United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the Motion for Leave to Proceed
in forma pauperis filed by Plaintiff Gregory Cain
(Doc. 3). Cain filed this employment discrimination lawsuit
pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1967, as
amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5, and/or 42 U.S.C. §
1981 (Doc. 2), claiming Defendant Continental Tire
discriminated against him on the basis of his race. Cain
asserts Continental Tire refused to give him proper medical
treatment or take him to the hospital, harassed him by
putting inappropriate things like a maxi-pad on his locker,
and sent negative text messages. He further claims his
supervisors made racist statements (Id.). He now
moves to proceed without prepayment of the required filing
28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), a federal court is authorized to
permit an indigent party to commence a civil action without
prepaying the required fees if the party submits an affidavit
that includes a statement of all assets he or she possesses
and that demonstrates the party is unable to pay such fees.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Complete destitution is not
required to proceed in forma pauperis; an affidavit
demonstrating that the plaintiff cannot, because of his
poverty, provide himself with the necessities of life is
sufficient. Adkins v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours &
Co., 335 U.S. 331, 339-40 (1948).
Court has reviewed Cain's affidavit (Doc. 3) and finds
that he is indigent. Cain attests that he brings home around
$384 per week but that he owes $581 per month for rent, $325
per month for utilities, and a total of $1, 481 per month in
child support. He also claims no assets other than his
mother's car, and he has only $387 in his checking
account. Based on these facts, the Court finds Cain's
poverty level justifies granting him IFP status.
that does not end the inquiry. Under Section 1915(e)(2), the
Court must then screen the indigent plaintiff's complaint
and dismiss the complaint if it is clearly frivolous or
malicious, fails to state a claim, or is a claim for money
damages against an immune defendant. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B); see also Hoskins v. Poelstra, 320
F.3d 761, 763 (7th Cir. 2003) (“District judges have
ample authority to dismiss frivolous or transparently
defective suits spontaneously, and thus save everyone time
and legal expense.”). Thus, resolution of the motion to
proceed IFP requires the undersigned to review the
allegations of the complaint.
reviewing the complaint, the undersigned is aware that courts
construe pro se claims generously. Buechel v.
United States, 746 F.3d 753, 758 (7th Cir. 2014). The
Court accepts the factual allegations as true, liberally
construing them in the plaintiff's favor. Turley v.
Rednour, 729 F.3d 645 (7th Cir. 2013). Conclusory
statements and labels, however, are not enough. The complaint
must allege enough facts to “state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Alexander v. United
States, 721 F.3d 418, 421 (7th Cir. 2013). That means
“a plaintiff must do better than putting a few words on
paper that, in the hands of an imaginative reader, might
suggest that something has happened to her that might be
redressed by the law.” Swanson v. Citibank,
N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 403 (7th Cir. 2010).
“[I[nstead that the plaintiff must give enough details
about the subject-matter of the case to present a story that
holds together.” Id. at 404.
U.S.C. § 1981
1981 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race in the
making and enforcing contracts, including employment
contracts. See Johnson v. Railway Express Agency,
Inc., 421 U.S. 454, 459 (1975). To state a claim under
Section 1981, a plaintiff must show that (1) he or she is a
member of a racial minority; (2) the defendant had an intent
to discriminate on the basis of race; and (3) the
discrimination interfered with a protected activity under
Section 1981, including the right to make and enforce
contracts. See Morris v. Office Max, Inc., 89 F.3d
411, 413 (7th Cir. 1996); see also Pourghoraishi v.
Flying J, Inc., 449 F.3d 751, 756 (7th Cir. 2006).
Cain has not alleged that he is a member of a racial
minority, that Continental Tire had an intent to discriminate
on the basis of his race, and that the discrimination
interfered with his right to make and enforce an employment
contract. Thus, even construing the Complaint liberally, the
Court finds Cain has failed to state a claim under 42 U.S.C.
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1967
VII prohibits employers from discriminating against employees
because of their race, color, religion, sex, or national
origin. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). A Title VII
discrimination claim requires a showing that an adverse
employment action was motivated by discriminatory animus.
Boss v. Castro, 816 F.3d 910, 916 (7th Cir. 2016).
“The statute also forbids employers from retaliating
against employees for complaining about prohibited
discrimination” and “subjecting an employee to a
hostile work environment.” Id. at 917.
bring a Title VII claim, a plaintiff must first file a charge
with the EEOC detailing the alleged discriminatory conduct,
and the EEOC must issue a right to sue letter. Conner v.
Illinois Dep't of Nat. Res., 413 F.3d 675, 680 (7th
Cir. 2005). The claims brought in a lawsuit must then be
“within the scope of the charges filed with the EEOC;
‘[a]n aggrieved employee may not complain to the EEOC
of only certain instances of discrimination, and then seek
judicial relief for different instances of
discrimination.'” Id. (quoting Rush v.
McDonald's Corp., 966 F.2d 1104, 1110 (7th Cir.
1992)). “The complaint filed in the district court and
the charge filed with the EEOC must, at a minimum, describe
the same circumstances and participants.” Id.
Cain's claim that he was discriminated against because of
his race “could encompass a wide range of unlawful
employment practices.” Gaytan v. City of
Chicago, No. 11 CV 8624, 2012 WL 2597932, at *4 (N.D.
Ill. July 5, 2012). Because Cain can only proceed on claims
that are within the scope of his EEOC charge, the Court must
look to the factual allegations in his EEOC charge to
determine the scope of his legal claims in federal court.
See Id. Unfortunately, however, Cain did not attach
his EEOC charge to the Complaint, instead attaching only the
Right to Sue letter. Therefore, it is unclear to the Court
what claim or claims Cain is attempting to bring.
the Court can tell, it appears Cain is trying to raise a
hostile work environment claim as opposed to a discrimination
or retaliation claim. But to state a Title VII hostile work
environment claim, a plaintiff must allege (1) he was subject
to unwelcome harassment; (2) the harassment was based on his
race; (3) the harassment was severe or pervasive so as to
alter the conditions of employment and create a hostile or
abusive working environment; and (4) there is basis for
employer liability. Cooper-Schut v. Visteon Auto.
Sys., 361 F.3d 421, 426 (7th Cir. 2004). To rise to the
level of a hostile work environment, conduct must be