Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

MALLETT v. BOARD OF EDUCATION

July 5, 2005.

TISHE MALLETT, Plaintiff,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION, CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Tishe Mallett ("Mallett") sued her former employer, the Board of Education for the City of Chicago (the "Board"), under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (the "ADEA"). She alleges that the Board violated the ADEA when it discharged her and thereafter failed to rehire her for a newly-created, but lower paying, position that entailed many of her usual job duties. The Board moves for summary judgment contending that Mallett cannot establish a prima facie claim of age discrimination, and, alternatively, that Mallett cannot demonstrate that the Board's proffered non-discriminatory reasons for termination are pretextual. For the reasons below, the Court grants the Board's motion in part, and denies it in part.

LEGAL STANDARD

  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 material fact exists only if "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, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the Court must construe all facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable and justifiable inferences in favor of that party. Id. at 255. "[N]either the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties, nor the existence of some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts will defeat a motion for summary judgment." Michas v. Health Cost Controls of Ill., Inc., 209 F.3d 687, 692 (7th Cir. 2000) (ADEA context) (internal quotation and citation omitted).

  The party seeking summary judgment must establish that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). To prevail, the responding party must then come forward with facts "sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to the party's case, and on which the party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Id. at 322. "Even if the opposing party completely fails to respond to a summary judgment motion, Rule 56(e) permits judgment for the moving party only if appropriate — that is, if the motion demonstrates that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Johnson v. Gudmundsson, 35 F.3d 1104, 1112 (7th Cir. 1994) (internal quotation omitted) (emphasis original). "Thus, even where many or all of the material facts are undisputed, the court still must ascertain that judgment is proper `as a matter of governing law.'" Id. (internal citation omitted). BACKGROUND

  I. Mallett's Employment with the Board

  Mallett, born March 9, 1943, worked for the Board from 1978 until August 5, 2003. (R. 23-1; Def.'s Stmt. of Material Facts ("SMF") at ¶ 2, 8.) For the first 21 years of her tenure, Mallett worked as a clerk in the Board's Government Funded Programs unit, which, by the time of Mallett's discharge, Defendant had renamed the Parent Resource Services Center (the "PRSC"). (Id. at ¶ 13.) The PRSC, a federally funded program, provides resources, training, and education to parents of students in low-income areas and low achieving schools. (Id. at ¶ 7.) In addition to Mallett, the PRSC had three employees on its staff: Alice Hill-Richards (now forty four years old), Betty Willis (now fifty nine years old), and Lillian Sanders (now sixty five years old), Mallett's immediate supervisor. (Id. at ¶¶ 4, 9-12.) Eva Nickolich (now sixty six years old), the Board's Deputy Chief Education Officer, directly supervised Sanders. (Id. at ¶ 6.)

  As a clerk, Mallett's job duties included keeping attendance records, requesting and dispensing car fare, processing vendor payments, maintaining membership rosters, and taking meeting minutes. (Id. at ¶ 13.) In 1999, Mallett's job title changed to Statistician Trainee. (Id.) Under this new title, Mallett's duties and responsibilities were much the same as those she had as a clerk, but in addition, Mallett was charged with submitting payroll, preparing requisitions for materials, preparing time sheets, ordering supplies, processing invoices, and answering telephones. (Id.; R. 29-1; Pl.'s Stmt. Add. Material Facts ("SAMF") at ¶ 24.) Despite attending to some of her new responsibilities, Mallett did not perform all of the duties listed in the Statistician Trainee job description.*fn1 (R. 23-1; Def.'s SMF at ¶ 16.) Sanders testified, however, that the PRSC staff, including Mallett, did whatever necessary to help the office run smoothly. (R. 29-1; Pl.'s SAMF at ¶ 25.)

  II. The Circumstances Surrounding Mallett's Discharge

  In preparing the 2003-2004 budget and complying with the newly enacted "No Child Left Behind" Act, the Board reallocated certain portions of the PRSC's budget directly to schools. (R. 23-1; Def.'s SMF at ¶ 14.) In that same year, the Board also faced a district-wide mandate to cut its budget by 15%. (Id. at ¶ 15.) As a result, the PRSC was forced to cut costs. (Id. at ¶ 16.) To this end, Nickolich decided to eliminate the position of Statistician Trainee (the highest salary of the three positions Sanders supervised), replacing it with the new, lower paying position of Administrative Assistant I ("AAI"). (Id. at ¶¶ 16, 17.)*fn2

  In the formal request to the Board to open the AAI position, Nickolich confirmed that the "new position reflects what the person will be doing and is at a lesser salary. Old position (current) does not reflect actual duties/responsibilities." (R. 29-1; Pl.'s SAMF at ¶ 29, Ex. E.) The AAI "position description" more fully states that the "successful applicant . . . must perform the following duties": • Under supervision, performs responsible duties involving the gathering, editing, and reporting of data for Parent Advisory Council's information

 
• Responsible for most pleasantly and efficiently handling a heavy volume of incoming calls to the parent center
• Preparing Parent Advisory council minutes and responsible for disbursement of car fare to parents
• Monitor and maintain records to ensure timeliness and accuracy ensuring that consultants, vendors, and staff are paid through the Parent Resource Center
• Enter and track purchase orders, requisitions, and payouts for staff, vendors and consultants
• Maintains timesheets and prepares payroll.
(Id. at ¶ 39.) Mallett met the qualifications listed in the AAI position description. (Id. at ¶ 52.) Accordingly, Nickolich told Sanders, who was to make the final hiring decision, that Mallett could apply for the new position. (Id. at ¶ 32.) As a matter of policy, the Board would have given preference to Mallett if she had applied for the position, unless another candidate was more qualified. (Id. at ¶ 41.)

  On June 20, 2003, Sanders told Mallett that, due to budget constraints, the Board had eliminated her Statistician Trainee position, replacing it with the newly-created AAI position.*fn3 (Id. at ¶ 44.) Later that same day, Sanders told Mallett that she would be discharged effective at the end of the month. (Id. at ¶ 45.) Although it was her responsibility to do so, Sanders neither asked Mallett if she had an interest in the AAI position nor informed Mallett that she could apply. (Id. at ¶ 34.) Even so, Mallett told Sanders several times that she wanted to be transferred to the AAI position. (Id. at ¶ 42.) Mallett, however, did not submit a formal application because each time she had asked Sanders about the opening, Sanders told Mallett that she would not give Mallett the position. (Id. at ¶ 43.) Sanders admits, however, that she could have changed the job title to allow Mallett to keep her position without requiring Mallett to reapply or compete with other candidates. (Id. at ¶ 28.)

  Some time after June 20, Mallett called the Board's Human Resources Department (the "HR Department") to confirm that June 30 was, in fact, her last day. (Id. at ¶ 47.) The HR Department told Mallett to continue reporting to work until she received a letter stating otherwise. (Id.) Mallett continued reporting to work after June 30, but ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.