United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division
Richard Mills, United States District Judge.
Joyce Bender filed a pro se complaint asserting claims
pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C.
is the Defendant's motion for summary judgment.
Plaintiff brings this action against her former employer,
Prairie State Bank & Trust. She claims she was
discriminated against based on color, race and due to her use
of leave under the Family Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”). The Plaintiff further asserts the
Defendant intentionally discriminated against her by failing
to stop harassment and by retaliating against the Plaintiff
because she did something to assert rights protected by the
describing her claim, the Plaintiff refers to allegations of
a (1) hostile work environment; (2) harassment without regard
to her disability; (3) incorrect application of the FMLA; (4)
racist and threatening comments about police officers
shooting minorities; and (5) after reporting these alleged
comments regarding police officers and minorities, she
asserts she suffered unfair treatment.
Defendant alleges that although Plaintiff alleged
“race” and “disability” claims
against the Defendant in the Charge of Discrimination she
filed with the City of Springfield Office of Community
Relations (“SOCR”) and the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), she never
asserted any claim for “retaliation” as she makes
in her complaint. Accordingly, the Defendant contends any
“retaliation” claims should be stricken.
scope of a case brought in federal court is limited by the
nature of the charges filed with the EEOC. See Rush v.
McDonald's Corp., 966 F.2d 1104, 1110 (7th Cir.
1992). In determining whether the complaint's allegations
are within the scope of the EEOC charge, a court examines
whether the allegations of the complaint are “like or
reasonably related to” those contained in the charge.
See Kersting v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 250 F.3d
1109, 1118 (7th Cir. 2001). The reason for this rule is so
that the employer has notice of the claims against it and the
EEOC and employer are afforded an opportunity to settle the
dispute. See Geldon v. S. Milwaukee School Dist.,
414 F.3d 817, 819 (7th Cir. 2005). A court typically applies
a liberal standard in determining if plaintiff's claims
are reasonably related to the claims mentioned in her EEOC
charge. See Miller v. American Airlines, Inc., 525
F.3d 520, 525-26 (7th Cir. 2008). The key is whether there is
a factual relationship between the claims. See
Kersting, 250 F.3d at 1118.
Defendant alleges that based on a review of the
Plaintiff's EEOC Charge and her Complaint, it is apparent
that the Complaint is the first instance a claim of
“retaliation” is asserted against the Defendant.
Therefore, the allegation of retaliation did not pass through
the requisite phases of investigation and conciliation.
Defendant notes that the SOCR's Final Investigative
Report shows that a charge of retaliation was not part of the
administrative process. The Defendant further claims that,
even if the Plaintiff's Charge was somehow interpreted by
the Court as having contained an allegation of
“retaliation, ” the Complaint does not contain
the requisite elements for a successful retaliation claim.
VII retaliation charge requires the following three elements
of proof: “(1) [the plaintiff] must show that she
engaged in statutorily protected expression; (2) [the
plaintiff] suffered an adverse action by her employer; and
(3) there is a causal link between her protected expression
and the adverse action.” McKenzie v. Illinois
Department of Transportation, 92 F.3d 473, 483 (7th Cir.
Court agrees with the Defendant that Plaintiff's EEOC
Charge does not refer to or allege any acts of retaliation.
The court in McKenzie noted that retaliation claims
often arise after the filing of the EEOC charge. See
McKenzie, 92 F.3d at 482. In those circumstances, a
claimant should not have to file two EEOC charges. See
id. To the extent that any acts of retaliation predate
the filing of the EEOC charges, however, a plaintiff must
include those allegations in her administrative charge if she
wishes to include the retaliation claims in the complaint.
the acts which form the basis of the Plaintiff's
complaint are alleged to have occurred on or about July 15,
2016. According to the Final Investigative Report, the
Plaintiff resigned her employment position without any
advance notice on July 28, 2016. The Court notes that the
Plaintiff's Charge of Discrimination, which alleges
discrimination beginning on June 1, 2015, with the latest
discrimination occurring on July 18, 2016, was signed by the
Plaintiff and notarized on July 26, 2016-two days before she
unclear exactly when the Plaintiff is alleging any
retaliation occurred. In her response to the Defendant's
motion, the Plaintiff states that “[t]he series of
events that took place after my initial compliant [sic] to HR
& leading up to my separation from the company will
indeed show several forms of retaliation.” See
Doc. No. 13.
acts of retaliation that occurred prior to the filing of the
Plaintiff's EEOC Charge would be barred because she did
not include those acts in the EEOC Charge. However, it is
possible that acts of retaliation occurred in the days
immediately preceding her resignation and she references that
in her response to the Defendant's motion. Given that
possibility and based ...