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Bilal v. Rotec Industries

March 24, 2006

DAPHNE BILAL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROTEC INDUSTRIES, INC., AND ROBERT ) OURY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, Chief District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the court on the motion of Defendants Rotec Industries and Robert Oury for summary judgment in their favor on the entirety of Plaintiff Daphne Bilal's complaint. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted as to Count I and we decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims.

BACKGROUND

Bilal is a former employee of Rotec, a company for whom Oury is chief executive officer. She worked as a full-time receptionist from August 31, 2001, until October 30, 2002. According to Bilal, Oury sexually harassed her throughout her tenure at Rotec. The statements of fact filed in connection with the instant motion elaborate that the following incidents occurred during this time.*fn1 Oury invited Bilal to watch the Chicago marathon; he called her a fox; he told her that her job would be easier if she had sex with him; he once took a piece of chocolate from his mouth and put it in hers; and he told her that he wished she would quit her job so that he could "have" her and no one would be able to say anything.*fn2 These occurrences did not affect Bilal's ability to do her job and she testified that, at the time that she was fired, she did not want to lose her job at Rotec, though she states that she experienced some trepidation about being around Oury.

In late October 2002, Bilal had a run-in with Chesterine Lombardo, her immediate supervisor. Bilal accused Lombardo of throwing a newspaper at her, which Lombardo denied. In a meeting involving Bilal, Lombardo, and Oury, Bilal and Lombardo had words, and Oury fired Bilal on grounds of insubordination.

Bilal filed a five-count complaint, alleging unlawful discrimination and retaliation against Rotec as well as battery, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress against Oury. On June 3, 2004, we dismissed the retaliation count, and Rotec and Oury now move for summary judgment on the remaining four counts.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The moving party bears the initial burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (1986). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to show through specific evidence that a triable issue of fact remains on issues on which the non-movant bears the burden of proof at trial. Id. The non-movant may not rest upon mere allegations in the pleadings or upon conclusory statements in affidavits; it must go beyond the pleadings and support its contentions with proper documentary evidence. Id. The court considers the record as a whole and draws all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000). A genuine issue of material fact exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510 (1986).

DISCUSSION

I. Count I: Sex Discrimination in Violation of Title VII

Title VII forbids employers from taking adverse employment actions against their employees because of a characteristic such as race or sex. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). A plaintiff seeking to establish liability for employment discrimination under Title VII can proceed either via the direct method of proof or the indirect method . See Koszola v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chicago, 385 F.3d 1104, 1107 (7th Cir. 2004).

Bilal has offered two potential adverse employment actions as a basis for her discrimination claims. The first is that Oury's advances adversely affected the terms and conditions of her employment in that they constituted a hostile work environment to which she was subjected on the basis of her sex. The second is the eventual termination of her employment. We examine each action in turn.

A. Hostile Work Environment

To properly establish that she was subjected to a hostile work environment, Bilal must demonstrate that she was the object of unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, that the conduct was severe or pervasive enough to significantly alter the terms and conditions of her employment, that it was directed at her because of her sex, and that there is a basis to hold Rotec liable for Oury's conduct. See, e.g., Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc., 510 U.S. 17, ...


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