United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
HONORABLE THOMAS M. DURKIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Melissa Tapia brings this action against the City of Chicago,
Sergeant Eduardo Beltran, and Lieutenant Paul Mack for sex
discrimination in connection with her training in the Chicago
Police Department Special Function Division's Marine
Unit. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss all claims.
For the following reasons, the defendants' motion is
12(b)(6) motion challenges the “sufficiency of the
complaint.” Berger v. Nat. Collegiate Athletic
Assoc., 843 F.3d 285, 289 (7th Cir. 2016). A complaint
must provide “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), sufficient to provide defendant with
“fair notice” of the claim and the basis for it.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007). This standard “demands more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). While
“detailed factual allegations” are not required,
“labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action will not do.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The complaint must
“contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true,
to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (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.'” Boucher v. Fin. Sys. of Green Bay,
Inc., 880 F.3d 362, 366 (7th Cir. 2018) (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.
Tobey v. Chibucos, 890 F.3d 634, 646 (7th Cir.
Melissa Tapia has been a member of the Chicago Police
Department since 2002. R. 30 ¶ 27. From 2004 until 2018,
Tapia worked in the Juvenile Intervention Center and the
Missing Persons Unit. Id. ¶ 28. In 2009 and in
2014, Tapia unsuccessfully applied to join the Marine Unit,
one of the four units of the CPD's Special Functions
Division (the other three units include the Helicopter Unit,
the Bomb Squad, and SWAT). Id. ¶¶ 6-8. In
June 2018, Tapia was selected from a promotions list to begin
training with the Marine Unit. Id. ¶ 31. Tapia
is an experienced diver and has several certifications,
including as a rescue diver. Id. ¶ 30.
Tapia's training, Lieutenant Paul Mack served as the
acting commanding officer and officer Eduardo Beltran led the
training class. Id. ¶ 13. The class included 15
officers, 13 men and two women, very few of whom had dive
training. Id. ¶ 33. Five candidates dropped out
of training in the first few weeks. Id. ¶ 36.
During the fourth week, Beltran administrated a mandatory
swim test that required trainees to pull themselves out of
deep water onto a pool deck (known as the “pool exit
test”). Id. ¶ 37. Tapia could not pull
herself out of the water. Id. After the failed test,
Beltran ridiculed Tapia in front of Mack and several other
officers, accusing her of being weak and needing to do
pushups. Id. ¶ 38. Beltran gave Tapia one week
to pass the test, which was required to receive an interview
for the Unit. Id. ¶¶ 37, 38.
completed the pool exit test the following week, but Beltran
and Mack determined she did not exit quickly enough.
Id. ¶ 39. Mack told Tapia: “That looked
like shit, I should send you back. You should have more
strength. Why are you so weak?” Id. ¶ 39.
Tapia again completed the pool exit test the following week,
at which time Beltran stopped conducting the test for all
trainees. Id. ¶ 40. Nevertheless, Beltran
required Tapia, and no one else, to perform the test
throughout the training. Id. ¶ 41. Meanwhile,
Beltran permitted a male trainee to complete the lifeguard
portion of the training even though he could not perform the
required 600-meter swim or pick up a brick from the bottom of
the pool. Id. ¶ 55.
alleges that Beltran routinely singled her out and humiliated
her in front of the class. Specifically, Beltran berated
Tapia for minor mistakes but did not do the same to male
trainees; blamed Tapia for the male officers' mistakes;
required Tapia and the other female trainee (but not the male
trainees) to clean, set up, and keep track of his dive
equipment; and yelled at the female trainees for asking
questions or seeking clarification. Id. ¶¶
43, 44, 52, 53.
alleges her experience is an example of the CPD Special
Function Division's customarily hostile treatment of
women. In addition to being singled out, humiliated, and held
to a different standard than the male trainees, Tapia
contends the Marine Unit officers would routinely ogle women
in swimsuits and take photographs of them on the beach.
Id. ¶ 56. Tapia also alleges the CPD provided
her with defective equipment and inadequate training
facilities. Specifically, the facility where the trainees
swam had only one women's changing room, which the male
trainees used for bowel movements, causing Tapia and the
other female trainee to be late for training sessions.
Id. ¶ 46. The CPD also did not provide
appropriately sized dry suits for women, forcing Tapia and
the other female trainee to either share a suit or wear suits
that were too large. Id. ¶¶ 48-49.
Finally, the Marine Unit boats did not have bathrooms or
separate changing areas, creating problems for Tapia during
her menstrual period and requiring her and the other female
trainee to go hours without relieving themselves.
Id. ¶¶ 57-58.
December 2018, Mack informed the nine remaining trainees that
he would invite them all to join the Marine Unit pending an
ice dive. Id. ¶ 60. Tapia could not complete
the dive on her first two tries because of her large and
leaking dry suit. Id. ¶¶ 61, 63. Tapia
failed the test two more times before she eventually
completed the dive. Id. ¶¶ 64-67. While
many of the trainees struggled to pass the ice dive test,
Beltran made only Tapia write memos about her mistakes.
Id. ¶ 68.
January 2019, Beltran invented an ad hoc test that
required the trainees to pull themselves out of the training
pool in their dry suits. Id. ¶ 71. Tapia's
oversized dry suit filled with water rendering her unable to
complete the test. Id. ¶ 70.
weeks later, Beltran terminated Tapia's detail in the
Marine Unit, citing concerns over her ice dive in December.
Id. ¶ 74. On the same day, Mack told Tapia she
had been terminated because of her trouble removing herself
from the water. Id. ¶ 75. Tapia responded that
she never had trouble getting onto boats, but Mack told her
the issue was the pool. Id. Tapia returned to her
previously assigned unit the following Monday. Id.
brings this action for sex-based discrimination in violation
of 42 U.S.C. § 1893 and equal protection (Count I
against the City of Chicago and Count II against Beltran and
Mack), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000(e) (Counts IV and V against the City of Chicago),
and the Illinois Civil Rights Act, 740 ILCS 23/5 (Count III
against the City of Chicago). The defendants now move to
dismiss Tapia's complaint.
Section 1983 Equal Protection ...