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Locke v. Inn

April 7, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge


I. Introduction and Background

Pending before the Court is Defendant Hampton Inn's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 24).*fn1 Plaintiff Locke opposes the motion (Doc. 28). Based on the following, the Court grants the motion for summary judgment.

On January 8, 2008, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, Julianne Locke, pro se, filed suit against her former employer, Hampton Inn, alleging that it discriminated against her by refusing to increase her work hours because she is a Native American (Doc. 1). On March 5, 2008, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, Locke, pro se, filed another suit against Hampton Inn alleging that it retaliated against her for filing a charge of discrimination against it. Locke v. Hampton Inn, 08-0168-DRH; (Doc. 1). Because the cases arise out of the same facts, the Court consolidated the cases on April 30, 2008 (Doc. 12).

According to Locke's first complaint, she claims that Hampton Inn "repeatedly refused to give her more hours at work although Plaintiff had more seniority and experience than white employees who were similarly situated due to the fact of Plaintiff's race, Native American." (Doc. 1; p. 4). Locke's second complaint alleges that: "My son and I filed charges of discrimination through EEOC against Hampton Inn on 8-17-07, since then I have been retaliated against by first a write up on 11-11-07 for calling in sick and on 12-9-07 I was laid off and last day of work to be 12-16-07." (08-0168; Doc. 1, p. 4).

II. Facts

In October 2006, Hampton Inn hired Locke as a full time front desk clerk at Hampton Inn making $7.00 an hour. Prior to that, beginning in January 2006, Locke ran a home day care, which was her full time employment. In December 2006, Fallon Robinson, the former front office manager, informed Locke that Hampton Inn was laying off employees because of a reduction in occupancy and that employee hours would be decreased until production picked up at the beginning of the year.*fn2 In December 2006, Hampton Inn did not lay off Locke. However, Locke begged Robinson to lay her off. Locke testified: "Yes, to lay me off, because I had the day care and I believe I was working full time at both. I preferred that Steven kept the job, my son, because he did not have any other employment." (Locke's Depo; p. 16, lines 12-15). Subsequently, Locke asked Robinson to reduce her hours because she was taking care of more children at the day care. As a result of this request, Locke's hours were decreased. Locke testified that she was happy working part time, 28 hours, in January, February, March and April of 2007.

In April 2007, Locke still was working part time -- 28 hours. On April 20, 2007, she received correspondence from Chartwell Hospitality regarding her change of status from full time to part time. The letter revealed that since Plaintiff had not maintained the required numbers for full time status, her status was changed to part time. Locke testified that she had no complaints about her status change.*fn3 Thereafter, she picked up more hours in July 2007. Locke was working 32 hours, which is also considered part time.

Locke did not ask for additional hours until August 2007. She asked Tim Reeder, the front office manager, for additional hours because she had a drop in day care status, so she had more hours available to work at Hampton Inn. Reeder told her that he did not have additional hours because he had new hires that he needed to give hours to and that all the shift supervisors needed to get full-time hours first. Locke complained to Reeder stating that she had more seniority than the new employees. Because she could not get more hours, Locke dropped her hours at Hampton Inn to one day a week (one eight hour shift) and picked up more hours at the day care. Shortly thereafter, Locke had a conversation with Kevin Morrey, the general manager. Morrey asked her why she dropped to one day a week and she told him that since they could not give her more hours, she had to drop to one day so that she could get some day care kids during the week.

She filed her charge of race discrimination on October 30, 2007 with the Illinois Department of Human Rights alleging, inter alia, that Hampton Inn discriminated against her by refusing to give her more hours because of her race.

On November 11, 2007, Locke called in sick without finding coverage for her shift. Locke testified that when she called in sick, April Jones, the front officer manger, informed Locke that she needed to find coverage for her shift. On November 18, 2007, Locke was disciplined via a written warning for violating company policy by not finding coverage for her shift. Thereafter, Locke continued to work her one day a week shift on Sundays.

Sometime in the end of November 2007, Jones contacted Locke about increasing her hours because she was supposed to be full time status and that she needed to pick up her hours or be laid off. Locke told Jones that she had full time at the day care at that time. On December 9, 2007, Jones told Locke that she was being laid off due to the decrease in occupancy and because Locke would not pick up full time hours and that Hampton Inn would call her back in March. Locke testified that it was her understanding that she was being laid off due to decrease in occupancy. Her last day at Hampton Inn was December 16, 2007. She did not contact anyone at the Hampton Inn regarding her return to work. Subsequently, Locke filed her retaliation charge of discrimination.

III. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary Judgment is appropriate where the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 56(c).

To defeat summary judgment, the nonmoving party must do more than raise a metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. Instead, she "must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Keri v. Board of Trustees of Purdue Univ., 458 F.3d 620, 628 (7th Cir. 2006), cert. denied, 549 U.S. 1210 (2007)(citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)). "Conclusory allegations and self-serving affidavits, if not supported by the record, will not preclude summary judgment." Haywood v. North American Van Lines, Inc., 121 F.3d 1066, 1071 (7th Cir. 1997); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)("an opposing party may not rely on allegations or denials in its own pleading").

This Court can find a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment "only if sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party exists to permit a jury to return a verdict for that party." Argyropoulos v. City of Alton, 539 F.3d 724, 731 (7th Cir. 2008)( quoting Sides v. City of Champaign, 496 F.3d 820, 826 (7th Cir. 2007)). In ruling on a summary judgment motion, this Court views the evidence and all inferences reasonably drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party (here, Locke). TAS ...

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