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Rucker v. Illinois Dep't of Children & Family Services

August 29, 2008

FRED RUCKER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN & FAMILY SERVICES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert W. Gettleman

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff, Fred Rucker, an African American male, has filed a pro se complaint against his current employer, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS") alleging pay discrimination based on color and race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 1981 et seq. Plaintiff's additional claims against DCFS of failure to promote, punitive damage liability, and claim to reopen prior untimely cases were dismissed with prejudice by this court on October 16, 2007. Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56., defendant has moved for summary judgment against the surviving claim of pay discrimination. For the reasons discussed below, defendant's motion is granted.

FACTS

The following facts are taken from uncontested facts in plaintiff's complaint, and the parties' L.R. 56.1 statements and attached exhibits. This court will consider the parties' statements containing only factual allegations, not legal conclusions or argumentative statements without proffered evidentiary support. See Mach Mold Inc. v. Clover Associates, Inc., 383 F.Supp.2d 1015, 1025 (N.D. Ill. 2005); Holder v. Ivanjack, 93 F.Supp.2d 933, 938 (N.D. Ill. 2000). The court will deem admitted a statement of fact where a denying party fails to provide adequate support for the denial. See L.R. 56.1(a), (b)(3)(B); see also Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 584 (N.D. Ill. 2000). Further, the court will disregard additional facts claimed in the parties' responses that were not asserted in the pleadings. See Malec, 191 F.R.D. at 584. In deciding the motion for summary judgment and even applying the liberal standards applicable in pro se cases, see Henderson v. Sheahan, 196 F.3d 839, 845 (7th Cir. 1999), this court will consider responses that are appropriate according to the Rule 56 framework. The court will disregard statements of fact that are not supported or improperly asserted. See Federal Deposit Ins. Corp. v. Meyer, 781 F.2d 1260, 1267 (7th Cir. 1986) (plaintiff may not rely on his own speculative statements and beliefs). The court will not rule at length on whether to strike specific paragraphs in the parties' briefs but will draw its facts only from portions that are appropriate.

Plaintiff, Fred Rucker filed his original complaint of discrimination in pay under Title VII in July of 2005. On or about January 8, 2007, after being issued a notice of right to sue by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, plaintiff filed a complaint in federal court claiming unequal pay due to race and color in violation of Title VII. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that Paula Weidner is a "similarly situated" employee who earns $4,400 per month, $900 more per month than plaintiff. Plaintiff learned of the pay discrepancy in March 2005 when the DCFS Office of Affirmative Action communicated it to him.

Plaintiff is a Caucasian male born in November 1944. He received a Bachelor's degree in business from Arkansas AM&N in approximately 1972 or 1973 and a Master's degree in urban planning policy from the University of Illinois, Chicago in 1998. Prior to working at DCFS, plaintiff's work history includes being employed as a collection officer, property manager and club manager. In April 1989, plaintiff was hired by DCFS in Cook County under an Executive II job classification. His starting salary was $2,300 a month. From 1989 until 1992, plaintiff was responsible for ensuring that DCFS received proper claim reimbursements from the federal government for qualified foster children. Plaintiff was laid off from DCFS in September 1992 due to defendant's lack of funds and was re-hired eighteen months later in February 1994, again under an Executive II classification. He voluntarily accepted a salary of $2,393 per month. From 1994-1996, he worked in the business office and was also responsible for paying foster parents. Between 1996 and 1998 plaintiff supervised payments to foster parents and assisted his supervisor in developing and renewing contracts with DCFS vendors. From 1998 -- 1999 plaintiff worked exclusively with his supervisor in assisting him with contract development.

