United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. Tharp, Jr., United States District Judge
Lori McInerney brings her Amended Complaint alleging unlawful
treatment at the hands of her employer, defendant
CareerBuilder, LLC (“CareerBuilder”). McInerney
asserts claims of a hostile work environment and retaliatory
discharge in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights
Act, as well as state law claims of retaliatory discharge and
intentional infliction of emotional distress. CareerBuilder
moved to dismiss much of the basis for the Title VII claims,
as well as the state law claims in their entirety. For the
reasons set forth below, CareerBuilder's motion to
dismiss is denied.
considering the motion to dismiss, the Court accepts the well
pled facts in McInerney's Amended Complaint as true and
draws all permissible inferences in favor of the plaintiff.
Agnew v. NCAA, 683 F.3d 328, 334 (7th Cir. 2012).
worked for CareerBuilder for more than a decade. Am. Compl.
¶ 8, ECF No. 16. She was first hired in September 2002
and was ultimately fired in March 2017. At some point during
that period, McInerney left CareerBuilder to raise her
children. In September 2015, at the urging of
CareerBuilder's Chief Financial Officer, McInerney
returned as the Director of Strategic Initiatives. The events
presently at issue all arose between her return in late 2015
and her termination in early 2017.
during this period, McInerney was subject to unwanted sexual
advances by co-workers. On January 23, 2016, the last night
of a customer event, McInerney and several others,
CareerBuilder senior sales executives and CareerBuilder
customers, were in a hotel bar. As McInerney bid the group
goodnight, Douglas Hoodack, a senior sales executive,
whispered to her, “I'm coming to your room.”
Id. ¶ 11. Under the impression he was joking,
McInerney ignored the comment until she noticed that Hoodack
was following behind. At this point, she also observed John
Smith, CareerBuilder's Chief Sales Officer, give Hoodack
a “smiling nod of approval.” Id. ¶
12. Hoodack continued to follow McInerney, repeating,
“you know you want it, I'm coming to your
room.” Id. ¶ 3. McInerney protested,
telling Hoodack “no” multiple times. Hoodack
replied, “What the f*ck are you going to do? I'm
not leaving.” Id. ¶ 13. Eventually, a
customer walked by and Hoodack relented.
second episode took place at a sales team gathering after the
CareerBuilder holiday party the following year. In the presence
of “several other employees and senior executives,
” Jason Lovelace, a senior sales executive, asked
McInerney, “Would you f*ck a married guy like
me?” Id. ¶ 16. McInerney left the party
decided not to report either of these events to Human
Resources. McInerney reasoned that “this behavior was
very common at CareerBuilder” and it was “common
knowledge” that reporting such incidents led only to
the employee being “fired or red-flagged as a problem
employee.” Id. ¶¶ 14, 17. Further,
in both instances, McInerney had reason to believe that
executives high in the corporate hierarchy were already aware
of the behavior and no responsive action had been taken.
McInerney figured that reporting would be “futile and
detrimental to her career.” Id. ¶ 14.
addition to the unwanted sexual advances, a few months after
her return to the company McInerney was encouraged to take a
new position under Mary Delaney, a supervisor who “had
a reputation for being particularly hard on female
employees.” Id. ¶¶ 19-21. In
February 2016, CareerBuilder's Chief Financial Officer,
Kevin Knapp, approached McInerney about a position as
Director of Marketing of Aurico, a company owned by
CareerBuilder. McInerney “expressed reservations”
to Knapp, because McInerney would be reporting to Delaney.
Id. ¶ 20. Knapp reassured McInerney, saying
that her “job [would] never be in jeopardy” and
that CareerBuilder would not tolerate abusive or
discriminatory conduct. Id. ¶ 21. In the end,
McInerney accepted the position.
to McInerney, Delaney's “abusive and discriminatory
conduct was pervasive” during their year working
together. Id. ¶ 22. Delaney made disparaging
comments about McInerney's status as a divorcee and
single mother, as well as commenting on her physique-
specifically her breasts. Notably, Delaney did not make
similar comments to male employees.
also subjected male and female employees to different
performance standards. Delaney repeatedly gave McInerney
difficult and time-consuming tasks that were not part of her
job duties. Male employees were not subject to the same
treatment. According to McInerney, Delaney bragged about her
efforts to make female employees cry and touted this practice
as a means of “toughen[ing] up” the female
employees. Id. ¶ 23. Specifically, in September
2016, Delaney told McInerney that she tried to make McInerney
cry on multiple occasions and that she did not use this
tactic with male employees. Id. ¶ 22.
experiences took their toll. McInerney sought out medical
attention for the stress-induced migraine headaches she began
experiencing shortly after joining Delaney's
team.Initially, she discussed the problem with
her general practitioner, who prescribed medications.
Nonetheless, the headaches worsened-one especially acute
migraine sent her to the emergency room. At the suggestion of
the emergency room staff, she sought the attention of a
neurologist, Dr. Armita Bijari. Dr. Bijari recommended that
McInerney stop working for Delaney. As of filing the Amended
Complaint, McInerney continues to take medicine to prevent
and cope with her migraines.
discussed Delaney's conduct with multiple CareerBuilder
personnel. She spoke with Ben Goldberg, Aurico's Chief
Executive Officer, and Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder's
Chief Human Resources Officer. Both Goldberg and Haefner
acknowledged Delaney's history of “abusive conduct
towards women.” Id. ¶ 28. In a February
2017 conversation, Haefner noted that she had previously
spoken with Delaney about her “disparate treatment of
female employees.” Id. Haefner also stated
that while Human Resources was aware of Delaney's current
behavior, Delaney would not be punished due to her worth to
March 15, 2017, not long after these conversations, Haefner
informed McInerney of her termination. McInerney notes that
prior to the termination, she had received uniformly
“above average” reviews. Id. ¶ 41.
At the time of McInerney's termination, Haefner told her
that CareerBuilder was eliminating several marketing
positions, including the ...