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Holiday v. City of Chicago

September 29, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: David H. Coar United States District Judge



Before this Court are defendants City of Chicago, Cortez Trotter, Mark Edinburg's ("Defendants") motion for summary judgment against plaintiff Carmen Holiday ("Plaintiff" or "Holiday"), Defendant Harding's motion for summary judgment against Plaintiff, and Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment against all defendants. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is DENIED, Defendant Harding's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED, and Defendants City of Chicago, Cortez Trotter and Mark Edinburg's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.


Plaintiff Carmen Holiday ("Plaintiff") is employed as a paramedic-in-charge with the Chicago Fire Department ("CFD"). Plaintiff is a black female. Defendant City of Chicago ("the City") is a municipal corporation that conducts business in the State of Illinois and employs more than 15 individuals.

The Chicago Fire Department

The CFD includes an Emergency Medical Services unit ("EMS") in which Plaintiff was employed. The chain of command in the EMS is as follows: paramedic, paramedic-in-charge ("PIC"), field officer, ambulance commander, assistant deputy chief paramedic ("ADCP"), deputy chief paramedic ("DCP") and assistant deputy fire commissioner. Members of the CFD may be assigned to one ambulance and take details to other ambulances. A detail is a temporary assignment from one company to another ambulance.

CFD members are required to follow Department's internal rules as well as the City's personnel rules. A member of the CFD who fails to follow the CFD's general orders or the City's personnel rules may be subject to discipline.

The City and CFD have anti-discrimination policies that prohibit discrimination and harassment against its members, and set forth procedures for reporting and processing discrimination and harassment complaints. General Order 93-018 allows an employee to make a written complaint to his or her supervisor, or to the CFD's Equal Employment Opportunity officer. CFD follows the City's sexual harassment policy, which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace.

Plaintiff's Employment with the CFD

Plaintiff began working for the CFD on June 1, 2000. Plaintiff was assigned to Ambulance 52 from approximately July or August 2000 through September 2001. Plaintiff held the position of paramedic while she worked on Ambulance 52. During July 2000 and September 2001, John Harding was the field officer assigned to Ambulance 52, John Constantini was the ADCP, and Patricia Ciara was the DCP.

In September 2001, plaintiff voluntarily transferred to Ambulance 30, working under Field Officer Michael Cecich, ADCP Kevin Roche, and DCP Kevin Sullivan. In November 2003, Plaintiff was promoted to PIC. Plaintiff continues to work for the CFD as a PIC and remains assigned to Ambulance 30.

On or about March 26, 2004, Field Officer Patrick M. Kelly delivered to ADCP Roche a letter in which he stated, "Carmen Holiday, of African-American ethnicity, has on several occasions approached discuss experiences she has encountered while employed as a Paramedic and a Paramedic in Charge within the EMS District Five...In general and in specific, I have come to identify that this employee may well have been the victim of racial discrimination, while in the performance of her duties, by other members fo the Chicago Fire Department with whom she has been charged to serve."("the Kelly Memo"). On or about March 26, 2004, Roche and Sullivan met with Kelly to discuss the Kelly Memo.

In September 2004, Plaintiff went to the Internal Affairs Division ("IAD") and spoke with Investigator Barbara Bennett about feeling harassed. On or about October 10, 2004, Plaintiff met with Bennett and CFD Attorney, Mary Robinson and filed a complaint of racial harassment with the IAD, and IAD investigated Plaintiff's allegations. The IAD issued a 26 page report and concluded that plaintiff's allegations of racial harassment were not sustained.

Sexual Harassment/ Hostile Work Environment

Plaintiff alleges that during September 2000, an unnamed, white male co-worker touched the Plaintiff's back inappropriately. Plaintiff testified that he slapped her on the back three times within 24 hours, but she did not think the co-worker was making sexual advances toward her. Shortly after, Plaintiff had a conversation with Harding at the back of an ambulance, during which she felt that Harding threatened her to not file a complaint against the co-worker who slapped her in the back. Plaintiff did not intend to, nor did she, make a complaint against the co-worker.

