and to take care of the problem himself. Sometime in 1993, plaintiff discussed the harassment with defendant's manager, Steve Prockovic. Despite these complaints, the company took no action against Meyers.
In 1994, the situation was coming to a head. The record reveals that defendant's manager, Mark Winkles, overheard managers Crites and Prockovic joking about Meyers harassing plaintiff. According to Winkles, Crites and Prockovic laughed that plaintiff was scared of Meyers. Prockovic joked: "Maybe they both are fags." In October 1994, plaintiff claims Meyers was heard to suggest that he would give plaintiff a dildo as a present for Christmas. At this point, plaintiff, having received no assistance from management and having previously been told to take care of it himself, went on the offensive. Every time plaintiff saw Meyers, he told "him [Meyers] he was a no good queer faggot, [and] to stay away." According to plaintiff, he "got very hostile, and it worked." At this point, Meyers turned the tables and complained to Crites about plaintiff's insults. According to plaintiff, in November, Crites told him to leave Meyers alone.
Shortly thereafter, on November 23, 1994, plaintiff and several co-workers were in the locker room showering. Meyers entered the room and threw kisses and winked at plaintiff from across the room. Meyers then grabbed his crotch and made kissing sounds at plaintiff while plaintiff was still in the shower room. After this incident, plaintiff complained to manager, Bill Raney. On December 2, 1994, Raney prepared a memo recommending "Meyers be discharged for continuing to create a hostile work environment for a fellow employee."
On December 3, 1994, deciding he had enough, plaintiff followed Meyers into the locker room to confront him. Meyers again made obscene gestures and blew kisses at plaintiff. A physical altercation occurred that was quickly broken-up by other employees. After an investigation into the incident, defendant's management decided to terminate the employment of both men for fighting, and informed plaintiff of its decision in a meeting held on December 28, 1994.
On January 9, 1995, plaintiff filed an information sheet with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and signed his formal Illinois Human Rights Charge on March 31, 1995. Unable to resolve this situation through administrative channels, plaintiff commenced this action on September 20, 1995. In his complaint,
plaintiff raised three specific claims for relief pursuant to Title VII: (1) same-sex hostile work environment sexual harassment; (2) retaliation; and (3) disparate treatment. Presently before the Court is defendant's motion for summary judgment.
A. SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) provides that a district court shall grant summary judgment "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." In determining whether a district court properly granted summary judgment, "all factual inferences are to be taken against the moving party and in favor of the opposing party." International Adm'rs, Inc. v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 753 F.2d 1373, 1378 (7th Cir. 1985). In instances in which "inferences contrary to those drawn by the trial court might be permissible," a district court's grant of summary judgment must be reversed. Munson v. Friske, 754 F.2d 683, 690 (7th Cir. 1985). Once a motion for summary judgment has been made and properly supported, however, the nonmovant does have the burden of setting forth specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue of a material fact for trial. See Rule 56(e); Posey v. Skyline Corp., 702 F.2d 102, 105 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 960, 78 L. Ed. 2d 336, 104 S. Ct. 392 (1983), (noting that "a bare contention that an issue of fact exists is insufficient to raise a factual issue"). Although a requisite, the existence of a factual dispute is not, standing alone, sufficient to bar summary judgment. It is well settled that a "factual dispute does not preclude summary judgment unless . . . the disputed fact is outcome determinative under the governing law." Egger v. Phillips, 710 F.2d 292, 296 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 918, 78 L. Ed. 2d 262, 104 S. Ct. 284 (1983), cited in Shlay v. Montgomery, 802 F.2d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 1986).
Courts should, however, apply the general standard for summary judgment with "added rigor" in employment discrimination cases in which intent is the central issue. McCoy v. WGN Continental Broad, 957 F.2d 368, 370-71 (7th Cir. 1992). Nevertheless, Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) mandates summary judgment "against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. 317 at 322, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548.
B. SAME-SEX HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Since defendant's filing of its motion for summary judgment, the Seventh Circuit decided the cases of Doe v. City of Belleville, Ill., 119 F.3d 563 (7th Cir. 1997) and Johnson v. Hondo, Inc., 125 F.3d 408 (7th Cir. 1997). These cases establish that under certain circumstances, a plaintiff may maintain a Title VII claim based on same-gender sexual harassment. Defendant, offers several arguments in support of its motion for summary judgment. First, defendant claims plaintiff cannot show that Meyer's conduct was motivated by plaintiff's gender. In other words, defendant believes plaintiff will be unable to prove that his gender played any role in the harassment. The analyses set forth in Doe and Johnson are instructive. Specifically, in Doe, the court noted that:
It is not clear why such proof is needed when the harassment has explicit sexual overtones, however. Arguably, the content of that harassment in and of itself demonstrates the nexus to the plaintiff's gender that Title VII requires . . . . The harassment of which [plaintiff] complains, although certainly disagreeable, does not fall into the category of "general unpleasantness" or generic "shoptalk." It was targeted specifically at [plaintiff] and it was explicitly sexual. It both revolved around his gender and specifically alluded to sexual conduct . . . . Proof that the harasser was motivated to target (or in practice did target) one gender and not the other may be necessary where the harassment is not on its face sexual, as [previously] discussed, but such proof would seem unnecessary when the harassment itself is imbued with sexual overtones . . . . Thus, so long as the environment itself is hostile to the plaintiff because of [the plaintiff's] sex, why the harassment was perpetrated (Sexual interest? Personal vendetta? Misguided humor? Boredom?) is beside the point.