The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARK FILIP, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Mohammed Saket ("Plaintiff' or "Saket") filed this suit
against his former employer, defendant American Airlines ("Defendant" or
"American"), alleging that American discriminated against him because of
his national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. This case is before the Court on
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Motion"). (D.E. 34.) For the
reasons set forth below, the Motion is, save for one limited caveat.,
Mr. Saket is a naturalized United States citizen who was born and grew
up in Iran.*fn1 (Pl.'s St. ¶ 1.) In June of 1997, American hired Mr.
Saket (Def.'s St. ¶ 24) as a plant maintenance man. (Id ¶ 14.) In this
position, his duties ranged from tasks such as "minor basic plumbing
repair such as restrooms, leaks, etc." to assisting "in clean-up, storage[,] and
removal of hazardous waste." (Id ¶ 15.) His crew chiefs, including crew
chief Gary Weiland (Pl.'s St. ¶ 20), gave him daily work assignments.
(Id ¶ 21.) Mr. Saket's crew chiefs reported to supervisors known as
"Customer Service Managers." (Id ¶ 21.) Mr. Saket worked under three
different Customer Service Managers, one of whom was Robert Wieczorek.
(Def.'s St. ¶ 61.) Mr. Wieczorek, in turn, reported to Lauri Bourgeois.
(Id.) At the time of Mr. Saket's discharge, Ms. Bourgeois, an
African-American, was the highest ranking operational manager of the
Facilities Maintenance Department at American's O'Hare Airport
Mr. Saket and American paint very different pictures of Mr. Saket's
work environment. According to Mr. Saket, in the spring of 1998, he
complained to his crew chief Gary Weiland that he felt that a majority of
the work that Mr. Weiland assigned to him consisted of bathroom,
painting, and outdoor duties, and that these duties were not assigned as
frequently to non-Iranian plant maintenance men. (Saket Aff. ¶ 21.) Mr.
Saket further contends that Mr. Weiland stated that "[t]he only work I
have for terrorist people like you is painting and bathroom repair. If
you don't like it, leave." (Id) Mr. Saket complained about Mr. Weiland's
response to a Customer Service Manager on a Friday. (Id ¶ 22). On the
following Monday, Mr. Weiland told Mr. Saket that "no one could change
[his] view of you people who held us hostage for 400 days"; Mr. Weiland
also pointedly and while cursing advised Mr. Saket that he should not be
a "squealer." (Id ¶ 25.) Mr. Saket submitted an affidavit stating that
from 1997 until 2000, Mr. Weiland referred to him on a regular basis as a
"camel jockey," "dot head," "rag head," "terrorist," and "hostage taker,"
as well as other more vulgar, derogatory terms. (Id ¶ 29.) American
denies that these incidents occurred and contends that Mr. Saket has
recently fabricated them so as to attempt to forestall summary judgment.
The parties also disagree over a workplace incident regarding what the
parties have referred to as the "Hangar Two Office." (Pl.'s St. ¶ 61.)
Although Mr. Saket was authorized to use this office in the course of his
duties (id), one of Mr. Saket's coworkers, Mr. Jensen, entered the Hangar
Two Office and screamed at him, "What the [expletive] are you doing in my
office, [sic] get your [expletive] terrorist [expletive] out of my
office." (Saket Aff. ¶ 49.) During the course of this argument, Mr.
Jensen also purportedly said to Mr. Saket, among other things, "Don't you
to talk to me, you [expletive] Arab. Get the [expletive] out of here. If
you don't leave here within a minute, I am going to give you a permanent
dot." (Id. ¶ 50.) Mr. Saket went to Customer Service Manager Bob
Wieczorek shortly after this incident to complain about Mr. Jensen's
remarks and threats. (Id ¶ 52.) Mr. Wieczorek arranged a meeting between
Mr. Saket; Lou Sabbia, the union steward; Mr. Jensen; and Mr. Wieczorek.
(Id. ¶ 53.) After the meeting, Mr. Wieczorek told Mr. Saket that he
should "forget everything," that Mr. Jensen was experiencing "a hard time
at home," and that Mr. Jensen "didn't mean anything." (Id) According to
Mr. Saket, Mr. Wieczorek knew that Mr. Jensen had called Mr. Saket "Mr.
Ayatollah," "Mr. Terrorist," "dot head," and "Mr. Highjacker" prior to
this incident. (Saket Aff. ¶ 54.) American denies that the Jensen-Saket
Hanger Two incident occurred at all (Def.'s Resp. ¶¶ 62-65), and American
stated that it could not verify at the time of its LR 56.1 Response
whether the alleged subsequent meeting took place. (Id ¶ 67.)
In September of 1999, Mr. Saket became licensed to perform annual fire
extinguisher inspections. (Def.'s St. ¶ 27.) Shortly thereafter, Mr.
