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HAWTHORNE v. ST. JOSEPH'S CARONDELET CHILD CTR.

October 30, 1997

BARBARA J. HAWTHORNE, Plaintiff,
v.
ST. JOSEPH'S CARONDELET CHILD CENTER, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHADUR

 Barbara Hawthorne ("Hawthorne") has charged her former employer St. Joseph's Carondelet Child Care Center ("St. Joseph's") with employment discrimination, alleging that she was subjected to sexual harassment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII," 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17). Hawthorne also asserts an Illinois state law breach of contract claim against St. Joseph's.

 St. Joseph's has now moved for summary judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. ("Rule") 56. Both sides have complied with this District Court's General Rule ("GR") 12(M) and 12(N), *fn1" which has been adopted to highlight the existence or nonexistence of any material fact disputes, and the motion is fully briefed and ready for decision. For the reasons set out in this memorandum opinion and order, St. Joseph's motion is denied in principal part and granted to a lesser extent.

 Summary Judgment Standards

 Familiar Rule 56 principles impose on St. Joseph's the burden of establishing the lack of a genuine issue of material fact ( Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986)). For that purpose this Court must "read[] the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party," although it "is not required to draw unreasonable inferences from the evidence" ( St. Louis N. Joint Venture v. P & L Enters., Inc., 116 F.3d 262, 265 n.2 (7th Cir. 1997)). While "this general standard is applied with added rigor in employment discrimination cases, where intent is inevitably the central issue" ( McCoy v. WGN Continental Broad. Co., 957 F.2d 368, 370-71 (7th Cir. 1992), that does not negate the potential for summary judgment in cases where a movant plainly satisfies the Rule 56 standards ( Washington v. Lake County, 969 F.2d 250, 254 (7th Cir. 1992). In those terms summary judgment is appropriate if the record reveals that no reasonable jury could conclude that Hawthorne was treated in a statutorily discriminatory fashion ( Fuka v. Thomson Consumer Elec., 82 F.3d 1397, 1402 (7th Cir. 1996) and cases cited there).

 Facts2

 St. Joseph's hired Hawthorne in April 1990 to work as a counselor at its residential treatment center, which provides care and education for 30 emotionally disturbed boys (S. 12(M) PP1-2). Hawthorne was assigned to Kraus Hall, which houses boys from the ages of 11 to 14 (id. PP5-6). She was directly supervised by Krause Hall's unit supervisor, a position that was filled by Tyrone Tillman ("Tillman") from June 14, 1993 until the termination of Hawthorne's employment (id. PP6-7).

 In May 1993, when Tillman was a counselor in another hall and not yet Hawthorne's supervisor, he approached Hawthorne and expressed a desire to tell her about a "really crazy and wild dream" in which she had been the subject (H. Supp. 12(N) P18; *fn3" Hawthorne Dep. 130-31). In May or June Tillman called Hawthorne and again asked her out to discuss the dream and to see his collection of movies (id. PP20, 22). And in late May Tillman approached Hawthorne at work, again asking for a date to discuss the dream and also telling Hawthorne that she was prettier than his wife and that his marriage was boring, and rating Hawthorne physically in comparison with a coworker (id. P24). In response to each of those incidents Hawthorne told Tillman that she was not interested in his dream or in getting together with him (id. P20; Hawthorne Dep. 131, 137, 139-40).

 Sometime in May Hawthorne complained to Delores Wilks ("Wilks"), a supervisor in another hall, about Tillman's behavior (H. Supp. 12(N) P52). Wilks told Hawthorne not to do anything about Tillman's conduct--to "ignore" Tillman, and the problem would go away (id. P53). Then in July 1993 Wilks resigned from St. Joseph's, and Hawthorne did not thereafter raise the matter with any St. Joseph's employee (other than asserting her resistance to Tillman himself, of course).

 After Tillman was appointed Hawthorne's supervisor in June 1993, the problem did not go away at all--indeed, he again asked her out. After a staff meeting in August 1993--when "throughout the whole meeting Tyrone continued to sort of eyeball me and to make me feel very uncomfortable" (Hawthorne Dep. 170)--Tillman told Hawthorne that she looked "hot" and asked for a date, pursuing her down a hall and out the door and asking where she was going "looking so pretty" (id. at 170-72). Hawthorne ignored his request for a date and attempted to leave the scene to escape what she described as a "very uncomfortable" and "totally unprofessional" situation (id.).

 After she had turned down Tillman's requests, Hawthorne says that although he did not directly threaten to fire her, "from his hostile behavior, he just let me know he's in control here" (id. at 194). She refers to the following incidents as examples:

 
1. Staff meetings were scheduled on her days off in July, but when she then attended she found that the meetings had been cancelled and only Tillman would be present (id. at 142).
 
2. She was assigned to work alone for a few shifts between June 1993 and her termination in January 1994, even though female employees were not normally assigned solo duty (id. at 144-56).
 
3. Between September and December 1993 she was not scheduled for the full 40 hours that she usually received (id. at 197).
 
4. Although she had previously attended most camp outings with the residents, she was not allowed to attend camp two out of three times once Tillman became her supervisor--thus missing an opportunity to work a greater number of hours over a short period (H. Supp. 12(N) P42; Hawthorne Dep. 166).
 
5. On an unknown date she had a confrontation with Tillman over whether she had used proper channels to request reimbursement for a receipt. Tillman chastised her for going over his head and said (Hawthorne Dep. 158-61):
 
It appears you don't like me. And everything that happens on the dorm, it comes through me. You can say I'm like god, you know.
 
6. In September 1993 several St. Joseph residents became upset and were throwing chairs, and Hawthorne left the scene to switch with another counselor in a different hall. After that incident she received an oral warning from Tillman (S. 12(M) P17), a warning that she claims was unwarranted.

 Hawthorne also contends that her eventual termination was the result of Tillman's hostility towards her. Hawthorne was fired after a January 1994 incident in which a resident whom she was counseling was physically restrained by another counselor and had two teeth knocked out as a result (S. 12(M) P21-25). Following the incident St. Joseph's conducted an investigation in which Tillman participated, at least to the extent of interviewing Hawthorne about the incident and consulting with other management personnel in making the decision whether Hawthorne should be terminated (id. PP30, 33; Hawthorne Dep. 118). On January 13, 1994 Hawthorne was terminated, in a letter signed by Tillman, for what was characterized as Hawthorne's failure to provide support to the resident and her co-worker during that altercation (S. Dep. Ex. 5).

 On June 7, 1994 Hawthorne filed a sexual harassment charge with the EEOC (S. Dep. Ex. 9). On January 31, 1996 she received her right-to-sue letter, and she timely ...


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