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MARSHALL v. ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES

February 13, 2004.

NANCY MARSHALL, Plaintiff,
v.
ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES and W.A. HOWE DEVELOPMENTAL CENTER Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM J. HIBBLER, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

In this case, Nancy Marshall, the Plaintiff, alleges that her employers, the Illinois Department of Human Services ("IDHS") and the W.A. Howe Developmental Center (the "Howe Center") (collectively, the "Defendants'"), discriminated against her based upon her race and then retaliated against her because of her complaints of discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Pending in this case is the Defendants' motion for summary judgment. The Court has examined the submissions by the parties related to the motion and determines that the Defendants' summary judgment motion should be granted on both counts.

I. FACTS

  Marshall, an African-American woman, began working for IDHS at the Howe Center in 1987. Approximately 80% of the employees at the Howe Center are minorities, and approximately 80% are women. Marshall started work as a Mental Health Technician ("MHT") trainee, and Page 2 currently she is employed as an MHT III. MHTs provide care and training for the service recipients living at the Howe Center. There are five different levels of the MHT position at the Howe Center: the starting level of MHT trainee and then MHT levels I though IV. An MHT DI is a lead worker during his or her shift for the living area of the residential house to which he or she is assigned. The MHTs report directly to the Living Unit Administrator ("LUA") for the Unit in which they are assigned. The LUAs then report to the Unit Director. Peter Gordon, an African-American, was Marshall's LUA and direct supervisor in 1999. In the spring of 2000, Mischa Stewart, an African-American, replaced him and became Marshall's LUA. Dorothy Carlson, a Caucasian woman, was Marshall's Unit Director during the times at issue in this case.

  A. Confrontation with Monica Lane.

  In June 1999, Monica Lane, an African-American woman working as an MHT II, began working in the same residential house as Marshall. On August 13, 1999, Marshall was temporarily assigned to be an MHT III. After discussing a work matter, Marshall and Lane had a confrontation in which Marshall claims Lane physically and verbally threatened her. Lane had a history of conflict with other co-workers at the Howe Center, and had previously received a five-day suspension for using vulgar and obscene language in front of staff and residents.

  Marshall complained to Gordon by making a written statement that Lane had been physically and verbally threatening to her, and had used inappropriate language in a loud and angry tone. On August 16, 1999, Marshall met with Gordon and Carlson and complained about Lane. Another meeting followed, and this time Lane attended as well. Carlson told Lane that she had to stop her inappropriate conduct, and she re-assigned Lane to a different house for a week. Marshall claims that at that meeting Lane threatened her again in the presence of Carlson. Page 3

  On August 18 or 19, 1999, Marshall met with Carol Wade, the Howe Center Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action (EEO/AA) officer. Wade is African-American. Marshall gave Wade a copy of her written statement about Lane and told Wade about her meeting with Carlson. She described the problems she was having with Lane, which Wade understood to be related to a disagreement they had about decorating the house in which they were working. Wade determined that Marshall's problem was that she was having trouble transitioning from a peer to a leader of her coworkers.

  On August 23, 1999, Marshall met again with Lane, Gordon, and Carlson to discuss permanent schedule changes so that Marshall and Lane would not have to work together. Lane refused to have her schedule changed, so Marshall felt she was forced to change her schedule to avoid Lane. Marshall and Lane, however, continued having to work together two or three days per week. After the August 23rd meeting, Lane never verbally or physically threatened Marshall again, although Marshall claims that Lane continued to harass her and that they had perpetual arguments and ongoing battles.

  B. Marshall's Promotions.

  Marshall was hired by IDHS as an MHT Trainee on November 16, 1987. She was promoted to MHT I on July 16, 1988; to MHT II on August 1, 1990; and to MHT III on July 1, 2000. The promotion process at the Howe Center involves several steps. First, there has to be an opening for a position, and the MHTs have to submit a bid for the open position. In April 1999, Marshall, then an MHT II, submitted a bid for the MHT III position. On May 24, 1999, Marshall received a memo from Carlson stating that she was selected for the MHT III position. After being selected, MHT IIs must attend training for the MHT III position and then perform a ten week on-the-job training. Page 4 Marshall attended the mandatory training in November 1999, and following her ten week on-the-job training, she received a "certificate of training" in February 2000. The training certificate is sent to the Illinois Department of Central Management Services ("CMS"), which then mails a grade certificate to the employee's home. At that point, the employee has to bring the certificate to her supervisor, who has to perform a promotional evaluation on the employee. This is followed by a series of additional internal bureaucratic steps before the employee is formally promoted.

  Marshall's grade notice from CMS was dated March 28, 2000. After she turned it in to Gordon, her supervisor, Gordon performed a promotional evaluation for her. Marshall signed her promotional evaluation form on May 13, 2000, and Carlson signed the evaluation form on May 30, 2000. There was one more form which Marshall had to sign in order to be formally promoted, which Keith Taylor and Steven Hunter, African-American employees involved with EEO investigations, did not present to Marshall until a later date. Marshall signed this form on August 16, 2000. Marshall's promotion, however, was finalized by the Director of the Howe Center on July 14, 2000, and made retroactively effective as of July 1, 2000. Other MHT IIs who began the promotion process the same time as Marshall had their promotions finalized on April 16 and May 16, 2000.

  When an MHT II is selected for a promotion to become an MHT III, he or she may be temporarily assigned to the position of MHT III. When an employee is temporarily assigned to a higher position, the employee receives compensation at the pay level of the higher position. Between May 16, 2000, and July 1, 2000, Marshall was assigned to be an MHT III, and received MHT III pay, on 25 of the 31 days that she worked. Marshall never bid on an MHT IV position.

  C. Counselings.

  Between October 27, 1999, and May 2, 2000, Marshall received four counselings. During Page 5 the ten years preceding August 1999, Marshall was never disciplined and only received one counseling for tardiness in October 1996. A counseling is a discussion with an employee regarding a negative incident in an effort to prevent the incident from happening again. Neither IDHS nor the Howe Center consider it to be a discipline of an employee. Counselings are not considered in the promotion process and have no impact on promotions.

  On October 27, 1999, Gordon counseled Marshall regarding an incident when a service recipient ran from a house unsupervised. The consequences imposed on an MHT whose service recipient leaves a house unsupervised depends on the specific facts of the incident. An MHT may: (1) receive nothing; (2) receive counseling; (3) be disciplined; or (4) be discharged. Next, on December 29, 1999, Marshall was counseled by Gordon for being 15 minutes late to work on December 13, 1999. The Howe Center's policy is to counsel employees for being 15 minutes late regardless of whether it is their first or second offense of this nature. On January 31, 2000, Marshall received a counseling for an incident that occurred on August 6, 1999, when a service recipient cut herself with a piece of plastic. Marshall was the acting MHT III residence manager at the time of the incident. The Office of Inspector General of IDHS conducted an investigation which took several months. Marshall was given a counseling after the investigation was ...


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