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August 28, 2003


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ronald Guzman, District Judge


Plaintiff, Mona Wei ("Wei") has sued Chicago State University ("CSU"), her former employer, and alleges employment discrimination, retaliation and hostile work environment on the basis of national origin and gender in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2OOOe et seq. (1994).*fn1 CSU has moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R, Civ, P. 56. For the reasons provided in this Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Court grants CSU's motion.


Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are undisputed. Mona Wei is a Chinese-American female hired by CSU in 1967 as a catalog librarian. (Def.'s LR56.1(a) ¶ 32.) From 1985 until her retirement in July 2002, Wei was assigned to the CSU archives during which time she attained the rank of full professor. (Id. ¶¶ 33, 36.) [ Page 2]

In August 2000, CSU hired Dr. Lawrence McCrank ("McCrank") as Dean of Library and Learning Resources later renamed Library & Information/Learning & Instructional Services ("LTS"). (Id. ¶ 9.) McCrank was responsible for reorganizing, restructuring and administering the LTS and library facility, which includes the archives, (Id. ¶¶ 10, 11.) Wei reported directly to McCrank in his capacity as Dean. (Id. ¶ 37.) During this time the University was also constructing a new library facility. (Id. ¶ 12.)

As a result of the reorganization plan, the archives staff was to be expanded from Wei and her assistant, Beverly Bond, to include an archives administrator, records management associate and student aides. (Id. ¶ 23.) CSU initiated recruitment for the administrative archivist sometime between June and September of 2001. (Id. ¶ 24; Pl.'s LR56.1(b) (3) (A) ¶ 24.) In September 2001, prior to the hiring of additional staff, Bond was transferred to another librarian leaving Wei as the sole employee assigned to the archives. (Def.'s LR56.1 (a) ¶¶ 25, 7S.) Wei perceived the loss of her assistant as an example of McCrank's unlawful discriminatory treatment of her, (Id. ¶ 78; Def.'s Ex. D, Wci Dep. at 60; Def.'s Ex, D, Letter from Wei to Lopardo of 12/11/01 at 2.)

In addition to the staff changes, McCrank reorganized library space which affected the archives. (Id. ¶ 20.) Due to a shortage of meeting space, he converted the archives reading room into a multi-use public conference room and relocated fifty-five bookcases from special collections into the archives work area. (Id. ¶¶ 69, 74.) According to Wei, these changes, along with the relocation of a copier, resulted in compromises to the convenience and functionality of the archives, (Pl.'s LR56.1(b) (3) (A) ¶ 75.) Although Wei acknowledged that it was within McCrank's responsibilities to carry out these changes under the reorganization plan, she contends [ Page 3]

that his actions were motivated by a discriminatory intent based on her sex and national origin. (Def.'s LR56.1(a) ¶¶ 76, 77.)

Wei's first formal meeting with McCrank was held on August 30, 2000. (Id. ¶ 52.) Wei claims she was repeatedly, verbally attacked and told by McCrank that she and Bond were paid S150,000 annually and that they had contributed very little to the archives over the last fifteen years. (Id.) Following this meeting, Wei wrote a memo on September 11, 2000 to McCrank expressing her displeasure with his remarks and her perception that she was being attacked. (Id. ¶¶ 53, 54.) Her memo concluded with an inference that his attacks were motivated by a discriminatory attitude toward her based on race, gender and ethnicity. (Id. ¶ 53.)

On September 19, 2000, McCrank wrote a memo to Wci in an attempt to correct what he perceived was a misrepresentation of his remarks and to establish objectives for the archives while her job description and credit unit equivalency ("CUE")*fn2 assignment were under reconsideration, (Id. ¶ 58.) McCrank concluded his memo with a denial of any bias based on race, gender or ethnicity, stating his judgment focused on her technical and professional competence. (Def.'s Ex, D, Mem. from McCrank to Wei of 9/19/00 at 3)

This generated yet another memo from Wei in which she attempted to clarify points from McCrank's memo of September 19, 2000 and dispel any inference that she was not capable of performing the job of archivist. (Pl's LR56.1(b) (3) (A) ¶ 58.) Wei acknowledged that during the August meeting, McCrank made no statements about her [ Page 4]

race, sex or Chinese background. (Def.'s LR56.1(a) ¶ 59.)

CSU's position, which Wei disputes, is that the archives were deficient in a number of respects, (Id. ¶ 11; Def.'s Ex. E, Letter from CSU to EEOC at 21.) The expectations for Wei and the archives were communicated to her from the onset, (Def's LR56.1(a) ¶ 104.) Wei understood those expectations but disputed their feasibility, particularly with regard to implementation of encoded archival description, (Id. ¶¶ 104, 106-07; Pl.'s LR56.1(b) (3) (A) ¶ 107.) McCrank offered training in electronic records management to Wei when she indicated she had a lack of experience in this area. (Def.'s LR56.1(a) ¶ 108.)

Wei and McCrank met on April 11, 2001 concerning her annual evaluation and CUE assignment. (Id. ¶ 62; Pl.'s LR56.1(b) (3) (A) ¶ 61.) Wei claims that McCrank told her that if she would retire he could hire three additional staff members with her salary. (Def's LR56.1(a) ¶¶ 60, 61) She also states that McCrank said "you should consider either resign[ation], retire[ment] or transfer" and "you should seriously consider retirement." (Id. ¶ 63.) Again, no comments were made in reference to Wei's sex or national origin, (Id. ¶ 65.) Wei perceived McCrank's demeanor as cold and threatening during that meeting. (Pl.'s LR56.1(b) (3) (A) ¶ 65.)

