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SALAMANCA v. ROBERT HALF CORPORATION

April 3, 2003

ELIZABETH SALAMANCA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROBERT HALF CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Suzanne B. Conlon, United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Elizabeth Salamanca ("Salamanca") sues Robert Half Corporation, a division of Robert Half International Inc. ("Robert Half"), for race and national original discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("§ 1981 "). Robert Half moves for summary judgment all claims pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. Both parties move to strike portions of the other's summary judgment submissions. In addition, Salamanca moves to bar two Robert Half witnesses from testifying at trial.

BACKGROUND

I. Evidence

Evidence submitted at the summary judgment stage must be admissible at trial. Woods v. City of Chicago, 234 F.3d 979, 988 (7th Cir. 2000). Therefore, the court must first determine the admissibility of the evidence presented by the parties before reaching the merits of Robert Half's summary judgment motion.

A. Robert Half's Motion to Strike

Robert Half moves to strike `most of' Salamanca's responses to the 146 paragraphs contained in Robert Half's statement of facts ("Def. Facts") as well as Salamanca's 120 paragraphs of additional facts ("Pl. Facts"). Motion at 1. According to Robert Half, Salamanca's "responses are rife with narratives and independent assertions which are not responsive to Robert Half's fact statements." Motion at 2. citing Pl. Resp. to Def. Facts at ¶¶ 13, 14, 15, 24, 31, 32, 34, 39, 42, 44, 47, 48, 53, 56, 74, 75, 82, 85, 97, 98, 126, 132, 133 and 135. See also Motion at 3, citing Pl. Resp. to Def. Facts at ¶¶ 13, 14, 15, 24, 31, 32, 34, 39, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 53, 56, 75, 82, 91, 96, 97, 98, 100, 110, 121 and 135. Despite the number of Salamanca's purported violations of Local Rule 56.1, Robert Half cites only one response as an example. Id, citing Pl. Resp. to Def. Facts at ¶ 126. However, Salamanca properly disputes Robert Half's assertion in ¶ 126 that she failed to allege her termination was discriminatory by pointing to her complaint and charge of discrimination. Robert Half's motion to strike Salamanca's response to ¶ 126 is denied.

As to the other disputed paragraphs*fn1, the court "is not required to scour the party's various submissions to piece together appropriate arguments." Little v. Cox's Supermarkets, Inc., 71 F.3d 637, 641 (7th Cir. 1995), quoting Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922 (7th Cir. 1994)(internal citation omitted). Nevertheless, all relevant facts denied without supporting documentation must be accepted as true provided the facts are "properly supported by references to the record or other evidentiary material." Jupiter Aluminum Corp. v. Home Ins. Co., 225 F.3d 868, 871 (7th Cir. 2000); Stewart v. McGinnis, 5 F.3d 1031, 1034 (7th Cir. 1993). Therefore, the court will disregard any responses by Salamanca that do not specifically dispute a properly supported factual statement by Robert Half

Robert Half next moves to strike Salamanca's responses and additional facts that are not based on a proper evidentiary foundation. See Motion at 3, citing Pl Resp. to Def. Facts at ¶¶ 64, 106, 136, 137 and Pl Facts at ¶¶ 4, 8, 11, 12, 15, 103, 106, 107. Salamanca''s denials of 64, 136 and 137 are premised in part on office manager Kristin Anderson's testimony. Given its reliance on Anderson testimony to support 64, Robert Half cannot reasonably contend Anderson does not have personal knowledge of the subject matter. Moreover, Anderson has personal knowledge as to whether she received Salamanca's letter. See Pl. Resp. to Def. Facts at ¶ 136. Anderson also has personal knowledge regarding district director Thomas Moran's knowledge of Salamanca's letter because Anderson testified that she told him about the letter. See Pl. Resp. to Def. Facts at ¶ 137. Accordingly, Robert Half's motion to strike Salamanca's responses to ¶¶ 64, 136 and 137 must be denied.

In contrast, Robert Half's motion to strike Salamanca's response to ¶ 106 as well as ¶¶ 103, 106 and 107 of her statement of additional facts must be granted. Salamanca's submissions rely solely on unauthenticated documents. Nevertheless, Robert Half's statement in ¶ 106 that it "has not treated any non-Hispanic employees differently than it has treated [Salamanca]" must be disregarded as improper legal argument. See Malic v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 585 (N.D. Ill. 2000)("The purpose of the 56.1 statement is to identify for the Court the evidence supporting a party's factual assertion in an organized manner; it is not intended as a forum for factual or legal argument").

Finally, Robert Half's motion to strike ¶¶ 4, 8, 12 and 15 of Salamanca's statement of additional facts must be granted in part and denied in part. Each paragraph is based on the testimony of Eric Baranchik. At the time of her termination, Salamanca provided administrative support for several divisions, including the accounting operations division headed by Baranchik. In that role, Baranchik has personal knowledge of Salamanca's performance as well as Robert Half's policies regarding discipline. However, Salamanca fails to establish Baranchik's knowledge of the entire scope of her job responsibilities. As Baranchik pointed out during his deposition, Salamanca is in the best position to describe the scope of her job duties because she worked for managers in other divisions. Baranchik dep. at 16-17. Under these circumstances, Robert Half's motion to strike must be denied as to ¶¶ 4, 8, and 15 and granted as to ¶ 12.

B. Salamanca's Motion to Strike

Salamanca moves to strike Robert Half's argument, including its underlying factual statements, regarding the reasons for her termination. If Salamanca cannot prove a prima facie case of discrimination or retaliation, her motion is moot. Salamanca's motion must be considered in the context of Robert Half's legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons if she is able to establish a prima facie case of discrimination or retaliation.

II. Facts

All facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted. Robert Half is a staffing service company that provides clients with temporary and permanent employees in several areas, including administrative staffing, accounting, legal, information technology, management consulting and graphic design. Salamanca, who is Hispanic, worked for Robert Half as a receptionist. During the relevant time period, Salamanca's direct supervisor was Anderson, who in turn reported through the branch manager to Moran.

As a receptionist, Salamanca sat at the front desk where she greeted new applicants and clients and gave applicants appropriate forms. Salamanca also maintained computerized records of employees and processed application forms for her assigned divisions. To process an application form, Salamanca was required to "shell" or enter basic information from the application forms as well as the applicant's I-9 and W-4 forms. Once Salamanca completed the shelling process, she would place the ...


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