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WASHINGTON v. THRALL CAR MFG. CO.

July 7, 1995

GEORGE L. WASHINGTON, Plaintiff,
v.
THRALL CAR MANUFACTURING COMPANY, an Illinois corporation, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARVIN E. ASPEN

 MARVIN E. ASPEN, District Judge:

 Plaintiff George L. Washington brings this action against defendant Thrall Car Manufacturing Company, alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Presently before the court is defendant's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion is granted.

 I. Background

 Plaintiff George Washington, an African-American male, was hired by defendant Thrall Car Manufacturing Company in 1967. *fn1" For the past twenty years, he has worked in Thrall's maintenance department, and is currently employed in the highest rated classification in that department. Between 1988 and January, 1991, Washington worked as a Maintenance A employee at Thrall's "Plant One;" when the plant was shut down in January, he was transferred to "Plant Two." In April, 1991, however, a number of employees a number of employees began working on a prototype rail car at Plant One. *fn2" On April 25, 1991, Washington filed a plant preference card, stating that he wished to be returned to Plant One if a Maintenance A position opened at that plant. Around the same time, the president of the local union, Gary Searight, approached Norman Blievernicht, Thrall's Director of Manufacturing Administration, requesting that Gary Ruhbeck, a white Maintenance A employee, be transferred to Plant One to provide union representation to the employees working there. *fn3" Blievernicht discussed the request with Craig Dowden, Thrall's Vice President of Administration, and Dowden agreed to transfer Ruhbeck to Plant One. Accordingly, Ruhbeck began working at Plant One on May 6, 1991. *fn4" Washington immediately challenged this action, and the Union filed a grievance on Washington's behalf, protesting Ruhbeck's transfer. Following this action, after Ruhbeck had worked at Plant One for one week, Thrall transferred Ruhbeck back to Plant Two, but denied Washington's grievance citing Searight's request. The Union Arbitrator ultimately acknowledged that Ruhbeck was transferred to Plant One "at the request of and with the agreement of the Union." And although Ruhbeck had been returned to Plant Two, Washington was not transferred to Plant One.

 Accordingly, on June 12, 1991, Washington filed a charge of race discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"), asserting that he had discriminatorily been denied a transfer to Plant One. On August 26, 1991, while the charge was pending, Thrall granted Washington's transfer request, and transferred him back to Plant One. In September, 1991, a seventy-five rail car production run began, and Washington stayed at Plant One until February, 1992, when Plant One was once again closed down. In January, 1994, Washington received a right to sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). He filed the instant action, alleging race discrimination in connection with the failure to transfer. He subsequently amended his complaint, alleging addition occurrences of discrimination, including (1) denial of overtime during the time he was assigned to Plant One; (2) assigning him alone to jobs typically assigned to two or more white individuals following his transfer back to Plant Two; and (3) assigning him to duties in extremely cold weather more frequently than white employees were assigned to those duties during the winter of 1994. However, none of these additional instances of discrimination were included in Washington's original charge with the IDHR and EEOC, nor did he file an amended or subsequent charge alleging additional acts of discrimination.

 II. Summary Judgment Standard

 Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate if "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and . . . . the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). This standard places the initial burden on the moving party to identify "those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986) (quoting Rule 56(c)). Once the moving party has done this, the non-moving party "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court must read all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 254, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986); Griffin v. Thomas, 929 F.2d 1210, 1212 (7th Cir. 1991).

 III. Discussion

 In Mojica v. Gannett Co., 7 F.3d 552 (7th Cir. 1993) (en banc), the Seventh Circuit reiterated the applicable standards in an employment discrimination case:

 
In any discrimination case, the plaintiff bears the ultimate burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that his employment was adversely affected by his protected class status. The plaintiff can meet this burden by presenting direct evidence of discrimination, or by successfully navigating the course of shifting burdens authorized in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green.

 Id. at 561 (citations omitted). In the present case, Washington has not offered direct evidence of discrimination, and we therefore turn to the familiar burden shifting method outlined in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668, 93 S. Ct. 1817 (1973). Under McDonnell Douglas, the plaintiff must first set forth a prima facie case of discrimination, by showing that

 
(1) he belongs to some protected class, (2) he performed his job satisfactorily, (3) he suffered an adverse employment action, and (4) his employer treated similarly-situated employees outside his classification more favorably.

  Hughes v. Brown, 20 F.3d 745, 746 (7th Cir. 1994) (citing McDonnell Douglas). The burden then shifts to the defendant to "articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the employee's rejection." McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802. *fn5" If the defend ant is successful, the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to rebut the defendant's proffered explanation by proving that the "legitimate" reason was merely a pretext for discrimination. Id. at 804. At this stage, the plaintiff must persuade the trier of fact that the defendant's explanation is "unworthy of credence" or that "a ...


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