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CROSS v. CHICAGO SCHOOL REFORM BD. OF TRUSTEES

January 4, 2000

CAMUEL CROSS, PLAINTIFF,
V.
CHICAGO SCHOOL REFORM BOARD OF TRUSTEES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Castillo, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Camuel Cross sued the Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees ("Board") for sexual harassment and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"). The Board has filed a motion for summary judgment, which we grant for the reasons stated below.

RELEVANT FACTS

[A] failure to properly contest in the 12(N) statement of material facts set out in the movant's 12(M) statement, constitutes a binding admission of those facts. In such a case, we "depart from our usual posture of construing all facts in favor of the nonmoving party; rather we accept as true all material facts contained in [the moving party's] 12(M) statement."

Brasic v. Heinemann's Inc., 121 F.3d 281, 284 (7th Cir. 1997) (quoting Johnson v. Gudmundsson, 35 F.3d 1104, 1108 (7th Cir. 1994)).

In his response to the Defendant's Statement of Facts, Cross denies the truth of twenty-eight of the Board's seventy-six numbered paragraphs. None of Cross' denials, however, is supported by any references to the record. See Garrison v. Burke, 165 F.3d 565, 567 (7th Cir. 1999); Brasic, 121 F.3d at 284. As a result, all material facts contained in the Board's Statement of Facts are accepted as true for the purposes of summary judgment. Id.

Plaintiff Cross was a music teacher at Gordon Hubbard High School ("Hubbard"), a Chicago Public School, from August 1992 to May 1996. Cross alleges that, for part of the time that he was teaching at Hubbard, Charles Vietzen, the principal, sexually harassed him. Beginning sometime before 1994, Cross was bothered by Vietzen's conduct toward him, which he believed constituted "harassment." (R. 19, Def.'s Statement of Material Facts. Ex. A, Cross Dep. at 116.) Cross told Vietzen that he did not approve of Vietzen's conduct. Even after this conversation, Cross claims that Vietzen sexually harassed him on a number of occasions, specifically: (1) Vietzen showed Cross a sexually explicit birthday card in 1994 in the presence of other people, (2) Vietzen touched him sometime during the 1994-95 school year in the school cafeteria; (3) Vietzen put his arm around Cross during the same school year in the lunchroom; (4) in September 1994, Vietzen, in the presence of other teachers, asked Cross to join him for cocktails; and (5) in January 1995, Vietzen asked Cross to take off his clothes. In addition, Cross alleges that Vietzen put his knee in Cross' behind and that Vietzen told him sexually explicit jokes, but Cross cannot recall when these alleged incidents occurred. In spite of Vietzen's alleged conduct, Cross had no difficulty in performing his duties teaching band.

In January 1995, one of the school counselors informed Vietzen that two female students accused Cross of having inappropriate relationships with them. The Cook County Attorney's office investigated the allegations, but took no action against Cross. During the course of the investigation, Cross admitted to Vietzen that he had engaged in inappropriate activities, such as going to a student's house, having a student ride in his car, and going to a restaurant with a student. As a result of Cross' inappropriate conduct, Vietzen lowered Cross' efficiency rating to satisfactory for the 1994-95 school year. During the same school year, Cross' high rate of absenteeism prompted Vietzen to speak with him four or five times.

Vietzen left Hubbard for a short time, between December 1995 and March 1996, during which time Valerie Doubrawa was the acting principal of the school. On March 11, 1996, Doubrawa issued an oral and written reprimand to Cross because of his excessive absences and failure to give prior notification of absences. On March 20, 1996, Cross wrote a letter to Dr. Jordan, the Region Five Superintendent and Vietzen's superior, criticizing the administration at Hubbard; specifically, he complained that the reprimand he received was unjustly issued. In that letter, however, Cross made no mention of being subjected to sexual harassment or that Vietzen had engaged in inappropriate conduct toward him. Sometime in May 1996, after Vietzen's return, Cross filled out a leave of absence form, but he did not receive approval for the leave. Notwithstanding the lack of approval, Cross took a leave. He returned to school with his union representative on May 28, 1996 to try to meet with Vietzen, who refused to see them. Vietzen never told Cross that he could not return to work at Hubbard, nor did he terminate Cross' employment. On June 18, 1996, Cross filed a charge of sexual harassment and retaliation against the Board with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and the EEOC. In August 1996, Cross left Chicago; on July 7, 1997, Cross executed a CPS resignation form indicating that his resignation was effective November 4, 1996, that he was on medical leave, and that he wanted early retirement. Thereafter, the EEOC issued a Notice of Right-to-Sue Letter, and Cross filed this action, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation under Title VII. Currently pending before this Court is the Board's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted.

ANALYSIS

I. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A genuine issue for trial exists only when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A plaintiff cannot rest on mere allegations of a claim without any probative evidence supporting his complaint. Id. at 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505. The non-moving party is required to go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The Court must view the evidence in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Crim v. Board of Educ. of Cairo Sch. Dist. ...


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