Madison - St. Clair Record

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Woman responds to motion to dismiss retaliation suit

By Charmaine Little | Jun 7, 2018

EDWARDSVILLE - A woman has responded to a motion to dismiss a lawsuit she had filed against a pizza company that she alleges threatened to have her child taken away from her, according to documents filed in the Madison County Circuit Court.

Caitlyn Gourley had sued Pizza World USA Franchise Corp. and its owner, Eric Wortham, claiming that they had retaliated against her for allegedly reporting sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the workplace to the state Department of Human Rights, which later dismissed her claims. 

Pizza World responded by filing a motion to dismiss the suit, which includes two counts of retaliation and two counts of intentional infliction of emotional distress. 

The defendants argued that they couldn’t have retaliated against the woman because she didn’t work for them, and therefore an employee-employer relationship did not exist. The defendants further argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed just like the state Department of Human Rights had done.

The claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress revolve around a voicemail message that Wortham allegedly left the plaintiff. The defendants, however, contend in their motion to dismiss that her allegations are not legally sufficient. 

“[The] plaintiff’s claim [is] legally insufficient in law and fails to state a claim, and each IIED claim should be dismissed as the outrageousness standard that it relies upon has been held by the United States Supreme Court to be an unconstitutional encroachment on free speech,” the defendants’ motion states.

Gourley has since responded to the defendants’ motion. 

In her response, she claims that she filed the claims with the state Department of Human Right after the defendants allegedly threatened to make her lose custody of her newborn child, put her in jail for six years and garnish her wages for the remainder of her life if she refused to remove her complaint for sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

Gourley further claims in her response that the defendants’ motion to dismiss falls short “because the Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits any person from engaging in [retaliation].” She also argues that she doesn’t have to be an employee of a company to file a retaliation complaint against it.

Additionally, she states that the intentional infliction of emotional distress claims should not be dismissed because the claims were related to private issues, which she claims the First Amendment does not cover.

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Madison County Circuit Court