The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bucklo, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Nelida Faccio-Robert ("Robert") was hired as a security
supervisor for Empress River Casino ("Empress") in Joliet,
Illinois, in 1992. After four years she became Chief of Security.
She was fired in August 1998 by David Fendrick, who had been
hired as Vice President and General Manager in August 1997. She
filed her EEOC charge on December 1, 1998, and after receiving
her right to sue letter, sued Empress for sex discrimination and
harassment under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. Empress moves for
summary judgment on Robert's hostile work environment sexual
harassment claim.*fn1 I deny the motion.
Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no material
issue of fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). I take the facts in the light
most favorable to the party opposing the motion, Fulk v. United
Transp. Union, 160 F.3d 405, 407 (7th Cir. 1998), but the
nonmoving party has the burden of coming forward with enough
evidence so that a rational jury could find for it at trial.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505,
91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). In this case, Robert has met her burden.
A plaintiff may establish a violation of Title VII by proving
that discrimination based on sex has created a hostile or abusive
work environment. See Meritor Sav. Bank, FSB v. Vinson,
477 U.S. 57, 67, 106 S.Ct. 2399, 91 L.Ed.2d 49 (1986). However,
"isolated and/or trivial remarks of a sexual nature do not
satisfy the definition of sexual harassment." Gleason v. Mesirow
Financial, Inc., 118 F.3d 1134, 1143 (7th Cir. 1997). Harassment
is actionable under Title VII only if it can be described as
discrimination in the terms or conditions of work. Therefore,
sexual harassment that does not involve a supervisor's extorting
sexual favors but instead involves the creation of a hostile work
environment must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to make the
workplace intolerable for the members of the group discriminated
against. Minor v. Ivy Tech State College, 174 F.3d 855, 857
Empress argues that the episodes recounted by Robert do not
rise, or fall, to the level of intolerability required by the
Seventh Circuit to maintain a hostile work environment claim.
These alleged episodes, which I must accept as true for purposes
of this motion, include the following:
1. At a tent party in August 1997, Fendrick, Robert's new boss,
told her, "Your chief of security a woman, Huh? I've been the
only chief of security and I'm not a woman. I'm all man, as you
2. In September 1997, Fendrick met with Robert one-on-one. As a
new manager at the casino he was meeting with all the department
heads. He asked her whether she was "going to start crying" and
stated that he didn't like "emotional women working for me." He
asked her, "Are you married, how's your marriage?"; she told him
she was happily married. He stood up, leaned closer to her, and
asked, "So are you happily married?" She told him he was. He sat
down and asked, "Do you like to have fun? Do you like to play
around?" She told him that she didn't like to "play around" but
respected her 14-year marriage. He said, "Well Nell, is it OK if
I call you Nell?" She interrupted and asked to be addressed as
"Nellie, Chief Robert or Mrs. Robert, but not Nell." "OK Nellie,"
he said, "I'm warning you so you know, to be successful in this
business you need to learn to play the game or you'll be gone."
3. On one occasion, the date of which Robert cannot identify,
Fendrick made a comment at a pizza party. He was smoking a cigar,
raised a glass, and toasted, "To the Empress, to life, to women,
to Hitler, to tits." He then bit off the end of the cigar.
4. On a weekly basis, Fendrick would make sexual comments
("nice ass," "big ass," "big tits," etc.) at focus meetings that
5. In December 1997, Robert had to leave a meeting to which
Fendrick was late in order to pick up her kids. She met Fendrick
in the hall and explained why she was leaving. He stated that she
had to decide what was more important (her job or her kids), and
that obviously she had already made her choice.
The Seventh Circuit has a moderately employer-friendly
treatment of hostile work environment cases. It has held that
although the concept of sexual harassment is "designed to protect
working women from the kind of male attentions that can make the
workplace hellish for women . . ., it is not designed to purge
the workplace of vulgarity." Baskerville v. Culligan Int'l,
50 F.3d 428, 430 (7th Cir. 1995). The behavior must be "`extreme.'
It is not enough . . . to treat a female employee with[out]
sensitivity, tact, [or] delicacy, [to use] coarse language, or
[be] a boor. Such failures are too commonplace in today's
America, regardless of the sex of the employee, to be classified
as discriminatory." Minor, 174 F.3d at 858.
But Fendrick crossed the line. Unlike the defendant in Minor,
he did "quiz her about her personal life" and "engage her in
conversations about sex or love." Id. at 858. Moreover,
Fendrick's crude pickup attempt, coupled with a threat to fire
her unless she put out ("play the game or you'll be gone"), was
extreme. It colors the earlier "all man" remark and infects the
later behavior, rendering that behavior extreme taken in light of
the quid pro quo harassment. Even if the rest of Fendrick's
conduct did not by itself descend to the level required to
maintain a hostile work environment claim, it does not stand by
itself. It cannot be considered mere vulgarity or boorishness for
a woman to be subjected to a constant stream of sexual remarks,
including some with distinctly menacing overtones ("to women, to
Hitler, to tits . . ."), by a superior who has not merely
propositioned her but has warned her that she will be fired if
she does not "learn to play the game." That is "the kind of male
attention that can make the workplace hellish for women."
Baskerville, 50 F.3d at 430.
This quid pro quo harassment distinguishes this case from the
cases cited by Empress where the Seventh Circuit affirmed grants
of summary judgment for the defendant despite unwanted touching
and kisses. Those cases did not involve extortion of sexual
favors with threats of adverse employment action. Coupled with
the quid pro quo harassment, the other conduct is severe enough
to be hostile environment harassment. Obviously quid pro quo
harassment is neither necessary nor sufficient for a hostile work
environment claim. But, in the appropriate circumstances, it may
help make other conduct severe enough to constitute a hostile
The Seventh Circuit has also held that "isolated and innocuous
incidents do not support a finding of sexual harassment."
DiCenso v. Cisneros, 96 F.3d 1004, 1008 (7th Cir. 1996).
Empress argues that Robert's case rests on only four incidents,
but in the first place, this is not true, given Robert's
allegations about weekly sexual comments at the focus meetings
over the course of a year. The conduct "persisted for a lengthy
period of time and that, during that period, was a pervasive
aspect of the plaintiff's employment." Doe v. R.R. Donnelley &
Sons Co., 42 F.3d 439, 445 (7th Cir. 1994). Second, "there is ...