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Bozek v. Corinthian Colleges

February 13, 2009


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


On October 15, 2007, Plaintiff Laura E. Bozek brought a ten-count Amended Complaint against her former employer Corinthian Colleges, Inc. ("Corinthian") and her former direct supervisor, Charles Mitchell. Before the Court is Corinthian's Partial Motion for Summary Judgment as to Bozek's sexual harassment and retaliation claims brought pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and Illinois common law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.*fn1 For the following reasons, the Court grants Corinthian's motion.


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. Specifically, Local Rule 56.1 assists 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). 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). Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) 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 additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment. See Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008). As such, pursuant to the Local Rules the Court will not consider the additional facts a nonmoving party proposes in its Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) response, but instead must rely on the nonmoving party's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) Statement of Additional Facts. See id. at 643 ("court does not abuse its discretion when it opts to disregard facts presented in a manner that does follow the Rule's instructions").

The purpose of Rule 56.1 statements is to identify the relevant evidence supporting the material facts, not to make factual or legal arguments. See Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 2006). 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). 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. Moreover, the Court may disregard statements and responses that do not properly cite to the record. See Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., L.L.C. 401 F.3d 803, 809-10 (7th Cir. 2005); see also Raymond, 442 F.3d at 604 ("district courts are entitled to expect strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1"). With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts of this case.

II. Relevant Facts

A. Introduction

Defendant Corinthian Colleges, Inc., a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in California, operates post-secondary colleges throughout the United States offering diploma and degree programs to train students in, among other areas, massage therapy, medical assisting, and dental assisting. (R. 59-1, Def.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.) One of Corinthian's brands is "Everest College," formerly known as "Olympia College." (Id. ¶ 2.) At all relevant times, Corinthian's Olympia College, Burr Ridge Campus ("Burr Ridge Campus") offered programs in dental assisting, medical administrative assisting, medical assisting, and massage therapy. (Id.)

Plaintiff Laura Bozek, a resident of Illinois, is a former Corinthian employee who worked at the Burr Ridge Campus. (Id. ¶ 3.) During Bozek's employment, Charles Mitchell was the Director of Education at the Burr Ridge Campus and was Bozek's direct supervisor. (Id. ¶ 4.) As the Director of Education at the Burr Ridge Campus, Mitchell oversaw the educational programs and managed the department chairs and instructors. (Id.) During the relevant time period, Laureen Cahill was Corinthian's Regional Vice President for the Midwest Region, which encompassed the Burr Ridge Campus. (Id. ¶ 5.) Cahill oversaw the operations of the schools in the region, including employee performance issues, and served as Mitchell's direct supervisor during February 2007. (Id.) Also during the relevant time period, Jim Wade was Corinthian's Senior Vice President of Human Resources. (Id. ¶ 6.) Kayleen Hittesdorf was the Human Resources Director and Michelle McCormack was the Human Resources Generalist for the region encompassing the Burr Ridge Campus. (Id. ¶ 7.)

B. Bozek's Employment with Corinthian

On April 3, 2006, Corinthian hired Bozek as an instructor in the dental assisting program at the Burr Ridge Campus. (Id. ¶ 10.) Bozek taught dental assisting and also had administrative duties. (Id.) In late 2006 and early 2007, Mitchell began to observe and receive reports related to Bozek's job performance and professionalism. (Id. ¶ 16.) For example, a student complained that Bozek used profanity in the classroom -- a complaint that Bozek denied. (Id. ¶ 17.) Also, at a meeting with Bozek and the Career Services Department concerning dental assistant certification, Mitchell observed Bozek behave in an unprofessional manner. (Id. ¶ 20.) Mitchell also observed that Bozek acted unprofessionally and used profanity at a February 5, 2007 business dinner related to the school's dental program. (Id. ¶ 21.) During this same time period, various individuals reported to Cahill that Bozek had a conflict with the career services department and that Bozek used inappropriate language and gossiped when interacting with other staff members and supervisors. (Id. ¶ 25.)

Based on his interactions with Bozek and his observations -- and after consultation with Cahill -- Mitchell thought it was necessary to issue Bozek a warning. (Id. ¶ 23.) Mitchell then drafted a Corrective Action Notice ("CAN"), the purpose of which is to put an employee on notice that his or her work performance needs improvement. (Id. ¶ 24.) Mitchell forwarded the draft CAN to McCormack and Cahill for review and approval. (Id. ¶ 26.) The finalized CAN required Bozek to immediately refrain from gossiping and making misleading statements regarding other employees' behavior and also provided that failure to abide by the terms of the CAN ...

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