United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendant Ryan D. McCarthy's Second
Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 27).
For the following reasons, the Motion is GRANTED in
part and DENIED in part.
to the Complaint, Plaintiff James Hallman was employed by the
Department of Army's Vehicle Registry Organization as a
Deputy Registrar at a facility in Sembach, Germany (Doc. 1).
In 2015, he suffered from depression which affected his
ability to concentrate, think, and interact with others. He
was absent from work due to his depression From June 26, 2015
to July 6, 2015.
6, 2015, Hallman presented a doctor's note and requested
additional leave but that request was denied by his
supervisor, Thomas Lorenzini. Instead, Lorenzini considered
Hallman absent without leave and informed him that his
position would be eliminated through a “Business Based
Action” (“BBA”). In anticipation of his job
being eliminated, Hallman began the retirement process by
filling out necessary paperwork and requesting November 30,
2015 as his retirement date. Nevertheless, Hallman's
retirement became effective on September 22, 2015 and Shawn
Driscoll, who is not disabled, was hired to replace him on
October 5, 2015.
October 29, 2015, Hallman filed a charge with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). In
his “Formal Complaint of Discrimination, ”
(“EEOC Complaint”) Hallman checked a box
indicating that he was discriminated against on account of
his age, 68 at the time (Doc. 27-1, pp. 1-4). In the
narrative section of the form, Hallman stated that he was
forced to retire on October 31, 2015 under the guise that his
position would be eliminated and that he was then replaced
with a younger man. At the beginning and end of the
narrative, Hallman explained that while on vacation during
the month of July 2015, he was hospitalized for severe
depression and placed on suicide watch - conditions related
to the 2nd anniversary of the death of his wife. For relief,
he requested payment of his salary until June 30, 2018, the
date on which he planned to retire.
Equal Employment Opportunity Counselor's Report reflects
that the basis of the Complaint is age (Doc. 27-2, pp. 1-5).
When Lorenzini was interviewed as part of an alternative
dispute resolution process, his answers reflect that Hallman
was complaining of age discrimination. In a Declaration
signed under penalty of perjury on June 24, 2016, Hallman
likewise indicated that he believed he was discriminated
against on account of his age and retaliated against for
filing the EEOC Complaint by being denied access to his
former work place in January 2016 (Doc. 50-1, pp. 1-12). In a
September 12, 2018 letter to Hallman's attorney, the EEOC
set forth its findings that Hallman had not been
discriminated against or retaliated against on account of his
age (Doc. 27-3, pp. 1-14).
case, Hallman alleges he was discriminated against on account
of his disability in violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101,
et seq., and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29
U.S.C. § 701, et seq (Count I). He further
alleges that he was constructively discharged in retaliation
for requesting the accommodation of sick leave and that he
was further retaliated against after he filed a complaint.
survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
under F.R.C.P. 12(b)(6), a Complaint must
“state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Lodholtz v. York Risk Servs. Group,
Inc., 778 F.3d 635, 639 (7th Cir. 2015) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “[W]hen ruling on a
defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as
true all of the factual allegations contained in the
complaint.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007). The Court must also draw all reasonable inferences
and facts in favor of the plaintiff. See Vesely v.
Armslist LLC, 762 F.3d 661, 664 (7th Cir. 2014).
employees have no claim under the ADA and must proceed under
the Rehabilitation Act. See, Mannie v. Potter, 394
F.3d 977, 982 (7th Cir. 2005). The distinction is not
meaningful because claims under the ADA and the RA are
virtually identical and analyzed within the framework of
Title VII cases. Rothman v. Emory University, 123
F.3d 446, 451 (7th Cir. 1997).
to filing suit asserting such a claim, a plaintiff must
exhaust administrative remedies by filing an EEOC Complaint
with the appropriate agency. Abrego v. Wilkie, 907
F.3d 1004, 1012 (7th Cir. 2018). And, significant to this
Court's consideration, “…the scope of the
complaint brought before the administrative agency limits the
scope of subsequent civil proceedings in federal court; in
order words, plaintiff may pursue only those claims that
could reasonably be expected to grow out of the
administrative charges.” Reynolds v.
Tangherlini, 737 F.3d 1093, 1099-1100 (7th Cir. 2013).
Here, Defendant argues that Hallman failed to bring his
disability claim and constructive discharge claim to the
attention of the EEOC and thereby failed to exhaust his
Hallman initially filed his EEOC Complaint, he alleged age
discrimination. He marked age discrimination on the complaint
form, he provided a narrative and Declaration to assert and
support a claim of age discrimination, and individuals
interviewed during the investigative process understood his
claim to be one for age discrimination. Hallman argues,
however, that statements made in his EEOC Complaint and
thereafter alerted the agency that he was also complaining
about disability discrimination. Specifically, he points out
that in his EEOC Complaint, he stated that he changed his
annual leave request from July 2 to July 24, 2015 to a sick
leave request from June 26 to July 3, 2015, because of deep
depression supported by a Doctor's note, and followed by
annual leave from July 6 to July 24, 2015 (Doc. 27-1, p. 1).
When he presented the new leave request to Lorenzini on July
6, 2015, he was told that his job would be eliminated. At the
end of the EEOC Complaint, Hallman stated that he was
hospitalized for depression/suicide prevention while in the
States for 5 days and that Lorenzini's actions
exacerbated his condition. The only assertion in the
narrative related to age discrimination is that he was
replaced by a younger man on October 15, 2015. The Court
finds that this information was adequate to alert the EEOC
that Hallman was complaining of disability discrimination.
See Ogborn v. United Food and Commercial Workers Union,
Local No. 881, 305 F.3d 763, 767 (7th Cir. 2002)
(stating that major depression may be a disabling condition
under the ADA)
Court further finds, based on the above-referenced
information, that Hallman exhausted his claim that he was
constructively discharged (retaliated against) for seeking an
accommodation (sick leave) for his disability (depression).
That the EEOC only investigated age discrimination and failed
to consider his alleged constructive discharge on July 6,
2015 is irrelevant. Reynolds, 737 F.3d at 1099-1100
(to preserve a claim, a ...