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Taylor-Reeves v. Marketstaff, Inc.

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

August 7, 2019



          John Robert Blakey United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Renee Taylor-Reeves, proceeding pro se, sues Defendant Marketstaff, Inc. for retaliation under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (Count I). [63]. Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). [65]. For the reasons explained below, this Court grants Defendant's motion.

         I. Background[1]

         A. The Complaint's Allegations

         Defendant operates a human resource staffing business in Illinois. [63] ¶¶ 8, 17. Plaintiff-an African-American female-began working for Bright Start Child Care & Preschool, Inc. (Bright Start) on August 20, 2013 as an instructor. Id. ¶¶ 11, 19, (Ex. 4). According to Plaintiff, Defendant hired her for this position. Id. ¶ 19.

         On April 29, 2015, Plaintiff contacted an unnamed “agent” of Defendant to report that she felt ill and may have contacted strep throat, and thus would not be able to work the next day because she had scheduled a doctor's appointment. Id. ¶¶ 35, 37. At this time, two non-African-American teachers “were already out” due to strep throat. Id. ¶ 36. Defendant's agent requested that Plaintiff come in to work the next day and told Plaintiff that she could go to her doctor's appointment later in the day. Id. ¶ 38.

         Plaintiff reported to work the next day, April 30, 2015, and became increasingly ill while in the classroom. Id. ¶¶ 37, 39. Therefore, she sent Defendant's agent a note requesting permission to leave work early so that she could see a doctor immediately. Id. ¶ 39. According to Plaintiff, the agent responded with a written message on the back of the note: “do what you need to do.” Id. ¶ 40. Plaintiff subsequently left work to go see a doctor. [63] (Ex. 6).

         Plaintiff's complaint states that, on April 30, at approximately 11:40 a.m., Plaintiff received an email from Defendant informing her that it considered Plaintiff “resigned” because she left the workplace without permission. Id. ¶¶ 21, 41.[2]Plaintiff alleges that Defendant did not terminate the two other non-African-American teachers absent from work due to strep throat. Id. ¶ 42.

         B. Procedural History

         In 2016, Plaintiff sued Bright Start in Cook County Circuit Court alleging sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and retaliation in violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act. [10] ¶ 4; [10-2]. In July 2017, Plaintiff filed her initial complaint against both Defendant Marketstaff and Bright Start in this case. [1]. On October 10, 2017, this Court granted Plaintiff's motion to stay this case in light of the state court proceedings. [23]. Following a jury trial in state court, the jury reached a verdict in favor of Bright Start in January 2019. [66-2].[3]

         On March 6, 2019, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Bright Start from this case. [59]. On April 4, 2019, this Court granted Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint, but only if Plaintiff's counsel could do so consistent with his Rule 11 obligations. [60]. Plaintiff's counsel filed a motion to withdraw on April 17, 2019, [61], and Plaintiff filed the amended complaint now at issue on April 26, 2019. [63]. This Court granted the motion to withdraw on May 8, 2019, [64], and Defendant filed the present motion to dismiss, [65], on May 17, 2019.

         II. Legal Standard

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must provide a “short and plain statement of the claim” showing that the pleader merits relief, Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), so the defendant has “fair notice” of the claim “and the grounds upon which it rests, ” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). A complaint must also contain “sufficient factual matter” to state a facially plausible claim to relief-one 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) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). This plausibility standard “asks for more than a sheer possibility” that a defendant acted unlawfully. Williamson v. Curran, 714 F.3d 432, 436 (7th Cir. 2013). Thus, “threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action” and mere conclusory statements “do not suffice.” Limestone Dev. Corp. v. Vill. of Lemont, 520 F.3d 797, 803 (7th Cir. 2008).

         In evaluating a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), this Court accepts all well-pleaded allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. This Court does not, however, accept a complaint's ...

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