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WILLIAMS v. CITY OF CHICAGO

July 13, 2004.

KAREN WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RUBEN CASTILLO, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This lawsuit raises important issues concerning the ill-advised viewing of internet pornography within the workplace. Unfortunately, the workplace is the Chicago Police Department. As a result of this pornography and other conduct, Plaintiff Karen Williams sued Defendant City of Chicago (the "City") under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-1-e-17, for sexual harassment and retaliation. The City now requests that this Court grant summary judgment in its favor because no rational trier of fact could find that it harassed or retaliated against Williams. Both parties have also filed motions to strike various submissions. For the reasons provided below, Williams' motion to strike is denied, (R. 44-1), the City's motion to strike is partially denied and partially granted, (R. 50-1), and the City's motion for summary judgment is partially denied and partially granted, (R. 27-1).

RELEVANT FACTS*fn1

  The Chicago Police Department hired Williams as a police officer in December 1986, She was promoted, two years later, to the position of Gang Crime Specialist and started working in Homan Square on Chicago's west side. She was subsequently transferred to Area 2 on Chicago's south side. Williams claims that the City, through its agents, sexually harassed her and then retaliated against her because she complained about the sexual harassment.

  A. Homan Square

  Williams worked the second watch, which is the mid-day shift, at Homan Square. She repeatedly saw Police Officer Richard Heinosch view internet pornography at work.*fn2 (R. 39, Pl.'s Facts ¶¶ 13-14, 16-17, 20.) Officer Heinosch also printed photographs of female arrestees using Williams' computer log-in and, while showing her one of these photographs, asked her if she thought the woman in the photograph "took it up the ass."*fn3 (Id. ¶¶ 11-15.) Williams complained about Officer Heinosch's conduct to Sergeant Steven Caluris in September 1999.*fn4 (Id. ¶ 18.) She also gave him a memo in November 1999 complaining about, among other things, Heinosch's conduct.*fn5 (Id. ¶ 28.) In this memo, she stated that she "can no longer continue to be subjected to what is clearly hostile and discriminatory. . . ." (Id., Ex. 2, Williams Memo.)

  As a result of these complaints, Williams claims that Sergeant Caluris retaliated against her in the following ways. First, he threatened to initiate several Summary Punishment Action Requests, known as SPARs, against her.*fn6 (Id. ¶¶ 22, 25, 27.) Second, he told her she was not entitled to a lunch break.*fn7 (Id. ¶ 23.) Third, he threatened to place her on the third watch, which is the night shift.*fn8 (Id. ¶ 24.) Finally, he lowered her efficiency rating when he reviewed her work performance. (R. 28, Def.'s Facts ¶ 43.) Williams also claims that Lieutenant John Risley retaliated against her by transferring her to Team 8 of Unit 156.*fn9 (R. 39, Pl.'s Facts ¶ 30.) B. Area 2

  In the summer of 2000, Williams was transferred out of Homan Square to the second watch of Unit 620 in Area 2.*fn10 (R. 28, Def.'s Facts ¶¶ 59, 62.) As she did at Homan Square, Williams repeatedly saw pornography — consisting of pictures of a vagina, naked women, naked women claiming to be police officers, naked women urinating, and naked sexually-posed pre-pubescent children — on general-use computers at Area 2.*fn11 (R. 39, Pl.'s Facts ¶¶ 41-45, 71.) Once, when she activated a computer and found a vagina displayed on the screen, unidentified male officers laughed at her. (Id. ¶ 41.)

  In June 2001, Williams complained about her exposure to pornography to Sergeant Yul Cousins, one of her supervisors, after she found links to child pornography websites on an Area 2 computer. (R. 28, Def.'s Facts ¶ 67.) Sergeant Cousins told her the next day that he removed the links, and the associated child pornography, from the computer. (Id. ¶ 69.) On March 15, 2002, Williams telephoned Sergeant Wilkins, another supervisor, from home and complained again about, among other things, pornography at work. (Id. ¶ 73.) Sergeant Wilkins reported her complaint and forwarded it to the Internal Affairs Department, which began investigating this complaint on March 19, 2002.*fn12 (Id. ¶¶ 74, 77.)

  Williams claims that she suffered retaliation because of these complaints and the complaints she made at Homan Square. First, Area 2 Commander Walter Green, transferred her to the third watch in January 2001.*fn13 (R. 40, Pl.'s App., Green Dep. at 66.) Second, Williams' supervising sergeants told her that Commander Green ordered them not to give her any work from January 1, 2001 through at least June 1, 2001.*fn14 (R. 39, Pl.'s Facts ¶ 45.) Third, she was assigned seven different partners from January 1, 2001 through March 2002. (Id. ¶¶ 56-63). Finally, on April 28, 2002, an independent clinical psychologist found her unfit for duty.*fn15 (R. 28, Def.'s Facts ¶ 113.)

  LEGAL STANDARDS

  Summary judgment is appropriate when the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, 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). When determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, this Court will evaluate all admissible evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Treadway, 362 F.3d at 975. Yet the non-moving party must produce evidence sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact for the "elements of her claim on which she bears the burden of proof at trial." Miller v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co., 203 F.3d 997, 1003 (7th Cir. 2000). In other words, this Court will only grant summary judgment when a trial is unnecessary because no rational trier of fact could rule in favor of the non-moving party. Buie, 366 F.3d at 502.

  ANALYSIS

  The City has presented three arguments in its motion for summary judgment: (1) all of the Homan Square conduct is barred by the relevant statute of limitations; (2) Williams' hostile work environment claim lacks merit because: (a) none of the conduct was directed at her because of her sex and (b) there is no basis for holding the City liable; and (3) Williams' retaliation claim lacks merit because: (a) Williams did not suffer an adverse employment action and (b) Williams failed to identify a ...


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