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ROZKOWIAK v. VILLAGE OF ARLINGTON

March 24, 2004.

JASON ROZSKOWIAK, Plaintiff,
v.
VILLAGE OF ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, an Illinois Municipal corporation; VILLAGE OF ARLINGTON HEIGHTS BOARD OF FIRE AND POLICE COMMISSIONERS AND ITS INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS, both in their individual capacities and in their official capacities; RODNEY KATH, both in his individual capacity and in his capacity as Chief of Police of the Village of Arlington Heights Police Department; RONALD E. McCLASKEY, both in his individual capacity and in his capacity as Deputy Chief of Police of the Village of Arlington Heights Police Department; PETER D. KINSEY, both in his individual capacity and in his capacity as a Supervisor for the Village Arlington Heights Police Department; SGT. WILLIAM C. MARTIN, both in his individual capacity and in his capacity as a Supervisor for the Village of Arlington Heights Police Department; and SGT. WILLIAM NEWMAN, both in his individual capacity and in his capacity as a Supervisor for the Village of Arlington Heights Police Department, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT GETTLEMAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

In his first amended, seven-count complaint, plaintiff Jason Rozskowiak seeks damages against defendants arising from their alleged discrimination against him on the basis of national origin during and subsequent to his employment with the Village of Arlington Heights Police Department. Specifically, plaintiffs claims are as follows: hosfile work environment in violation Page 2 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended., 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq.. against defendants Village of Arlington Heights (the "Village"), Rodney Kath, Ronald McClaskey, Peter Kinsey, William Martin, and William Newman (Count I); termination on the basis of plaintiff's national origin in violation of Title VII against defendant Village of Arlington Heights Board of Fire and Police Commissioners and its individual members (the "Board of Commissioners"), the Village, Kath, McClaskey, Kinsey, Martin and Newman (Count II); damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and 1981(a) against all defendants (Count III); violation of the Labor-Management Relations Act (the "LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1), against the Village and Board of Commissioners (Count IV); intentional interference with an employment relationship under Illinois law against Kath, McClaskey, Kinsey, and Martin (Count V); intentional interference with a prospective business advantage under Illinois law against the Village and Kath (Count VI); and "defamation and false light invasion of privacy" under Illinois law against Kath (Count VII).

Defendants have moved for summary judgment on all counts pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. For the reasons stated herein, defendants' motion is granted in its entirety.

  FACTS*fn1

  Plaintiff was hired as a probationary officer by the Village on October 8, 1998. He was sent to the Illinois State Police Basic Recruits School and after graduation was placed in a fourteen-week field training program. Upon completion of the fourteen-week program, plaintiff was released for "solo patrol." Page 3

  On May 15, 1999, while on solo patrol, plaintiff arrested Harvey Olson for driving without a license on his person and speeding. Olson subsequently filed a citizen complaint*fn2 with the Village in which he stated that plaintiff used "Gestapo-like tactics" and used undue force during his encounter with Olson. Among other things, Olson complained that plaintiff instructed him that he could say only "yes, sir," and "no, sir" and was "abusive with the use of his power" over both Olson and Olson's wife.

  All citizen complaints are investigated, and Deputy Chief of Police Ronald McClaskey assigned Sergeants William Martin and Kenneth Galinski to investigate the Olson complaint. On May 28, 1999, Sergeants Martin and Galinski interviewed plaintiff regarding the Olson incident and subsequently filed a report summarizing their investigation.

  At his deposition, Martin testified that he concluded that plaintiff "overreacted to a traffic stop in which he was confused about a charge of driving without a driver's license [on the person] and the charge of driving with no valid driver's license." According to Martin, after pulling Olson over for speeding, plaintiff handcuffed Olson and brought him to the police station thinking that the proper charge was driving without a valid license, which is a custodial offense. Ultimately, however, plaintiff charged Olson with driving without a driver's license on his person, which Martin characterized as a "minor traffic violation."

  According to Martin, the speeding violation committed by Olson did not require a custodial arrest, unless Olson "[did not] have a driver's license or [could not] prove that [he had] a valid driver's license." According to Martin, plaintiff explained in his interview that he was Page 4 confused between the charges of driving without a driver's license on the person and driving without a valid driver's license. Martin testified that, although plaintiffs confusion was not uncommon, the recommended course of action in such a situation would be to call a supervisor, which plaintiff failed to do.

