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FLANAGAN v. OFFICE OF CHIEF JUDGE OF CIR. CRT. OF COOK CTY

July 12, 2004.

KIMBERLY FLANAGAN, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF JUDGE OF THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: PAUL PLUNKETT, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Kimberly Flanagan has sued the Office of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County ("the County") for its alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. The County has filed a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56(c) motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

The Legal Standard

  To prevail on a summary judgment motion, "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, [must] show 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). At this stage, we do not weigh evidence or determine the truth of the matters asserted. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). We view all evidence and draw all inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Michas v. Health Cost Controls of Ill., Inc., 209 F.3d 687, 692 (7th Cir. 2000). Summary judgment is appropriate only when the record as a whole establishes that no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party. Id.

  Background*fn1

  Plaintiff, an African-American woman, was hired by the County to work as an adult probation officer in its Home Confinement Unit on February 16, 1999. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶¶ 3-4.) Adult probation officers assigned to that unit are required to carry firearms. (Id. ¶ 6; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 2.) To qualify to do so, however, they must first complete classroom, field and weapons training and pass psychological and drug tests. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶¶ 7-9.) After she was hired, plaintiff successfully completed all training and tests. (Id. ¶ 10.)

  On April 20, 2000, plaintiff was notified that she had to attend mandatory annual weapon requalification. (Id. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff attended the requalification program on May 9, 2000. (Id. ¶ 15.) Her requalification supervisors were Guy Wilson, Steve Glazier and Rich Martin. (Id. ¶ 16.) Plaintiff did not achieve a passing score of 70% on either of her two attempts to requalify. (Id. ¶ 18.)

  According to the annual weapons requalification protocol, an officer who fails her first two attempts to requalify must attend remedial weapons training. (Id. ¶ 21.) Plaintiff attended remedial training on June 19, 2000, where she received instruction from firearms instructor Frank Petrone. (Id. ¶ 24; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(A) Stmt. ¶ 24.) Usually, the third and fourth requalification attempts are made on the same day as the remedial training. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff says that, after some practice rounds, Petrone told her the next one would be her qualifying shoot. (Id. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff says she scored 80% on the next round, prompting Petrone to say that he couldn't believe a woman could shoot that well. (Id. ¶¶ 17-18.) When Petrone told her to shoot again, plaintiff says, she scored 90%. (Id. ¶ 19.) At that point, Petrone told her all of that day's rounds would be considered practice. (Id. ¶ 20.)

  On June 27, 2000, plaintiff made two more attempts to requalify under Petrone's supervision. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶ 26.) Plaintiff says she passed, having achieved scores of 80% on each attempt. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(A) Stmt. ¶ 27.) Petrone, however, recorded her scores as 68% and 48%, respectively, (Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶ 27.) Petrone told her that she could not keep the copy of her silhouettes showing her scores because they were County property, though there is no policy forbidding instructors from giving silhouettes to officers after they have been scored. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶¶ 25-26.)

  Plaintiff complained about the requalification session to Assistant Chief Cunningham. (Id. ¶ 28.) Cunningham talked to Petrone, who said that plaintiff had not requalified on June 27, and that the 80% and 90% rounds she shot on June 19 were just practice shots. (Id. ¶ 29.) Cunningham testified that he independently scored the silhouettes from plaintiff's June 27 rounds and concluded that she had failed. (Id. ¶ 33.) Petrone, however, said that he destroyed those silhouettes after grading them. (Id. ¶ 34.)

  The weapons requalification protocol gives officers five attempts to requalify. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶ 28.) Plaintiff took her fifth try on July 21, 2000, again under Petrone's supervision. (Id. ¶ 29.) Though Petrone recorded her score as 56%, plaintiff says she actually scored over 80% on this attempt. (Id. ¶ 30; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(A) Stmt. ¶ 30.) After this requalification session, plaintiff again spoke to Cunningham. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 42.) She told him that Petrone was incorrectly scoring her shoots and lying on her training record. (Id.) She told Cunningham that she wanted other instructors present when she was qualifying. (Id.) Plaintiff also submitted a grievance about the situation to her union on August 12, 2000. (Id. ¶ 45.)

  Cunningham obtained permission for plaintiff to take another remedial training program and to take two more requalification tests. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶ 32.) On August 16, 2000, plaintiff once again attended remedial training under the supervision of Fred Hill, Cindy Komar and Matt Sobieski. (Id. ¶ 35.) After what plaintiff viewed as an excessive number of practice rounds, she shot two qualifying rounds, scoring 58% and 48%, respectively. (Id. ¶ 36; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 49.) Plaintiff says the instructors made her shoot those qualifying rounds, despite the fact that the prolonged practice sessions had impaired her ability to shoot. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶¶ 51, 53.)

  In mid-September 2000, Cunningham met with plaintiff and her union representatives. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶ 38.) Cunningham explained that, as a result of her failure to requalify to carry a weapon, plaintiff would be involuntarily transferred to a non-weapon carrying unit, which would result in a decrease in plaintiff's pay, for one year. (Id. ¶¶ 39-40; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 58.) After the year was up, she could once again try to qualify to carry a gun. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶ 41.) Cunningham told her that she would be transferred to the Domestic Violence Unit because of her background in social work and psychology. (Id. ¶ 43.) Plaintiff was transferred October 10, 2000. (Id. ¶ 44.) In November 2001, plaintiff passed the weapons requalification test and requested a transfer to the Intensive Probation Services Unit ("Probation Unit"), a weapon-carrying unit. (Id. ¶ 53.) The County told her that there were no positions available in the Probation Unit at that time. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b) Stmt., Ex. 1, Flanagan Dep. at 193-94).

  In July 2002, plaintiff was notified that she was going to be transferred to the Probation Unit. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶ 61.) The notification said her transfer was contingent on "meeting all position qualifications criteria, includ[ing] but not limited to training, receiving a recommended training [sic] on the psychological battery and passing the urine screening." (Id., Ex. 18, 7/29/02 Letter to Flanagan from Vaughan.) When plaintiff asked why she had to have another psychological evaluation, she was told that it was the County's practice to require ...


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