United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
December 1, 2005.
RONALD WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARRY LEINENWEBER, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Ronald Williams (hereinafter, "Plaintiff") filed a
complaint against Defendant The University of Chicago
(hereinafter, the "University") alleging employment
discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq., 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and
28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1343 (a) (3). Before the Court is the University's Motion
for Summary Judgment. For the following reasons, Defendant's
motion is granted.
Plaintiff, an African-American, was employed as a University
Housekeeping Assistant V with the Residence Halls and Commons at
Burton-Judson Hall beginning on November 3, 2003 until his
termination on February 24, 2004. (Def. 56.1, Exh. 5). Plaintiff
first initiated contact with the University by electronically
submitting an online employment application. Plaintiff answered
"no" to the question asking whether he had "pleaded [sic]
guilty to or been convicted of a crime." (Id., Exh. 3). On October 6,
2003, Plaintiff interviewed with Kelleyn Gawel ("Gawel"), the
University Residence Halls and Commons Manager of Operations, and
James Coleman, a housekeeping supervisor. At the interview,
Plaintiff signed a form consenting to a background check
investigation to verify the answers on his application. (Id.,
Exh. 4). On October 21, 2003, the University sent Plaintiff an
offer letter conditioned upon a clean background check. (Id.,
Exh. 5). On November 3, 2003, Plaintiff began work and signed his
application, in which he indicated that he had never pled guilty
to or been convicted of a crime. (Id., Exh. 3).
The University hired third-party Hirecheck, Inc. ("Hirecheck")
to perform the background check on Plaintiff. (Id., Exh. 1).
Hirecheck's results on December 17, 2003, showed "multiple hits"
on Plaintiff's criminal history. Thereafter, the University began
a more thorough investigation and placed Plaintiff on an unpaid
suspension. At that time, Plaintiff voluntarily provided the
University's Human Resources Department with a copy of his arrest
and conviction information from the Chicago Police Department
(the "CPD document") and other documents related to his criminal
history. (Id.) Plaintiff's CPD document indicated that he had
been sentenced to one-year suspension for simple battery in 1994
and was arrested three other times between 1995 and 1996. (Id.,
Exh. 6). Plaintiff submitted to a fingerprint background check, which confirmed the information in his criminal history. (Id.,
Exh. 1). Subsequent to confirming the results of the background
check, Gawel and a human resources manager terminated Plaintiff.
On April 27, 2004, Plaintiff filed a charge of race
discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(the "EEOC") with respect to how he was treated during his
suspension and termination. (Id., Exh. 7).
Plaintiff filed this action on August 2, 2004, and the
University answered on January 19, 2005. The parties conducted
discovery and on September 9, 2005, the University filed a motion
for summary judgment, seeking dismissal of the case in its
entirety. Plaintiff is pro se and the University filed the
required Local Rule 56.2 notice to Plaintiff informing him of
their motion for summary judgment and his response burden. On
September 27, 2005, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking an extension
of time to respond. The Court granted Plaintiff's motion and set
a modified summary judgment briefing schedule. (9/29/05 Minute
Order [40-1]). Plaintiff's response was originally due on
September 30, 2005, but was moved back to October 13, 2005.
Thereafter, Defendant's reply was due on October 24, 2005 (which
the University complied with), and the Court's oral ruling date
was rescheduled from November 8, 2005 to November 29, 2005. To
date, Plaintiff has not filed a response brief, a response to the
University's statement of material undisputed facts, or any other supporting documents to contest Defendant's motion for summary
judgment. Therefore, the facts set forth in the University's
statement of facts are deemed admitted if supported by the
record. See L.R. 56.1 (b) (3) (B).
II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Summary judgment is appropriate when "the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,
together with the affidavits, if any, show that there are no
genuine issues 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 triable fact exists only if "the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict
for the nonmoving party." Pugh v. City of Attica, 259 F.3d 619,
624 (7th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).
Plaintiff's complaint alleges that the University discriminated
against him based on race in violation of Title VII. The
University moves for summary judgment on the ground that
Plaintiff failed to produce facts sufficient to establish a prima
facie case of racial discrimination.
