United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
S. SHAH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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.
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.
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).
Doyle worked as an administrative assistant at Capital One
from April to November 2018.  ¶¶ 22,
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Title VII Claims Against Kucera, Gibbons, and
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.
Section 1981 Claims Against Kucera, ...