Early in May 2001, Wei filed a complaint with the EEOC alleging discrimination and a hostile work environment by McCrank and CSU based on age, sex and national origin, (Def.'s LR56.1(a) ¶¶ 39, 40,) The charge did not include a claim for retaliation or [ Page 5]

any allegations of retaliation. (Id. ¶ 41.) The EEQC issued its dismissal and notice to sue on June 29, 2001. (Id. ¶ 2.) At approximately the same time McCrank prepared Wei's annual evaluation for 2000-2001, and rated her performance as highly unsatisfactory. However, the evaluation according to Wei was not given to her until later in October. (Pl.'s LR56,1(b) (3) (A) ¶ 100.) The ratings decline was a significant departure from her previous evaluations. (Def.'s LR56.1(a) ¶ 99; Def.'s Ex. E, Letter from CSU to EEOC of June 1, 2001 at 23-33.) Wei admits that McCrank was not aware of her filing with the EEOC at the time he prepared her evaluation, (Def.'s LR56.1(a) ¶ 109.) Wei filed a grievance regarding her evaluation in November 2001, which resulted in its removal from her file. (Def.'s LR56.1(a) ¶¶ 110, 111.) Another evaluation, with a satisfactory rating, was prepared by the former Dean of Library and Learning Resources, (Id. ¶ 111.)

The reorganization and restructuring of LIS created five new departments and a new management infrastructure for LIS, (Id. ¶ 14.) As part of the archives restructuring, Wei's position was transferred to faculty archivist, resulting in a modification of her CUE assignment and removal of the supervision and coordination responsibilities she previously held, (Id. ¶¶ 91, 118.) This change did not adversely affect her pay or benefits. (Id. ¶¶ 140-41.) While acknowledging this move to be a lateral transfer, Wei also contends that this change in title and responsibility was a demotion. (Id. ¶¶ 115, 119, 124.) Although she grieved the changes to her CUE assignment, it was not pursued due to her subsequent retirement. (Id. ¶¶ 85, 97-98.) Wei did not apply for the administrative archivist position when it was posted. (Id. ¶ 129.)

On December 11, 2001, Wei sent a memo to CSU Provost, Dr. Genevieve [ Page 6]

Lopardo, and iterated her concerns with McCrank's criticisms of her work and claimed continued harassment and discriminatory treatment. (Id. ¶ 114.) Finally, on April 30, 2002, Wei notified Dr. Lopardo of her retirement to be effective July 1, 2002 as a direct result of health problems related to McCrank's alleged discriminatory behavior toward her. (Id. ¶¶ 26, 38; Def.'s Ex. D, Letter from Wei to Provost of 4/30/02 at 1,)

Wei has identified two librarians as similarly situated employees who received more favorable treatment. (Id. ¶¶ 142, 154.) Both librarians are Caucasian, female and reported to Dean McCrank. (Id. ¶¶ 143-44, 155, 157.) Wei claims Kathy Matlin, a reference librarian, received a more favorable evaluation than she did. (Id. ¶¶ 145, 148.) Both Wei and Matlin did reference work, but some responsibilities of the two librarian positions were different. (Id. ¶¶ 149-50.) Wei also stated that Matlin's curriculum vitae update was essentially the same as hers but Matlin was not given the negative rating she received. (Id. ¶ 147.)

Beverly Meyers, a materials center librarian, had technically different duties, but, like Wei, was a librarian. (Id. ¶¶ 156, 158, 161-62,) Meyers was the recipient of Wei's transferred assistant Beverly Bond. (Id. ¶ 78; Def.'s Ex. D, Wei Dep. at 60.) Her CUE assignment was also modified by McCrank. (Def's LR56.1(a) ¶ 160.)


1. CSU's Motion to Strike

Local Rule 56.1(a) (3) requires a party moving for summary judgment to file "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue and that entitle [it] to a judgment as a matter of law." In response, the party [ Page 7]

opposing the motion must provide a concise response to the movant's statement which shall contain, in the case of disagreement, "specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon," LR56.1(b) (3) (A), Local Rule 56,1 provides that unless factual disagreements are controverted with appropriate cite to the record by the opposing party, all material facts as set forth by the moving party will be deemed admitted. Id. "The Seventh Circuit has repeatedly upheld the strict enforcement of these rules." Waldridge v. Am. Hoechsi Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922 (7th Cir. 1994),

CSU moves to strike Wei's response to ¶¶ 11, 23, 38, 58, 64, 68, 70, 74, 75, 84, 100, 105, 107 and 153 of CSU's Local Rule 56.1(a) Statement of Facts for failure to comply with the rule's requirements. CSU alleges that these responses are unsupported by a cite to the record, constitute conclusory opinions of the plaintiff or fail to admit or deny the specific statements of fact, (Pl.'s Mot, Strike ¶¶ 3-13.) The Court finds that in many instances Wei's responses have failed to comply with the local rule as to several of the challenged paragraphs. However, even if the Court were to consider Wei's deficient responses as having complied with LR 56.1, the Court would still grant CSU's Motion for Summary Judgment. Accordingly, the Court denies as moot CSU's Motion to Strike.

II. Summary Judgment

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) provides that summary judgment is proper "if the 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 ...

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