The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARRY LEINENWEBER, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Brenda O'Neal ("O'Neal") filed a five-count complaint
against Defendants City of Chicago and Police Chief Jerry Robinson
alleging gender and racial discrimination based on her involuntary
transfer from an administrative sergeant to a beat sergeant position for
the City of Chicago. Plaintiff's claims arise under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42. U.S.C. § 2000 et
seq., 42. U.S.C. § 1981 ("Section 1981"), and 42 U.S.C. § 1983
("Section 1983"). Before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment filed pursuant to FED. R. Civ. P. 56.
O'Neal, an African-American woman, has been a police officer for the
City of Chicago for more than eleven years. In June 1991, she was hired
by City of Chicago as a probationary police officer. After serving a
one-year probationary period, O'Neal attained the career service position
of police officer. In May 2001, O'Neal was
promoted to sergeant. In February 2002, O'Neal was assigned to an
administrative "desk job" in the Narcotics and Gang Investigations
section (the "Narcotics Section") of the Organized Crime Division. In
late May 2002, approximately four months into her new position, O'Neal
was involuntarily transferred back to a beat sergeant position (i.e.,
uniformed supervisory duty "on the streets").
The parties differ in their views of both the nature and motivating
reasons of the transfer. O'Neal characterizes the transfer as effectively
a demotion. Defendants characterize it as a lateral transfer. O'Neal
claims that the transfer was motivated by gender and race-based
discriminatory animus. Defendants claim that O'Neal was transferred
because of security concerns after they were informed that O'Neal had
purportedly dated a former police officer who was subsequently convicted
of selling narcotics.
Defendants base their motion for summary judgment primarily on two
arguments. First, Defendants contend that O'Neal cannot state a prima
facie case under Title VII because there is no evidence of either an
adverse employment action or that any similarly situated individuals
outside of O'Neal's protected class received more favorable treatment.
Second, Defendants claim that even if O'Neal could establish a
prima facie case, she cannot establish that Defendants'
proffered legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for transferring
O'Neal were pretextual. (Defendants also argue that
O'Neal cannot sustain her Section 1981 and Section 1983 claims and
that Defendant Robinson is entitled to qualified immunity.)
Summary judgment is appropriate 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). A fact is "material" if it could affect the outcome of
the suit under the governing law; a dispute is "genuine" where the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
The burden is initially upon the movant to demonstrate the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In assessing the movant's claim, the court must
view all the evidence and any reasonable inferences that may be drawn
from that evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant.
Miller v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co., 203 F.3d 997, 1003 (7th Cir.
2000). Once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party "may
not rest upon the mere allegations" contained in its pleading, but rather
"must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e); Becker v. Tenenbaum-Hill Assoc.,
914 F.2d 107, 110 (7th Cir. 1990); Schroeder v. Lufthansa German
Airlines, 875 F.2d 613, 620 (7th Cir. 1989). The nonmovant "must do
more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the
material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In the employment discrimination
context, summary judgment against a plaintiff is warranted where "the
evidence, interpreted favorably to the plaintiff, could [not] persuade a
reasonable jury that the employer had discriminated against the
plaintiff." Palucki v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 879 F.2d 1568,
1570 (7th Cir. 1989).
Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer to terminate or otherwise
to discriminate against an employee based on race, color, religion, sex,
or national origin. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a). A plaintiff may prove
unlawful employment discrimination through either direct evidence or via
the indirect burden shifting approach set forth in McDonnell Douglas
Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). Here, Plaintiff proceeds
under the indirect method and therefore must first establish a prima
facie case of discrimination by demonstrating that she (1) was a member
of a protected class, (2) performed her job according to Defendants'
legitimate expectations, (3) suffered an adverse employment action, and
(4) was treated less favorably than similarly situated employees outside
of her protected class. See, e.g., Markel v. Bd. of Regents of the
of Wisc. Sys., 276 F.3d 906, 910 (7th Cir. 2002);
Gordon v. United Airlines, Inc., 246 F.3d 878, 885-86 (7th Cir.
2001). If Plaintiff can show that "there is some evidence from which one
can infer that the employer took adverse action against the plaintiff on
the basis of a statutorily proscribed criterion," Leffel v. Valley
Fin. Servs., 113 F.3d 787, 793 (7th Cir. 1997), a presumption of
discrimination arises, and Defendants must produce evidence of a
legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for O'Neal's termination. Gordon,
246 F.3d at 886.
The parties agree that all claims in O'Neal's complaint fall, for
summary judgment purposes, under Title VII law. See Def, Mem. at 2; Pl.
Resp. at 3; Forrester v. White, 846 F.2d 29, 32 (7th Cir.
1988). Defendants initially argue that O'Neal cannot make a prima
facie case under Title VII because the undisputed facts show that
there was no adverse employment action. In support of this, Defendants
allege that the Chicago Police Department does not distinguish between
administrative and beat sergeants. That is, the applicable rank for both
positions is "sergeant," and a sergeant performing administrative duties
has no authority over a beat sergeant. See id. Defendants also
state that there are no ...