MOORE v. VITAL PRODUCTS (May 25, 2011)

Raymond Moore delivered and installed medical equipment for Vital Products. He claims that other Vital employees, including his supervisor, exposed him to sexual paraphernalia and pictures and made unwelcome sexual remarks. Vital suspended Moore for poor performance in January of 2005. On February 16, shortly after his return from the suspension, Moore injured his back. He has not worked at Vital since. Vital sent a COBRA notice to Moore on February 21. The contents of the letter suggested that Moore was no longer employed at Vital. Moore filed an EEOC charge on December 7, 2005. The charge included allegations of hostile work environment based on race and gender but did not include allegations of unlawful discharge. Moore brought suit pursuant to Title VII, alleging a hostile work environment, discriminatory discharge, and retaliatory discharge. He also alleged retaliatory discharge under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act. Magistrate Judge Schenkier (N.D. Ill.) granted summary judgment to Vital but denied its request for sanctions. Moore appeals -- Vital cross-appeals the denial of sanctions and seeks sanctions on appeal.

In their opinion, Chief Judge Easterbrook and Judges Kanne and Wood affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. The Court first affirmed the dismissal of the hostile work environment claim. Since Moore filed his EEOC charge on December 7, he must present evidence of a hostile work environment within the 300-day window, or after February 10. He failed to present any evidence of hostile work environment between February 10 and February 16, his last day on the job. The Court next affirmed the dismissal of his Title VII discriminatory discharge claim. A Title VII plaintiff can only bring claims that were included in his EEOC charge, or at least reasonably related to the contents of the charge. Moore did not include in his EEOC charge any allegations relating to his discharge. In fact, he stated in his charge that he was on medical leave, not discharged. The Court reversed, however, summary judgment on the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act claim. It is not clear whether Moore: a) is an employee on leave, b) abandoned his job in February 2005, or c) was discharged. The Court found genuine issues of fact with respect to Moore's status and, if he was discharged, whether the discharge was motivated by his intention to file a workers' compensation claim. Finally, the Court affirmed the district court's sanctions ruling and declined to impose its own.