United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MICHELLE M. PERKINS, Plaintiff,
FEDERAL HOME LOAN BANK OF CHICAGO, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
HONORABLE EDMOND E. CHANG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Perkins brings this employment discrimination action pro
se against Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. Perkins
alleges that the Bank failed to reasonably accommodate her
disability and terminated her employment in violation of the
Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12117. R.
1, Compl. The Bank moves to dismiss the complaint,
arguing that Perkins's claims are time-barred, and even
if they are not, the complaint fails to adequately allege a
violation of the ADA. R. 22, Mot. to Dismiss. For the reasons
discussed below, the Bank's motion (which is really an
early summary judgment motion) is granted because Perkins
filed this lawsuit too late.
asserting the statute of limitations defense, the Bank relied
on documents that were not part of the pleadings, so the
Court alerted Perkins that this part of the Bank's motion
was really an early summary judgment motion and invited her
to submit evidence in response to it. R. 25. So to determine
whether Perkins filed her Complaint on time, the Court will
consider the exhibits attached to the Bank's motion as
well as the exhibits attached to Perkins's response
brief. The Bank's motion to dismiss for failure to state
a claim was properly brought under Rule 12(b)(6). For
purposes of both motions, the Court accepts as true the
factual allegations in the Complaint. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).
February 2017, Perkins began working for the Bank as an IT
Security Administrator. Compl. ¶ 13. Roughly two months
later, in early April 2017, she was let go from her position.
Id. Perkins alleges that the Bank failed to
reasonably accommodate her disability and terminated her
employment. Id. ¶ 12.
in April 2017, Perkins filed a Charge of Discrimination form
against the Bank with the United States Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC). R. 23-2, Def.'s Br., Exh.
B, EEOC Charge. In the form, she alleged that she had
“been discriminated against because of [her]
disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities
Act.” Id. The bottom of the page features her
digital signature: “Digitally signed by Michelle
Perkins on 04-12-2017 05:58 PM.” Id.
months later, on November 16, 2017, the EEOC returned a
Notice of Right to Sue on Perkins's EEOC Charge. R. 23-3,
Def.'s Br., Exh. C, Notice of Right to Sue. The following
box was checked: “The EEOC is terminating its
processing of this charge.” Id. Near the top
of the form was a “Notice to the Person
Aggrieved” highlighting that Perkins would have 90 days
to bring an ADA claim:
“This is your Notice of Right to Sue, issued
under…the ADA…based on the above-numbered
charge. It has been issued at your request. Your lawsuit
under…the ADA…must be filed in a
federal or state court WITHIN 90 DAYS of your
receipt of this notice; or your right to sue based
on this charge will be lost. (The time limit for filing suit
based on a claim under state law may be different.)”
Id. (emphasis in original).
had been represented by an attorney up until this point, and
after the Notice of Right to Sue was received, the attorney
advised her to seek Illinois state agency review of the
charge of discrimination. R. 29-1, Pl.'s Resp. Br., Exh.
A. To pursue that path, on November 30, 2017, Perkins's
then-attorney sent a written request to the Illinois
Department of Human Rights (IDHR), seeking review of
Perkins's charge of discrimination. Id. In the
meantime, neither Perkins nor her attorney pursued the ADA
claim in federal court.
did not hear back from the IDHR until nearly ten months
later, on September 4, 2018. R. 29-2, Pl.'s Resp. Br.,
Exh. B. On that date, Perkins's attorney informed her
that the IDHR investigator had told him that “Illinois
courts do not have authority to force Federal Home Loan Bank
of Chicago [FHLBC], a federal agency, to litigate cases in
state court.” Id. The attorney thanked Perkins
for her patience and concluded to Perkins that they had
“90 days to file a federal law suit from the date the
IDHR investigator sent [the attorney] her report.”
Id. In response, Perkins wrote: “I must say I
am little disappointed because the jurisdiction finding was
not brought up sooner. The whole reason you instructed me to
switch from EEOC was because it was winnable on the state
level. How come you didn't know they were a Federal
agency to begin with?” Id. Perkins then
informed the attorney that she could not afford his $4, 500
retainer and could thus no longer pursue the case with
attorney representation. Id.
Complaint was filed pro se on September 20, 2018.
Standard of Review
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint
generally need only include “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This short and plain
statement must “give the defendant fair notice of what
the … claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007) (cleaned up). The Seventh Circuit has explained
that this rule “reflects a liberal notice pleading
regime, which is intended to ‘focus litigation on the
merits of a claim' rather than on technicalities ...