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HELZING v. LOYOLA UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

August 13, 2004.

WILLIAM HELZING, Plaintiff,
v.
LOYOLA UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff William Helzing filed a four count complaint against Loyola University of Chicago ("Loyola"), alleging that Loyola violated his civil rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. Only Counts I and II remain.*fn1 In Count I, Plaintiff alleges that Loyola discriminated against him on the basis of his gender. In Count II, Plaintiff alleges that Loyola retaliated against him after he complained of the alleged discrimination. For the reasons stated herein, summary judgment is granted in favor of Loyola on both remaining counts.

LEGAL STANDARDS

  Summary judgment is proper 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). A genuine issue of triable fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Pugh v. City of Attica, 259 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2510 (1986)). "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S. Ct. at 2510. The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2552 (1986). A party will successfully oppose summary judgment only if it presents "definite, competent evidence to rebut the motion." Equal Employment Opportunity Comm'n v. Roebuck & Co., 233 F.3d 432, 437 (7th Cir. 2000). The Court "considers the evidentiary record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and draws all reasonable inferences in his favor." Lesch v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 282 F.3d 467, 471 (7th Cir. 2002).

  BACKGROUND

  I. Loyola's Information Services Department

  Loyola hired Plaintiff in 1988 as a Systems Analyst and promoted Plaintiff to Director of Student Information Services ("SIS") in 1996. (R. 39-1, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Add'l Facts ¶¶ 1-2.) At that time, Plaintiff reported to Al Baldwin, Vice President of Loyola's Information Technology division. (Id. ¶ 6.) In March 2001, Loyola replaced Baldwin with Ellen Watson. (Id. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff thereafter reported directly to Watson. (Id. ¶ 17.)

  John Wiet served as Director of the University Business Systems ("UBS") department until Loyola eliminated his position in June 2000 and terminated him. (Id. ¶¶ 9-10.) In September 2000, Loyola gave Donna Dorl-Adams the UBS Director position that Wiet formerly held. (Id. ¶ 12.) Loyola did not internally post the UBS Director position as vacant before hiring Dorl-Adams. (Id. ¶ 16.)

  In 2001, Loyola commissioned the consulting firm Arthur Andersen to study Loyola's departmental structure and to recommend improvements. (Id. ¶ 19.) Andersen suggested that Loyola reorganize its Information Services Division. (R. 29-3, Def's Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 19.) Based in part on Andersen's reorganization study, Loyola combined the SIS and UBS departments into a single department called the University Business Application Systems ("UBAS") department. (R. 39-1, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Add'l Facts ¶ 20.) Accordingly, Loyola combined Plaintiff's position as SIS Director and Dorl-Adams's position as UBS Director into a single, new position: UBAS Director. (Id.)

  II. The Interview Process

  Loyola invited all of the Directors, including Plaintiff, to apply for the newly-created UBAS Director position. (Id. ¶ 22.) Only Plaintiff and Dorl-Adams applied. (Id.) Watson was in charge of filling that position. (Id.)

  On April 5, 2001, Plaintiff sent an email to Watson expressing his belief that Dorl-Adams was unqualified to serve as UBAS Director. (Id. ¶ 26.) Plaintiff further stated in the email that "[s]ome, including me, question how Donna [Dorl-Adams] was promoted into her current position, a position that was never posted internally and that was generally understood would not be re-authorized when vacated by John Wiet." (R. 42-3, Pl.'s Exs., Helzing Dep. Ex. A.) Plaintiff did not complain explicitly about gender discrimination in the email and he did not use the word "discrimination." (Id.)

  On April 10, 2001, Plaintiff met with Watson to discuss the concerns that he expressed in his April 5, 2001 email. (R. 39-1, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Add'l Facts ¶ 27.) He reiterated his belief that he was qualified to serve as UBAS Director and that Dorl-Adams was not. (Id. ¶ 27.) Plaintiff told Watson that he was concerned that he was competing against Dorl-Adams because Loyola had previously selected Dorl-Adams for a position that, in his opinion, she was not qualified to fill. (Id.) He did not use the word "discrimination" in this conversation. (Id.) During that meeting Watson expressed her concern about Plaintiff's qualifications, and informed Plaintiff that she had heard that Plaintiff had relationship problems with clients on campus. (Id. ¶ 35.)

  Later that day, Plaintiff sent an email to Watson identifying 29 clients from different groups within Loyola who would attest to Plaintiff's relationship and communications skills. (Id. ¶ 42.) Several other Loyola employees sent Watson emails in which they praised Plaintiff's interpersonal and communication skills. (Id. ¶ 45.) Watson never contacted any of Plaintiff's 29 references, and she deleted the emails that Loyola employees sent on Plaintiff's behalf. (Id. ¶¶ 46, 49.) Watson testified that she did not consider any of this additional, unsolicited information in her final hiring decision because she wanted the selection process to be fair. (Id. ¶¶ 48-49.) Watson did not review either candidate's personnel files before the interviews because, she testified, she wanted to look to the future rather than focus on the past. (Id. ¶¶ 47, 50.)