  In light of the Olson complaint and Martin's and Galinksi's investigation thereof, on June 15, 1999, Chief of Police Rodney Kath inquired of the Command Staff whether he should dismiss plaintiff immediately or invest more time in retraining plaintiff, and the staff recommended the latter. Sergeant William Newman, who was not a field training officer, was assigned to ride along with plaintiff for the purpose of providing additional training.

  According to Commander Peter Kinsey's deposition testimony, the Command Staff determined that the field training program had failed plaintiff and thus it would be inappropriate to put plaintiff back into field training. Before the meeting, Sergeant Newman, who had previously spoken with Commander Peter Kinsey regarding plaintiffs performance deficiencies, volunteered to do the additional training, and the Command Staff assigned the task to him (even though he was not a field training officer). In his affidavit, plaintiff asserts that Sergeant Newman was assigned to ride-along with him either to document reasons justifying plaintiffs termination or to force him to resign.

  Between June 17, 1999, and July 12, 1999, Sergeant Newman spent thirteen work days, totaling approximately 90 to 100 hours, directly observing plaintiff. Sergeant Newman completed typewritten daily reports of his observations which plaintiff signed. In his affidavit, plaintiff asserts that, based on a conversation in which Commander Kinsey informed him that Sergeant Newman would make a decision on whether or not plaintiff would continue to work for the Page 5 police department, plaintiff understood that "Sergeant Newman was chosen to ride along with [me] for the reason of getting me terminated." Newman was never asked for any recommendation with respect to discipline or termination of plaintiff, however.

  According to plaintiff, Sergeant Newman made derogatory remarks about plaintiffs Polish national origin, calling him a "stupid Polack" and a "dumb Polack," among other things, during the thirteen-day ride along. Sergeant Newman denies plaintiffs characterization of his remarks. Rather, at his deposition, Sergeant Newman testified:
Well, [plaintiff] would make a specific comment, he would say — he would raise his hands and put a smile on his face and he'd say, "What do you expect? I'm Polish," when confronted with a problem or some type of criticism, and he would do that several times a day. . . . And after several days of observing that, when he would start to put his hands up on several occasions, as he would start to say that, I would say, "Yes, I know, you're Polish. Let's move on," and I would move on in our conversation.
  Sergeant Galinski testified at his deposition that every time he would point out necessary corrections in plaintiffs police reports, plaintiff would say, "Come on, what do you expect from a Polack." Another officer, Sergeant Raymond Rohde, stated in an affidavit that when plaintiff would make a mistake and it was called to his attention, plaintiff would "cock his head to one side with a big smile and say `It's because I am a Polack.'" According to Rohde, he told plaintiff to stop making comments about his Polish identity, which were an insult to the Polish nationality and made him look foolish. Plaintiff disputes Rohde's characterization of their conversation, and denies making derogatory comments about himself as an excuse for his mistakes.

  At one point in his deposition, plaintiff testified that he did not recall anyone else in the police department ever making any derogatory remarks about his Polish ancestry; at later point, however, he testified that Sergeant Martin called him a "stupid Polack" during his investigation Page 6 of the Olson incident and that Commander Kinsey made comments to the effect of "You're not cut out [to be a police officer] because you are Polish."

  The parties also dispute whether plaintiff was told that he needed higher quotas for tickets and driving under the influence arrests. Although plaintiff testified at his deposition that no one told him that he had to have higher quotas, he did state that he was expected to have higher statistics than other probationary officers, and that he believed he had to have higher quotas because of his Polish extraction. Plaintiff did not produce evidence regarding the statistics for other probationary officers relating to their arrests or productivity, however.

  At his deposition, plaintiff testified that he could not recall any other ethnic slurs directed at him after he completed his tour with Sergeant Newman. In his affidavit, however, plaintiff stated that, after he completed his tour, "on almost a daily basis, Sergeant Newman would call me in from patrol to tell me personally that the written evaluations he made of me during my training were handed ...


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