Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Runkel v. City of Springfield

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

September 9, 2019

DIANE RUNKEL, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF SPRINGFIELD, and JAMES O. LANGFELDER, Defendants.

          OPINION

          SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This 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.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The 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).

         Plaintiff 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.

         In 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. ¶ 14.

         Plaintiff 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.

         Plaintiff 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 discrimination. Id.

         On 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.

         In 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.

         On 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.

         On 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.”

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         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). “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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.