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Ashraf v. Christopher House

October 2, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. Steve, District Court Judge


Plaintiff Rehana Ashraf filed the present lawsuit alleging claims of age, national origin, and race discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"),

29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq., Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 against her former employer Defendant Christopher House ("Christopher House"), an Illinois corporation. Before the Court is Christopher House's Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendant's summary judgment motion as to Ashraf's race and national origin discrimination claims, but denies Defendant's motion as to Ashraf's age discrimination claim.


I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

When determining summary judgment motions, the Court derives the background facts from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 statements, which assist the Court by "organizing the evidence, identifying undisputed facts, and demonstrating precisely how each side propose[s] to prove a disputed fact with admissible evidence." Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000). Specifically, Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Servs., Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004); see also Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643 (7th Cir. 2008). Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) requires the nonmoving party to admit or deny every factual statement proffered by the moving party and to concisely designate any material facts that establish a genuine dispute for trial. See Schrott v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 403 F.3d 940, 944 (7th Cir. 2005). In addition, Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) requires the nonmoving party to present a separate statement of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment. See Ciomber, 527 F.3d at 643-44.

The purpose of Rule 56.1 statements is to identify the relevant evidence supporting the material facts, not to make factual or legal arguments. Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 2006). The requirements for responses under Local Rule 56.1 are "not satisfied by evasive denials that do not fairly meet the substance of the material facts asserted." Bordelon, 233 F.3d at 528. A litigant's failure to respond to a Local Rule 56.1 statement results in the Court admitting the uncontroverted statement as true. Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 608 (7th Cir. 2006). Moreover, the Court may disregard statements and responses that do not properly cite to the record. Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., L.L.C., 401 F.3d 803, 809-10 (7th Cir. 2005). With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts of this matter.

II. Relevant Facts

A. Christopher House

Christopher House is a five-site family resource center that offers comprehensive programming to both children and their parents through child and youth development, teen- parent support, literacy, counseling, and emergency services. (R. 55-1, Def.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.) Christopher House operated a family resource center at 4302 N. Kenmore in Chicago, Illinois -- known as the Buena Park facility -- through the fall of 2007. (Id. ¶ 2.) During the 2004-05 school year, the Buena Park facility had two classrooms. (Id. ¶ 3.) As of April 2005, Christopher House's Buena Park facility was staffed by Jennifer Kushto, Site Director; Doreen Herrera, Social Services Worker; Carla Schultz, Master Pre-K Teacher; Brenda Howell, Teacher; Rehana Ashraf, Assistant Teacher; Delores Harris, Teacher; and Gladis Peralta, Assistant Teacher. (Id. ¶ 4.) Plaintiff Rehana Ashraf worked at Christopher House from March 1992 until April 27, 2005. (R. 70-1, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Add'l. Facts ¶ 63.) Christopher House hired Jennifer Kushto as the Site Director on February 22, 2005. (Id. ¶ 74.) Natalie Lane was the Site Director prior to Kushto. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 55.)

B. April 27, 2005 Incident

On April 27, 2005, the mother of a three-year-old child in Rehana Ashraf's classroom complained to Doreen Herrera, Buena Park's Social Services Worker, that her daughter had told her that "Ms. Rehana" grabbed her face and arm the day before when the class had been at the park and left a bruise on the child's arm. (Id. ¶ 5.) Although Ashraf admits that a parent made a complaint about her on April 27, 2005, Ashraf disputes that nature of the parent's complaint. (R. 70-1, Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Facts, ¶¶ 5, 6.) In any event, Herrera then reported the parent's complaint to Site Director Kushto and Kushto then called Anna Falcon, Human Resources Director for Christopher House, to consult with her about what to do. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 8, 10.) Also, Kushto, Herrera, and another teacher, Carla Schultz, met with Brenda Howell, the other teacher in Ashraf's classroom. (Id. ¶ 11.) Kushto memorialized this meeting in a memorandum that states that Howell corroborated the mother's complaint. (Id. ¶ 12.) Specifically, the memorandum states in pertinent part:

Brenda Howell was asked if these accusations had occurred. Brenda confirmed that Rehana did indeed grab the child by the arm and by the face, along the jaw line. She also disclosed that the incident occurred while trying to line the children up during a walking trip to Buena Park. Brenda also let us know that Rehana was trying to get the child's attention and in order to do so she grabbed the child's face in order for her to look at Rehana. Rehana then ...

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