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Johnson v. City of Peoria

March 10, 2006

VERNON JOHNSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF PEORIA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joe Billy McDADE United States District Judge

ORDER

Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. # 8]. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be allowed.

I. BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed. Plaintiff works for Defendant in its Workforce Development Department ("WDD") which is funded primarily by federal funds from the Department of Labor. (Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, Doc. # 8 at ¶ B(5) [hereinafter Def.'s Mot.].) Plaintiff began working for Defendant in 1991 as a temporary worker. (Id. at ¶ B(1).) In 1993, Plaintiff became a full-time permanent Vocational Counselor; his job title later changed to Career Counselor. (Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Summary Judgment Motion, Doc. # 14 at ¶ II(D)(8) [hereinafter Pl.'s Resp.].) In 1997, Jennifer Brackney ("Brackney") became Operations Manager of the WDD. As such she managed the Career Counselors, including Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶ D(9).)

In August 1999, the WDD moved into new offices and during this time the time clock was not used. While the office was being set up, Plaintiff and another black male, Sam Jackson ("Jackson"), left to get some bakery goods. When they returned, Brackney reprimanded them for not signing a sign-out sheet that had just been placed on the counter. Johnson then inquired why he and Jackson had to sign the sheet when the white employees did not. Later, Plaintiff told the office he was "fed up with the separation of workers by race and gender." Following this comment a meeting was held with Brackney, Plaintiff, WDD Department Head Bashir Ali, and a representative from the Human Resources Department. Later, on August 13, 1999, a staff meeting occurred to discuss Plaintiff's concerns. (Pl.'s Resp. at ¶¶ II(D)(16-20).) Ultimately, Plaintiff's concerns were made an employment grievance which was handled by Defendant's Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") office. (Id. at III(A)(1).)

Plaintiff alleges that after the August 13th meeting, Brackney began a series of harassing acts including: (1) in September 1999, she suggested Plaintiff was not reporting to work on time (in response, Plaintiff noted that the office clock was 10 minutes late); (2) in October 1999, she gave Plaintiff an employment evaluation with an average score of 86% which disqualified him for a 5% salary increase; (3) in December 1999 and January 2000, she "allowed a non-management employee to perform secret file reviews on [Plaintiff]"; (4) in March 2000, she wrote Plaintiff up for not finding a replacement to cover his shift in the Resource Center while he was on vacation; (5) in March 2000 through April 2000, she told Plaintiff to use "flex time" instead of "comp time" when he met with customers who worked "first shift" while she allowed two white females to use "comp time"; and (6) in April 2000, she ordered him to work the "Area Business Connection" but she let others skip working there. (Pl.'s Resp. at ¶ II(D)(20).)

In February 2000, the WDD created a new job position titled Business Service Representative. (Id. at ¶ II(D)(24).) In May 2000, Plaintiff was informed that lay-offs in the WDD would occur because of a significant reduction in federal funds, and that if he wanted to avoid a lay-off*fn1 he would have to apply and be hired for the new Business Service Representative position. (Def.'s Mot. at ¶ B(11); Pl.'s Resp. at ¶ II(D)(20).) Three black males--Plaintiff, Clyde Gulley, and Sam Jackson--applied for the Business Service Representative positions. (Pl.'s Resp. at ¶ II(D)(40).) On June 5, 2000, two black females--Marcia Bolden and Marla Byrd--were hired for the Business Service Representative position. (Id. at ¶ II(D)(39).) As a result, Plaintiff was laid off on June 30, 2000, but was rehired in July 2001. (Def.'s Mot. at ¶ B(9).) In 2003, disciplinary proceedings were initiated against Plaintiff for failure to follow the overtime policy, however, Plaintiff was eventually provided compensatory time equal to the amount of overtime he worked and he was not disciplined. (Id. at ¶ B(23).)

In September 2000, Plaintiff filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Charge of Discrimination claiming race and sex discrimination in connection with his being required to use flex time instead of comp time, his being laid off, and his not receiving the Business Service Representative position.

(Amended Complaint, Doc. # 5 at Ex. A.) Plaintiff received a right to sue letter on December 15, 2003. He filed the instant action on March 8, 2004. He later filed an Amended Complaint claiming Defendant discriminated against him on the basis of his sex or in the alternative retaliated against him for filing a discrimination charge in 1999 by (1) refusing to allow him to take "comp time" for extra work on March 28, 2000; (2) terminating his employment on June 30, 2000, (3) harassing him and creating a hostile work environment; and (4) harassing him and initiating a disciplinary proceeding against him in 2003.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment should be granted where "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). The moving party has the responsibility of informing the Court of portions of the record or affidavits that demonstrate the absence of a triable issue. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The moving party may meet its burden of showing an absence of disputed material facts by demonstrating "that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325. Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Cain v. Lane, 857 F.2d 1139, 1142 (7th Cir. 1988).

If the moving party meets it burden, the nonmoving party then has the burden of presenting specific facts to show that there is a genuine issue of material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and produce evidence of a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. Nevertheless, this Court must "view the record and all inferences drawn from it in the light most favorable to the [nonmoving party]." Holland v. Jefferson Nat. Life Ins. Co., 883 F.2d 1307, 1312 (7th Cir. 1989). Summary judgment will be denied where a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Hedberg v. Indiana Bell Tel. Co., 47 F.3d 928, 931 (7th Cir. 1995).

III. ANALYSIS

Plaintiff has brought two separate claims against Defendant: a discrimination claim and a retaliation claim. The Court ...


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