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Joseph v. Cook County

April 30, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, District Judge


This matter comes before the court on the motion of Defendant County of Cook ("the County") for summary judgment in its favor on the complaint of Plaintiff Alvin Joseph. For the reasons set forth below, the County's motion for summary judgment is granted and the motion to strike is denied as moot.


In June 2003, Joseph applied to work as a motor vehicle driver for the County.*fn1 Applications for the position were accepted from May 30 until June 30 of that year.

The posting stated that applicants needed to have a high school diploma or GED as well as a valid Class B Commercial Driver's License ("CDL"). Beginning July 1, a hiring freeze took effect in the County until November 30. On August 1, 2003, the County notified Joseph by letter that his application had been received and reviewed and that he was scheduled to take an in-person performance test on September 8. On that day, Joseph went to take the test. While he was waiting in line to begin, he was given an index card to fill out with information including his name and his place of birth. He stated that he was born in Iraq.

On November 13, the County sent Joseph a letter informing him that he had "successfully qualified on all portions to date of the assessment process" and that his name may be referred to a hiring department to be interviewed. Five days later, Joseph's name was transmitted, along with 167 other eligible candidates, to the hiring department of the County's Highway Department. The index card he filled out was not included with the eligibility list, since the cards are retained by the Cook County Bureau of Human Resources in its separate files and are not forwarded to the individual Department Offices in conjunction with other information about potential candidates for County employment. On December 4, the Highway Department personnel supervisor interviewed Joseph in person.

Almost two years went by. On September 16, 2005, Charles Hernandez, a County employee, spoke with Joseph about a position as a driver for the County. Joseph attempted to contact the County several times thereafter to inquire about the position. On November 1, 2005, another hiring freeze started in the County.*fn2 Having not heard anything from the County about the driver position, on December 20, 2005, Joseph filed a charge with the EEOC, alleging that the County did not hire him subsequent to his September 16 conversation with Hernandez on the basis of his national origin.

In October 2006, the EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter, and Joseph filed suit in this court, contending that the County had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. After the parties completed discovery, the County moved for summary judgment on the entirety of Joseph's complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.


Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, reveals 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). The moving party bears the initial burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (1986). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to show through specific evidence that a triable issue of fact remains on issues on which the non-movant bears the burden of proof at trial. Id. The non-movant may not rest upon mere allegations in the pleadings or upon conclusory statements in affidavits; it must go beyond the pleadings and support its contentions with proper documentary evidence. Id. The court considers the record as a whole and draws all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Bay v. Cassens Transp. Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000). A genuine issue of material fact exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

With these principles in mind, we turn to the County's motion.


I. Title VII Claim

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful, inter alia, for an employer to fail or refuse to hire a candidate for employment because of that candidate's national origin. 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e-2(a)(1). In Illinois, if an employee has not filed an EEOC charge within 300 days of alleged discriminatory conduct, a Title VII claim based on that conduct will generally be ...

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