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Torres v. Harris

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 16, 2019

JUAN J. TORRES, #N84619, Plaintiff,
v.
HARRIS, Dietary Supervisor, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Nancy J. Rosenstengel Chief U.S. District Judge.

         Plaintiff Juan J. Torres, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections currently incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center, brings this action for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges he has been denied a job because of his disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act (RA). He also asserts due process and equal protection claims. He seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief.

         This case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the Court to screen prisoner Complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of the Complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or requests money damages from an immune defendant must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges he was not able to obtain a job at Pinckneyville due to being wheelchair bound. (Doc. 1, pp. 3, 4). Plaintiff submitted a request slip to his counselor inquiring about the types of jobs he could have while in a wheelchair. (Id., p. 3). His counselor responded that he could be approved for a job in dietary or as a porter, but informed him that there were no ADA jobs in dietary. (Id., pp. 3, 14). Plaintiff does not believe he can be a porter because he cannot sweep from his wheelchair, and his chair will not fit in the laundry room. (Id., p. 3). Instead, Plaintiff requested a job in the kitchen from dietary supervisor Harris. (Id., p. 3, 4). He submitted a request slip to Harris, but Harris has never responded to Plaintiff's request. (Id., p. 3). Plaintiff alleges that Harris violated the ADA, RA, and his due process and equal protection rights in denying him a job in the prison dietary. (Id., p. 7).

         Based on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide this action into the following counts:

Count 1: ADA and/or RA claims for failing to provide Plaintiff with a job in dietary.
Count 2: Dietary Supervisor Harris violated Plaintiff's due process rights by failing to provide Plaintiff with a job in dietary.
Count 3: Dietary Supervisor Harris violated Plaintiff's equal protection rights by failing to provide Plaintiff with a job in dietary and because there are no ADA jobs in dietary.

         The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designations do not constitute an opinion regarding their merit. Any other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under the Twombly pleading standard.[1]

         Discussion

         Count 1

         As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that Plaintiff has not named a proper defendant with respect to Count 1. The proper defendant with respect to the ADA and RA claims is the agency, in this case the Illinois Department of Corrections, or its director (in his official capacity). See 42 U.S.C. § 12131(1)(b); Jaros v. Illinois Dep't of Corr., 684 F.3d 667, 670 n.2 (7th Cir. 2012) (individual capacity claims are not available; the proper defendant is the agency or its director (in his official capacity)). Normally, the Court would give Plaintiff the opportunity to correct this mistake by amendment. As explained below, however, even if Plaintiff had named a proper defendant, his ADA and RA claims would fail. Accordingly, amendment would be futile.

         The Seventh Circuit has held that the ADA does not apply to the employment of prisoners. Starry v. Oshkosh Correctional Institution, 731 Fed.Appx. 517 (7th Cir. 2018). In Neisler v. Tuckwell, the Court held that workplace discrimination on the basis of a disability in connection with paid prison employment is not covered under Title II. 807 F.3d 225, 227-28 (7th Cir. 2015) (citations omitted). In Murdock v. Washington, the Court found that Title I did not apply because plaintiff was “an inmate of the prison, not an employee or job applicant” 193 F.3d 510, 512 (7th Cir. ...


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