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Doyle v. Capital One National Association

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

September 30, 2019

Kiama Doyle, Plaintiff,
v.
Capital One National Association, David Kucera, Kevin Gibbons, and Elizabeth Jannush, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MANISH S. SHAH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Kiama Doyle, who was the only black employee on her floor at Capital One, alleges that her coworker Elizabeth Jannush targeted Doyle with a variety of hostile acts. At one point, Doyle felt the need to call the police on Jannush to report an assault. Doyle alleges that the mistreatment she experienced amounts to civil rights violations under Title VII and § 1981 and tortious conduct under state law. The defendants-Jannush, Doyle's supervisors Kevin Gibbons and David Kucera, and Capital One-move to dismiss many of Doyle's claims. The issues boil down to whether Doyle's allegations suffice to allege illegal misconduct in the workplace. They do not.

         I. Legal Standard

         A complaint only needs to contain a short and plain statement that plausibly suggests a legal right was violated. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556-58 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-80 (2009). When evaluating a motion to dismiss, I assume that all the factual allegations in the complaint are true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Iqbal at 678-79. I do not have to accept legal conclusions or “mere conclusory statements” as true. Id. In other words, the complaint must contain enough factual allegations to reasonably infer that the unlawful conduct occurred.

         If a complaint “fails to state a claim” under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the plaintiff should have at least one opportunity to amend it. Runnion ex rel. Runnion v. Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago & Nw. Indiana, 786 F.3d 510, 519 (7th Cir. 2015). If, however, the plaintiff alleges facts that make her legal claim impossible, I may dismiss her claim with prejudice. See Benders v. Bellows & Bellows, 515 F.3d 757, 767 (7th Cir. 2008) (“a plaintiff can plead herself out of court by alleging facts that show she is not entitled to a judgment”) (internal citation omitted).

         II. Facts

         Kiama Doyle worked as an administrative assistant at Capital One from April to November 2018. [1] ¶¶ 22, 123.[1] She was the only black employee on her floor. Id. at ¶ 41. From the start, Doyle experienced serious conflict with another administrative assistant, Elizabeth Jannush, who was white. Id. at ¶¶ 16, 19. Jannush described herself as senior managing director David Kucera's “right-hand man” and made Doyle's work environment difficult. Id. at ¶¶ 15, 42. Jannush told Doyle not to socialize or take lunch breaks and provided conflicting job instructions. Id. at ¶¶ 26, 28. Jannush also tracked Doyle's whereabouts, including her bathroom and copier use. Id. at ¶¶ 48, 66, 76.

         To Doyle's face, Jannush called Doyle a “damn ape, ” a “token” hire, and said “your people love watermelon.” Id. at ¶¶ 35, 38, 40. Behind her back, Jannush complained about Doyle's physical therapy visits (due to a recent car accident) and made fun of Doyle's weight. Id. at ¶¶ 29, 31, 33, 36, 37, 55-56. At meetings, Jannush and her friends sat far away from Doyle to isolate her. Id. at ¶ 80. Jannush also misreported fraud on Doyle's expense accounts, causing additional difficulties for Doyle. Id. at ¶¶ 78-79.

         Early on, Doyle reported some, but not all, of Jannush's conduct. Kevin Gibbons, Doyle's supervisor and a managing director, told Doyle to ignore Jannush's comments about physical therapy and her meddlesome behavior. Id. at ¶¶ 32, 50. At some point in July, Doyle emailed Kucera about Jannush's behavior. Id. at ¶ 51. Jannush saw the email and yelled at Doyle, characterizing her as an angry black woman. Id. at ¶ 52-53. Kucera never responded to Doyle's email, but in late July, Doyle learned that she, Jannush, Kucera, and Gibbons were scheduled to attend a meeting with a human resources representative in late August. Id. at ¶¶ 54, 59. At the August meeting, Jannush admitted to bullying and harassing Doyle. Id. at ¶ 60. After the meeting, Jannush received an email instructing her to stop her behavior. Id. at ¶ 61.

         At some point in August, Doyle attended a training session in Virginia, during which she learned that Jannush had been complaining to others about Doyle receiving “special treatment.” Id. at ¶ 73. Gibbons again told Doyle to ignore Jannush's comments. Id. at ¶¶ 74-75.

         In early October, Doyle reported to Gibbons that there had been no change in Jannush's behavior. Id. at ¶ 82. Gibbons responded that the company took harassment and bullying very seriously. Id. at ¶ 83. Doyle also learned that Kucera and the human resources department wanted Doyle to receive the same email that had been sent to Jannush about behavior. Id. at ¶ 84. Doyle, however, did not understand why she was also being reprimanded. ¶¶ 85-86. She contacted, among others, a Capital One associate relations representative to discuss the matter. Id. A few days later, the associate relations representative told Doyle that her inquiry was being investigated. Id. at ¶¶ 87-88.

         Over the next few weeks, Doyle's work environment failed to improve, and in late October, Doyle filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Id. at ¶ 92. A few days later, Gibbons met with Doyle over lunch to discuss harassment and bullying. Id. at ¶ 93. Gibbons also rescheduled the weekly team meeting to take place after his lunch with Doyle, so that he could address the issues with the entire group, including Jannush. Id. at ¶¶ 94-95.

         Gibbons's lunch with Doyle ran longer than expected, and the rescheduled team meeting was almost done by the time they returned. Id. at ¶ 96. Gibbons needed to make a phone call, so he told Doyle to tell the group to wait and that he would be right there. Id. ¶¶ 97-99. While waiting for Gibbons in the conference room, events spiraled out of control.

         Jannush and her colleagues started complaining about Doyle receiving special treatment. Id. at ¶ 101. Doyle decided to record their conversation, and at some point, told them that she was recording. Id. at ¶¶ 102-103. Jannush yelled, “Are you crazy?! You must be out of your fucking mind!” and put her knee on the table, as if she was going to lunge at Doyle. Id. at ¶¶ 104-105. Doyle left in tears and reported Jannush's conduct to Gibbons. Id. at ¶¶ 105-107. Gibbons told Doyle that he would be with her right after his call finished and to get a cup of coffee in the meantime. Id. at ¶ 108.

         Doyle then decided to call the police. Id. at ¶¶ 109-111. Doyle told Jannush that the police were coming, and Jannush, at the direction of another colleague, left work. Id. at ¶¶ 111-112. Two days later, Doyle called the police again when she saw Jannush in the building. Id. at ¶ 114. Security and the same colleague stopped the police from entering the office to arrest Jannush. Id. at ¶¶ 115-118. That evening, a human resources representative called Doyle to say that Doyle was being placed on paid leave while the company investigated this second incident. Id. at ¶¶ 119-120. Approximately one month later, a human resources representative called Doyle again to say that Doyle was being terminated for unprofessional behavior and material misrepresentation. Id. at ¶ 123.

         III. Analysis

         At issue in the defendants' motions to dismiss are Doyle's claims against the individual defendants under Title VII and § 1981, her intentional infliction of emotional distress claim against all the defendants, and whether the Illinois Human Rights Act and Illinois Workers' Compensation Act bar Doyle's tort claims against Capital One.

         A. Title VII Claims Against Kucera, Gibbons, and Jannush

          Individuals cannot be personally sued under Title VII. Williams v. Banning, 72 F.3d 552 (7th Cir. 1995); Nischan v. Stratosphere Quality, LLC, 865 F.3d 922, 930 (7th Cir. 2017) (there is no individual liability under Title VII). Doyle's claims against Kucera, Gibbons, and Jannush under Title VII are dismissed with prejudice.

         B. Section 1981 Claims Against Kucera, ...


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