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WEBB v. PEERLESS INDUSTRIES

May 12, 2003

LAWANDA WEBB, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PEERLESS INDUSTRIES, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles Ronald Norgle, Sr., Judge, United States District Court

OPINION AND ORDER

Before the court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Lawanda Webb ("Webb") brings this action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 alleging racial discrimination. Webb claims that Defendant, Peerless Industries, Inc. ("Peerless"), failed to provide a non-hostile work environment. Webb further asserts that her supervisor, Carob Conrad ("Conrad"), mentally and physically abused her for a period of time, and that management failed to take appropriate corrective action after learning of the alleged abuse.

In October 1999, Peerless hired Webb as a mail room clerk after she worked as a temporary employee on two different occasions. Webb alleges that during her employment with Peerless, Conrad mistreated her. Webb alleges, inter alia, that on two occasions she was confronted by Conrad and admonished not to complain to higher management about her workload or about Conrad. Webb asserts that during the first confrontation, in February 2000, Conrad poked her in the head with her fingers. At the second confrontation, on or about August 29, 2000, Webb resigned, giving two weeks notice after Conrad allegedly admonished Webb again not to complain to higher management. Webb's last day of employment with Peerless was September 12, 2000.

In her exit interview, Webb mentioned several incidents or complaints about Conrad, but did not mention race as the motivation for Conrad's alleged behavior. Webb filed a charge against Peerless with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on August 10, 2001, and received a Notice of Right to Sue on August 21, 2001.

On November 13, 2001, Webb filed her complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. On December 12, 2002, Peerless filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, Memorandum in Support of its Motion, and 56.1(a) Statement of Material Facts. On January 16, 2003, Webb filed her response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, titled "Plaintiff [A]nswer Defendant Attorney Concerning 56.1(a) Statement About the Law". For some unknown reason, Webb's response was not docketed until March 20, 2003. The court will now address Peerless' Motion for Summary Judgment based on the submissions before it.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment should be granted when "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). "Summary judgment is appropriate only in circumstances where `the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could [not] return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'" Harriston v. Chicago Tribune Co., 992 F.2d 697, 704 (7th Cir. 1993) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The nonmoving party cannot rest on the pleadings alone, but must identify facts see Cornfield v. Consolidated High Sch. Dist. No. 230, 991 F.2d 1316, 1320 (7th Cir. 1993), that raise more than a mere scintilla of evidence to show a genuine tribal issue of a material fact. See Murphy v. ITT Technical Services, Inc., 176 F.3d 934, 936 (7th Cir. 1999); see also Shank v. William R. Hague, Inc., 192 F.3d 675, 682 (7th Cir. 1999) (stating that a party opposing summary judgment must present "what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of events.").

A defendant is entitled to put the plaintiff to his proofs and demand a showing of the evidence. See, e.g., Navarro v. Fuji Heavy Indus., Ltd., 117 F.3d 1027, 1030 (7th Cir. 1997). If the plaintiff fails to come up with the required proof, the defendant is entitled to summary judgment. See id. It bears repeating that the plaintiff must present evidence, rather than speculation and conclusions without factual support. See Rand v. CF Industries, Inc., 42 F.3d 1139, 1146-47 (7th Cir. 1994).

B. Webb's Race Discrimination Claims

Under a Title VII claim, a plaintiff is required to provide evidence supporting her race discrimination claim by one of two methods, either directly or indirectly. Lim v. Trustees of Ind. Univ., 297 F.3d 575, 580 (7th Cir. 2002). A claim under ยง 1981 includes the same elements and employs the same analysis and methods of proof as a Title VII claim. See Johnson v. City of Fort Wayne, 91 F.3d 922, ...


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