United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON District Judge
plaintiff Vanessa Rust has filed a proposed complaint under
42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging claims against her former
employer, defendant Alter M Recycling. Dkt. 1. The court
allowed plaintiff to proceed without prepaying her filing
next step in this case is for me to screen plaintiff's
complaint and dismiss any portion that is legally frivolous,
malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by
law cannot be sued for money damages. 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
In screening any pro se litigant's complaint, I must read
the allegations of the complaint generously. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam). After
reviewing the complaint with this principle in mind, I
conclude that plaintiff has failed to comply with Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 8 because she has not provided a
short and plain statement of a claim against Alter Metal. I
will therefore dismiss her complaint and give her an
opportunity to file an amended complaint.
currently resides in Elk River, Minnesota. She worked for
Alter M from 2011 to 2012, at the company's facility in
Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Alter M is a scrap m recycling
was injured in January 2012, while she was working for Alter
Metal. Although plaintiff does not provide details about job
there or her injury, she alleges that she “was injured
due to a flaw in Alter's newly upgraded
system [and] lack of help from the men, due to sexual
discrimination.” Dkt. 1, at 3 (original emphasis).
Alter M fired plaintiff two weeks after her injury
“without any opportunity to defend [herself];
despite being told there would be an Investigation & that
they themselves documented that I was a ‘good
worker.'” Id. (original emphasis).
years after her termination, plaintiff pursued unemployment
insurance benefits, and she filed charges of discrimination
with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development-Equal
Rights Division and with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission. She received a “dismissal and notice of
rights” in November 2015. Id. at 5. During
these administrative proceedings, plaintiff discovered that
her coworkers had lied about the events surrounding her
filed suit in this court on January 4, 2016. She seeks an
investigation into her injury, physical therapy, and damages
for back pay.
Rule 8, plaintiff must present “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that [she] is entitled to
relief.” The purpose of the requirement is “to
provide the defendant with ‘fair notice' of the
claim and its basis.” Arnett v. Webster, 658
F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011). Here, plaintiff appears to
allege that Alter M violated her rights under Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against her on
the basis of her sex. But even construing the complaint
liberally, I conclude that plaintiff has failed to comply
with Rule 8 because she has not alleged facts that amount to
unlawful discrimination. I will therefore dismiss
plaintiff's complaint. But I will give plaintiff an
opportunity to amend her complaint.
VII prohibits employers from discriminating against their
employees on the basis of sex. 42. U.S.C. § 2000e-2. The
law covers several types of discrimination: unlawful
termination, hostile work environment, quid pro quo
harassment, and retaliation. Here, I construe plaintiff's
complaint as alleging either that she was unlawfully
terminated, or that she endured a hostile work environment,
unlawful termination claim, plaintiff must allege that she
was fired because of her sex. Plaintiff has not alleged facts
that would allow her to succeed on an unlawful termination
claim. She indicates that Alter M fired her without giving
her an opportunity to defend herself. But she does not allege
that Alter Metal's decision was discriminatory. If
plaintiff pursues her unlawful termination claim in her
amended complaint, then she must explain why she believes
that Alter M fired her because of her sex.
a hostile work environment claim, plaintiff must allege that:
(1) she was subject to unwelcome harassment; (2) the
harassment was based on her sex; (3) the harassment was
severe or pervasive enough to alter the conditions of her
employment; and (4) there is basis for employer liability.
Huri v. Office of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of
Cook Cty., 804 F.3d 826, 833-34 (7th Cir. 2015).
“To rise to the level of a hostile work environment,
conduct must be sufficiently severe or persuasive to alter
the conditions of employment such that it creates an
abusive relationship.” Id. at 834
(original emphasis). And for Alter M to be liable as an
employer, plaintiff must allege either that “a
supervisor [was] responsible for the harassment, ” or
that “the harassment is done by a co-worker and the
employer [has] been negligent in failing to prevent the
harassment.” Cooper-Schut v. Visteon Auto.
Sys., 361 F.3d 421, 426 (7th Cir. 2004).
I can infer from the complaint that plaintiff experienced
sexual harassment, she has not alleged any of the other
elements of a hostile work environment claim. If plaintiff
pursues her hostile work environment claim in her amended
complaint, then she must describe the ...