Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

SAPIENZA v. COOK COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER

January 23, 2001

STEVEN E. SAPIENZA, PLAINTIFF
v.
COOK COUNTY OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arlander Keys, United States Magistrate Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This case is before the Court on Defendant Cook County Office of the Public Defender's ("Office of the PD") Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Plaintiff Steven E. Sapienza sued the Office of the PD for age discrimination, under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 623 et seq. (West 2000), for failing to promote him from the position of Investigator II to Investigator
III. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendant's Motion.

BACKGROUND

Vacancies will be filled by the most qualified applicant based on the totality of the following: skill tests, expertise in the particular area, performance appraisal, education, employment history and when applicable the interview. All bargaining unit members who meet the qualifications for a vacant position and who apply for a promotion/transfer will be considered.
(Id. at ¶ 15.) Significantly, the CBA also provides: "Transfer Unit/Promotion: For the Office of the Public Defender . . . [w]hen filling a vacancy through promotion the most qualified applicant will be selected; in event qualifications are relatively equal, seniority will control." (Id. at ¶ 14.)
Between March 16 and 19, 1998, the Cook County Department of Human Resources ("County") posted a promotional notice for the position of Investigator III — Grade 18. (Def.'s SMF ¶ 16.) There had been no promotions of investigators in the Office of the PD since 1994. (Id. at ¶ 17.) Pursuant to the promotional notice, on March 12, 1998, Mr. Sapienza submitted a bid for a position as Investigator III — Grade 18. (Id. at ¶ 18.) Of the total applications submitted for the promotion to Investigator III, the County sent the names of twenty eligible candidates (including Mr. Sapienza) to Rhonda Berryhill, the Personnel Coordinator of the Office of the PD. (Id. at ¶ 19.) Because all the applicants were union employees, the CBA, including the promotional instructions of the CBA, guided the promotional process. (Id. at ¶ 22.)
As part of the evaluation process, all candidates were required to submit a writing sample in the form of an essay, and to interview with a panel of four individuals. The panel of four consisted of: (1) Deborah White (age 40), Supervisor of the Felony Trial Division of the Office of the PD; (2) Jerome Tesmond (age 65), Investigator Supervisor for the Office of the PD; (3) Samuel Greene (age 58), Chief of Investigations of the Office of the PD, and (4) Ms. Berryhill (age 32), Personnel Coordinator of the Office of the PD. (Def.'s SMF ¶ 25.) The candidates were interviewed over a two-day period, and the panel interviewed each candidate individually.*fn1 (Id. at ¶ 26.)
After each candidate's interview, the panel openly discussed each candidate's performance, and then wrote down their own individual assessments. The panel members also individually evaluated each candidate's essay. At the conclusion of all the interviews, each interviewer identified, based upon each candidate's relative qualifications for the position, whether that candidate should be promoted, put on hold*fn2, or not recommended for promotion. (Def.'s SMF ¶¶ 31-32.) The overall designation for each candidate was determined by the number of panel members who thought the candidate was promotable or not. (Id. at ¶ 39.) The panel then created a list for submission to Xavier Velasco, Director of Suburban Operations (of which the Investigations Division is a part), designating the candidates recommended, as most qualified, for promotion to vacant Investigator III positions. (Id. at 41.) The Cook County Public Defender, Rita Fry, reviewed the recommendations from the interview panel, and then made the final decisions as to whom to promote.*fn3 Mr. Sapienza was placed on hold, and was not chosen for an immediate promotion. Consequently, he sued under the ADEA, alleging age discrimination. Mr. Sapienza's allegations of age discrimination mainly center around his use of statistics. Of the twenty applicants who applied for the Investigator III — Grade 18 vacancies, ten were immediately promoted while ten were not(including Mr. Sapienza).*fn4 Of the ten who were promoted, their respective ages were 30, 40, 43, 33, 29, 30, 31, 35, 39 and 40. (Pl.'s Ex. List, Ex. D.) The ages of five individuals not immediately promoted were 40, 44, 42, 45 and 62 (Mr. Sapienza). (Id.) Significantly, Mr. Sapienza does not provide the ages of the remaining five individuals who were not immediately promoted.*fn5
Besides statistics, Mr. Sapienza contends that the Office of the PD conducted a "bogus" test, so it could promote whom it wanted to promote — without considering qualifications and experience — and that the interview questions were biased against him. He also vehemently asserts that he was better qualified and had more experience than the candidates selected. Specifically, Mr. Sapienza maintains that the panel did not appropriately consider his past experience as an investigator at Pantry Pride. Furthermore, Mr. Sapienza argues that the individuals involved in the promotional process, namely some people on the interview panel, lacked the requisite experience in investigations to be making promotional decisions. As will be explained supra, Mr. Sapienza has not proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the Office of the PD's decision to place him on hold — and not immediately promote him — was motivated out of age animus.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On or about January 26, 1999, Mr. Sapienza filed a timely charge of age discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, and received his Right to Sue letter on April 6, 1999. (Complaint ¶ 5.) On July 1, 1999, Mr. Sapienza timely filed his Complaint in federal court, alleging violations of the ADEA. On April 6, 2000, this case was reassigned to this Court pursuant to Local Rule 73.1. On ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.