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Serratore v. Harrah's Operating Co.

January 19, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge George M. Marovich


Plaintiff Michael J. Serratore ("Serratore") filed a three-count amended complaint against defendants (1) Harrah's Operating Company d/b/a Harrah's Joliet Casino and (2) Harrah's Illinois Corporation d/b/a Harrah's Joliet Casino ("Harrah's"). In his amended complaint, Serratore asserts that defendants discriminated against him on the basis of his sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), the Equal Pay Act and the Illinois Minimum Wage Act. Defendant Harrah's Illinois Corporation has moved for summary judgment.*fn1 Harrah's has also moved to strike plaintiff's response to defendant's statement of facts. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies in part the motion for summary judgment. The Court grants in part and denies in part the motion to strike.

I. Background

a. Motion to Strike

Defendant has moved to strike portions of plaintiff's response to defendant's statement of facts. In addition, defendant argues that some of the affidavits put forth by plaintiff contain inadmissible hearsay and lack foundation.

Local Rule 56.1 outlines the requirements for the introduction of facts parties would like considered in connection with a motion for summary judgment. As the Court notes on its website (and has mentioned in multiple opinions), the Court enforces Local Rule 56.1 strictly. Facts that are argued but do not conform with the rule are not considered by the Court. For example, facts included in a party's brief but not in its statement of facts are not considered by the Court because to do so would rob the other party of the opportunity to show that such facts are disputed. Where one party supports a fact with admissible evidence and the other party fails to controvert the fact with citation to admissible evidence, the Court deems the fact admitted. See Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Services, Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817-818 (7th Cir. 2004). It is not enough at the summary judgment stage for either party to say a fact is disputed. The Court considers a fact disputed only if both parties put forth admissible evidence of his or its version of the fact. Asserted "facts" not supported by deposition testimony, documents, affidavits or other evidence admissible for summary judgment purposes are not considered by the Court. The Court enforces Local Rule 56.1 with respect to both parties regardless of whether either party moves to strike non-complying portions, because the purpose of the rule is to make the Court's job manageable, not to give litigants additional ammunition to use against one another.

Based on Local Rule 56.1, defendant moves to strike portions of plaintiff's response to defendant's statement of material facts. This is unnecessary. As the Court has already explained, it does not consider facts that are not supported by admissible evidence. The Court need not take the time to strike that which it can simply ignore. The Court will not strike plaintiff's pleading.

Next, defendant objects to certain statements in declarations submitted by plaintiff. The Federal Rules of Evidence require foundation for testimony. Rule 602 of the Federal Rules of Evidence provides that a "witness may not testify to a matter unless evidence is introduced sufficient to support a finding that the witness has personal knowledge of the matter." See Fed. R. Evid.602. Thus, in an affidavit, a statement that a witness knows something, without statements about how the witness knows that something, is not admissible. See Ward v. First Federal Savings Bank, 173 F.3d 611, 618 (7th Cir. 1999); Drake v. 3M, 134 F.3d 878, 887 (7th Cir. 1998). For example, in Brian Meehan's ("Meehan") declaration, he states that he "was aware that people in the HR department and directors and managers around the Joliet facility were interviewed." Nowhere in the declaration does Meehan state how he knows this. The Court has ignored this and all other statements that lacked foundation.

Finally, defendant objects that certain statements in declarations submitted by plaintiff contain inadmissible hearsay. The Court notes (as plaintiff points out) that admissions of party-opponents are not hearsay. See Fed. R. Evid. 801(2). Thus, statements by Harrah's employees that were made with respect to matters in the course of their employment and during the duration of their employment are not hearsay. Id. Accordingly, declarations by witnesses who heard Batenic's statements about hiring at Harrah's are admissible. Statements on matters outside the scope of employment are hearsay. The Court will ignore any hearsay contained within the declarations submitted by plaintiff.

Defendant's motion to strike is granted in part and denied in part.

B. Facts Relevant to the Motion

Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are undisputed.

Harrah's human resources department Defendant Harrah's Joliet Casino is a state-licensed gaming facility with about 1200 employees. Plaintiff Serratore was among them. From November 2000 until September 4, 2004 Serratore worked for Harrah's in the human resources department.

At the Joliet Casino, human resources was led by a Vice President of Human Resources, who was responsible for overseeing all human resources functions at the property. Reporting to the Vice President of Human Resources was, among others, a Human Resources Manager for Employee Relations (the "Human Resources Manager").*fn2 The Human Resources Manager was responsible for servicing the various client departments within the Joliet Casino. In turn, two Senior Employee Relations Consultants reported to the Human Resources Manager. Generally, each Senior Employee Relations Consultant was responsible for half of the client departments. In addition, the human resources department employed about eight or nine other individuals.

Harrah's has written guidelines for employee compensation. Each position at Harrah's was assigned a salary grade, which determines the salary range for that position. For example, the salary range for the Senior Human Resources Consultant position, a grade 16 position, was $31,065 to $64,529. Generally, Harrah's paid employees a salary within the designated salary range. When determining a salary for a new hire, Harrah's considered the job requirements, market salaries, the candidate's education and experience and the candidate's salary history. Casino-specific industry experience was not a factor in determining salaries. A bilingual candidate could be offered a higher salary within the salary range.

At various times during the relevant time period, the positions in the human resources department were held by different individuals. Karen Batenic ("Batenic") became the Vice President of Human Resources in May 2003. Yolanda Wurster ("Wurster") was an Employee Relations Consultant from 1998 or 1999 until about 2002. ...

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