only had to attend, but also in which they had to actively take part at a place distant from the home office. The conduct complained of was more than an offensive utterance, or an isolated occurrence. See Dey, 28 F.3d at 1456 ("Yet a series of such statements, if sufficiently severe and pervasive, could give rise to an objectively hostile work environment under the Meritor standard.") Although the conduct was not physically threatening and the CDW was not on FAA property, the conduct was humiliating objectively and the CDW was a program which Defendant sponsored, Defendant oversaw (in part by FAA supervisors), and for which Defendant paid participating employees their regular salaries and benefits. Furthermore, the program's objective was to influence continuing future behavior of the participants for when they were to return to the Chicago Control Center. Participants were expected to return to the employment environment, as Hartman did, feel the effects of the exercises, and make a practical application of their workshop experiences. Third, because the gauntlet exercise was designed to demonstrate sexual harassment in a "hands on" approach, it is difficult to accept the argument that an exercise created to be sexually harassing was not. The fiction, Hartman contends, took on life. Hartman would not distinguish pretense from reality in terms of the alleged touching of his genitalia. At a minimum, there is a genuine issue as to whether and at what point the simulation became the act. Accordingly, summary judgment is denied as to the claim of sexual harassment.
The next claim involves religious and racial discrimination. The Complaint submits that the discussions at the CDW were filled with anti-male and anti-religious propaganda. Through the indirect method of proof, an employee may establish a prima facie Title VII case 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). An employee raises an inference of discrimination once these elements are shown. Id.
Defendant argues that, regardless of the comments made, Hartman's employment was in no manner affected. Curiously, Hartman's response ignores both his religious and racial discrimination claims. Furthermore, his Local Rule 12(N) Statement agrees with Defendant's position on the facts and adds nothing to establish that any employment decision was influenced by the comments. "Title VII is not directed against unpleasantness per se, but only against discrimination in the conditions of employment." Koelsch v. Beltone Electronics Corp., 46 F.3d 705, 708 (7th Cir. 1995) (quoting Carr v. Allison Gas Turbine Div., Gen. Motors Corp., 32 F.3d 1007, 1009 (7th Cir. 1994)). The court finds that any alleged comments made were ignorant and demeaning, but not sufficient, within the context of the program, to create a genuine issue of fact regarding his employment. Accordingly, summary judgment is granted as to Hartman's religious and racial discrimination claims.
Hartman's last claim is that Defendant retaliated against him for having filed an EEOC complaint. It is unlawful "for an employer to discriminate against any of his employees . . . because he has opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice by [Title VII]." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a). Again, the indirect method of proof is applicable. A prima facie case of retaliation consists of three elements: (1) the employee took part in a statutorily protected activity; (2) the employee suffered an adverse employment action; and (3) there is a causal link between the statutory expression and adverse action. Dunning v. Simmons Airlines, Inc., 62 F.3d 863, 868-69 (7th Cir. 1995); Alexander v. Gerhardt Enterprises, Inc., 40 F.3d 187, 195 (7th Cir. 1994).
In order to establish that he suffered an adverse employment action, Hartman submits that he was not granted a "quality step increase" for certain periods. Once an employee establishes a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the employer to produce, not prove, a legitimate reason for termination. Alexander, 40 F.3d at 195. After the employer submits a lawful reason for discharging the employee, the burden shifts back to the employee to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the employer's reasons were pretextual. Loyd v. Phillips Bros., Inc., 25 F.3d 518, 522 (7th Cir. 1994). Even if the court were to recognize that the prima facie elements were met, Hartman fails to rebut Defendant's legitimate reason for its decision not to grant the increases. Defendant's lawful reason for denying the step increases related to Hartman's work performance. (Def.'s 12(M) P 61.) Again, Hartman's responsive memorandum is without argument on this point. But, in his Local Rule 12(N) Statement Hartman submits, "Plaintiff does not dispute the statement regarding Mr. Burke's reasons for plaintiff not receiving quality step increases but does dispute the actual reason for plaintiff's failure to receive quality step increases." (Pl.'s 12(N) P 61.) This is not enough.
First, as a procedural concern, Hartman's assertion is unsupported. Therefore, the assertion fails to satisfy Local Rule 12 as a proper denial and Defendant's proffered legitimate reason must be accepted as fact. Valenti v. Qualex, Inc., 970 F.2d 363, 369 (7th Cir. 1992) (holding that a flat denial to a statement of fact under Local Rule 12 without reference to supporting materials has no standing under the Local Rule); Parks v. University of Chicago Hosp., 896 F. Supp. 775, 779 (N.D. Ill. 1995). Second, even if the 12(N) Statement were supported by, e.g., his affidavit, the bald assertion would not likely serve as proof of pretext. Some evidence is needed. See Collier v. The Budd Co., 66 F.3d 886, 892 (7th Cir. 1995). "Inferences and opinions must be grounded on more than flights of fancy, speculation, hunches, intuitions or rumors and discrimination law would be unmanageable if disgruntled employees . . . could defeat summary judgment by affidavits speculating about the defendant's motives." Rand v. CF Indus., Inc., 42 F.3d 1139, 1146 (7th Cir. 1994). Accordingly, since Hartman did not cast any doubt on Defendant's proffered reason (indeed, Hartman's response accepts Defendant's legitimate nondiscriminatory reason), summary judgment is appropriate for this claim.
In conclusion, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is denied as to Hartman's claim of sexual harassment, and is granted as to the claims of racial and religious discrimination, and retaliation.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
CHARLES RONALD NORGLE, SR., Judge
United States District Court