Plaintiff returned to work for her regular evening shift on August 5. During her shift, plaintiff refused to perform a task assigned by her supervisor. Plaintiff requested placement on light work status because she was in pain. Her supervisor denied the request, stating that defendant's policy requires a doctor's note prior to assignment of light work status. Plaintiff continued to refuse to do the assigned tasks and was sent home early from her shift.
The supervisor suspended plaintiff, without pay, for the remainder of that shift and one additional shift. The following morning, plaintiff returned to work and met with higher officials, who upheld plaintiff's suspension. During that meeting, plaintiff quit and left defendant's employ.
A few weeks after these events, on August 17, 1992, plaintiff filed charges with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). In the EEOC charge, filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1), plaintiff claimed that defendant discriminated against her, because of her race, when it refused to assign her light duty as allegedly prescribed by her physician.
On November 30, 1993, the EEOC issued its determination that the evidence failed to establish a violation of the statute. The EEOC found that plaintiff had failed to supply a doctor's note prior to requesting light duty, and that defendant had granted light duty to both blacks and whites when it received the proper documentation. Plaintiff then filed this action. Plaintiff's pro se complaint differs from her EEOC claim by alleging that defendant discriminated against her because it assigned people of other races to light duty without a notice from their doctors.
2. Summary Judgment
Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), a court should grant a movant's summary judgement motion if "there is no genuine issue of material fact and... the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." The burden is on the moving party to identify portions of the pleadings, answers to interrogatories, and affidavits which demonstrate an absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Id.; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The simple assertion that a factual dispute exists is not enough to defeat a Rule 56(c) motion. To defeat a motion for summary judgement, the non-moving party must set forth specific facts, through affidavits or other materials, that demonstrate disputed material facts. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2514, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986).
When reviewing a summary judgement motion, the Court must read the facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id., 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S. Ct. at 2513. If the plaintiff is proceeding pro se, as in the instant case, the complaint should be construed liberally. See, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21, 92 S. Ct. 594, 596, 30 L. Ed. 2d 652 (1972).
3. Discrimination Claims under Title VII
Plaintiff alleges that defendant discriminated against her based on her race.
The Supreme Court has created a three step analysis in Title VII discrimination cases. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802, 93 S. Ct. 1817, 1824, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668 (1973). Plaintiff must first establish a prima facie case of discrimination by showing: (1) the plaintiff belongs to a protected class, (2) she performed her job satisfactorily, (3) the plaintiff suffered an adverse employment action, and (4) the defendant employer has treated similarly-situated employees more favorably. Id.; Lenoir v. Roll Coater, Inc., 13 F.3d 1130, 1132 (7th Cir. 1994); Kirk v. Federal Property Management Corp., 22 F.3d 135, 138 (7th Cir. 1994). If the plaintiff establishes a prima facie showing, the defendant must rebut that by producing some evidence that there was a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its action. Watson v. Fort Worth Bank and Trust, 487 U.S. 977, 986, 108 S. Ct. 2777, 2784, 101 L. Ed. 2d 827 (1988). The burden then shifts back to the plaintiff to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the legitimate reasons produced by the defendant are a pretext for discrimination. Id. The Supreme Court has stressed that the ultimate burden of persuasion that the defendant discriminated against the plaintiff "remains at all times with the plaintiff." Id.; Texas Dep't. of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 253, 101 S. Ct. 1089, 1093, 67 L. Ed. 2d 207 (1981).
In the instant case, plaintiff fails to establish the first step of the McDonnell Douglas analysis for two reasons. First, plaintiff fails to show that she was performing her work satisfactorily. Plaintiff concedes she refused to perform assigned tasks. Second, plaintiff fails to demonstrate that defendant has treated similarly situated employees more favorably. In her complaint and interrogatory answers, plaintiff alleges that defendant has re-assigned light duty to people of other races. Plaintiff names three employees that had allegedly been placed on light duty assignment without a doctor's note. Defendant refutes those allegations by producing affidavits from the three named employees, stating they received light duty status only after having produced a doctor's note. Defendant also submitted an affidavit from the Human Resource Manager stating, "the company's uniform practice has been to require doctor's slips of all employees requesting light or restricted duty," and that he had "no knowledge of any employee being granted light or restricted duty without a doctor's slip." Defendant further defends the equal enforcement of its rule by producing a list of all employees in plaintiff's department that shows no employee has received "light duty" without a doctor's note. Plaintiff has offered nothing to rebut these affidavits this and exhibit.
Even if plaintiff had established a prima facie case, defendant's unrebutted facts have established a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its actions. Because plaintiff has failed to offer any evidence that the reason for defendant's refusal to place her on light duty work status without a doctor's note was a pretext for discrimination, she has failed to meet her burden of demonstrating a genuine issue of a material fact.
For the reasons set forth above, the Court concludes that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Accordingly, defendant's motion for summary judgement is granted.
Enter: November 9, 1994
Judge Robert W. Gettleman
United States District Court
JUDGMENT IN A CIVIL CASE
Decision by Court. This action came to trial or hearing before the Court. The issues have been tried or heard and a decision has been rendered.
IT IS ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that this concludes that defendant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.
Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted.
November 9, 1994
United States District Court
Northern District of Illinois
Plaintiff(s) Sarah J. Jones
Defendant(s) World's Finest Chocolate, Inc.
NO. 94 C 00728
JUDGE: William T. Hart
AFFIDAVIT EVIDENCING COMPLIANCE WITH GENERAL RULE 39
Linda C. Chatman
Affiant is the attorney of record for Defendant
World's Finest Chocolate, Inc.
and has knowledge of the matters covered by this affidavit and has read General Rule 39.
Affiant has not directly or indirectly solicited employment by the above-named party or parties, and knows of no solicitation of said party or parties by any person that has resulted in the employment of the affiant, except (here state all exceptions, or if none state "no exception"):
Affiant has not paid, or promised to pay, and knows of no payment or promise of payment to the above-named party, or parties, of the costs of this case, or of the medical, living or other expenses of any party, or of any part of an attorney's fee, or of any portion of the recovery by suit or settlement herein to any person whatever other than the above-named party or parties and the attorneys of record herein, except (here state all exceptions, or if none state "no exception"):
Affiant has filed contemporaneously herewith a signed copy of any written contingent fee agreement applicable to his compensation for representing the above-named party or parties in this action and represents that a signed copy thereof has been furnished to each party he represents; if no copy of a contingent fee agreement is filed herewith, affiant represents that his compensation for services in this case is not on a contingent basis.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the foregoing information is true and correct.
Executed on 4-11-94