Dixon pinned her to her chair and “violently kissed her in full view of the union membership and executive board.” The Board of Local 217 did not remove Dixon from the meeting, and he subsequently left of his own volition.

         Despite Craig's repeated requests, Local 217 refused to take any action against Dixon[3] and allegedly hindered her attempts to do so. Specifically, Craig alleges that Local 217 refused to tell her how to initiate union charges against him. She also claims that SMG similarly refused to help.

         In late March 2018 through April 2018, Craig contacted International for its help with respect to the sexual harassment and discrimination. Craig communicated with Patricia White (“White”), an International trustee. White allegedly told Craig to go to the police and put her in touch with a counselor. In mid-April, White told Craig that “because [Local 217] would not guarantee her safety, Craig should stop attending union meetings.” White also told Craig that “if she was not safe working at [BMO], she should stop working there.” Craig subsequently stopped working at BMO in the end of April and no longer attended meetings. As a result, Craig lost wages and opportunities for advancement and did not seek another term as vice president.

         On April 30, 2018, White took some of Craig's written complaints about the sexual harassment and discrimination based on her sex and filed them as International charges against Local 217. Since notifying Local 217 of the charges, International has allegedly taken no steps to protect Craig, to investigate her allegations of discrimination based on sex, or to sanction Local 217 for its illegal conduct.

         On October 3, 2018, Craig filed her initial complaint alleging that Local 217 and International violated the LMRDA and breached the duty of fair representation (“DFR”). International moved to dismiss the original complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Craig subsequently filed an amended complaint. The amended complaint, inclusive of the prior DFR and LMRDA claims, added discrimination and retaliation ...


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