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BANKS v. ARCHER/AMERICAN WIRE

August 17, 2005.

FREEMAN D. BANKS Plaintiff,
v.
ARCHER/AMERICAN WIRE, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NAN NOLAN, Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Freeman Banks, an African-American man who is proceeding pro se, sued his current employer, Archer Wire International, Inc. ("Archer Wire"), for race discrimination, retaliation, and racial harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The parties consented to the jurisdiction of the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Archer Wire moves for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants Archer Wire's summary judgment motion.

BACKGROUND

  A. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

  Archer Wire objects to Banks' Response to Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Material Facts in its entirety on the grounds that it fails to comply with Local Rule 56.1. Local Rule 56.1 governs motions for summary judgment in this district. Banks is required to comply with Local Rule 56.1 despite his pro se status. Greer v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chicago, Illinois, 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001). Moreover, this Court is not required to search the record for a dispute of fact on behalf of a pro se party. Id. (stating "[e]mployment discrimination cases are extremely fact-intensive, and neither appellate courts nor district courts are `obligated in our adversary system to scour the record looking for factual disputes.'"). Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(A) requires the non-moving party to respond to "each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." The non-moving party is required "to admit or deny each factual statement proffered by the defendant and to designate with specificity and particularity those material facts believed to establish a genuine dispute for trial." Greer, 267 F.3d at 727. "All material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party." L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B). If the non-moving party wishes to present additional facts requiring the denial of summary judgment, it must do so in "a statement, consisting of short numbered paragraphs" supported by citations to the record. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B).

  Because Banks is a pro se litigant, Archer Wire served him with a "Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment" as required by Local Rule 56.2 (the "Notice"). The Notice explained the purpose of summary judgment, Banks' obligations to respond to Archer Wire's motion, and the consequences of not doing so. Banks was also advised that he must comply with Local Rule 56.1 and provide a paragraph-by-paragraph response to Archer Wire's statement of facts. Despite receiving the Notice, Banks failed to comply with the requirements of Local Rule 56.1 in several critical respects. Along with its summary judgment motion, Archer Wire submitted 195 statements of facts. Banks failed to properly identify which facts he disputes. Banks' Response does not specifically admit or deny each of Archer Wire's statements of facts. Instead, Bank appears to have repeated Archer Wire's facts verbatim where there is no disagreement and, where Bank disagreed, redrafted the particular statement of fact to reflect his version and/or improperly added new facts. Banks' new facts belong in a separate statement of additional facts pursuant to Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B). Banks also fails to cite to admissible evidence supporting his denials and additional facts. As a result, all of Archer Wire's facts that are supported by the record are deemed admitted. See L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B); Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003) (stating "a mere disagreement with the movant's asserted facts is inadequate if made without reference to specific supporting material."); McGuire v. United Parcel Service, 152 F.3d 673, 675 (7th Cir. 1998) (stating "[a]n answer that does not deny the allegations in the numbered paragraph with citations to supporting evidence in the record constitutes an admission."). The Court also disregards additional facts in Banks' Response because they were not included in a separate statement and did not include a specific reference to affidavits, or other supporting parts of the record. See L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B).

  Because Banks' Response is entirely non-compliant, the Court further disregards Banks' affidavit evidence and limits its analysis to the facts contained in Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Material Facts. Bordelon v. Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees, 233 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2000) (holding district court properly refused to consider non-moving party's affidavits where non-moving party's response to moving party's statement of facts was "entirely non-compliant" with summary judgment local rule). Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) makes clear "the consequence for noncompliance — the movant's assertions of material fact are deemed admitted — and this consequence applies regardless of what contrary evidence is in the record." Id; see also Koszola v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chicago, 385 F.3d 1104, 1107-09 (7th Cir. 2004).

  Banks' failure to comply with Local Rule 56.1 does not result in the automatic grant of summary judgment. The Court must still determine whether Archer Wire is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to Banks. Johnson v. Gudmundson, 35 F.3d 1104, 1112 (7th Cir. 1994) (stating "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.'").

  B. Relevant Undisputed Facts*fn1

  1. Banks' Employment

  Banks was employed by Chicago Wirecraft Products, Inc. ("Wirecraft"), a wire fabrication business, from the late 1990s to July, 2002. DSUF 22. On or about July 15, 2002, Archer Wire purchased Wirecraft. DSUF 10. Archer Wire provides a diversified range of wire products, including barbeque grill grates, wire baskets for making French fries, and welded wire for sporting equipment, such as face guards for helmets. DSUF 4, 5. Archer Wire hired Banks on or about July 15, 2002, as a machine operator. DSUF 24. Banks is currently working for Archer Wire. DSUF 25. Throughout his employment with Archer Wire, Banks has worked as a machine operator mainly in the department that makes products for a large sporting equipment company. DSUF 26.

