The opinion of the court was delivered by: SUZANNE CONLON, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Dennis Riordan sues J.C. Whitney Co. for retaliation in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title
VII").*fn1 Riordan claims he opposed unlawful discrimination
and was terminated by Whitney in retaliation for his protected
conduct. Whitney denies that it engaged in retaliation and states
that Riordan was terminated as part of a financially necessary
reduction in force. Whitney moves for summary judgment pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.
Local Rule 56.1 requires litigants to follow a detailed
procedure in filing and responding to summary judgment motions.
Riordan has failed to comply with Local Rule 56.1(b)(3); he did
not respond to Whitney's Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement of undisputed
material facts. Whitney's undisputed facts are therefore deemed
admitted. Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003);
L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B). This admission severely penalizes Riordan, for the
court must depart from its usual posture of construing all facts
in his favor. Waffer v. Indian Creek Ranch Club, Inc., No.
99C6413, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9008, at *3 (N.D. Ill. June 20,
2000), quoting, Johnson v. Gudmundsson, 35 F.3d 1104, 1108 (7th
Cir. 1994). The court will not consider any facts contradicting
Whitney's Rule 56.1 statement. Smith v. Severn, 129 F.3d 419,
425-26 (7th Cir. 1997). Summary judgment will only be granted,
however, if Whitney demonstrates there is no genuine issue of
material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law. Davis v. Con-Way Transp. Cent. Express, Inc.,
368 F.3d 776, 782 (7th Cir. 2004).
All facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted. Whitney is a
direct marketer of automobile parts and accessories. On October
23, 1995, Whitney hired Riordan as its inventory control manager.
In the Fall of 2000, Riordan had lunch with Carol Warshawsky,
chair of Whitney's board of directors. According to Riordan,
Warshawsky wished to discuss: (1) employees' understanding of
company objectives; and (2) morale and cultural differences
between Whitney's LaSalle and Chicago facilities. Warshawsky has
no recollection of discussing these topics with Riordan.
In response to issues raised at the lunch meeting, on October
18, 2000, Riordan sent Warshawsky an e-mail regarding
communication of corporate objectives. Riordan sent Warshawsky a
second e-mail on November 3, 2000, which noted "the remarkable
attrition that has occurred of recent." Def. Mem. Ex. I. The
November 3, 2000 e-mail attached three documents. The first
document detailed Riordan's perception of Whitney's strengths and
weaknesses and included a statement that "the management team is
not diverse relatively few women and minority managers, fewer women and minority directors, no non-owner executive team
members who are women or minorities." Def. Mem. Ex. I. Riordan
did not know the number of women or minorities who held
managerial titles when he prepared this list. The second document
listed "Key Departures in the Last 24 Months Chicago Only."
Def. Mem. Ex. I. The list included the names and job titles of
several former employees who either voluntarily quit or were
terminated, but did not identify the races or sexes of the
individuals. According to Whitney, of the twenty-eight
individuals listed, eleven were women and one was non-caucasian.
The final document listed "CARS Original Core Team Members of
10/97," including the names of team members and their employment
status. Def. Mem. Ex. I. Riordan asserts these e-mails provided
Warshawsky with concrete examples of minorities and women who
quit or were terminated from the Chicago facility.
In 2001, Whitney adjusted its business processes in order to
generate sales, increase productivity and reduce costs. Economic
considerations led to a series of layoffs and position
eliminations. In January and February 2001, six people were
terminated. Riordan was not terminated at this time. Indeed,
Riordan was promoted in January 2001 to director of merchandise
support and his salary increased from $85,000 to $88,000. In
April 2001, seven employees were terminated. Riordan was not
terminated as part of this April reduction, although three
employees from his department were terminated and at least one
departmental position was eliminated. As a result, Riordan
assumed additional job responsibilities and his salary was
increased from $88,000 to $91,000. Ten more employees were
terminated between May and August 2001. On October 11, 2001, Tim
Ford, Whitney's president and CEO, issued a memorandum to all
employees outlining Whitney's financial woes in light of the 9-11
terrorist attacks and its intended cost-cutting measures,
including further layoffs. In Riordan's department, Eugene Geiger, vice-president of
merchandising and Riordan's supervisor, reduced spending and
consolidated three director level positions into two. Geiger
assessed the three directors and determined Riordan's duties
could be assumed by the other two directors. Geiger recommended,
and Ford approved, elimination of Riordan's position.
Consequently, Riordan was one of twenty employees terminated on
October 11, 2001.
Neither Ford nor Geiger knew of Riordan's e-mails to Warshawsky
when the decision was made to terminate Riordan. Although
Warshawsky received Riordan's two e-mails, she did not discuss or
forward them to others. As chair of the board of directors,
Warshawsky had no direct role in the formulation of departmental
plans for cost-cutting or the decisions regarding job
consolidation or elimination.
Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving papers and
affidavits show there is no genuine issue of material fact and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986); King v. Nat'l Human Res. Comm., Inc., 218 F.3d 719, 723
(7th Cir. 2000). Once a moving party has met its burden, the
non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and set forth
specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial.
Fed.R. Civ. P. 56(e); Silk v. City of Chicago, 194 F.3d 788, 798
(7th Cir. 1999). A genuine issue of material fact exists when
"the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return ...