  Watson instructed Plaintiff and Dorl-Adams to submit "Vision Statements" before their interviews. (R. 29-3, Def.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 28.) Watson considered the candidates' "Vision Statements" when she made her final hiring decision. (Id. ¶ 45.)

  Watson invited all members of the Faculty Advisory Committee for Information Technology to participate in the interviewing process. (Id. ¶ 31.) Only two faculty members volunteered to help Watson interview: Dr. Ed Warro (a male), Loyola's Dean of Libraries, and Dr. Mary Boyd (a female), chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee for Information Technology and a member of the Information Technology University Policy Committee. (Id. ¶ 29.) Dr. Warro did not participate in the interviews because issues had arisen in the library at the last minute that required his immediate attention. (Id. ¶ 30.)

  On May 16, 2001, Watson and Dr. Boyd interviewed Plaintiff and Dorl-Adams. (Id. ¶ 29.) Watson and Dr. Boyd asked Plaintiff and Dorl-Adams the same five questions during their respective interviews. (Id. ¶ 30.) Both interviews lasted the same amount of time (approximately one hour), and both candidates were given approximately the same amount of time in which to address Watson and Dr. Boyd. (Id.)

  III. Loyola Hires Dorl-Adams

  After interviewing Dorl-Adams and Plaintiff, Watson and Dr. Boyd selected Dorl-Adams for the UBAS Director position. (R. 39-1, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Add'l Facts ¶ 52.) Watson testified that she and Dr. Boyd selected Dorl-Adams because Dorl-Adams's interview responses were very forward and very positive, she understood the relationship between UBAS and the other groups, she generally presented a clearer view than Plaintiff of where the organization needed to be going, and her performance at the interview was better than Plaintiff's. (R. 29-3, Def.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 33-34.) Watson further testified that she and Dr. Boyd did not select Plaintiff because Plaintiff focused narrowly on Student Information Services rather than addressing the broad spectrum of enterprise systems, he focused on the past rather than being future-oriented, and he was very defensive in responding to questions. (Id. ¶ 35.)

  On May 21, 2001, Watson informed Plaintiff that she and Dr. Boyd did not select him for the UBAS Director position and told him the reasons why. (Id. ¶ 36.) Loyola then gave Plaintiff a position as a Manager in the new UBAS department. (Id. ¶ 17.) As a Manager, Plaintiff received the same salary that he received as SIS Director, but he received fewer benefits. (Id. ¶¶ 17-18; R. 39-1, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Add'l Facts ¶ 114.) In his new position, Plaintiff reported to Dorl-Adams. (R. 39-1, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Add'l Facts ¶ 52.)

  IV. Plaintiff's Complaint And Loyola's Internal Investigation

  On August 6, 2001, Dorl-Adams sent Plaintiff an email in which she stated that in May 2001, Watson had given Plaintiff a "6 month window (beginning 7/1/01) in which to show significant improvements in your work." (R. 45-1, Def.'s Supplemental Exs., Ex. 32.) Plaintiff testified that he was shocked when he read the email because no one had ever discussed a six month window with him.*fn2 (R. 39-1, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Add'l Facts ¶ 52.)

  The next day, Plaintiff complained to Thomas Kelly, Loyola's Vice President of Human Resource Management, that he was being discriminated against because he is male. (Id. ¶¶ 72-73.) Plaintiff testified that he complained to Kelly because he felt that the only reason Watson and Dorl-Adams would "conjure up" a story about a six month window was to set him up to be fired. (Id. ¶ 73.) On August 9, 2001, Kelly responded to Plaintiff, and advised him that either Kelly or Mimi Winter, Loyola's Director of Human Resources, would get back to Plaintiff after they investigated the issues that Plaintiff raised. (Id. ¶ 74.)

  During her investigation, Winter interviewed Dr. Boyd, Dorl-Adams, Dale Moyer, Watson, and Plaintiff. (R. 30-1, Def.'s Exs. In Supp. Of Summ. J., Ex. 24.) On August 23, 2001, Plaintiff gave Winter a letter setting forth more details about his discrimination and retaliation claims. (Id. ¶ 85.) Winter completed her investigation on September 6, 2001, and memorialized her findings in a memo dated August 21, 2001.*fn3 (R. 44-1, Def.'s Resp. to Pl.'s Add'l Facts ¶ 81.) Winter concluded that gender discrimination or retaliation did not motivate Loyola to select Dorl-Adams as UBAS Director instead of ...


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