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WILLIAMS v. ATRIUM VILLAGE

March 15, 2004.

MELVIN WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
ATRIUM VILLAGE, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendant Atrium Village's ("Atrium") motion for summary judgment. For the reasons below, we grant summary judgment on all counts.

BACKGROUND

  Atrium is a residential apartment complex located in Chicago, Illinois, Atrium hired Melvin Williams ("Williams") on July 24, 2000 as an Assistant Head Janitor. As a new employee, Williams' employment was probationary for 90 days. In late September of 2000, Atrium's Head Janitor resigned. While searching for a Page 2 Head Janitor, Defendant temporarily assigned Williams as Acting Head Janitor, from October 2, 2000 through October 20, 2000.

  Williams indicated to Nancy Spira ("Spira"), the General Manager of Atrium, that he was interested in the permanent Head Janitor position. Williams underwent a brief informal interview with Spira, and she later reviewed his initial job application and resume. However, at the conclusion of the hiring process, Spira chose Andy Ibell ("Ibell") for the Head Janitor position. Spira claims that she chose Ibell because of his experience as a Head Janitor and their prior relationship. Spira believed Ibell had already proven his capabilities working at Atrium as an Assistant Head Janitor. Ibell left that position in October 1999 to pursue a position as a Head Janitor at another residential apartment complex. Spira and Ibell also had a working relationship at a different property. On October 16, 2000, Spira explained to Williams that she gave Ibell the position as Head Janitor. Just a week later, on October 23, 2000, Ibell officially began working as Head Janitor and Williams resumed his position as Assistant Head Janitor.

  As a member of the janitorial and maintenance staff at Atrium Village, the terms and conditions of Williams' employment are governed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") between Atrium and the Service Employees International Union, Local No. 1. The CBA outlines Williams' duties, which Page 3 included working weekends and assisting the Head Janitor in performing cleaning work. The CBA explicitly defines the Assistant Head Janitor's Duties as assisting the "Head Janitor in the performance of his duties and responsibilities." These duties and responsibilities are likewise set forth in the CBA and include "work involved in the maintenance, cleaning, servicing, heating, and operation of the premises," Additionally, Atrium required Williams' participation in the on-call employee system, which involved immediate response to tenant problems occurring after hours and over the weekend.

  From July 24, 2000 through February 17, 2001 Williams' weekly work schedule consistently began on Monday and concluded on Friday. Pursuant to the CBA, Atrium maintained the right to schedule employees to meet its needs. From February 2001 through January 2002, Atrium temporarily altered Williams' work schedule. Atrium claims it altered his schedule in order to provide weekday technical training for Lemont Brown. Williams' compensation rate, job title, and responsibilities remained the same during the temporary schedule change. The new schedule required Williams to work weekends, reporting for work on Friday and finishing on Tuesday. On Fridays, Mondays, and Tuesdays, Atrium expected Williams to perform his normal weekday duties by completing tenant work orders. Over the weekend, Williams' duties included cleaning, maintenance work and Page 4 responding to tenant emergency requests. Atrium additionally required Williams to complete Daily Report Sheets and Emergency Maintenance Logs explaining his weekend work. Atrium required these reports because the management office is closed over the weekend making it impossible to fill out work orders. To encourage employees to complete the Daily Report Sheets, Atrium distributed a memorandum reminding all employees to complete these sheets or face discipline. Williams often failed to complete the Daily Report Sheets, receiving a written warning on October 5, 2001. From December 2000 to August 2002, Atrium disciplined Williams on numerous occasions. Finally, on August 14, 2002, Atrium terminated Williams when he refused a security guard's request to return to the apartment complex and let a locked out tenant into his apartment and then failed to arrive in the morning as he stated he would to let in the tenant.

  On August 31, 2001, Williams filed a Charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). However, the EEOC dismissed his claim on December 18, 2001. Williams then filed a civil compliant in the Northern District of Illinois on March 14, 2002 claiming that Atrium failed to promote him because of his race, demoted him because of his race, and disciplined him on certain occasions in retaliation for the filing of his EEOC charge in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e et seq. Count I Page 5 seeks relief for violation of Title VII based upon the failure to promote Williams. Count II seeks relief for violation of Title VII based upon his alleged demotion. Count III seeks relief for violation of Title VII resulting from alleged acts of retaliation after Williams filed his EEOC charge.

  LEGAL STANDARD

  Summary judgment is appropriate when the record reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In seeking a grant of summary judgment the moving party must identify "those portions of `the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). This initial burden may be satisfied by presenting specific evidence on a particular issue or by pointing out "an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. Once the movant has met this burden, the non-moving party cannot simply rest on the allegations in the pleadings, but, "by affidavits or as otherwise provided for in [Rule 56], must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e), A "genuine issue" in the context of a motion for Page 6 summary judgment is not simply a "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists when "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, 248 (1986); Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000). The court must consider the record as a whole, in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences that favor the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000).

  DISCUSSION

 I. Local Rule 56.1

  In the Northern District of Illinois, parties must comply with Local Rule 56.1. Compliance requires "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue and that entitle the moving party to a judgment as a matter of law." Local Rule 56.1(a)(3). The statement of material facts is comprised of "short numbered paragraphs, including within each paragraph specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon to support the facts set forth in that paragraph." Local Rule 56.1(a). The non-movant Page 7 is correspondingly obligated to submit, "a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon. . . ." Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(A). The non-moving party is also required to file a material statement of additional facts and the moving party is required to respond in a likewise fashion. Local Rule 56.1(a) & (b)(3)(B). The court will deem any fact admitted in the opponent's statement of facts unless the fact is properly denied by the opposing party. Local Rule 56.1(a) & (b)(3)(B).

  The courts are not "obliged in our adversary system to scour the record looking for factual disputes and may adopt local rules reasonably designed to streamline the resolution of summary judgment motions." Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922 (7th Cir. 1994). A denial is improper if the denial is not accompanied by specific references to admissible evidence or at least evidence that represents admissible evidence. Dent v. Bestfoods, 2003 WL 22025008, at *1 n.1 (N.D. Ill. 2003); Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 585 (N.D. Ill. 2000). Pursuant to Rule 56.1 any facts included in a party's statement of facts that are not properly denied by the opposing party are deemed to be admitted. Local Rule 56.1; Dent, 2003 WL 22025008, at *1 n.1. See ...


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