United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division
MYERSCOUGH, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
cause is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss (d/e 8)
filed by Defendants City of Springfield (the City) and James
O. Langfelder. Because Counts I through III of Plaintiff
Diane Runkel's Complaint (d/e 1) state claims for which
relief can be granted, the motion is DENIED.
following facts come from Plaintiff's Complaint. The
Court accepts them as true in ruling on the motion to
dismiss. See Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074,
1081 (7th Cir. 2008).
began working for the City in 2007 after being hired as an
administrative clerk in the City's Office of Budget and
Management. Complaint (d/e 1), ¶ 7. Plaintiff continued
working for the City and was promoted in November 2008 and
again in May 2015. Id. ¶¶ 8-9. After the
May 2015 promotion, Plaintiff was working for the City as an
assistant purchasing agent. Id. ¶ 9.
early 2018, it was announced that the incumbent purchasing
agent would be leaving her position. Id. ¶11.
Plaintiff informed William McCarty, the City's Director
of Management and Budget, several times that Plaintiff was
interested in the purchasing agent position. Id.
was not selected for the position, however. Id.
¶ 15. Kassandra Wilkin, who is black and had less
experience than Plaintiff, who is white, was selected to be
the City's purchasing agent solely because of
Wilkin's race. Id. ¶¶ 19-20. Plaintiff
was the most qualified applicant for the purchasing agent
position. Id. ¶17. Wilkin had only two
years' experience in the Office of Budget and Management
and was a subordinate of Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 16.
Had Plaintiff been black, she would been selected for the
purchasing agent position. Id. ¶ 21. The
City's previous purchasing agent was black, and
Langfelder wanted a black person to be the next purchasing
agent. Id. ¶ 18.
was subsequently told by Langfelder that Plaintiff was going
to receive a raise despite being passed over for the
promotion. Id. ¶ 22. Through counsel, Plaintiff
sent a letter to Langfelder expressing Plaintiff's view
that Plaintiff was passed over for the promotion in favor of
Wilkin because of Plaintiff's race. Id. ¶
23. Attached to the letter was a proposed complaint to the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging race
April 5, 2018, Plaintiff filed a race discrimination
complaint with the EEOC, and, the next day, the City notified
Plaintiff that her pay increase was being rescinded and that
she was being placed on a “last chance
agreement.” Id. ¶¶ 24-25.
Approximately one month later, Plaintiff filed a second
charge with the EEOC against the City, alleging that the
City's actions of rescinding her pay increase and placing
her on the “last chance agreement” were
retaliatory. Id. ¶ 26. On August 7, 2018,
Plaintiff received notices that she could bring a civil
lawsuit based on EEOC charges. Id. ¶ 27.
August 2018, Plaintiff filed a three-count Complaint against
the City and Langfelder, the mayor of Springfield, in his
individual capacity. Count I alleges the City discriminated
against Plaintiff in violation of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act (Title VII) when it passed Plaintiff over for a
promotion due to her race. Count II, brought under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleges Langfelder violated Plaintiff's
Fourteenth Amendment equal protection rights when Langfelder
passed Plaintiff over for a promotion due to her race. Count
III alleges the City retaliated against Plaintiff in
violation of Title VII when the City rescinded
Plaintiff's pay increase and placed Plaintiff on a
“last chance agreement” because Plaintiff
complained of racial discrimination.
October 22, 2018, Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss.
Defendants seek to have Plaintiff's claims dismissed for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Defendants argue that Counts I and III should be
dismissed because the City's purchasing agent position
does not fall within the definition of “employee”
set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 2000e. Defendants also argue
that Count II should be dismissed, as Langfelder is entitled
to qualified immunity because political appointees are not
subject to Title VII and elected officials may consider race
when making political appointments.
November 5, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Memorandum of Law in
Opposition to Motion to Dismiss (d/e 10). Plaintiff contends
that the City's purchasing agent is not appointed by an
elected official and therefore qualifies as an employee under
Title VII. Plaintiff also argues that Langfelder is not
entitled to qualified immunity, as it was clearly established
at the time Plaintiff was not promoted that the Fourteenth
Amendment prohibits the use of race in hiring decisions,
“absent the most compelling of circumstances.”
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).
“Factual allegations are accepted as true at the
pleading stage, but allegations in the form of legal
conclusions are insufficient to survive a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion.” Adams, 742 F.3d at 728 ...