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BAKER v. PACTIV CORPORATION

September 19, 2005.

BARRY BAKER, Plaintiff,
v.
PACTIV CORPORATION, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RONALD GUZMAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Barry S. Baker, proceeding pro se, has sued Pactiv Corporation ("Pactiv") for its alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. Pactiv has moved pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56 for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

Facts

  Though he received instructions on how to comply with Local Rule 56.1 and the consequences of not doing so, (see Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Summary Judgment), plaintiff did not file a response to Pactiv's LR 56.1(a) Statement. That omission is costly: "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." N.D.ILL. LR 56.1(b)(3)(B); see Koszola v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chi., 385 F.3d 1104, 1109 (7th Cir. 2004) ("We have emphasized the importance of local rules and have consistently and repeatedly upheld a district's court's discretion to require strict compliance with its local rules governing summary judgment.") (alteration and quotation omitted). Because plaintiff has admitted all of the properly supported facts submitted by Pactiv, the following is taken entirely from Pactiv's statement of facts.

  Pactiv, formerly Tenneco Packaging ("Tenneco"), is a packaging corporation that does business in Illinois. (Def's. LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶¶ 2, 5.) Baker worked for Tenneco/Pactiv from 1999 until April 2004. (Def.'s App. Evid. Supp. Mot. Summ. J., Ex. C, Baker Dep. at 9, 16.)

  On September 26, 2003, Rebekah Clark, Pactiv's IT*fn1 manager, told Rick Harris, Pactiv's Director of Corporate Employee Relations, Compliance and Diversity, that Nelsie Cortes said plaintiff had engaged in sexual conduct toward her. (Id., Ex. B, Harris Decl. ¶ 5.) Harris immediately investigated Cortes' allegations by interviewing plaintiff, Cortes and two other Pactiv employees, Sue Tauler and Sarah Bowen. (Id. ¶ 6.)

  Cortes alleged that during the summer of 2003, plaintiff asked her to go to a festival, telephoned her while he was on vacation and asked her what she was eating for lunch and gave her a T-shirt that said "Virginia is for Lovers." (Id. ¶ 7.) Cortes also said that she had received an anonymous love letter on her desk, which she attributed to plaintiff, and an e-mail from plaintiff asking her to check whether he had a fever. (Id.) When Cortes did not respond to plaintiff's e-mail request, plaintiff confronted her to ask why. (Id.) Cortes also complained that plaintiff frequently visited her cubicle. (Id.)

  Bowen also said that plaintiff frequented Cortes' work area and bought Cortes a T-shirt sporting the phrase "Virginia is for Lovers." (Id. ¶ 8.) In addition, Bowen made some complaints of her own: that plaintiff stared at her, left candy on her desk and asked to leave personal items on her desk when he went to the restroom. (Id.) During Harris' investigation, plaintiff signed a statement in which he admitted: (1) calling Cortes while he was on vacation to inquire about her lunch; (2) buying Cortes and other employees T-shirts that said "Virginia is for Lovers"; (3) asking Cortes to check whether he had a fever; and (4) visiting Cortes at her cubicle. (Id., Ex. C, Baker Dep. at 59-60; id., Ex. D, Baker Dep. Ex. 4, 10/28/03 Baker Stmt. ¶¶ 6, 8, 10-11.) Baker denied staring at Bowen. (Id., Ex. D, Baker Dep. Ex. 4, 10/28/03 Baker Stmt. ¶ 14.)

  Harris finished his investigation around October 22, 2003 and concluded that plaintiff's actions made female employees uncomfortable. (Id., Ex. B, Harris Decl. ¶ 10.) As a result, Harris reviewed Pactiv's sexual harassment policy with plaintiff and instructed him to keep the matter confidential. (Id.) Harris did not, however, conclusively determine that plaintiff violated the policy. (Id.) Thus, he did not discipline plaintiff in any way or place anything in his personnel file regarding the allegations. (Id.)

  The next day, Clark e-mailed Harris to tell him that plaintiff was discussing the alleged victims' allegations with other employees. (Id. ¶ 11.) As a result, Harris scheduled another meeting with plaintiff. (Id.)

  On October 27, 2003, plaintiff sent Harris an e-mail, which said that Cortes was also discussing the allegations and spreading rumors about plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 12.)

  On October 28, 2003, Harris met with plaintiff and his supervisor, Julius Riles. (Id. ¶ 13; id., Ex. C, Baker Dep. 17-18.) During the meeting, Harris reiterated that plaintiff had to keep the allegations and investigation confidential and told him that his discussions about the incident could be viewed as retaliation against the alleged victims. (Id., Ex. B, Harris Decl. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff assured Harris that he would stop discussing the matter and asked Harris to instruct the accusers to do the same. (Id.) Pursuant to plaintiff's request, Harris met with all of the parties involved and reminded them not to discuss the matter with anyone. (Id. ¶ 14.)

  When a Pactiv employee is disciplined, the record of such discipline is placed in the employee's personnel file. (Id. ¶ 15.) There is no letter or other record of discipline in plaintiff's personnel file regarding the allegations ...


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