Powell v. Lake Co. Juvenile Justice Complex
OPINION AND ORDER: For the reasons set forth in the Opinion and Order, Defendant's 5 motion to dismiss is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. Plaintiffs Equal Pay Act and state law wrongful termination claims are dismissed without prejudice. Her Title VII claim that she was discharged because of her race and religion remains. Signed by Judge Joseph S Van Bokkelen on 9/14/2017. (copy sent to pro se party) (jss)
United States District Court
Northern District of Indiana
NANCY LOUISE POWELL,
Civil Action No. 2:17-CV-172 JVB
LAKE COUNTY JUVENILE JUSTICE
OPINION AND ORDER
Pro se Plaintiff Nancy Powell has filed a complaint against the Lake County Juvenile
Justice complex alleging that it discriminated against her because of her race and religion. Her
complaint also mentions the EPA (presumably the Equal Pay Act) and wrongful termination.
Defendant has moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that she failed to file a
timely charge of discrimination with the EEOC and that she has failed to plead any facts
necessary to show a violation of the Equal Pay Act or to sustain a wrongful termination claim
(DE 6). Plaintiff has not responded to the motion, but even so, it can only be granted in part.
Legal Standard for Evaluating a Motion to Dismiss
The purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim
is to test the sufficiency of the pleadings, not to decide the merits of the case. See Gibson v.
Chi., 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). Rule 8(a)(2) provides that a complaint must contain
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. A
complaint must contain enough factual matter to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) A complaint is facially plausible if a court can
reasonably infer from factual content in the pleading that the defendant is liable for the alleged
The Timeliness of the EEOC Charge
Plaintiff states in her complaint that she was discriminated against on account of her race
and religion. She states that the discrimination occurred around the end of August 2015 and the
beginning of November 2015 when a white employee of the Defendant told her that “we stick
together, you all don’t.” (DE 1 at 2.) In the EEOC charge of discrimination she attached to her
complaint, however, she states that the discrimination against her took place on January 28,
2016, when she was terminated.1 In the complaint, she also states that she filed the charge of
discrimination on October 10, 2016.2 However, the copy of the charge she attached to the
complaint shows that it was not signed and notarized until November 21, 2016.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1), a person
must file an EEOC charge within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory conduct. Because
failure to file a timely charge of discrimination is an affirmative defense, dismissal is appropriate
only when the allegations in the complaint establish the elements of the defense, such that the
plaintiff pleads herself out of court. Stuart v. Local 727, Intern. Broth. of Teamsters, 771 F.3d
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure10(c), a copy of a written instrument that is an exhibit to a
pleading is a part of the pleading for all purposes. Defendant points out that Plaintiff’s claim that she was terminated
because of her race and religion does not appear in the complaint, but since it does appear in her EEOC charge,
which was attached to the complaint, the Court reads the two documents together as part of the complaint.
Plaintiff also attached a copy of a document entitle “U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY
COMMISSION INTAKE QUESTIONNAIRE” to her complaint which indicates that it was signed on October 10,
2016. (DE 1 at 11.)
1014, 1018 (7th Cir. 2014).
Plaintiff has pleaded herself out of court with respect to any claims of discrimination that
took place in August or November of 2015, because any discriminatory acts that took place then
are clearly outside the 300-day time limit, whether the Court considers that Plaintiff is claiming
October 10, 2016, or November 21, 2016, as the filing date of the EEOC charge. However, that
is not the case with respect to her allegedly discriminatory termination, which occurred on
January 28, 2016. To be within the 300-day limitation period, Plaintiff would have had to file
her charge by November 23, 2016. Nothing in Plaintiff’s complaint establishes that she filed the
charge after that date. Accordingly she has not pleaded herself out of court with respect to the
discrimination that allegedly occurred on January 28, 2016, when she was terminated.
Defendant has attached to its motion to dismiss what it says is a file stamped copy of
Plaintiff’s charge of discrimination, which, it claims, establishes that the charge was filed with
the EEOC on November 25, 2016 (DE 6-1). The document is not authenticated in any way. It
does have a stamp, but the only legible information the stamp provides is the date of November
25, 2016, and the time of 2:36 pm. Even if the Court considers this matter, which is outside the
Plaintiff’s pleading, the stamp does not tell the Court what happened on that date or where it
happened.3 Accordingly, the Court will not dismiss Plaintiff’s claim with regard to
discriminatory acts that allegedly took place on January 28, 2016, on the grounds that the charge
Equal Pay Act Claim
In its own brief in support of its motion to dismiss, Defendant states: [w]hen dismissing a complaint for
failure to state a claim, the court may not look to materials beyond the pleading itself.” (DE 6 at 2.)
The Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from paying employees different wages on the
basis of gender. 29 U.S.C.§ 206(d). Plaintiff has alleged no facts to plausibly suggest that she
was paid lower wages than those paid to similarly situated male employees. Thus she has failed
to state a claim under the Equal Pay Act and may not proceed on any such claim.
Wrongful Termination Claim
It appears that Plaintiff is attempting to advance some sort of wrongful termination claim
that is separate from her claim that she was terminated because of her race and religion, perhaps
a state law claim. But she has not pleaded any facts to support such a claim. Therefore she has
failed to state a claim for wrongful termination under anything but Title VII.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendant’s motion to dismiss (DE 5) is GRANTED IN
PART and DENIED IN PART. Plaintiff’s Equal Pay Act and state law wrongful termination
claims are dismissed without prejudice. Her Title VII claim that she was discharged because of
her race and religion remains.
SO ORDERED on September 14, 2017.
s/ Joseph S. Van Bokkelen
Joseph S. Van Bokkelen
United States District Judge
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