United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
LISA C. STURGILL, Plaintiff,
SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Schneider
Electric's Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 11]. Plaintiff Lisa
C. Sturgill has not filed a response. The Defendant filed a
Reply [ECF No. 13], asking the Court to consider the
Plaintiff's failure to respond as a waiver of argument
against the Motion to Dismiss, and to dismiss the case with
November 9, 2017, the Plaintiff filed a Complaint [ECF No. 5]
in state court against the Defendant. The Plaintiff alleged
that several actions taken by the Defendant (her former
employer) violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
(See generally Compl.) The Defendant timely removed
[ECF No. 1] the case to this Court, and now moves to dismiss
Plaintiff alleges that she was harassed and discriminated
against in her employment because of her gender, and in
retaliation for her complaints concerning her treatment,
including the charge she filed with the EEOC. (Id.
at ¶ 12.) The Plaintiff alleges that she was employed by
the Defendant from January 9, 2012, through July 26, 2016,
when the Defendant terminated her employment. (Id.
at ¶¶ 3, 13.) From November 2015 through July 26,
2016, she held a position as a cell operator. (Id.
at ¶ 4.) She alleges that she was not properly trained
in this position because of her gender. (Id. at
¶ 5.) She further alleges that all of her co-workers
were male and that most engaged in a pattern of harassment
and discrimination towards her, including one instance where
a male co-worker called the Plaintiff a derogatory name.
(Id. at ¶¶ 6-7.) The Plaintiff made
complaints and filed grievances regarding this behavior, but
the behavior continued despite the Plaintiff's actions.
(Id. at ¶¶ 8-9.) The Plaintiff maintains
that these working conditions continued and that she was
subjected to further harassment during the investigation into
her complaints and grievances. (Id. at ¶ 10.)
She ultimately filed charges of discrimination with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). (Id. at
¶ 11.) She attaches to her Complaint a charge dated
January 30, 2017 (2017 EEOC Charge), which alleges that the
Defendant retaliated against her for filing an EEOC charge in
March 2016, regarding sexual harassment. (Id., Ex.
Defendant argues that the Plaintiff has failed to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. Specifically, the
Defendant states that the Plaintiff failed to allege facts to
show that she exhausted her administrative remedies before
filing suit as required under Title VII. The Defendant also
asserts that any claims based on events that occurred prior
to her July 2016 discharge are untimely and outside the scope
of the 2017 EEOC Charge.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must
contain a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” This
pleading standard “does not require ‘detailed
factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an
unadorned, the- defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me
accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). “A pleading that offers
‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). A complaint does not
suffice “if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]'
devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
ruling on a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6), a court must draw all reasonable inferences that
favor the plaintiff, construe the allegations of the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and
accept as true all well-pleaded facts and allegations in the
complaint. Appert v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter,
Inc., 673 F.3d 609, 622 (7th Cir. 2012); Thompson v.
Ill. Dep't of Prof'l Regulation, 300 F.3d 750,
753 (7th Cir. 2002). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “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.” Iqbal, at 678; Appert, 673
F.3d at 622.
bringing a claim under Title VII, plaintiffs must file a
charge of discrimination with the EEOC and receive
authorization from the EEOC to file a civil action. 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e-5(b), (f); Conner v. Ill. Dep't
Nat'l Res., 413 F.3d 675, 680 (7th Cir. 2005). Once
a plaintiff receives authorization from the EEOC (known as a
right-to-sue letter) the plaintiff has 90 days to bring suit.
to exhaust administrative remedies is an affirmative defense.
Salas v. Wis. Dep't of Corrs., 493 F.3d 913,
921-22 (7th Cir. 2007). As such, dismissal is appropriate
only if a “plaintiff pleads herself out of court by
alleging facts that affirmatively establish the
defense.” Krause v. Turnberry Country Club,
571 F.Supp.2d 851, 858 (N.D. Ill. 2008) (citations omitted)
(internal quotation marks omitted); see also Xechem, Inc.
v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 372 F.3d 899, 901 (7th Cir.
2004) (Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, a complaint
need not anticipate or overcome affirmative defenses such as
the statute of limitations). Further, a plaintiff is not
required to attach a right-to-sue letter to her complaint.
Id. at 859 (citing Raymond v. City of Chi.,
183 F.Supp.2d 1060, 1066 n.3 (N.D. Ill. 2002)).
case, the Plaintiff alleges that she filed a charge with the
EEOC, and includes a copy of the 2017 EEOC Charge with her
Complaint. Although the Plaintiff did not reference a
right-to-sue letter and did not include a copy of the
right-to-sue letter, the Defendant has attached to its Motion
to Dismiss the Plaintiff's right-to-sue letter pertaining
to the 2017 EEOC Charge. (See Def. Mot. to Dismiss
Ex. D, ECF No. 11-1.) The Court can take judicial notice of
matters of public record without converting a motion to
dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. See Anderson
v. Simon, 217 F.3d 472, 474-75 (7th Cir. 2000) (citing
Henson v. CSC Credit Servs., 29 F.3d 280, 284
(7th Cir. 1994)); see also Pierce v. Ill.
Dep't of Human Servs., 128 Fed. App'x 534, 535
(7th Cir. 2005) (finding no error where the district court,
in deciding a motion to dismiss, considered “numerous
documents . . . submitted by the parties from the
administrative process” that were not attached to the
pleadings because they were “public records”);
Anderson v. Ctr. For New Horizons, Inc., 891
F.Supp.2d 956, 959 (N.D. Ill. 2012) (taking judicial notice
of EEOC charges attached to the defendant's motion to
dismiss). The Court thus takes judicial notice of the
right-to-sue letter. Accordingly, the Court does not find any
grounds to dismiss the Plaintiff's Complaint for failure
to exhaust her administrative remedies.
Timeliness and ...