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Jackson v. City of Chicago

October 15, 2007

GEORGE JACKSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

George Jackson is a carpenter who has been working for the City of Chicago since 1987. He was denied two promotions for which he applied in 2004 and has sued the City for race discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f), and age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § 626(c). The City has moved for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the Court grants the City's motion.

Facts

Because the City has moved for summary judgment, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to Jackson and draws reasonable inferences in his favor. See DeValk Lincoln Mercury, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 811 F.2d 326, 329 (7th Cir. 1987).*fn1

Jackson, a fifty-six year-old African-American man, began his employment with the City in 1987 as a carpenter in the Public Works Department. Since August 2003, he has been a foreman of carpenters in the Department of Transportation. In 2004, the City posted a bid announcement for two positions for general foreman of general trades, one in the Department of Transportation and the other in the Department of General Services. The general foreman of general trades coordinates the activities of all the trade unions to complete a project.

In March 2004, Jackson applied for the position in the Department of Transportation, as did Mike Blake, the individual who eventually received the promotion. At the time the city posted the job opening, Jackson had thirty years of experience as a journeyman carpenter. Tom Powers, Darryl Rouse, and James Joyce were on the panel that interviewed candidates. The interviewers asked, among other things, whether the candidates had experience in estimating the materials and manpower needed to complete a project for the City. Blake had gained experience estimating while working on other jobs for the City. Jackson told the interviewers that he did not have experience estimating for the City. Though it apparently did not come up at the interview, Jackson had estimated jobs while working as a carpenter supervisor for the Chicago Housing Authority from 1985 through 1987.

The job selection process also required candidates to complete a written work sample, which tested the applicants written communication skills. Written communication skills are important for the position of general foreman of general trades. The work sample consisted of two parts: a narrative answer describing how the candidate would replace a deck, and questions (for which there were objectively correct answers) regarding the candidate's ability to read and interpret drawings. Powers scored the work sample questions regarding the reading and interpretation of drawings, and all three interviewers discussed the narrative answers. Blake received a perfect score on his work sample. Jackson made several errors on the written test.

The interviewers assigned numerical scores to the candidates based on several hiring criteria. The criteria were quality and relevance of previous job experience, quality of oral communication skills, quality and relevance of supervisory experience, quality of written communication skills, and previous satisfactory performance in positions involving similar duties for the City. The interviewers assigned each candidate a rating of between one and five on each of these points, with one indicating poor performance and five indicating excellent performance. Blake received a score of five in three categories and a four in one category. One category, previous experience in similar positions for the City, did not apply. Blake's total weighted score was 4.75. Jackson received a score of two in three categories, a score of three in one category, and, as with Blake, the category regarding previous experience did not apply. Jackson's total weighted score was 2.25.

At the time Jackson and Blake interviewed for the position, Blake was over forty years old. Prior to his employment with the City, Blake worked at Hartz Construction from 1987 to 1992. He began as a laborer/apprentice but became a journeyman carpenter around 1989. At Hartz Construction, Blake received training in, among other things, rough framing for houses including building walls, installing roofs and stairs, and framing kitchens and bathrooms. While at Hartz, Blake joined the carpenters' union, which sponsored him to work as an apprentice through Hartz. Blake's work as a laborer/apprentice with Hartz Construction qualified as an approved apprenticeship with the carpenter's union. While Blake worked at Hartz Construction, he learned to read blueprints and gained additional carpentry experience by doing work on the side, such as framing and finishing decks and garages.

Blake received the promotion to general foreman of general trades in the Department of Transportation; Jackson did not.

In March 2004, Jackson applied for the position of general foreman of general trades in the Department of General Services. Kevin O'Gorman and other candidates also applied for the position. Dave Donovan, Bill Alicea, and Tom Beck interviewed the candidates. As part of the interview process, candidates were required to complete a written work sample. The work sample included specific questions relating to the candidate's carpentry skills and specific questions relating to personnel matters that a general foreman of general trades would be expected to handle. All the candidates submitted the work sample, except for Jackson, who refused.

In his response to the City's statement of facts, Jackson denies that candidates were asked to complete a work sample. However, he cites no evidence to support his denial. Instead, he states that the City "has produced no evidence that a work sample was given as part of the interview process . . . ." Pl. Resp. to Def. LR 56.1 Stat. ¶¶ 70-72. But this is incorrect. The City submitted and cited to the affidavit of Dave Donovan, who states that a work sample was given to all candidates and that all candidates completed it except for Jackson, who refused. Def. LR 56.1 Stat. ¶¶ 70-72. Jackson's denials of these assertions do not include a citation to evidence in the record as required by Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B). Thus, the City's facts are deemed admitted.

N.D. Ill. LR 56.1(b)(3)(C); Smith v. Lanz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003). See also, Martino v. Kraft Foods, Inc., No. 04 C 2870, 2005 WL 1651195, at *12 (N.D. Ill. July 5, 2005). O'Gorman received the highest combined score on the work sample and interview among all the candidates, including Jackson. O'Gorman is forty-nine years old. Prior to his employment with the City, he attended Washburne Trade School for four years, studying carpentry. During his training at Washburne, O'Gorman learned about roofs, stairs, building layout, blueprint reading, algebra, concrete, metal stud framing, acoustical ceilings, and drywall. He also received additional experience by doing carpentry work for Levi Company and others. At the end of his training at Washburne, he received a journeyman carpenter's certificate. After completing his training, O'Gorman worked as a carpenter for several companies and had the opportunity to act as a foreman. As a foreman, O'Gorman's duties included reading blueprints, supervising employees, supervising and scheduling work for the trades, coordinating with the trades, and meeting completion deadlines. He also estimated construction jobs prior to his employment with the City. In August 2001, O'Gorman began his employment with the City as a foreman of carpenters in the Department of General Services. He was promoted to general foreman of general trades in the Department of General Services, the position for which Jackson also applied, in May 2004.

Jackson contends that the City prevented him from gaining experience needed to obtain the promotions by allowing non-African-American employees to "act up" as foremen in a discriminatory fashion. The term "acting up" refers to allowing an employee to serve temporarily in a higher position. Employees who act up receive experience, particularly supervisory experience, that they otherwise may not ...


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