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Date: 03-16-2023

Case Style:

Earnest Mims v. The Boeing Company, et al.

Case Number: 1:18-CV-264

Judge: Nancy L. Maldonado

Court: United States District Court for the Norther District of Illinois (Cook County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: James Sanders and Clayton McCarthy Davis

Description: Chicago, Illinois civil rights lawyers represented Plaintiff, who sued Defendant on a FMLA employment discrimination theory.

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Plaintiff Earnest Mims was previously an employee with the Boeing Company; Michael Ford was his direct supervisor. Amended Complaint ¶ 8, ECF No. 73. Mims took FMLA leave in May 2015 due to anxiety and depression, Id. at ¶ 18, though the precise dates of his leave are unclear. On June 25, 2015, Boeing sent an email to Ford stating that it had approved Mims' leave for May 6 to May 11, 2015. Id. at 26. Another email sent on the same day characterized the leave as “intermittent” and said that Mims had requested 24 hours of FMLA for each of 5/6, 5/7, 5/8 and 5/11/15. It is unclear if Mims returned from these days of approved leave before taking a longer stint of leave, or if he instead remained away from work beginning on 5/6. In any event, on July 8, 2015, Boeing emailed Michael Ford saying that Mims' request for FMLA leave had been approved, though no dates are provided. Then, on October 13, 2015, Paula Noble (a Boeing HR employee) informed Michael Ford that Mims had requested an extension for his leave. Id. at ¶ 30. On November 9, 2015, Mims was approved for long-term disability benefits, Id. at ¶ 31, and on November 12, for a two-year leave of absence extending until November 10, 2017.

When Mims began taking FMLA leave in May 2015, the complaint alleges, Ford, along with Boeing employees Ozzie Pierce, Lisa McCoy, and Paula Noble, began cooking up a pretext to fire Mims because they were peeved at his absence.[1] On May 21, 2015, shortly after Mims had requested FMLA leave, Lisa McCoy began soliciting documents to “manufacture a record of poor performance in an attempt to justify the termination of Mims.” Id. at ¶ 20. On May 29, 2015 Ford sent an email to McCoy with the subject line “Re: Performance Issues-Next Steps,” though the content in the body of the email was unavailable in discovery because the first sentence read “We need to ensure attorney client privilege on these communications.” Id. at ¶ 21. The complaint references a few other emails that indicate Ford's and others' annoyance, most notably one that Noble sent in response to Mims' October 14, 2015 request to extend his leave: “Thanks Michael. The question here is how long is this allowed to go on....” Id. at ¶ 30.

Fast forward two years. Mims contacted Boeing in October 2017 about concluding the leave of absence Boeing had approved back in 2015. Id. at ¶ 30. He began discussing his return and accommodations with Boeing's Absence Management office; these discussions culminated in a phone call with Pam Zednick, who informed Mims that some accommodations would be provided and that he should return to work on November 10, 2017. In the background, Mims alleges, Ford, Pierce, and McCoy were “plotting behind his back.” Id. at ¶ 40. When he returned, Mims was met by a Boeing HR employee and a security guard, who informed him that Ford had decided not to have him back because he and Mims had a “history”. Id. at ¶¶ 41-46. That history, Mims alleges, includes Ford's desire to fire him for his disability and his use of FMLA leave, among other things. Id. at ¶ 47.

Mims filed this action on January 18, 2018. After the conclusion of discovery, Mims filed this Amended Complaint, which raises several claims organized as counts. In counts I and II, Mims alleges that Boeing discriminated against him in violation of the ADA and in violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA). In Count III Mims alleges retaliation in violation of the FMLA. Count IV claims that Boeing intentionally inflicted emotional distress on Mims, and count V is a claim for retaliatory discharge in violation of Illinois' Employee Sick Leave Act.

In response to the filing of the Amended Complaint, Boeing filed this motion to dismiss, seeking to dismiss counts III, IV and V. The individual defendants-Paula Noble, Michael Ford, Lisa McCoy, and Ozzie Pierce-subsequently joined Boeing's motion.

Outcome: 03/16/2023 140 MINUTE entry before the Honorable Nancy L. Maldonado: Pursuant to the stipulation of dismissal per Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(ii) 139 , this case is dismissed with prejudice and without costs to any party. Civil case terminated. (ca, ) (Entered: 03/16/2023)
03/16/2023 141 MINUTE entry before the Honorable Jeffrey T. Gilbert: In light of the District Judge's dismissal of this case 140 , all matters relating to the referral of this case have been resolved. Referral terminated. Mailed notice (ber, ) (Entered: 03/16/2023)

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