Saket bid into the fire extinguisher serviceman position. (Id) In this
role, Mr. Saket was responsible for performing both monthly and annual inspections of several hundred fire extinguishers located
throughout American's facilities at O'Hare Airport. (Id) The normal
procedure for monthly inspections was for the serviceperson to document
the inspection of a particular fire extinguisher on a preventative
maintenance sheet ("PM Sheet") and subsequently to update a log book to
reflect that the inspection had been completed. (Pl's Resp. ¶ 20.) After
performing the monthly inspection, the serviceperson was also expected to
punch a hole in a metal tag affixed to the extinguisher next to the
corresponding month of inspection. (Def.'s St. ¶ 21.) Mr. Weiland
supervised Mr. Saket's work as a fire extinguisher serviceperson. (Pl.'s
St. ¶ 120.)
In January or February of 2000, American started preparing for an
upcoming FAA audit and began planning an internal audit to ensure that
testing and inspections of all fire extinguishers had been properly
completed. (Def.'s St. ¶ 41.) Approximately three to four months
earlier, however, Mr. Saket had received approval to take a vacation and
return to Iran to get married. (Pl's St. ¶ 143.) While the record is
unclear as to what American expected of Mr. Saket (or in what time frame)
it is undisputed that he was feeling pressured to get all of his audit"
related work done before he left for vacation. (Def.'s St. ¶ 42.)*fn2
Mr. Saket left for vacation on approximately March 17, 2000, and he
returned on April 12, 2000. (Pl.'s St. ¶ 143.)
According to American, while Mr. Saket was on vacation, American
personnel preparing for the FAA audit discovered discrepancies between
the log book and Mr. Saket's PM Sheets. (Wieczorek Decl. ¶ 18.)
American subsequently set up a Board of Inquiry (that consisted of Mr. Wieczorek as Chairman and three other American employees) to conduct an
investigation into Mr. Saket's potential falsification of fire
extinguisher records. (Def.'s St. 53.) Mr. Wieczorek directed this
investigation. (Pl.'s St. ¶ 109.) As a part of the investigation,
American conducted several "fact-finding" conferences during which
American interviewed several of Mr. Saket's coworkers. (Def.'s St. ¶
American determined that Mr. Saket had placed check marks in the fire
extinguisher log book for various fire extinguishers without performing
the actual inspections in the field. (Wieczorek Decl. ¶ 231) American
arrived at this conclusion after a review of the log book and Mr. Saket's
PM Sheets for those same extinguishers did not show a corresponding check
mark entry. (Id.) American determined that Mr. Saket falsified the log
book in an attempt to make it look like he was up to date on his
inspections prior to leaving for his vacation. (Id.) American also
determined that Mr. Saket falsified the punches on a metal tag located on
one of the fire extinguishers. Mr. Wieczorek interviewed Mr. Weiland and
relied upon Mr. Weiland's input in reaching this conclusion. (Pl.'s St.
¶ 117.) Mr. Saket denies falsifying the extinguisher records or the metal
The investigation concluded on April 19, 2000. (Def.'s St. ¶ 64.) Mr.
Wieczorek presented his findings, including statements from various
witnesses, to Ms. Bourgeois. (Id.) On April 20, 2000, at Ms. Bourgeois's
direction, Mr. Wieczorek prepared a Final Advisory, terminating Mr. Saket
from American for violating American Airline Rule 16 (Def.'s St. ¶ 74),
which prohibits "[m]isrepresentation of facts or falsification of
records." (Id ¶ 8.) Ms. Bourgeois considered the results of Mr.
Wieczorek's investigation into Mr. Saket's alleged falsification of
records, together with other input from Mr. Wieczorek, in deciding to
terminate Mr. Saket. (Pl.'s St. ¶ 133.) Mr. Saket admitted that he has no
reason to believe that Ms. Bourgeois's decision to terminate him was
motivated by any discrimination and that she had not made any comments to
him that were discriminatory, insulting, or harassing in any way. (Def.'s
Mr. Saket filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on or about May 19, 2000, approximately
one month after he was terminated, alleging that American discriminated
against him because of his national origin. (Id. ¶ 5.) Mr. Saket filed
this suit on May 14, 2002.
On April 24, 2003, during discovery in this litigation, Magistrate
Judge Nan R. Nolan ordered American to provide plaintiff with the
original documents and metal tag allegedly falsified by Mr. Saket. (Pl.'s
St. ¶ 107.) On June 11, 2003, American admitted that it did not have any
original records, documents, or tags that Mr. Saket allegedly falsified.
(Id. ¶ 108) American subsequently indicated that these records have been
"misplaced." (Def.'s Resp. ¶ 108.) At their depositions, neither Mr.
Wieczorek, who directed the investigation that led to American's claim
that Mr. Saket falsified records, nor Ms. Bourgeois could identify in the
discovery documents that American produced the specific documents or
records that Mr. Saket ...