United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division
ORDER AND OPINION
Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge.
matter is now before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss Count
II of Plaintiff's Complaint (ECF No. 19) filed by
Defendant Canton Township, Fulton County, Illinois
(“Township” or “Defendant”). For the
reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Count
II is GRANTED.
February 21, 1988, the Township hired Plaintiff Martha Gray
(“Plaintiff”) to work in the Township
Assessor's Office as a Deputy Assessor. (ECF No. 1 at
¶ 5). On or about August 6, 2018, Defendant Steven
DeRenzy (“DeRenzy”) hired a male employee, who
was thirty-six years old, to work for the Assessor's
Office as a Deputy Assessor. Id. at ¶ 7.
Plaintiff and the new male hire allegedly have the same
working conditions, the same job responsibilities, and exert
the same amount of effort in assessing the value of Township
properties. Id. at ¶¶ 9, 10. Plaintiff
alleges that the new male hire earns a higher salary than she
does, even though they conduct substantially equal work.
Id. at ¶ 16. Plaintiff also states that she has
greater skills and is certified, while the new male hire is
taking classes to become certified. Id. at ¶
filed an action in this Court on June 3, 2019, claiming
violations of the Equal Pay Act and 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(“§ 1983”) against DeRenzy and the Township.
Id. at 3-6. On August 16, 2019, the Township filed a
Motion to Dismiss Count II. (ECF No. 19). This Opinion
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, which when accepted as true,
states a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Plausibility means alleging factual content that allows a
court to reasonably infer that the defendant is liable for
the alleged misconduct. Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007). A plaintiff's
claim must “give enough details about the subject
matter of the case to present a story that holds
together” to be plausible. Swanson v. Citibank,
N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 404 (7th Cir. 2010). A court must
draw all inferences in favor of the non-moving party.
Bontkowski v. First Nat'l Bank of Cicero, 998
F.2d 459, 461 (7th Cir. 1993).
evaluating a motion to dismiss, courts must accept as true
all factual allegations in the complaint. Ashcroft,
556 U.S. at 678. However, the court need not accept as true
the complaint's legal conclusions; “[t]hreadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”
Id. (citing Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S.
at 555). Conclusory allegations are “not entitled to be
assumed true.” Id.
Township claims that it cannot be held liable under §
1983 based solely under a theory that its employee, DeRenzy,
is a tortfeasor. The Township states that Plaintiff has not
alleged any facts that establish DeRenzy as a
“lawmaker” or a “policy making
official.” (ECF No. 19 at ¶ 7). The Township
further states that Plaintiff has not “alleged injuries
that resulted from ‘practices so persistent and
widespread as to practically have the force of
law.'” Id. Plaintiff argues that the
Complaint sufficiently alleges that through DeRenzy's
ability to hire and determine wages for Plaintiff and the new
male hire, a reasonable inference can be drawn that DeRenzy
had final policymaking authority with respect to hiring,
firing, and determining wages.
plaintiff can hold governmental agencies or policymaking
officials liable under § 1983 if she suffers from
constitutional injuries as a result of an official policy,
practice, or custom. Monell v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978). To prevail on a claim
under Monell, a plaintiff must show that a municipal
employee's unconstitutional act was caused by: “(1)
an express [municipal] policy that, when enforced, causes a
constitutional deprivation; (2) a widespread practice that,
although not authorized by written law or express municipal
policy, is so permanent and well settled as to constitute a
custom or usage with the force of law; or (3) an allegation
that the constitutional injury was caused by a person with
final policymaking authority.” Gable v. City of
Chicago, 296 F.3d 531, 537 (7th Cir. 2002) (citation
omitted); see also Thomas v. Cook Cty. Sheriff's
Dep't, 604 F.3d 293, 303 (7th Cir. 2010).
particular course of action is directed by those who set
municipal policy, the municipality is responsible under
§ 1983, even if the action in question is undertaken
only once. Pembaur v. City of Cincinnati, 475 U.S.
469, 480-81 (1986). However, “[t]he fact that a
particular official - even a policymaking official - has
discretion in the exercise of particular functions does not,
without more, give rise to municipal liability based on an
exercise of that discretion.” Id. at 481-82.
Rather, such an official must also be responsible for
establishing final government policy on a particular issue.
Id. at 482-83. Officials with final decision-making
authority are deemed policymakers for Monell
purposes, and courts need to look to state law to determine
the scope of such authority. See Pembaur, 475 U.S.
at 480; City of St. Louis v. Praprotnik, 485 U.S.
112, 134 (1988); Jett v. Dallas Indep. Sch. Dist.,
491 U.S. 701, 737 (1989).
contends that because DeRenzy made the decision to hire the
new male employee and pay him more, Monell liability
should apply against the Township; however, just because
DeRenzy may be the decisionmaker on hiring decisions for the
Assessor's Office does not necessarily make him the
policymaker for the Township. It is a “well-established
principle that the mere unreviewed discretion to make hiring
and firing decisions does not amount to policymaking
authority. There must be a delegation of authority to set
policy for hiring and firing, not a delegation of only the
final authority to hire and ...