  2. Set-Up Employee versus Machine Operator

  In addition to other employees involved in manufacturing operations, Archer Wire has "set-up" employees and machine operators. A set-up employee prepares a machine to product a product, or a component of a product, in accordance with the product drawings, production plan, and the customer's specifications. DSUF 14. A machine operator assists the foreman or set-up employee in operating the machines, supplying the correct components or parts to the machine, and ensuring the parts being manufactured conform to the "first-piece" approved part. DSUF 15. The set-up position requires greater technical ability, knowledge, and training than the machine operator position. DSUF 16. To move from a machine operator position to a set-up position, an employee must train on how to read the production plans, make the necessary calculations to set the controls, and perform other safety and quality assurance procedures. DSUF 17. Different machines involve different set up procedures and therefore require separate and different training. DSUF 18. In preparation for future possible need, Archer Wire trains employees to learn the set-up procedures even though there may not be a set-up position available. DSUF 21. Archer Wire does not have a separate "trainee" job classification or pay classification for employees that are training for a set-up position. DSUF 19. Trainees do not receive additional pay unless and until they are placed into a set-up position, if one becomes available. DSUF 20.

  3. Spiral Machine Set-Up Position

  In July 2002, Archer Wire hired former Wirecraft employee Michael Holmes, an African-American male, as a set-up employee on the spiral and "ring roller" machines. DSUF 28. Holmes is the only employee ever employed by Archer Wire who has set up spiral machines for Archer Wire. DSUF 29. Since July 2002, Archer Wire has not trained any employees to set up the spiral machines. DSUF 32. Since July 2002, Archer Wire has never had an open position for a set-up employee on the spiral machine. DSUF 33.

  In February 2003, Banks told Conrad Martinez, Archer Wire's Production Manager, that he wanted to be the second shift set-up employee on the spiral machine claiming that he was already trained for the position. DSUF 8, 34. Martinez told Banks that there was not enough demand to support a set-up position on the spiral machine for the second shift. DSUF 35. Banks believed that there were not enough orders to support a set-up position on the second shift for the spiral machine. DSUF 36. No one at Archer Wire told Banks, or even hinted, that he would not be placed in the spiral machine set-up position because he is African-American. DSUF 44.

  Banks claims that Archer Wire trained Hong Cong Nguyen to set up the spiral machine for two to three weeks. DSUF 47. Nguyen operated the spiral machine during the second shift on a few occasions, but he did not set up the machine. DSUF 50. Nguyen was never trained to set up the spiral machine at Archer Wire and was never placed into the set-up position on the spiral machine at Archer Wire. DSUF 48, 49.

  4. Press Welder Set-Up Position

  Anastacio Arceo was the set-up employee on the press welder at Wirecraft. DSUF 51. In July 2002, Archer Wire hired Arceo as the second shift set-up employee on the press welder in the metal face guard department. DSUF 52. In March 2003, Martinez offered to train Banks on how to set up the press welder in the metal face guard department, and Banks agreed. DSUF 53. Arceo trained Banks on how to set up the press welder machine for at least four months. DSUF 57, 59. Granados helped train Banks on how to set up the press welder machine. DSUF 62. Banks was trained on how to set up the press welder in the metal face guard department in case a position became available. DSUF 56.

  Banks believes that Alejandro Sagal took his place on the press welder machine. DSUF 85. Segal assisted Arceo on the operation of the press welder in the metal face guard department for less than one month in late 2003 or early 2004. DSUF 86. Segal was never trained on how to set up the press welder machine, nor did Segal become a set-up employee on the press welder machine. DSUF 87. At no time since Banks began training on the press welder at Archer Wire has there been an open set-up position on the press welder in the metal face guard department. DSUF 54. Archer Wire has not placed any employee in the set-up position on the press welder in the metal face guard department since Banks began training to set up the press welder. DSUF 55.

  5. Transfer to First Shift

  In or around November 2003, Archer Wire received a large number of orders for metal face guards. DSUF 72. Archer Wire moved approximately seven employees, including Banks, from the second shift to the first shift to have employees with experience in the metal face guard department on the first shift to accommodate the new orders. DSUF 73. Banks prefers to work the second shift. DSUF 78. Martinez told Banks that Banks was being moved to the first shift because Archer Wire needed more people ...


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