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HENNING v. MAYWOOD PARK TROTTING ASSOC. INC.

January 12, 2004.

HELEN E, HENNING, Plaintiff, v., MAYWOOD PARK TROTTING ASSOC., INC., ASSOCIATES RACING ASSOCIATION, INC., HORSEMAN'S GUARANTEE CORP., Defendants


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARTIN ASHMAN, Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Helen Henning filed a one-count employment discrimination complaint against Defendants Maywood Park Trotting Association, Inc., Associates Racing Association, Inc., and Horseman's Guarantee Corporation of America (collectively "Defendants"), alleging retaliation under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) (Title VH). Defendants have moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.*fn1 For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is granted.

  I. Background

  Before turning to the facts of this case, we find it necessary to discuss the collective failure of all parties to follow the Local Rules. Pursuant to Local Rule 56.1(a)(3), a party moving Page 2 for summary judgment must file a separate statement of uncontested material facts setting forth the facts that entitle the party to judgment as a matter of law. This statement is not optional, and a failure to file such a statement may result in the Court denying the motion. Local R. 56.1(a). The party opposing the motion for summary judgment is required to file a response to the statement of uncontested facts as well as any opposing affidavits. Local R, 56.1(b). Defendants failed to file a statement of material uncontested facts, and only filed one affidavit in support of their motion. Plaintiff could not have filed a response to a non-existent fact statement, but should have brought Defendants' remissness to the attention of the Court. Additionally, Plaintiff has failed to file any affidavits or other supporting evidence to oppose the motion. Both parties have failed to follow this very clear Local Rule.*fn2 Nevertheless, rather than denying the motion for summary judgment, the Court has decided to consider it since the decision appears to be clear. The facts as set forth below have been gleaned from the Plaintiff's complaint and any additions and amendments to the complaint as well as Defendants' unopposed affidavit in support of their motion,

  Henning is currently a pari-mutuel clerk at the Maywood Park Race Track,*fn3 She has been employed at the track for over seventeen years. In May 2001, Henning filed a charge of sex and race discrimination against Defendants with the Illinois Department of Human Rights. The IDHR dismissed these charges on August 28, 2001. Page 3

  On October 17, 2001, Henning was present at the Maywood Park Race Track. That night, a patron named William Webster complained to the track's security that Henning had told him that she hated "Whites" and that she wished that terrorists would hi-jack a plane and kill more white people. The security officer reported the situation to General Manager Ken Kiehn. Kiehn was concerned that the remarks would scare other patrons at the track because the remarks came so soon after the terrorists attacks of September 11th. Kiehn was also concerned that Henning might somehow be involved in some sort of plan to attack a crowd. Kiehn decided that he should exclude Henning from Maywood Park until he was able to investigate the matter further.

  Henning appeared in Kiehn's offices and was told that she must leave the premises and would not be allowed to work at Maywood Park until an investigation into the matter had been completed. Henning claims that her name was announced over the loudspeaker "as though she was a terrorist" and that Kiehn told her that she was suspended until further notice. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 3, 4.) Kiehn claims that Henning was excluded, pursuant to state law, from the track. She was not "suspended" from work because she was still allowed to participate in the Horsemen's Guarantee Corporation of America's employee pool and work as a pari-mutuel clerk for other racing associations in the Chicago area.

  Kiehn completed his investigation over the next three to four weeks. At the end of his investigation, he concluded that Henning was no longer a threat to the orderly conduct of racing at the track, and he withdrew her exclusion from the track. Kiehn called Henning to his office and, according to Henning, told her that "they would pay her for four (4) days and she had been suspended for a month. . . ." (Am. Compl. ¶ 7.) Page 4

  Henning filed an EEOC charge, claiming that Defendants suspended her in retaliation for her complaints to the IDHR. The EEOC issued a right to sue letter to Henning on November 30, 2001. This suit followed.

  II. Discussion

  A. Summary Judgment Standard

  Summary judgment is appropriate only 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 party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). When the Court rules on a motion for summary judgment, it must view all evidence, and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). When the non-moving party bears the burden of proof on an issue, however, she may not simply rest on the pleadings, but instead must affirmatively set forth specific facts establishing the existence of a genuine issue of material feet Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-26. Summary judgment must be granted "against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Id at 322. "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no `genuine issue for trial,'" and summary judgment must be granted. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Page 5

  B. Retaliation

  Under Title VII, it is "an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any of his employees . . . because he has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this subchapter." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a). There are two methods for a plaintiff to defeat summary judgment when alleging retaliation — the direct evidence approach or the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting method as applied to the retaliation context. Stone v. Indianapolis Pub. Utils. Div., 281 F.3d 640, 644 (7th Cir. 2002). Henning does not meet the requirements of the former method as she does not present any evidence that would establish retaliation without resort to inferences from circumstantial evidence. See id. (noting that "mere temporal ...


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