Plaintiff believes she was subjected to inappropriate sexual conduct when a white, male firefighter kissed her on the cheek once in 2001. Plaintiff told her husband, Mark Holiday, who also works with the CFD, about the incident, but did not complain to anyone else at the CFD.

Plaintiff testified that once between 2000 and 2001, a white, male engineer said, "I have to clean out pipes" in her presence. Plaintiff believed the comment was sexual in nature. Plaintiff did not file a complaint or otherwise notify the CFD of this incident.

Plaintiff claims she has been called derogatory names based on her gender, but she does not recall specific names, who made them, or when the comments were made.

Racial Harassment / Hostile Work Environment

Plaintiff alleges she was verbally harassed and told she was incompetent, she was called a "bitch," and was regularly subjected to verbally abusive and insulting language by superiors, co-workers, and subordinates. Plaintiff claims that "20 or more" co-workers ignored her and spread false rumors about her. Between 2004 and 2005, CFD members spread rumors that Plaintiff had taken pictures with her camera phone of Engine 101 firefighters playing poker; Plaintiff had "an attitude" and could be condescending; Plaintiff was friends with Commissioner Trotter and attended the same church he attends, and that Plaintiff had been fired. Co-workers also spread false rumors verbally and on the CFD's unofficial website about the Plaintiff.

While working with Ambulance 30, unidentified firemen would be "nasty" towards her, refusing to assist Plaintiff with patient care and carrying equipment. Plaintiff believes the fireman catered to white female paramedics and assisted them in their duties.

Plaintiff claims that Cecich stood over her, and gave her mean and demeaning looks. Some white paramedics had Cecich's cell phone number, but Plaintiff did not. Plaintiff believes that after she became a PIC, Cecich encouraged the paramedics under her supervision to be "subordinate" by allowing them to call him on his cell phone when they had disputes with the Plaintiff.

Plaintiff was given a double detail, a procedure that is almost never undertaken. Plaintiff testified that on more than one occasion, she was told by other co-workers that a co-worker or supervisor did not want to work with her because she was a black woman.

Race and Gender Discrimination

On December 7, 2000, Harding initiated a disciplinary action against plaintiff for allowing a candidate EMT to receive medical supplies. In addition, Harding instructed her to drive faster on an ambulance run, and directed her to sweep the apparatus floor by herself.

When Plaintiff was with Ambulance 52, she had joined the "food club", but occasionally would return from duty to find that there was not enough food for her or that the food was not kept in edible condition. Four of the five PICs that plaintiff identified working with are of a race different than plaintiff's and three are male. Between August 2000 and September 2001, Plaintiff believes paramedic Jason Peace discriminated against her by intentionally relieving her an hour late.

After Plaintiff transferred to Ambulance 30, in September 2001, Cecich demanded that she agree to take details by signing Form 2. Cecich also said to her, "whatever happened to you up north, stays up north", referring to her problems with Ambulance 52. Pltf. Depo. p. 270-72.

Daily assignments are generally communicated to members of the CFD via a mobile data computer ("MDC"). Cecich used the MDC to give daily assignments. Cecich did not give Plaintiff her assignments through the MDC, but gave her verbal assignments. He sometimes failed to give her CFD paperwork, such as updates to general or administrative orders or trade requests.

On March 4, 2004, Plaintiff failed to attend a mandatory continuing medical education class ("CME") class. Plaintiff received an oral reprimand. On April 13, 2004, Plaintiff failed to attend another mandatory CME class. On October 8, 2004 Plaintiff received an written reprimand. Plaintiff believed these were "unfair." Her husband, who also worked for the CFD and missed the CME classes, was not disciplined.

On May 5, 2004, the employer of a patient called to complain that Plaintiff had been rude and unprofessional, and had failed to render proper treatment to the patient. On May 2, 2005, Plaintiff received notification that she would serve an 8 hour suspension, and served it on May 26, 2005. A patient complaint was filed against PIC Anthony Behland (white ...

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