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PATEL v. SALVATION ARMY

November 16, 2004.

AAROH PATEL, Plaintiff,
v.
THE SALVATION ARMY, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendant The Salvation Army's ("SA") motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, we grant the motion for summary judgment in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

  Plaintiff Aaroh Patel ("Patel") began working for SA in May of 1979. He worked in various positions for SA until he retired in December of 2000. In January of 2001 SA rehired Patel to act as Director of Financial Operations for the Adult Rehabilitation Center Command ("Command"). Command provides rehabilitation services to men seeking to recover from addiction to alcohol or drugs. Patel's task as Director was to oversee the financial system and accounting processes for Command. In August of 2002 SA hired Ernst & Young, LLP ("Ernst") to review and audit the financial records and accounting processes of Command and to suggest improvements. Ernst reviewed the Command records at the end of 2002. In January of 2003, SA claims that it asked Ernst to continue its review of SA records and to help implement suggested improvements in accounting and record keeping. According to SA, Ernst reported that Patel was not using generally accepted accounting methods. SA also claims that Patel openly criticized the Ernst report and Patel resisted implementing Ernst's suggestions and refused to cooperate with Ernst. According to SA, Ernst indicated that the financial records were irreconcilable and Ernst refused to certify the records. SA claims that Ernst also recommended that SA take all responsibility for record-keeping and accounting matters away from Patel.

  According to SA, based on the communications from Ernst, SA decided to terminate Patel's employment. SA claims that Major Riches of SA met with Patel and asked him to resign and sign a release. According to SA, when Patel refused to resign, he was fired on June 27, 2003.

  After Patel's termination SA claims that it hired Ernst to find a candidate to fill Patel's former position. Ernst interviewed candidates and recommended that SA hire Corina Boyd ("Boyd"). SA accepted the recommendation and hired Boyd in June of 2003. In December of 2003 Patel brought the instant action alleging discrimination because of his religion and race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Patel also included in the complaint a hostile work environment claim and a Title VII retaliation claim.

  LEGAL STANDARD

  Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R. Civ. P. 56(c). In seeking a grant of summary judgment the moving party must identify "those portions of `the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Fed.R. Civ. P. 56(c)). This initial burden may be satisfied by presenting specific evidence on a particular issue or by pointing out "an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. Once the movant has met this burden, the non-moving party cannot simply rest on the allegations in the pleadings, but, "by affidavits or as otherwise provided for in [Rule 56], must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R. Civ. P. 56(e). A "genuine issue" in the context of a motion for summary judgment is not simply a "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp, 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000). The court must consider the record as a whole, in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences that favor the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000).

  DISCUSSION

  I. Race and Religious Discrimination Claims

  SA moves for summary judgment on the race and religious discrimination claims. If an employer in a Title VII discrimination case brings a motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff can proceed under the direct or indirect method of proof in order to defeat the motion. Pafford v. Herman, 148 F.3d 658, 665 (7th Cir. 1998). Under the direct approach, the plaintiff can show through direct or circumstantial evidence that the alleged harmful action of the employer was "motivated by an impermissible purpose, such as [his] race or national origin." Id. Under the indirect approach the plaintiff must establish a prima facie case which will allow an inference of discrimination. Id. To establish a prima facie case of discrimination a plaintiff must show: "(1) that [h]e was a member of a protected class; (2) that [h]e was performing h[is] job satisfactorily; (3) that [h]e experienced an adverse employment action; and (4) that similarly situated individuals were treated more favorably." Traylor v. Brown, 295 F.3d 783, 788 (7th Cir. 2002).

  If a prima facie case is established then there is a rebuttable presumption of discrimination and the employer is required to offer a "legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the adverse employment action." Cianci v. Pettibone Corp., 152 F.3d 723, 726 (7th Cir. 1998). If the employer provides such a reason, the plaintiff must then show that the reason alleged by the employer is merely a pretext for discrimination. Id.

  Patel has not pointed to sufficient evidence to proceed under the direct method of proof and will therefore need to proceed under the indirect method of proof. In regards to both the race discrimination claim and the religious discrimination claim SA concedes that Patel is a member of a protected class. However, SA argues that Patel has not pointed to sufficient evidence that he was performing his job satisfactorily and has not ...


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