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O'Neal v. City of Chicago

February 17, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, District Judge


This matter comes before the court on the motion of the City of Chicago ("City") for summary judgment on Brenda O'Neal ("O'Neal")'s complaint. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.


O'Neal is a police officer who began her career with the Chicago Police Department in 1991. The facts comprising the Background are drawn from the City's 56.1(A)(3) statement of undisputed facts and O'Neal's 56.1(B)(3) statement of additional facts. In 2001, the City promoted her to the position of sergeant. By February 2002, she was assigned to serve as administrative assistant to Commander Wayne Wiberg ("Wiberg") in the Narcotics and Gangs Investigations Section ("Narcotics"). After having worked in Narcotics for a short while, O'Neal was transferred to the position of beat sergeant. On May 31, 2002, she filed a grievance on the basis that her transfer from Narcotics was without just cause. Perceiving her transfer as an act of discrimination, O'Neal additionally filed a race and gender discrimination suit against the City on November 20, 2002. At the close of all discovery, the district court granted the City's motion for summary judgment and the Seventh Circuit affirmed. See O'Neal v. City of Chicago, 392 F.3d 909 (7th Cir. 2004).

I. Transfer Activity Subsequent to the 2002 Lawsuit

By August 2003, O'Neal settled the May 2002 grievance on the condition that she would be transferred back to Narcotics. Throughout most of her career, Sergeant Dana Starks ("Starks") supervised, transferred, and detailed O'Neal. In September, she was reassigned to Narcotics and again served as administrative assistant to Wiberg. O'Neal made no objections to this transfer. Later that year, the City transferred Wiberg to a different unit and he requested that O'Neal be transferred with him; accordingly, O'Neal was detailed*fn1 and continued to work for Wiberg. O'Neal points out that the move was involuntary and she refused to sign a request form indicating that she requested a transfer.*fn2 Starks kept O'Neal assigned to Narcotics per her settlement and only detailed her when she moved with Wiberg.

The City transferred Wiberg to a different unit. Since Wiberg's new location was geographically undesirable to O'Neal, she did not request to be transferred. Instead, Starks detailed her to Patrol Administration in which O'Neal was responsible for the same duties as was required of her when she worked for Wiberg.

In May 2005, the City transferred O'Neal to Patrol Administration, which caused her to complain to her union about the transfer. So in July, the City transferred her back to Narcotics at her request and immediately detailed her back to Patrol Administration.

When Starks detailed O'Neal to Patrol Administration, she and her staff did not change location. It was considered an administrative move on paper. At this point, she was the only sergeant working in this unit. After Starks perceived that O'Neal disobeyed an order, he transferred her to a district to work as an administrative sergeant in which sergeants earn the same salary and benefits. After a week, however, O'Neal complained of the transfer and demanded to be reassigned to Narcotics; the City promptly transferred her back to Narcotics. Because there was no need for an administrative sergeant in Narcotics, the City reassigned O'Neal to Asset Forfeiture.

In this new location, O'Neal remained a sergeant but was required to learn and perform different duties.

II. Transfers After September 1, 2006

In November 2006, O'Neal was detailed to Vice Control and worked as a relief sergeant. O'Neal learned new responsibilities and worked evenings, which she perceives as having some effect on her preparation for the Lieutenant's exam. On November 20, she filed a grievance claiming that the City violated the August 2003 settlement providing she would remain in Narcotics. While working in Vice Control, O'Neal was assigned her own team and reported to Lieutenant Paul Kusinski ("Kusinski"). She complains that Kusinski discriminated and retaliated against her, which created intolerable working conditions. On May 1, 2007, O'Neal filed a complaint of retaliation against Kusinski. On May 24, Kusinski had O'Neal submit to a counseling session. On June 7, Kusinski recommended that O'Neal be transferred out of Vice Control. He based his recommendation on O'Neal's administrative mistakes, inattention to detail, confrontational attitude, borderline insubordinate comments, and failure to safely conduct street operations. Following this sequence of events, she was transferred to the Third District in the Patrol Division.

As evidence of her allegedly unequal treatment, O'Neal proffers two comparative male sergeants whom she perceives Kusinski treated more favorably. Kusinski supervised sergeants Alfonso Drew and Ralph Craig, who were also assigned to Vice teams. Neither Drew nor Craig was regarded by Kusinski as ...

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