In 1999 plaintiff was transferred to another Executive II position -- "functional administrator" of Stores and Business operations. Plaintiff continues to hold that position today, and the responsibilities associated with the position remain unchanged since 1999. According to the job description and plaintiff's complaint, plaintiff manages the Cook County DCFS office supply room. In this capacity and under the general direction of the DCFS Senior Public Service Administrator, he ensures that "things run smoothly" in the supply room. Plaintiff's supply room services eighteen DCFS field offices. He personally supervises up to ten supply room employees. Within this supervisory role, plaintiff organizes, plans and executes, controls and evaluates the supply room operations. He also plans, reviews, supervises and coordinates, through a subordinate supervisor, clerical staff engaged in DCFS property control, stores, messenger service, maintenance of state owned vehicles and voucher payment processing. Plaintiff supervises one employee in the vouchering unit. Further, plaintiff monitors all supply purchase requests and controls the movement and availability of staff and equipment within Cook County. In addition, he conducts quality assurance review of supply room staff to assure that the quality of the work produced by the staff meets established DCFS standards and complies with established policies and procedures. Plaintiff also assesses the effectiveness of procedures and recommends improvements in supply room operations. Finally, he is in charge of verifying the accuracy of vendor bills and signs them prior to payment.

In April 2003, the date of the alleged discriminatory pay-setting decision, plaintiff's salary was $3,585 per month. His current monthly salary is $4,425 per month. In his pay discrimination claim, plaintiff has identified Paula Weidner as a comparator. Weidner is a Caucasian female born in December 1963. She received a Bachelor degree in psychology and sociology from Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri in 1996. Prior to working for DCFS, Weidner was employed by the Illinois Secretary of State, Department of Police, for ten years as an administrator and clerk within the Auto Theft Division. Shewas responsible for the account clerks andfor the day-to-day operations for a multi-jurisdictional police task force. She was responsible for budget preparations, supply purchases, bill payments and the overall management ofthe Bellville Office. She also prepared all statistical/analytical state and federal reports regarding police arrests, prosecution and convictions pertaining to auto theft.

In April 2003, Weidner transferred with a promotion to DCFS from the Office of the Secretary of State, Department of Police. At the time of her transfer, her salary at the Secretary of State was $2,843. Her beginning salary at DCFS was set to $4,130 per month and was approved because Weidner's education and ten years of relevant experience were taken into consideration. Since her transfer, Weidner's job classification has been Executive II in the DCFS Bureau of Program Operations and Community Service in St. Clair County, Illinois, Southern Region. As an Executive II, she was hired as the Business Operation Manager for the Southern Region.

In her position as Business Operation Manager, three account technicians and, until March 2005, one clerical employee reported directly to Weidner. She is responsible for training the account technicians. Weidner has duties relating to Bills and Budgets, where she assists with formulating, preparing, and monitoring the Southern Region budget, handles regional Court of Claims matters, and approves clothing vouchers of foster children and infant care equipment grants for the region. In Supplies and Office Management, her duties entail approving, acquiring, and sending all office supplies and equipment for the region, evaluating, recommending, and implementing office procedures, and training and evaluating subordinate activities. In her duties in Data Collection and Analytical Assessment, Weidner collects data related to fiscal monthly reports, enters data regarding adoptions and guardianships, and analyzes regional business and technical operations. She also has responsibility in Office Safety, where she oversees safety accreditation, resolves safety concerns reported by the twenty-one DCFS field offices in the Southern Region, and provides facility clearance for regional employees. Weidner is also in charge of coordinating court ordered paternity tests, and she pays all of the Southern Region's fiscal bills. Finally, she is responsible for taking a yearly inventory of all the furniture and equipment located in the twenty-one offices in the Southern Region. Weidner's salary as of January 2008 is $4, 865 per month.

Both Weidner and plaintiff are Executive II employees. Executive II is a payroll classification encompassing a variety of job titles and duties. Pay rates are determined by the Department of Central Management Services ("CMS"), which is the state government department responsible for hiring procedures and salary administration of most state agencies, including DCFS. In April 2003, at the time Weidner transferred to DCFS, the salary range for Executive II was $2,843 to $5,125 per month.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff filed his complaint alleging pay discrimination against DCFS, based on color and race, claiming DCFS Administrators discriminated by manipulating a bona fide hiring and pay system and that the pay-setting decision made in hiring Weidner in 2003 was an example of the discrimination practiced by the defendant. Defendant has responded by moving for summary judgment against plaintiff.

A movant is entitled to summary judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with any affidavits, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Once a moving party has met its burden, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Becker v. Tenenbaum-Hill Associates, Inc., 914 F.2d 107, 110 (7th Cir.1990). On a motion for summary judgment, the court considers the record as a whole and "must construe all facts in ...


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