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Argyropoulos v. City of Alton

September 28, 2006


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


I. Introduction

Now before the Court is a motion for summary judgment as to Plaintiff's second amended complaint filed on behalf of all Defendants. (Doc. 79.) Plaintiff Christina Argyropoulos responds in opposition. (Doc. 94.) For the reasons set out below, the Court grants Defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismisses the case with prejudice.

II. Background

Plaintiff, a former employee of the Alton Police Department, alleges in her second amended complaint (Doc. 35) that she was sexually harassed by co-workers and supervisors, and terminated, as retaliation, for filing a sexual harassment complaint. Plaintiff also alleges that she was denied due process when she was terminated without a hearing. Lastly, Plaintiff claims that the alleged harassment amounts to intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The City hired Plaintiff on July 1, 2002 as a jailor at the Alton Police Department. (Doc. 35, ¶ 9.) At the time Plaintiff was hired, she was given a copy of the City of Alton's Racial and Sexual Harassment Policy. (Doc. 93, p. 3.) Additionally, as a civilian employee of the City, she was a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). (Id., p. 2.)

Initially, Plaintiff was assigned to work with Defendant Steven Duty. (Id., p. 3.) Eventually, Captain Lane separated the two for their failure to get along with each other. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Duty and other co-workers and supervisors subjected her to a continuing pattern of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. (Doc. 35, ¶ 16.) Plaintiff states in her amended complaint that she complained about the alleged sexual harassment to her superiors, but no remedial or appropriate actions were taken. (Doc. 35, ¶¶ 18-20.) On November 27, 2002, Plaintiff received a performance evaluation completed by Lieutenant Waldrup stating that she needed improvement in several areas including employee contacts, job skill level, volume/acceptable work, meeting deadlines, and effectiveness under stress. (Doc. 93, p. 3.)

On March 13, 2003, Plaintiff filed a written sexual harassment complaint. (Doc. 94, p. 7.) Plaintiff completed a report entitled "Sexual Harassment" and recorded two incidents which involved Duty. The first incident Plaintiff alleged occurred in November of 2002 and involved several comments that Duty made to Plaintiff during an argument about a prisoner's condition. During this argument, Duty allegedly cursed several times at Plaintiff and stated, "Maybe you just can't concentrate because you're not getting your freak on. . .maybe if you weren't so appropriate, you'd find somebody to get your freak on with." (Doc. 80-5, p. 1.) The second incident occurred on March 9, 2003. Plaintiff alleges that Duty moved her jacket back with the back of his hand, pointed to a wet spot on her blouse, and stated, "What's that on your tit?" (Doc. 80-5, p. 2.) These were the only two incidents noted in the formal written complaint. Chief Sullivan initiated an investigation into the complaint. Plaintiff complained to Sergeant Pruitt about at least one other incident outside of work that allegedly involved Duty. (Doc. 94, p. 7.) In addition, Plaintiff's amended complaint contains other allegations of sexual harassment. (Doc. 35, ¶ 16.) Plaintiff alleges that she felt hostility around the workplace after she filed her complaint and that her workload increased. (Doc. 94, p. 10.)

On April 28, 2003, Plaintiff met with Alton Police Department Captain Terry Lane and Lieutenant Al Adams, her immediate supervisor. Defendants contend that this meeting was scheduled to discuss problems with Plaintiff's work performance. (Doc. 93, p. 5.) Plaintiff states in her complaint that she initially believed that the meeting was scheduled to address Plaintiff's complaints of sexual harassment. (Doc. 35, p. 9.) At the conclusion of the meeting, Plaintiff signed a brief statement that acknowledged that the captain had reviewed her work performance and discipline issues with her, and she also acknowledged in writing that she was given an opportunity to ask questions and to have any issue clarified. (Doc. 93, p. 5.)

Plaintiff maintains that during the meeting Adams and Lane subjected her to extreme and outrageous conduct, which included shouting, screaming, and threatening conduct. (Doc. 35, p. 9.) Plaintiff further alleges that she had a reasonable belief that Lane and Adams had or were about to commit a crime, and therefore she activated a recording device and recorded a portion of the meeting. (Id., p. 10.) After being informed of this act, Sergeant Botterbush prepared a report and referred the matter to the detective division for investigation. Plaintiff was subsequently arrested on felony eavesdropping charges. (Doc. 93, p. 5.)

On or about April 30, 2003, Chief Sullivan terminated Plaintiff, allegedly based on the felony eavesdropping charges. (Id.) Plaintiff was provided with a letter explaining the reasons for her termination and advised to speak with David Miles, Director of Personnel for the City. Plaintiff went to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") instead of filing a grievance or requesting a hearing before the Civil Service Commission of Alton. (Id.) The first document she filed with the EEOC was dated May 9, 2003. Plaintiff received a Notice of Right to Sue dated September 2, 2003 from the EEOC and Plaintiff filed her initial complaint on December 1, 2003.

Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on arguing that the statements made to Plaintiff were not gender related, that she was terminated as a jailor for legitimate reasons, that Plaintiff's arguments regarding her constitutional rights are without merit, and that none of the incidents cited are of the type to sustain a finding of IIED. (Doc. 79.) Plaintiff filed a response on March 1, 2006. (Doc. 94.)

III. Legal Standard for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is proper where the pleadings and affidavits, if any, "show 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); Oats v. Discovery Zone, 116 F.3d 1161, 1165 (7th Cir. 1997) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)). The movant bears the burden of establishing the absence of fact issues and entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Santaella v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 123 F.3d 456, 461 (7th Cir. 1997) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323). In reviewing a summary judgment motion, the Court does not determine the truth of asserted matters, but rather decides whether there is a genuine factual issue for trial. Celex Group, Inc. v. Executive Gallery, Inc., 877 F. Supp. 1114, 1124 (N.D. Ill. 1995) (Castillo, J.). The Court must consider the entire record, drawing ...

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