Alternatively, if for the purposes of summary judgment, the
court assumes that by exhibiting paranoid behavior that is
accompanied by mumbled religious rhetoric, Miller has offered
some shred of evidence that the school district's decision was
based in part on his religion, this is still not enough to make a
case of religious discrimination. When ruling on motion for
summary judgment, "the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence
in support of the plaintiff's position will be insufficient;
there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find
for the plaintiff." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2512, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). "A party
needs more than a scintilla of evidence, however, to defeat
summary judgment. In summary judgment cases, the non-movant must
show that a discriminatory reason more likely motivated the
employer's decision or that its proffered explanations are
unworthy of credence." Senner v. Northcentral Technical
College, 113 F.3d 750, 757-58 (7th Cir. 1997) (quoting Courtney
v. Biosound, 42 F.3d 414, 418 (7th Cir. 1994)).
Also alternatively, if for the purposes of summary judgment the
court assumes that Miller's religious rhetoric was a partial
motivation in the district's decision to require a psychiatric
examination, that also is not enough to make a case of religious
discrimination unless the district's legitimate business related
explanations are pretextual. In the Seventh Circuit, once a
plaintiff shows that an employment decision was motivated in part
by an illegal motivation, such as religion, the defendant may
avoid liability by proving it would have made the same decision
in the absence of unlawful motivation. Gleason v. Mesirow
Financial, Inc., 118 F.3d 1134, 1141 (7th Cir. 1997) (citing
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(m)). See also, Geier v. Medtronic,
99 F.3d 238, 241 (7th Cir. 1996); Troupe v. May Department Stores Co.,
20 F.3d 734, 737 (7th Cir. 1994).
In a mixed motive pretext case there is "a burden on the part
of the employer to demonstrate that it would have taken the same
action against the plaintiff even if the proscribed criterion had
played no role in its decision." Venters v. City of Delphi,
123 F.3d 956, 973 (7th Cir. 1997). "The persuasiveness of that
showing will normally be for the finder of fact to assess, unless
the court can say without reservation that a reasonable finder of
fact would be compelled to credit the employer's case on this
point." Venters, 123 F.3d at 973. This court can say without
reservation that a reasonable finder of fact would be compelled
to credit the school district's reason for requiring a
psychiatric examination. The school district's reason was the
proper job-related reason of testing whether Miller's paranoia
and agitation could lead to violence or other behavior
inappropriate in an elementary school setting.
School districts and school principals are under considerable
pressure to screen and monitor the behavior of all employees. If
a school district fails to monitor paranoid and agitated behavior
in an employee, and harm to a child results, the school district
could be legally liable for that harm. See, Mueller v. Community
Consolidated School District, 287 Ill. App.3d 337, 222 Ill.Dec.
788, 678 N.E.2d 660 (Ill.App. 1st Dist. 1997) (listing elements
of negligent hiring and negligent supervision in context of
school employee). But cf., 745 ILCS § 10/1-101 et seq.
(Illinois Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort
Immunity Act). Negligent hiring and supervision on the part of
the school is treated harshly by the courts because of the
importance of educating youth in a safe environment.
Given the school district's legal duties of supervision, and in
particular, Dr. Arnetta Rodgers' responsibilities as principal of
an elementary school, all the actions taken vis a vis Miller
were appropriate. A district and a principal could do no less
than require a medical/psychiatric examination of an elementary
school custodian after receiving reports of paranoid and agitated
behavior. Neither Title VII nor the ADA interdict the appropriate
supervision of Miller shown in this case.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED THAT the defendant's motion for summary
judgment (docket # 23) is granted.
The clerk is directed to enter judgment in favor of the
defendant and against the plaintiff. The parties shall bear their
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