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JUNIEL v. PARK FOREST-CHICAGO HEIGHTS SCHOOL DISTRICT 163

September 20, 2001

LEONARD JUNIEL, SR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
PARK FOREST-CHICAGO HEIGHTS SCHOOL DISTRICT 163, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James H. Alesia, U.S. District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Currently before the court are (1) defendant's motion for summary judgment, (2) plaintiffs motion to strike portions of plaintiffs affidavit, and (3) plaintiff's motion to strike certain portions of defendant's response to plaintiffs Local Rule 56.1 Statement. For the following reasons, the court (1) grants defendant's motion for summary judgment on plaintiffs Title VII claim, (2) denies as moot defendant's motion to strike,*fn1 and (3) denies as moot plaintiffs motion to strike.*fn2

I. BACKGROUND*fn3

Beginning February 21, 1996, plaintiff Leonard Juniel, Sr. ("Juniel"), an African-American, was employed as the Director of Technology for defendant Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163 ("the District"). On March 30, 1998, the Board of Education of the District adopted a reduction in force. Shortly before March 30, 1998, a meeting was held wherein Juniel was notified that his position was targeted for elimination. Further, Juniel received informal notice of the actual reduction in force between March 30, 1998 and April 15, 1998. On April 10, 1998, Juniel received formal notice of the reduction of force in the form of a certified letter notifying him of his dismissal effective May 30, 1998.

The position of Director of Technology was discontinued and still does not exist in the District. Rather, the twenty-one duties and responsibilities of the position of Director of Technology were spread among numerous individuals at the District.

Juniel alleges by affidavit that at some indeterminate time after his dismissal, his wife saw a directory of the school district for the fall of 1998, where Mike Nicolai, (Caucasian) and Robert Thomas (Caucasian) are listed as "District office technology' staff." (Juniel Aff. ¶ 3.) Juniel alleges that this was the first time he realized the District had terminated him because of his race.

On April 21, 1999, Juniel filed a charge with the EEOC alleging that the District discriminated against him based upon his race in regard to his dismissal, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On December 29, 1999, Juniel received a right to sue letter from the EEOC. On March 24, 2000, Juniel filed a pro se complaint of employment discrimination, alleging that the District discriminated against him on March 30, 1998, because of his race, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Juniel subsequently retained an attorney to represent him in this case. The prose complaint was not amended by counsel.

The District is now moving for summary judgment, arguing that it is entitled to summary judgment because (1) Juniel's claim is time-barred and (2) Juniel cannot establish a prima facie case of racial discrimination. In its motion for summary judgment, the District addresses Juniel's claim only in light of Title VII, not § 1981 or § 1983. Therefore, the court treats the District's motion as a motion for summary judgment on Juniel's claim only under Title VII, and his claims under § 1981 and § 1983 stand unchallenged.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Summary judgment standard

Summary judgment is appropriate only where "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 a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P.56(c); see Funeral Fin. Sys. v. United States, 234 F.3d 1015, 1017 (7th Cir. 2000) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986)). A genuine issue of material fact exists when, viewing the record and drawing all reasonable inferences in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-movant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Smith v. Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 425 (7th Cir. 1997).

The moving party bears the burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325 (noting also that "the burden on the moving party may be discharged by `showing' — that is, pointing out to the district court — that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case."). Once the moving party makes a prima facie showing that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the non-moving party must set forth specific facts showing that a genuine issue for trial exists. Id. at 324; Schroeder v. Lufthansa German Airlines, 875 F.2d 613, 620 (7th Cir. 1989). The non-moving party cannot rest on the pleadings alone, but must designate specific facts in affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories or admissions that establish that there is a genuine triable issue. Selan v. Kiley, 969 F.2d 560, 564 (7th Cir. 1992). The non-moving party "`must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.'" Id. (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)). "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving party's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party]." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

The District argues that it is entitled to summary judgment on Juniel's Title VII claim because this claim is time-barred. Because the court agrees that Juniel's Title VII claim is ...


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