Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

BAZILE v. FORD MOTOR CO.

April 22, 1997

MICHELLE BAZILE and MICHAEL MCGINNIS, Plaintiffs,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ASPEN

 MARVIN E. ASPEN, Chief Judge:

 Plaintiffs Michelle Bazile and Michael McGinnis bring this action against their former employer, Ford Motor Company, alleging that the defendant violated various employment discrimination provisions of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.1 Specifically, Bazile alleges that a Ford supervisor sexually harassed her and that she was retaliated against when she attempted to complain, while McGinnis alleges that he was passed over for higher-level assignments based on his gender and was also retaliated against when he tried to complain. Presently before this court is Ford's motion for summary judgment on all claims. For the reasons stated below, we grant the motion.

 I. Background

 Prior to their discharge in November 1994, Bazile and McGinnis worked in the Paint Department of Ford's Chicago Assembly Plant. The plaintiffs were assigned to the body sealer assembly line, Bazile as a "paint assembler" and McGinnis as a "General Utility" person. Def.'s 12(M) PP 4, 8. *fn2" Bazile and McGinnis worked the second shift, which starts at 5:06 p.m. and ends at 3:33 a.m. Taking Bazile's claims first, she contends that the assembly line work imposed difficult demands on women generally because restroom breaks were infrequently available, see Pls.' 12(N)(3)(b) P 7, and on her especially because of health problems, id. P 5. Formal breaks in the shift are provided for in a collective bargaining agreement, but outside of the scheduled breaks, line employees were required to ask the supervisor, known as the "Upgrade," for restroom relief. Def.'s 12(M) PP 11-13. The Upgrade is a jack-of-all-trades who, among other things, ensures that the assembly line operates smoothly by covering assignments for employees who must leave the line. Id. P 13. If the Upgrade can cover for an employee seeking unscheduled restroom relief, and the Upgrade grants permission, then the employee may go to the restroom. Id.

 Bazile maintains that the Upgrade for whom she worked, Junior Guy, sexually harassed her by stating one day, in response to her request for restroom relief, that "he was sick and tired of bitches asking him to go to the bathroom because none of them were giving him . . . 'any pussy.'" Bazile Dep. at 194. Bazile waited until the scheduled meal break to use the restroom. On the same day, as she walked by Guy on her way to the meal break, Guy said that "he was not letting these women go to the bathroom for nothing." Id. at 196. Apparently, these statements were made approximately two weeks before her discharge in mid-November 1994. See id. at 174. According to Bazile, these statements constitute both quid pro quo and hostile working environment sexual harassment.

 As for McGinnis, he alleges that the sealer line supervisor, Tyron Ellington, favored women when selecting an employee to substitute for Guy during the Upgrade's temporary absences. According to McGinnis, it was plant practice to assign the General Utility person with the most seniority to substitute for the Upgrade. Pl.'s 12(N)(3)(b) P 19. However, the plaintiff contends, Ellington passed over McGinnis for Upgrade substitution assignments and instead appointed two less-senior women, Carmeshia Tillman and Denise Townsend, because of their gender. Id. PP 21-22. Accordingly, McGinnis brought this gender discrimination claim against Ford.

 In addition to Bazile's sexual harassment claims and McGinnis's gender discrimination claim, both plaintiffs bring a retaliation claim. On November 16, 1994, approximately 14-17 employees gathered at the Union's office before the second shift's 5:06 p.m. start. One of the plant's Union representatives told the group to speak to the Labor Relations Office. Def.'s 12(M) P 47. According to Bazile, it was approximately 4:50 p.m. when the group arrived at Labor Relations; by McGinnis' account, it was around 4:45 p.m. Def.'s Reply to 12(N) P 48. Several employees in the group informed the others that the shift was about to start, and went to their assigned positions on the assembly line. Def.'s 12(M) P 49. Some other employees returned to the Union office and asked whether they could get "in trouble" for missing the shift's start. Id. P 50. These employees were told that "trouble" was possible, so they told the rest of the group and went to the line. Id. Some employees remained at the Labor Relations Office, which consists of a reception area and the private offices of Labor Relations Representative Louis Lafayette and Labor Relations Supervisor Jerry Schoonmaker.

 After Lafayette came out of his office and saw the group, he told the employees to have a seat and said he would speak to them one at a time. Pls.' 12(N)(3)(b) P 36. While Lafayette was meeting with one of the employees, Schoonmaker came out of his office and noticed the group of employees. Def.'s 12(M) P 54. Schoonmaker asked why they were gathered there, and an employee responded that they were waiting to see Lafayette. Id. Schoonmaker then told the employees that "they had better report to the line before it starts." Id. The employees, including Bazile and McGinnis, did not leave. Id. P 55. After Schoonmaker returned to his office, he phoned the Paint Department and learned that the line had been unable to start without the employees. Id. P 57. Schoonmaker then spoke with the employees again, telling them to go to work or else risk a work stoppage charge. Id. P 58. The group again responded that Lafayette had told them to wait. Pls.' 12(N) P 60. Schoonmaker entered Lafayette's office to inform him that the Paint Department line could not start without the employees and that the group would not leave unless they spoke with Lafayette. Def.'s 12(M) P 61. After Lafayette ordered the group to go to the line, they left and reached the line at least 12 minutes after the shift's start, causing a production loss of 18 cars. Id. PP 61, 63.

 On the next day, November 17, Schoonmaker terminated the nine employees who did not report to the line at the start of the shift, including the plaintiffs. Id. P 68. After the Union filed grievances on behalf of the employees, the nine employees were offered reinstatement without loss of seniority conditioned on their agreement that they enter into a 12-month probationary period. Id. P 73. Only Bazile and McGinnis refused to settle, and eventually brought this action against Ford. In the four-count complaint, Bazile alleges that she endured a hostile work environment and was subjected to quid pro quo sexual harassment (Counts 1 and 2); McGinnis alleges gender discrimination in the selection of temporary Upgrades (Count 3); and both plaintiffs allege that Ford retaliated against them for asserting their statutorily-protected rights (Count 4). We now turn to Ford's motion for summary judgment.

 II. Standard for Reviewing Motions for Summary Judgment

 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). The movant bears the initial burden 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 Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). Material facts are those determinative of the outcome of an issue as determined by the applicable substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). Once the movant has done this, the nonmovant "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court must read all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, and refrain from making credibility determinations, Jackson v. Duckworth, 955 F.2d 21, 22 (7th Cir. 1992).

 III. Discussion

 A. Hostile Work Environment ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.