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Yasin v. Cook County Sheriff's Dep't

May 4, 2009

ABRAHAM YASIN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COOK COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On January 16, 2009, Plaintiff Abraham Yasin filed a two-count Second Amended Complaint against Defendants Cook County Sheriff's Department of Corrections, the Sheriff of Cook County Thomas Dart, and the Cook County Sheriff's Office -- all municipal entities of Cook County -- alleging a Title VII hostile work environment claim based on his national origin and a hostile work environment claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981 based on his ancestry.*fn1

Before the Court is Sheriff Dart's Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the following reasons, the Court denies Defendant's motion.

BACKGROUND

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).

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). 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 v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 604 (7th Cir. 2006) ("district courts are entitled to expect strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1"). Finally, "hearsay is inadmissible in summary judgment proceedings to the same extent that it is inadmissible in a trial." Eisenstadt v. Centel Corp., 113 F.3d 738, 742 (7th Cir. 1997); see, e.g., Keri v. Board of Tr. of Purdue Univ., 458 F.3d 620, 630 (7th Cir. 2006). With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts of this case.

II. Relevant Facts

Defendant, Thomas Dart, is the Sheriff of Cook County and has served in that capacity at all relevant times to this lawsuit. (R. 102-1, Def.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.) In November 2003, the Cook County Sheriff's Department hired Plaintiff Abraham Yasin as a correctional officer. (Id. ¶ 2.) Yasin is a Muslim male of Middle-Eastern origin and Arab ancestry. (R. 95-1, Second Am. Compl. ¶ 2.) Initially, Yasin was assigned to Division 9 at the Cook County Department of Corrections ("CCDOC") for approximately one year. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 4.) After that, Yasin worked in Division 10 where the alleged incidents occurred. (Id.; R. 105-1, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Add'l Facts. ¶ 92.) Superintendent Katie Harrison supervised Division 10 from approximately January 2005 to March 2005. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 92; Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 37.)

Starting in December 2004, Yasin began to receive calls on the telephones and over the radios at work that included co-workers calling him names like terrorist, camel jockey, and shoe bomber. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 80.) In addition, on January 14, 2005, an article from the Sun-Times newspaper regarding terrorism in America was pasted on Yasin's work locker. (Id. ¶ 88; Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 6.) Yasin notified an investigator from Internal Affairs Division ("IAD") about the article, who removed the clipping from Yasin's locker and told him that IAD would investigate the incident. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 6.) Meanwhile, on January 21, 2005, a correctional officer called Yasin on the radio and when Yasin did not respond, somebody stated that "he's making a bomb." (Id. ¶ 7.)

On January 25, 2005, Yasin had a meeting with Superintendent Harrison and told her that individuals were harassing him in the locker room; that pictures were placed on his locker; that individuals made remarks about him over the radio, such as "Arab," "he's making a bomb," and "bin Laden;" and that people yelled out "camel jockey" or "camel" when he was around. (Id. ¶ 8; 12; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 90.) Yasin told Superintendent Harrison that he felt threatened by this conduct and that he did not like what his co-workers were doing to him. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 90.) According to Superintendent Harrison, she filled out an incident report and forwarded it to the Executive Director's Office and IAD. (Id.) At her deposition, Superintendent Harrison testified that IAD did not contact her about Yasin's harassment allegations and that she did not discuss these allegations with anyone in IAD. (Id. ¶ 113.)

After Superintendent Harrison left Division 10 -- sometime in February or March 2005 -- the remarks resumed. (Id. ¶ 92.) Specifically, on February 24, 2005, someone yelled out "sand nigga" in the correctional officers' locker room. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 9.) Thereafter, the comment "Arab" was made over the radio about ten times over the period of a year. (Id. ¶¶ 10, 11.) On August 29, 2005, Yasin overheard a conversation in the locker room about the shoe bomber and then heard someone say, "Yasin's got bombs in his shoes." (Id. ¶ 13.) On September 10, 2005, Yasin reported the shoe bomber remark to a Division 10 supervisor. (Id. ¶ 15.) On October 22, 2005, Yasin saw the words "sand nigga" written in ink on his locker. (Id. ¶ 16.) Other correctional officers also called Yasin "Hussein," a comment that Yasin reported to his supervisor. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 84.) In a letter addressed to Undersheriff Zelda Whittler, Yasin specified that correctional officers in the locker room had stated "sand nigga" and "camel jockey" in his presence during February 2005 and June 2005. (Id. ¶ 83; Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 9.)

On September 10, 2005, correctional officers in the locker room were talking about hog-tying Muslims in Iraq in front of Yasin. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 94.) Yasin reported this incident to Lieutenant Martinez. (Id.) Yasin also saw "Yasin bin Laden" written on one of the bathroom stalls in the men's locker room and complained to Captain Frank Arce about this graffiti and wrote a memorandum to IAD about this incident. (Id. ¶ 95; Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 17.) Officer Ronald Wade also witnessed the graffiti on Yasin's locker and the bathroom stall and was unaware of any action taken by the supervisors of Division 10 in response to the graffiti. (Id.) In addition, Officer Charles Mickiel saw "sand nigger" written on Yasin's locker about three times. (Id.)

In October 2005, Yasin wrote a memorandum to IAD indicating that the alleged harassment was ongoing and asked IAD to look into the matter. (Id. ¶ 98.) Yasin also complained to Sergeant Helms about his co-workers' conduct on numerous occasions in 2005. (Id. ¶ 100.) Evidence in the record reveals that Yasin started filing incident reports with IAD in January 2005, including a complaint to IAD's Chief Timothy Kaufman. (Id. ¶ 106.) In ...


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