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VALENTI v. CITY OF CHICAGO

February 20, 2004.

MARY VALENTI AND JOHN VALENTI Plaintiff's,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Mary and John Valenti, husband and wife, sued the City of Chicago, alleging several violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e, et seq. According to the Valentis, the Chicago police department discriminated against Mary Valenti because of her gender and retaliated against John Valenti for opposing the discriminatory work environment. Mary Valenti raises claims for disparate impact, disparate treatment, and hostile work environment.*fn1 The Defendant moves for summary judgment. For the reasons noted herein, the Defendant's motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

I. Factual Background Page 2

  John Valenti joined the Chicago Police Department in 1981, and Mary Valenti (for clarity and simplicity, the Court will refer to the two Plaintiff's by their first names for the remainder of this opinion) joined ten years later. After completing her training, Mary was assigned to the 25th District, where she spent her entire career as a police officer. Mary first worked as a patrol officer and occasionally worked at the 25th District desk and in the female lockup. In 1998, Mary was transferred to the 25th District's Community Policy Office (CPO) as a Domestic Violence Officer. Although the shift to the CPO did not result in an increase in salary or a promotion, Mary did enjoy more convenient hours, working 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

  When Mary began working in the CPO, Officers Evelyn Lampignano, John Behnke, John Apel, Gladys Morales, Sharon Loni, Lucy O'Brien, Joseph Graziano, and Jeff King were already assigned to the office. Sergeant Albert Oseguera supervised the 25th District's CPO from August 1998 until his retirement in January 2001. Sergeant Oseguera reported to Thomas Walton, the Commander of the 25th District.

  In September 1999, Oseguera called Mary into his office. In the office, Oseguera described what he called "every man's" sexual fantasy to Mary, providing a graphic description of a sexual relationship involving a man and two women. Mary said nothing and Oseguera continued with his inappropriate behavior, discussing his methods of meeting women while drinking with his friends. Mary continued to remain silent, and Oseguera continued the inappropriate discussion, Oseguera concluded his lewd remarks by informing Mary that if she were not married, "[they] would be dating." Mary did not respond to Oseguera's inappropriate comments and left his Page 3 office. After the September 1999 conversation, Mary attempted to avoid being in the same area with Oseguera by herself.

  Although the Chicago Police Department had a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment, Mary did not complain about Oseguera's behavior because she feared that he might retaliate against her. Mary also did not immediately tell her husband about Oseguera's improper comments. Instead, Mary told several coworkers about Oseguera's remarks. It is clear, however, that Mary was not the only officer in the CPO to believe that Oseguera's managerial skills left much to be desired. Other officers confirmed that they feared to criticize Oseguera's decisions for fear that he might retaliate. Moreover, other officers confirmed that Oseguera frequently made comments evidencing his belief that women should not be part of the police force and also made patently offensive comments about women. For example, Officer Loni testified that Oseguera frequently voiced his opinion that women should not be on the police force.*fn2 Officer Graziano testified that Oseguera made other incendiary and offensive comments about women: 1) that he stated the only thing women are "good for is fuck them and run them;" 2) that he stated women are "ruining the police Page 4 department;" 3) that he frequently referred to women using offensive, gender-specific derogatory names;*fn3 4) that he threatened to put women back on the street; and 5) that he called Mary a "[pejorative]*fn4 because she's trying to do all this stuff here" and that "she thinks she's going to outsmart me, you know. I'll just get rid of her."

  In November 1999, Mary had a vacation (referred to by the department as a furlough) scheduled from November 25 to December 6. Mary sought to extend her furlough by using personal and compensatory days so that her furlough would coincide with her husband's, which ran after December 6. Oseguera denied her request to extend the furlough because Officer Morales, the other CPO Domestic Violence Officer, had already requested a furlough for those same dates. While Mary was on furlough, she learned that Oseguera planned to reassign her from the CPO back to the watch, where she might not work regular nine-to-five, Monday-Friday hours. Mary called Oseguera at home to inquire whether she was being "dumped" from the CPO. Oseguera explained that he recommended to the District Commander that she return to the watch because he had heard that Mary was unhappy with a recent change in the CPO hours and that her furlough extension was denied. The conversation between Oseguera and Mary became heated as Mary explained that she did not wish to be Page 5 assigned to the watch but instead desired to remain in the CPO.*fn5 Despite Mary's objection to the transfer, Oseguera recommended that Commander Walter transfer her and he did so.*fn6 Mary was not the only officer who found herself transferred from the CPO during Oseguera's tenure there: Officers Curry, Loni, and Morales (all women) also were transferred

  Mary's furlough was scheduled to end on December 17, 1999. But instead of returning to work, Mary informed the Department she was going on the medical roll because of stress, as directed by her psychiatrist, Dr. Gustavo Hernandez. While Mary was on medical leave, she and John met with Deputy Chief Byrne in December 1999 to discuss why Mary had been reassigned to the watch. Mary failed to convince Byrne to return her to the CPO. In February 2000, Mary received her performance evaluation for the June 1999 to December 1999 period. In that evaluation, Oseguera lowered Mary's efficiency rating from 99 to 96.5, noting that Mary needed to work on Page 6 her relationships with her superiors. Mary never returned to the Department, and instead remained on medical leave. Chicago Police Department regulations require that Mary undergo a fitness-for-duty evaluation prior to returning to work.

  On April 10, 2000, Commander Walton and Lieutenant Roy spoke with John regarding allegations of sexual harassment. John told Commander Walton about Mary's allegations regarding Oseguera. Walton responded by instructing Roy to complete a confidential "complaint register," which is the means in which a complaint is filed against a police officer. The Internal Affairs Division (IAD) investigated Mary's allegation. Mary told the investigator about the September 1999 incident and the general remarks that Oseguera made about viagra and breast implants.

  Shortly after John informed Commander Walton of Mary's allegations of sexual harassment, six sergeants received transfers to IAD. Although John had applied for a transfer in 1997, been interviewed in 1998, and been recommended for a transfer in March 2000, he was not among the six sergeants who received transfers to the IAD.

  After receiving a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC, the Valentis filed this suit.

  II. Standard of Review

  Summary judgment is appropriate only when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party shows 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); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The party opposing summary judgment must go beyond the pleadings and "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., Page 7 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). The role of this Court is to determine "whether the evidence ...


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