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Ellis v. Bradley

January 23, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. George W. Lindberg


Before the Court are plaintiff Tracey Ellis ("Ellis") and defendant JP Morgan Chase's ("Chase") cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth more fully below, Chase's motion for summary judgment is granted and Ellis' motion for summary judgment is denied. Judgment is entered in Chase's favor and this case is terminated.

I. Background

In June 2007, vexatious pro se litigant Tracey Ellis*fn1 sought leave from this Court's Executive Committee to file a complaint against three employees of Chase for alleged employment discrimination. The Executive Committee granted Ellis leave to file her complaint on September 20, 2007. Over Ellis' objection*fn2 , the court appointed attorney E. Angelo Spyratos ("Spyratos") to represent her. On March 12, 2008, Ellis' counsel filed an amended complaint, naming Chase as the sole defendant. In the amended complaint, Ellis alleged that Chase failed to hire her based on her race. Specifically, Ellis claimed that Chase declined to interview or hire her for two open positions because she is African-American, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000e, et seq. (Title VII").

On August 27, 2008, the Court granted attorney Spyratos leave to withdraw his appearance on behalf of Ellis. For the duration of his nearly six-month appointment, Spyratos provided Ellis, a difficult and demanding client, with professional and competent counsel. However, in August 2008, Ellis levied meritless accusations of unprofessional and disrespectful conduct against Spyratos. In light of Ellis' unsubstantiated allegations and the irreconcilable differences those allegations caused between Ellis and Spyratos, the Court allowed Spyratos to withdraw his appearance. After Ellis' conduct toward Spyratos, the Court declined to appoint Ellis new counsel. On December 17, 2008, Ellis filed her motion for summary judgment pro se. That same day, Chase filed its motion for summary judgment.

II. Ellis' Motion for Summary Judgment

First, the Court turns to Ellis' motion for summary judgment. Ellis' statement of facts in support of her motion for summary judgment does not comply with the requirements of Local Rule 56.1(a). Ellis' statement of facts does not consist of short numbered paragraphs. Instead, many of Ellis' numbered statements consist of multiple paragraphs with no supporting citations to affidavits or other parts of the records. For example, statement number 4 in Ellis' statement of facts consists of four paragraphs and at least fifteen sentences. Many of those sentences contain impermissible legal conclusions, argument and speculation and some sentences are objectively false. See Jupiter Aluminum Corp. v. Homes Ins. Co., 225 F.3d 868, 871 (7th Cir. 2000). Because Ellis' statement of facts does not comply with the requirements of Local Rule 56.1, it is stricken and her motion for summary judgment is denied. This is a result the Seventh Circuit repeatedly has sustained. See Midwest Imports, Ltd v. Coval, 71 F.3d 1311, 1316 (7th Cir. 1995)(citing cases).

III. Chase's Motion for Summary Judgment

A. Relevant Facts

Next, the Court turns to Chase's motion for summary judgment. The relevant facts follow. In February 2005, Ellis visited Chase's internet-based career website and established a user account ("account"). That account allowed Ellis to complete an online application for employment with Chase. Ellis completed an application and included information about her education, employment history, work experience and skills. Between February 2005 and the present, Ellis repeatedly logged into her account to update or modify her information and to apply for various jobs at Chase. Ellis never revealed the username or password associated with the account to anyone. Without a verified user name and password, information in the account cannot be modified. Chase employees could not add, delete, or modify any personal information in Ellis' account or online application.

The online application included a space for optional and voluntary information about an applicant's racial background. Ellis chose to provide information regarding her African-American racial background, but Chase staffing personnel could not view or access that information. Chase requests the optional racial background information solely for the purpose of Equal Employment Opportunity reporting. Other than providing her racial background information on her on-line application, Ellis never disclosed her race to any Chase employees involved in her application process. Since February 2005, Ellis applied for 16 positions at Chase. All of those applications were submitted electronically, through Chase's website.

On January 1, 2007, Ellis applied for the two specific positions at issue in this case. The first position was for a Customer Service Representative ("CSR"), job # 070001119. The second position was for a Sales and Service Associate ("SSA"), job # 070000066. On January 9, 2007, a Chase staffing manager, Elizabeth Masching ("Masching"), conducted a pre-screening telephone interview with Ellis. During the pre-screening interview, Ellis requested that Masching assign her to a male manager. Ellis told Masching that she had experienced repeated conflict issues with female supervisors in past jobs. After the pre-screening interview, Masching noted Ellis' conflict issues with female managers in her application records. Those records were accessible to other Chase staffing professionals.

Chase has an established non-discrimination policy that precludes discrimination based on sex, race, and other protected classifications. Because Ellis' request to be managed by only male supervisors was not consistent with Chase's non-discrimination policy, her applications did not progress past the pre-screening interview phase.

The candidate Chase hired for the vacant SSA job was an African-American female, who previously worked at Bank One, a predecessor to Chase, and had a positive work history. That candidate had four years of consecutive retail banking experience, which was a preferred qualification of the SSA position. At the ...

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