A. Racial Discrimination
Title VII prohibits employers from "discriminat[ing] against
any individual with respect to his compensation, terms,
conditions, or privileges or employment, because of such individual's
race. . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2 (a) (1). There is no direct
evidence that the University discriminated against Plaintiff
because of his race, so Plaintiff's claim must proceed under the
circumstantial evidence test. To survive summary judgment under
the circumstantial evidence test set forth in McDonnell Douglas
Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973), Plaintiff must
establish that: "(1) [he] was a member of a protected class; (2)
[he] was meeting [the University's] legitimate expectations; (3)
[he] was subjected to adverse employment action; and (4) other,
similarly-situated employees who were not members of [his]
protected class were treated more favorably." Wells. v.
Unisource Worldwide, Inc., 289 F.3d 1001, 1006 (7th Cir. 2002)
(citing Paluck v. Gooding Rubber Co., 221 F.3d 1003, 1012 (7th
As an African-American, Plaintiff is a member of a protected
class, and his unpaid suspension and termination constitute
adverse employment actions. See Burlington Indus., Inc. v.
Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742, 761 (1998) (defining an adverse
employment action). The University asserts that Plaintiff has not
proved the remaining prima facie elements. There is nothing in
the record to indicate that similarly-situated employees who were
not members of his protected class were treated more favorably
"To meet [the plaintiff's] burden of demonstrating that another
employee is `similarly situated,' a plaintiff must show that there is someone who is directly comparable to [him] in all
material respects." Patterson v. Avery Dennison Corp.,
281 F.3d 676, 680 (7th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted). Here, Plaintiff's
complaint and deposition testimony asserted that the University
discriminated against African-Americans in other departments.
However, Plaintiff failed to produce evidence of other employees
who were treated more favorably. See Cabrera v. Enesco Corp.,
No. 97 C 5546, 1998 WL 325169, at *4 (N.D. Ill. June 8, 1998)
(holding that "hearsay, conjecture, or speculation" will not
satisfy the evidentiary requirements of a Title VII claim).
The Court recognizes that Plaintiff proceeds pro se, however,
he still must point to some evidence in the record to support his
allegations of discrimination on summary judgment. Plaintiff did
not file a response and therefore provided no evidence beyond his
own conjectures to support his allegations. See Bragg v.
Navistar Int'l Transp. Corp., 164 F.3d 373, 377 (7th Cir. 1998).
For example, Plaintiff's deposition statement that "if [he] was a
white person [the University] wouldn't have put [him] through all
of this," is insufficient to meet his burden. (Def. 56.1, Exh. 2
at 80); see Oest v. Ill. Dep't of Corrections, 240 F.3d 605,
614 (7th Cir. 2001) (stating that "occurrence[s] . . . not within
[Plaintiff's] personal knowledge . . . cannot satisfy [his]
evidentiary burden" without other evidence). Similarly,
Plaintiff's statements referring to a University paper, the
Chicago Maroon, which allegedly chronicled the termination of certain
African-American employees is not in the record and does not
support Plaintiff's burden of demonstrating that other
similarly-situated employees were treated more favorably. (Def.
56.1, Exh. 2 at 86). Accordingly, Plaintiff fails to establish a
prima facie case of race discrimination.
B. Other Claims
Plaintiff's other claims that he was accused of falsifying
documents, failed to be rehired, and failed to receive severance
pay because of his race, are not related to his EEOC charge of
discrimination. (Comp. at 7). "As a general rule, a Title VII
plaintiff cannot bring claims in a lawsuit that were not included
in [his] EEOC charge." Cheek v. Western & S. Life Ins.,
31 F.3d 497, 500 (7th Cir. 1994). Claims that are not expressly raised in
the EEOC charge will only be recognized if they are "like or
reasonably related to the allegations of the charge and grow out
of such allegations." Id. at 500 (quotations omitted). A
complaint's claims are not "reasonably related [to the EEOC
charge] unless there is a factual relationship between them" that
describes the "same conduct" and indicates the "same
individuals." Id. at 501.
Plaintiff's EEOC charge states that "I was hired by Respondent
as a Housekeeping Tech III on November 3, 2003. In December 2003,
I was suspended. On March 2, 2004, I was terminated. I believe
that I was discriminated against because of my race, Black, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as
amended." (Def.'s 56.1, Exh. 7). Plaintiff's EEOC charge
specifically refers to his suspension and termination. The charge
includes scant factual information besides his job title and
hire, suspension, and termination dates. There is no other
factual basis to find that Plaintiff's remaining claims are
reasonably related. Accordingly, Plaintiff's three other claims
For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment is granted.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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