Golla v. Circuit Court of Cook County Illinois
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER Signed by the Honorable Harry D. Leinenweber on 11/8/2012: Case Terminated.Mailed notice(wp, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
FRANCIS JOSEPH GOLLA,
Case No. 11 C 8149
Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF JUDGE OF
COOK COUNTY and ADMINISTRATIVE
OFFICE OF ILLINOIS COURTS,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Illinois Courts’ (the “AOIC”) Motion to Dismiss.
For the reasons
stated herein, the Motion is granted.
Plaintiff Francis Joseph Golla (“Golla”) is a white employee
of the Office of the Chief Judge of Cook County in the Social
Service Department. In his Third Amended Complaint (the “TAC”), he
alleges that he performs the exact same work and has better
qualifications than a similarly situated African American employee.
However, the African American employee is in a higher pay grade and
therefore receives more pay for the same data entry work.
Plaintiff sues the AOIC under both Title VII (42 U.S.C. § 2000
et seq.) and 42 U.S.C. § 1981.
The AOIC is the administrative arm
of the Illinois Supreme Court, which supervises all Illinois
The AOIC moves to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).
When evaluating dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court takes
all well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true and views
them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Inc., 673 F.3d 609, 622 (7th Cir. 2012)
42 U.S.C. § 1981
The AOIC moves to dismiss the § 1981 claim under the defense
of sovereign immunity.
Hearne v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chicago,
185 F.3d 770, 776 (7th Cir. 1999). Plaintiff blithely replies that
“42 U.S.C. § 1981a(a)(1) provides for the recovery of compensatory
and punitive damages in a lawsuit arising under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e.”
Pl.’s Resp. 1. He additionally offers that sovereign immunity does
not apply here.
Plaintiff’s underdeveloped argument appears to contend that,
as long as a Title VII action is filed alongside a § 1981 action,
the abrogation of sovereign immunity in Title VII actions is
shifted to the § 1981 action by § 1981a(a)(1).
There is no support
in § 1981a(a)(1) for this far-fetched proposition, and Plaintiff
offers no case law for it either.
Illinois . . . [cannot] be sued for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1981,
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1982 or 1983.
We regard this as so well established that it needs
implicitly refutes Plaintiff’s argument, as a Title VII charge was
also brought in that case.
More explicitly, Plaintiff’s logic was
refuted in an Eastern District of Texas case.
See Yowman v.
Jefferson County Cmty. Supervision & Corr. Dep’t, 370 F.Supp.2d
568, 585-586 (E.D. Tex. 2005) (noting § 1981a(a)(1) merely acts to
enhance damages in Title VII and other cases.)
Congressional waivers of sovereign immunity must be explicit, and
any ambiguity is construed in favor of the sovereign.
Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 883-884 (7th Cir. 2009).
The Court finds no
waiver of sovereign immunity in § 1981a(a)(1) in regards to § 1981
actions; the § 1981 count against the AOIC is dismissed with
Sovereign immunity is not an issue in Title VII actions
because Congress abrogated it in regards to these types of actions.
Hearne, 185 F.3d at 777.
But this case presents the surprisingly novel question of
whether the AOIC is the employer, as defined by Title VII, of
nonjudicial members of the judicial branch of state government.
The novelty is surprising given the frequency with which offices of
chief judges around the state are sued; the Court can find no case
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in Illinois or Seventh Circuit courts in which this issue has been
AOIC moves to dismiss on two theories:
(1) that Plaintiff
failed to allege adequately the AOIC is his employer and (2) that
even if he had so alleged, the AOIC, as a matter of law, is not his
To determine whether a plaintiff has established an employeremployee relationship, courts look to the following factors:
the extent of the employer's control and supervision over the
worker, including directions on scheduling and performance of work;
(2) the kind of occupation and nature of skill required, including
whether skills are obtained in the workplace; (3) responsibility
for the costs of operation, such as equipment, supplies, fees,
licenses, workplace, and maintenance of operations; (4) method and
form of payment and benefits; and (5) length of job commitment
and/or expectations. Holladay v. CME Group, No. 11-8226, 2012 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 109175, at *5-7 (N.D. Ill. July 30, 2012) (dismissing
complaint where plaintiff alleged only that defendant controlled
access to its trading floor but did not allege defendant controlled
responsibilities) (citing Alexander v. Rush N. Shore Med. Ctr., 101
F.3d 487, 492 (7th Cir. 1997).
