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MOSS-BUCHANAN v. CITY OF CHICAGO

January 11, 2005.

TANYA J. MOSS-BUCHANAN and MICHAEL A. BUCHANAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ARLANDER KEYS, Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Currently before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiffs sued Defendant pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq., claiming that Defendant terminated Plaintiffs because of their race. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion is granted.

FACTUAL HISTORY

  Plaintiffs Tanya Moss-Buchanan and Michael Buchanan were employed by the City of Chicago. Ms. Moss-Buchanan worked as a Project Coordinator in the City's Department of Revenue ("DOR") from 1987 to July 31, 2002. Mr. Buchanan worked as an Administrative Manager in that same department from 1977 to July 31, 2002. The fact that Plaintiffs' termination dates are identical is no coincidence; Plaintiffs were terminated pursuant to a City — ordered reduction in workforce, which was implemented in July 2002. The DOR laid off twelve workers, including five union employees. The union employees were laid off under a collective bargaining agreement, which dictated that the last hired were the first fired. Plaintiffs were among the remaining seven non-union employees terminated in the reduction in workforce.

  The parties agree that four of the seven non-union employees terminated in July 2002 were African American, and that only fifty percent of the DOC work force at that time were African American. The parties also agree that Ms. Moss-Buchanan's work performance was not a factor in her termination. While Defendant claims that its discretionary termination decisions were informed by the employees' salaries and their middle management positions, Plaintiffs claim that the decisions were influenced by racial discrimination.

  PROCEDURAL HISTORY

  On September 23, 2002, Plaintiffs filed charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the "EEOC"), claiming that they were discriminated against because of their race.*fn1 The EEOC issued Mr. Buchanan a Right to Sue letter on September 25, 2002. At his deposition, Mr. Buchanan admitted that he had no reason to doubt that he received this letter on either September 28, 2002 or September 29, 2002. The EEOC issued Ms. Moss-Buchanan's Right to Sue letter on November 12, 2002; the record contains no further evidence with regard to when Ms. Moss-Buchanan actually received her right to sue letter.

  Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit pro se, on February 11, 2003 — 91 days after the EEOC issued Ms. Moss-Buchanan's Right to Sue letter and approximately 104 days after Mr. Buchanan likely received his Right to Sue letter.

  The case was assigned to Judge Elaine E. Bucklo. Although Plaintiffs filed their lawsuit pro se, their attorney filed his appearance on August 1, 2003. The parties consented to proceed before this Court on October 24, 2003.

  STANDARDS

  Summary judgment will be granted where the pleadings and supporting documents show that 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). Whether a fact is material to the dispute is established by the governing substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1985). A genuine issue as to one of these material facts exists if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id.

  In a summary judgment proceeding, the Court will disregard all facts not properly supported by the record. Brasic v. Heinemann's, Inc., 121 F.3d 281, 284 (7th Cir. 1997). The Court does not make "credibility determinations nor choose between competing inferences" at the summary judgment stage. Sarsha v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 3 F.3d 1035, 1041 (7th Cir. 1993). However, in determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in the non-moving party's favor. Shank v. William R. Hague, Inc., 192 F.3d 675, 681 (7th Cir. 1999).

  The moving party initially bears the burden of showing that the record contains no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The moving party need not negate its opponent's claim. Id. at 322. Instead, with respect to issues on which the non-moving party bears the burden of proof at trial, "the burden on the moving party may be discharged by `showing' — that is, pointing out to the district court — that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325.

  If the moving party meets its burden, then the non-moving party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial; the non-moving party "may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleading. . . ." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 257. Additionally, "mere conclusory" allegations are inadequate. Nowak v. St. Rita High Sch., 142 F.3d 999, 1002 (7th Cir. 1998). The non-moving party must present more than a "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts" to survive summary judgment. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co, v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 596 (1986). The non-moving party will not survive ...


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