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STEPHENS v. CITY OF CHICAGO

August 20, 2003

LESLEY STEPHENS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION; RICK J. SANTELLA; RUDY URIAN; EILEEN JOYCE; AND ADRIENNE KANE, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael Mason, Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before us are two motions filed by plaintiff Lesley Stephens asking that we reconsider two related judicial opinions granting in part and denying in part summary judgment to Stephens' employer, the City of Chicago ("City") and various individual defendants. For the following reasons we grant in part and deny in part plaintiffs motions to reconsider, but as we explain below, we decline to alter any part of our original opinions.

On September 5, 2002, we issued an order granting in part and denying in part a motion for summary judgment filed by defendants City of Chicago and individual City employees Rick Santella, Eileen Joyce, and Adrienne Kane. On September 12, 2002, we granted in part and denied in part a related motion for summary judgment filed by individual defendant Rudy Urian, who had retained counsel separate from the other defendants.*fn1 Stephens has now asked that we reconsider part of our decision granting the defendants' [ Page 2]

motion as to the City, specifically, our holdings, 1) that Stephens could not maintain his failure-to-promote claim with respect to promotions given to employees Urian and Greb in 1994; 2) that he had not presented adequate evidence of retaliation; and 3) that his section 1983 claim against the City was not viable. Further, Stephens asks that we reconsider our decision to grant summary judgment to Urian on Stephens' section 1981 and 1983 claims that Urian discriminated and retaliated against him on the basis of his race by denying him promotions, by failing to respond to Stephens' complaints of a racially hostile work environment, and by issuing unlawful suspensions after Stephens complained of discrimination.

Background

As we explained in our original opinions, the facts of this case are long and complicated, thus we will only set forth the relevant facts here; our September 5, 2002 opinion describes the facts in detail. At the time of our opinions, Stephens had been employed by the City's department of Fleet Management since 1979, From 1988 until October, 1993, he was on duty disability leave because of a back injury. When Stephens returned to work, he was hired as an Accident Adjuster, a non-supervisory position with a City pay grade of 13. Prior to his disability leave, Stephens had held the non-managerial job of Motor Truck Driver, but on occasion had served in acting capacities for jobs that did include managerial experience.

Approximately eight months after Stephens returned to work, in June, 1994, the City promoted Rudy Urian to the position of Deputy Commissioner and Ernie Greb to the position of Director of Operations; after Urian's promotion, Stephens reported indirectly to him. Because both of these positions were not subject to the so-called Shakman consent [ Page 3]

decree, they could be filled without first being posted and without the City interviewing candidates for them. Neither Urian and Greb, nor Stephens, submitted applications for these jobs. Eight months later, in February, 1995, Stephens applied for the level 16 job of Manager of Vehicle Adjustments. Some time after that, G. Santella was transferred from his position as Manager of Vehicle Adjustments in the Police Department to hold the same position at Fleet.*fn2 In December, 1995, Stephens filed his first charge of discrimination with the EEOC, complaining about his failure to be promoted to the Manager of Vehicle Adjustments position given to G. Santella and also complaining about a suspension he received in August, 1995 as a penalty for writing the Mayor to complain about discrimination. Defendant could not identify any rule Stephens violated by writing the Mayor and the suspension was later expunged from his record.

Stephens filed his second charge with the EEOC in November, 1997, complaining of discrimination stemming from his failure to receive additional promotions for which he had applied, and also contending that the City had retaliated against him for his earlier complaints. Stephens received a right to sue letter from the EEOC on February 6, 1998 and filed his lawsuit three days later.

Legal Standard

Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), a party may file, within ten days of entry of judgment, a motion which asks the court to alter or amend such judgment in order to correct a manifest error of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence. Motions to reconsider may [ Page 4]

not simply rehash old arguments or make new arguments that could have been brought to the court's attention prior to judgment. See Moro v. Shell Oil Co., 91 F.3d 872, 876 (7th Cir 1996), The decision of whether to grant a Rule 59(e) motion "is entrusted to the sound judgment of the district court. . . ." In re Prince, 85 F.3d 314, 324 (7th Cir 1996). In this case, plaintiff argues that several aspects of our opinion misapplied legal standards to the facts of the case. We will address each issue in turn.

A. Promotions of Urian and Greb

In our original opinion, we provided three reasons Stephens could not maintain that part of his lawsuit which alleged that the City discriminated against him on the basis of his race when he failed to obtain promotions given to Ernie Greb and Rudy Urian in 1994. Because there is some confusion surrounding our application of the law with respect to these promotions, we will grant plaintiff's motion to reconsider. However, ...


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