The opinion of the court was delivered by: MILTON SHADUR, Senior District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
After she was terminated from her job as the Chicago Transit
Authority ("CTA") Manager of Customer Relations, Sharon
Richardson ("Richardson") sued CTA, alleging that it had
discriminated against her on account of her race and sex in
violation of both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ("Title VII,"
42 U.S.C. § 2000e) and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("Section 1981"). CTA
moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R. Civ. P. ("Rule")
56, and both parties have complied with this District Court's LR
Even with the record viewed in her favor as Rule 56 requires,
Richardson has not come forward with enough facts for a reasonable jury to conclude that she ought to prevail on either
ground of her Title VII claim or on her Section 1981 claim. Hence
CTA's Rule 56 motion is granted, and this action is dismissed.
Every Rule 56 movant bears the burden of establishing the
absence of any genuine issue of material fact (Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, (477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986)). For that purpose courts
consider the evidentiary record in the light most favorable to
nonmovants and draw all reasonable inferences in their favor
(Lesch v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 282 F.3d 467, 471 (7th Cir.
2002)). But to avoid summary judgment a nonmovant "must produce
more than a scintilla of evidence to support his position" that a
genuine issue of material fact exists (Pugh v. City of Attica,
259 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir. 2001)) and "must set forth specific
facts that demonstrate a genuine issue of triable fact" (id.).
Ultimately summary judgment is warranted only if a reasonable
jury could not return a verdict for the nonmovant (Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). What follows is
therefore a summary of the facts viewed in the light most
favorable to nonmovant Richardson but within the limitations
created by the extent of her compliance (or noncompliance) with
the strictures of LR 56.1. Facts
Richardson was hired in October 1997 as CTA's Manager of
Customer Relations (C. St. ¶ 13). Her chief responsibility was to
manage the day-to-day operations of CTA's call center, including
supervising its staff (R. St. ¶ 2; R. Ex. A).
In May 2000 Richardson took over as Acting General Manager of
Customer Relations (R. St. ¶ 13), reporting directly to CTA's
Vice President of Transit Operations Richard Winston ("Winston")
(C. St. ¶ 15). Richardson held that job for a little over a year
until CTA hired Tamara McCollum ("McCollum") in August 2001 as
the permanent General Manager (C. St. ¶ 18). At that point
Richardson returned to her previous post as Manager of Customer
Relations (C. St. ¶ 20).
As McCollum began her tenure with CTA, Richardson helped to
transition her new supervisor into the position she herself had
been filling (R. St. ¶ 45). But despite their initially cordial
interaction, over the course of the next several months McCollum
and Richardson developed a volatile working relationship that
vacillated from harmony to acrimony.
For example, Richardson openly told McCollum that she believed
McCollum was micromanaging the department and that her management
style was ineffective (C. St. ¶¶ 68-70). But at other times
Richardson also said that she appreciated McCollum's openness and
honesty and that she enjoyed working with McCollum because of her love for customer service (C. St. ¶ 75).
McCollum was more consistent in the messages she sent to
Richardson. Indeed Richardson herself thought that she could
never please McCollum (C. St. ¶ 66; R. Dep. 118):
I didn't receive anything from her but negativity.
Everything was always negative. Something was always
wrong. Something didn't get done to her expectations.
In one instance McCollum told Richardson she was concerned that
Richardson managed more by emotion than by reasoned judgment (C.
St. ¶ 51). On another occasion she informed Richardson that she
was not meeting the deadlines that were required of her (C. St. ¶
49). Yet when McCollum was out of the office she entrusted
Richardson with handling any matters that might crop up in her
absence (R. St. ¶¶ 50-51).
Beginning in 1999 CTA implemented a new model for employee
evaluations (R. St. ¶ 4). That system used a five-point scale to
assess each employee's performance annually (R. Ex. C):
5=Outstanding Individual is a truly exceptional
performance [sic], substantially
exceeding requirements in all major
4=Exceeds Expectations Individual consistently meets
performance standards and exceeds
requirements in many aspects of the job.
3=Meets Expectations Individual has performed a complete and
fully satisfactory job and has met major
responsibilities and/or goals in a
2=Needs Improvement Individual meets minimal performance
standards, but has room for improvements. Also applies to new
employees who may need additional
training or experience.
1=Unsatisfactory Individual exhibits unsatisfactory
performance. Substantial improvement is
required to continue in position.
Richardson received three evaluations under the new system.
Executive Vice President Jack Hartman ("Hartman") rated her work
as 2.5 for 1999, and Winston assessed her work as 2.3 for 2000
(C. St. ¶¶ 31, 35). Richardson's final performance evaluation was
completed by McCollum, who rated Richardson's work as 1.72 for
the period from August to December 2001 (R. Resp. ¶ 93; R. Ex. F;
C.R. Mem. 2 n. 2)
On March 8, 2002 based on a recommendation from McCollum
Richardson was suspended from active duty and was immediately
escorted off the premises (C. St. ¶ 100; C. Resp. ¶ 75). When
Richardson returned the following week she received a "Notice of
Discharge" (signed by Winston) that cited several reasons for
that termination decision: Richardson's failure to obey rules;
her abuse of company time and poor work performance; and her
general failure to use her best judgment when handling situations
that had arisen throughout the course of her employment (C. St.
¶¶ 12, 124).
After she was thus fired, Richardson filed a charge with EEOC,
claiming that her suspension and termination constituted
race-based and sex-based discrimination. After EEOC then issued a right to ...