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Metzger v. Illinois State Police

March 18, 2008

LINETTE METZGER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ILLINOIS STATE POLICE, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 04 C 3013-Richard Mills, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Manion, Circuit Judge.

ARGUED DECEMBER 4, 2007

Before RIPPLE, MANION, and WOOD, Circuit Judges.

Linette Metzger sued the Illinois State Police ("State Police") alleging that when it denied her promotions it violated Title VII by retaliating against her for having previously filed a sex discrimination suit against it. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the State Police. Metzger appeals, and we affirm.

I.

Linette Metzger has been employed by the State Police as a civilian, or non-sworn employee, since 1985. Metzger had previously filed a lawsuit against the State Police in 1998. In that suit, Metzger alleged, among other things, that the State Police violated her rights under the Illinois Whistleblower Act*fn1 and the First Amendment by retaliating against her for reporting two of her co-workers for taking time off from work without using benefit time. Metzger also alleged that the State Police violated Title VII by discriminating against her on the basis of sex. Ultimately, those claims were unsuccessful. See Metzger v. DaRosa, 367 F.3d 699 (7th Cir. 2004).

The present suit concerns events that occurred after Metzger's 1998 lawsuit. In 1998, Metzger was transferred to the Firearms Services Bureau ("FSB").*fn2 At the FSB, Metzger reported to Linda Traylor, the manager of the FOID*fn3 section. Around the time of Metzger's transfer, Kirk Lonbom became the bureau chief of the FSB and started to reorganize it. As part of his reorganization, Lonbom created the FOID enforcement section in February 2000 and placed Master Sergeant Mark Whitley, a sworn State Police officer, in the position of section manager.*fn4 Metzger was then moved to the new enforcement section as Whitley's assistant. The duties of the FOID enforcement section included explaining eligibility for and the revocation of FOID cards to Illinois law enforcement personnel, educating law enforcement officers about what actions they must take in order to get firearms out of the hands of potentially dangerous individuals, revoking FOID cards for individuals who pose a clear and present danger of significant harm, and assisting law enforcement officers in the field.

In January 2002, Lieutenant Rick Kahrliker, another sworn State Police officer, replaced Mark Whitley and became the section manager of FOID enforcement. In an affidavit submitted in the district court, Metzger asserted that she performed the exact same job duties Kahrliker performed during his tenure as FOID enforcement section manager. Because of the work she performed, Metzger sought a pay upgrade from Administrative Assistant II, her current payroll title, to Public Services Administrator ("PSA"). In February 2002, Metzger and Kahrliker submitted a revised job description for Metzger's position to Lonbom for approval. Lonbom did not agree that Metzger's job duties warranted PSA classification, and told Kahrliker that he could not promote Metzger because of budgetary constraints. As a result, in May 2002 Metzger filed an employment discrimination charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("DHR") alleging, among other things, that the State Police had retaliated against her because of her testimony in her 1998 lawsuit by failing to promote her to PSA in February 2002. The charge was dismissed for lack of evidence in August 2003.

In June 2002, Metzger requested an audit by the Illinois Department of Central Management Services ("CMS") to determine whether her position classification should be upgraded to PSA. CMS is an agency independent from the State Police that, along with the Illinois Civil Service Commission, is in charge of determining pay classifications for state employees. See 20 ILCS 415/8a(1). Under the CMS Personnel Rules, another state agency can request that CMS perform a job audit to determine whether the employee's duties warrant an upgrade in payroll classification. As part of the audit, Metzger and Kahrliker completed a Position Audit Questionnaire listing Metzger's job duties. Once Metzger and Kahrliker completed the questionnaire, Lonbom received a copy of it. Referring to the description of Metzger's job duties in the questionnaire as "grandiose," Lonbom was concerned that the questionnaire inaccurately inflated the level of responsibility that Metzger's position had. Lonbom testified at his deposition that he may have written a memo to CMS setting forth his concern that Metzger's questionnaire answers were inaccurate. While the audit was proceeding, Kahrliker reported having a conversation with Lonbom in December 2002 during which Lonbom said that he did not care if Metzger was the best "god damn" employee in the department, he would never promote her.

In January 2003, CMS sent a letter to the director of the State Police informing the director that it had com- pleted its review and determined that Administrative Assistant II, and not PSA, was the proper classification for Metzger's position. The letter stated that CMS had compared the duties assigned to Metzger's position with other positions in the State Police, as well as similar positions in other state agencies, and concluded that they were typical of positions classified as Administrative Assistant II. Metzger requested reconsideration of CMS's decision and, in March 2003, CMS initiated a review of its decision. In a letter dated August 2003, CMS affirmed its previous decision. Included with the letter was a four-page, single-spaced Reconsidered Decision wherein CMS described how it reached its decision. The Reconsidered Decision listed four different sources that CMS had consulted in order to determine what Metzger's duties and responsibilities were: Assistant Bureau Chief Larry Grubb; Scott Giles, who had replaced Lonbom as bureau chief*fn5 ; the current official job description for Metzger's position; and the Position Audit Questionnaire produced by Metzger and Kahrliker. CMS then compared its formulation of Metzger's job duties with the job duties of the two PSA positions that Metzger proffered as comparable in scope. CMS found that the positions were not comparable.

While the reconsideration of CMS's audit was underway, Kahrliker retired. Metzger had previously expressed interest in his position to Lonbom, but Giles, as bureau chief, recommended Master Sergeant Mark Atchison, another sworn State Police officer, for the position. After Atchison was selected in May 2003, Metzger filed another retaliation charge with the DHR, this time alleging, among other things, that Giles had interfered with CMS's job audit and that the State Police had retaliated against her by not promoting her to PSA in May 2003.

In January 2004, Metzger filed her complaint in this action in the district court. After receiving her right-to-sue letter for her May 2003 charge of retaliation, Metzger amended her complaint to include allegations that the State Police retaliated against her by failing to promote her and interfering with her CMS job audit. The State Police moved for summary judgment, and the district court granted the State Police's motion on all of Metzger's claims. Metzger appeals.

II.

On appeal, Metzger argues that the district court erred in granting summary judgment on her retaliation claims based on the CMS job audit and the failure of the State Police to promote her to Kahrliker's position. We review a district court's grant of summary judgment de novo. Brown v. Ill. Dep't of Natural Res., 499 F.3d 675, 680 (7th Cir. 2007) (citing Merillat v. Metal Spinners, Inc., 470 F.3d 685, 690 (7th Cir. 2006)). In doing so, we construe all facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, Metzger. Id. (citing Healy v. City of Chicago, 450 F.3d 732, 738 (7th Cir. 2006)). "Summary judgment is proper if 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the ...


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