Put more simply “[i]n suits against state entities, [employer]
is understood to mean the particular agency or part of the state
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apparatus that has actual hiring and firing responsibility.”
Hearne, 185 F.3d at 777 (affirming dismissal of Illinois governor,
the State of Illinois and the Illinois Education Labor Relations
Board from Title VII action brought by teachers because individual
school districts were the teachers’ employer, not the defendants).
Accord, EEOC v. State of Illinois, 69 F.3d 167 (7th Cir. 1995);
Holman v. Indiana, 211 F.3d 399, 401 n.7 (7th Cir. 2001).
The Court notes that the AOIC offers an affidavit that it
meets none of the Alexander criteria.
Consideration of such an
affidavit is inappropriate at the motion to dismiss stage, so the
Court disregards it.
Friello v. Bank of N.Y., 2012 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 147728, at *8-10 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 15, 2012).
Plaintiff argues that the AOIC is his employer based upon the
plain language of the Illinois Constitution, Illinois Supreme Court
Rules and various state court decisions.
authority over all courts is vested in the
Supreme Court and shall be exercised by the
Chief Justice in accordance with its rules.
administrative director and staff who shall
serve at its pleasure, to assist the Chief
Justice in his duties. . . .
Constitution of the State of Illinois, Article VI, § 16.
The Administrative Director of the courts
shall be generally responsible for the
enforcement of the rules, orders, policies and
directives of the Supreme Court and the chief
justice relating to matters of administration.
At the direction of the chief justice and the
Supreme Court, the Administrative Director
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administrative rules and directives relating
to case processing, records and management
information services, personnel, budgeting and
such other matters as the chief justice and
the Supreme Court shall direct.
Illinois Supreme Court Rule 30(b) (emphasis added).
Plaintiff points to Baker v. DuPage County as support for his
argument that AOIC is the employer.
Baker v. DuPage County, 703
F.Supp 735, 737 (N.D. Ill. 1980).
However, as the Court reads
Baker, it stands merely for the proposition that a state circuit
court secretary was not an employee of the county, not that AOIC
was her employer for Title VII purposes.
misreads Warren v. Stone, 958 F.2d 1419, 1422 (7th Cir. 1992).
Relations Board, in which the Illinois Supreme Court decided that
“the State, not a county, is the sole employer of all court
Orenic v. Illinois State Labor Relations Board, 537
N.E.2d 784, 795 (1989).
That case involved collective bargaining
of state court employees and was decided on the basis of the
Illinois Constitution’s separation of powers provisions. Plaintiff
argues that such Illinois Constitutional considerations should take
precedence over any failure to meet the Title VII employer test of
Orenic, 537 N.E.2d at 799.
This is a valiant argument, but incorrect. “Identification of
an ‘employer’ under Title VII is a question of federal law.”
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Carver v. Sheriff of LaSalle Cnty., 243 F.3d 379, 382 (7th Cir.
2001) (citing Burlington Indus., Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742,
Thus, courts have held that a state court’s
decision of who the employer is not dispositive in Title VII
See Husick v. Allegheny County, No 07-1175, 2010
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46022, at *12 (W.D. Penn. May 10, 2010) (ruling
that a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that judicial employees
were employed by the state court system was not dispositive of
whether the employee was a county employee for Title VII purposes).
Here, Plaintiff alleges the AOIC has general administrative
and supervisory authority over the Illinois judicial branch and the
Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, and that Plaintiff
is a “nonjudicial member of the judicial branch of state government
by and through the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts.”
Nowhere does the Complaint allege that the AOIC directs
Plaintiff’s day-to-day activities or has authority to hire and fire
him as required by Hearne.
To the contrary, the Complaint alleges
that “Plaintiff has been assigned by supervisors and agents of the
“Plaintiff has been assigned by supervisors and agents of the Chief
Judge to work alongside Mr. Taylor.”
Id. at 3-4 (emphasis added).
While there has been explicit criticism of the Seventh Circuit’s
employer determination in Hearne and other cases (Federer v. State
of N. Dakota, et al., 447 F.Supp.2d 1053 (D. N.D., 2006)), that
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criticism does not release this Court from the binding authority of
the Seventh Circuit.
Therefore, consistent with Holladay and
Hearne, the Title VII action against AOIC is dismissed as well.
For the reasons stated herein, Defendant AOIC is dismissed as
a Defendant in this lawsuit.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Harry D. Leinenweber, Judge
United States District Court
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