United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. LEE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Jeannette Soto has brought this lawsuit against Defendants
Karen Yarbrough, Erwin Acox, Jr., and the Cook County
Recorder of Deeds Office (“the Recorder's
Office”), and Cook County (“the County”),
alleging that they discriminated and retaliated against her
on the basis of her political affiliation, in violation of 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Yarbrough has moved to dismiss Soto's
amended complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). For the reasons that follow, the motion is denied.
began working as the Director of Human Resources at the
Recorder's Office on October 31, 2016. Am. Compl. ¶
12, ECF No. 18. At that time, Yarbrough was the elected Cook
County Recorder of Deeds. Id. ¶ 8. Soto is not
politically affiliated with Yarbrough. Id. ¶
reported to Acox, the Chief of Human Resources at the
Recorder's Office. Id. ¶¶ 9, 15-19.
She alleges that she experienced various difficulties in
working with Acox; for example, Acox refused to act on a
report Soto submitted about attendance policy violations by
an employee who was politically connected to Yarbrough.
Id. ¶¶ 15-16. According to Soto, Acox also
excluded her from meetings and gave her poor performance
reviews. Id. ¶¶ 17-20. After receiving a
negative evaluation in March 2017, Soto complained to the
Recorder Compliance Administrator
(“RCA”) that she believed she was being
discriminated against because she was not politically
affiliated with Yarbrough. Id. ¶¶ 18, 21.
that month, Soto was asked to assist in hiring a new Director
of Compliance for the Recorder's Office. Id.
¶ 22. Specifically, she was assigned the task of
reviewing applicants and categorizing them as qualified or
not qualified for the position. Id. ¶ 23. Acox
was “not supposed to be involved” in this process
because he was one of the people who would be interviewing
Soto had compiled a list of qualified candidates, Acox asked
to review the list and “check [her] work.”
Id. ¶ 25. He then “indicated to [Soto]
that there were a few candidates” she incorrectly
categorized as not qualified. Id. Interviews were
conducted on March 21, 2017, but Acox had to recuse himself
from the process because he knew one or more of the
candidates. Id. ¶ 26. After the interviews were
completed, Soto was tasked with entering the candidates'
names into a spreadsheet, in the order in which they had been
ranked. Id. ¶ 27. Although he had recused
himself from the interview process, Acox ordered Soto to show
him the spreadsheet. Id.
eventually selected Kevin Thomas for the Director of
Compliance position on March 23, 2017. Id. ¶
28. According to Soto, Acox knew Thomas personally.
Id. Thomas was not the highest ranked candidate for
the position, so Yarbrough was required to submit a statement
as to why she had not chosen the first ranked candidate.
Id. When Acox subsequently asked Soto to prepare an
offer letter for Thomas, she told him she could not do so
without Yarbrough's statement as to why Thomas had been
selected. Id. ¶ 29.
also voiced concerns about Acox's participation in the
hiring process to the RCA, who allegedly told her that
Acox's involvement had been improper. Id. ¶
30. Soto was then designated the Acting Head of the Human
Resources Department and was asked to suspend the hiring
process. Id. ¶ 31. The next day, on March 24,
2017, Acox and Yarbrough fired Soto, stating that she was an
“at will employee, ” that it was “not
working out, ” and that she was still within her
six-month probationary period. Id. ¶ 32.
provides that a complaint need only include “a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To survive a
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must
“state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). “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.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
when considering motions to dismiss, the Court accepts
“all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and
view[s] them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff.” Lavalais v. Vill. of Melrose Park,
734 F.3d 629, 632 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing Luevano v.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1027 (7th Cir.
2013)). At the same time, “allegations in the form of
legal conclusions are insufficient to survive a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion.” McReynolds v. Merrill Lynch & Co.,
Inc., 694 F.3d 873, 885 (7th Cir. 2012) (citing
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). As such,
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of the cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.