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Idahosa v. Nord Cleaning Services

December 3, 2008

ROBERT O. IDAHOSA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NORD CLEANING SERVICES, INC. DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff Robert O. Idahosa and Defendant Nord Cleaning Services Incorporated filed Motions for Summary Judgment. For the reasons set forth below, Idahosa's Motion for Summary Judgment [#68] is DENIED and Nord Cleaning's Motion for Summary Judgment [#66] is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

JURISDICTION

The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), the Family Medical Leave Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2612 et seq. ("FMLA"), and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §12101 et seq. ("ADA").

BACKGROUND

On January 6, 2006, Plaintiff Robert O. Idahosa filed a Complaint against Curt Nord, the president and owner of Nord Cleaning Services, Inc. ("Nord Cleaning"), Linda Sears, the business manager for Nord Cleaning, and Nord Cleaning, alleging discrimination under Title VII, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Illinois Human Rights Act. While the Court's Order of July 7, 2008 succinctly sets out the chronology of this case, a brief overview summarizing the current parties and the remaining claims may prove helpful.

Prior to this current Order, the Court dismissed Curt Nord and Linda Sears as parties because they are not "employers" as defined by Title VII and the ADA. (See March 3, 2006, Order). The Court denied Nord Cleaning's Motion for Summary Judgment with regard to Idahosa's ADA claim, stating that while it expressed no opinion on whether Idahosa may be able to ultimately prove all the elements of the ADA failure-to-accommodate claim at trial, it found that Nord Cleaning failed to establish the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. (See August 27, 2007, Order). With regard to Idahosa's Title VII claim, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of Nord Cleaning and held that Idahosa failed to establish a prima facie case under Title VII using the McDonnell Douglas indirect method of proof. (See August 29, 2007 Order). Upon Idahosa's Motion to Reconsider, the Court vacated its dismissal of the Title VII claim, finding that Curt Nord's alleged use of the term "nigger," in reference to Idahosa, gave rise to an inference of discriminatory actions and that the Title VII claim should have been analyzed under the direct and indirect methods of proof. (See Minute Entry for March 12, 2008 hearing). At that hearing, the Court granted Idahosa leave to file an Amended Complaint to allege a claim pursuant to the Families and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), portions of which were later stricken.

Idahosa's and Nord Cleaning's current motions for summary judgment are now fully briefed, and this Order follows.

DISCUSSION

Summary judgment should be granted where "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show 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 has the responsibility of informing the Court of portions of the record or affidavits that demonstrate the absence of a triable issue. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The moving party may meet its burden of showing an absence of disputed material fact by demonstrating "that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Cain v. Lane, 857 F.2d 1139, 1142 (7th Cir. 1988).

If the moving party meets its burden, the non-moving party then has the burden of presenting specific facts to show that there is a genuine issue of material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) requires the non-moving party to go beyond the pleadings and produce evidence of a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. Nevertheless, this Court must "view the record and all inferences drawn from it in the light most favorable to the [non-moving party]." Holland v. Jefferson Nat. Life Ins. Co., 883 F.2d 1307, 1312 (7th Cir. 1989). Summary judgment will be denied where a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Hedberg v. Indiana Bell Tel. Co., 47 F.3d 928, 931 (7th Cir. 1995).

Idahosa's Motion for Summary Judgment

Idahosa seeks Summary Judgment on his Title VII claim, his FMLA claim, and his ADA claim.

A. Title VII

Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating "against any individual with respect to [his] compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1); Meritor Savings Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 106 S.Ct. 2399, 2404 (1986). Under Title VII, the plaintiff is required to establish that he has been the victim of intentional discrimination. Mojica v. Gannett Co., Inc., 7 F.3d 552, 561 (7th Cir. 1993).

Idahosa argues he is entitled to summary judgment on his Title VII claim, arguing that the racial comments allegedly made by Curt Nord and Linda Sears demonstrate that he was treated less favorably than similarly situated employees not in the protected class. As evidence of that, he alleges that Curt Nord called him a "nigger." (Idahosa Mot., 6). Idahosa states that the testimony of Curt Nord and Linda Sears refuting his allegations of racial slurs are not credible. (Idahosa Mot., 6-7).*fn1

In its Opposition Brief, Nord Cleaning argues that Idahosa fails to identify any portion of Nord Cleaning's Answers to Interrogatories, Affidavits, or deposition testimony that demonstrates that Nord Cleaning admitted to participating in discrimination. Nord Cleaning denies that any derogatory comments were made in the workplace and Curt ...


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