Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Martinez v. City of Chicago

August 11, 2009

RICKY MARTINEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendant City of Chicago's (City) motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, we grant the motion for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Ricky Martinez (Martinez) indicates that he is a Muslim male of Middle-Eastern origin. Martinez alleges that on December 2, 2006, he applied for a job as a probationary police officer (PPO) with the Chicago Police Department (Department). Martinez claims he passed the "power test," the written exam, and psychological tests. On January 16, 2007, Martinez was allegedly interviewed at home for the PPO position. During the interview, Martinez allegedly disclosed that he had been arrested on charges of aggravated assault in connection with a traffic violation, but that the charges were dropped on the condition that he serve six months of supervision. After the interview, Officer Julie Alexander-Fallon (Fallon), who conducted the interview, allegedly told Martinez that she believed that since he had not been convicted, Martinez's prior arrest would not prevent Martinez from qualifying for the job. Fallon further allegedly indicated that she thought Martinez would get the job. Martinez also claims that he truthfully and completely explained his prior employment with Global Relief Foundation (GRF), an Arab and Muslim charitable organization. Martinez allegedly told Fallon that GRF had been shut down due to suspected terrorist ties and that he had cooperated completely with investigators. Martinez also contends that Fallon asked for copies of his passport in order to run a background check through Interpol even though allegedly such checks were not ordinarily performed for applicants for such positions.

On May 3, 2007, Martinez called the Department and was informed that he had been rejected for the job because he had a prior driver's license suspension. Martinez then claims to have spoken with another member of the Department who told Martinez that he did not get the job because of his prior arrest. The individual also allegedly indicated an incorrect belief that Martinez had been convicted in relation to the aggravated assault offense. Martinez contends that other non-Muslim, non-Arab applicants were hired by the Department that had arrest records.

In May 2008, Martinez allegedly received a rejection letter (Rejection Letter) from the Department and the letter inaccurately represented that Martinez had been convicted of aggravated assault. The Rejection Letter also allegedly stated that Martinez had falsely indicated on his applicant questionnaire (Questionnaire) that:

(1) he had not been convicted of a crime, (2) he had never been questioned by police, (3) he had never given testimony in a criminal court as a defendant, and (4) he had provided truthful statements on the Questionnaire. Martinez claims that: (1) he was never convicted on the aggravated assault charges and instead received supervision, (2) he did not understand the word "questioned by police" in the Questionnaire to include questioning by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which had questioned him on a prior occasion, and (3) although he had been a defendant in a criminal case, he had never spoken in court and he had answered "no" in good faith to the question regarding testimony in a criminal case. (Compl. Par. 40). The Rejection Letter also allegedly informed Martinez that he had been rejected for the position because: (1) he had failed to register with the Selective Service System, (2) he had $250 in unpaid parking tickets in the Village of Bridgeview, and (3) he had three prior driver's license suspensions. Martinez claims that he believed that he was exempt from registration because at the time he was not a United States citizen. Martinez claims that he paid the parking tickets sometime before he received the Rejection Letter in 2008. Martinez claims that despite Fallon's assurances that Martinez would get the job, the Department rejected Martinez and gave shifting reasons for the rejection. Martinez also contends that it took a year after his rejection to get the Rejection Letter, and that such a delay indicates a discriminatory intent. Martinez contends that he was rejected for the job because of his national origin and religion. The City now moves for summary judgment.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In seeking a grant of summary judgment, the moving party must identify "those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)(quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). This initial burden may be satisfied by presenting specific evidence on a particular issue or by pointing out "an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. Once the movant has met this burden, the non-moving party cannot simply rest on the allegations in the pleadings, but, "by affidavits or as otherwise provided for in [Rule 56], must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). A "genuine issue" in the context of a motion for summary judgment is not simply a "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000). The court must consider the record as a whole, in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences that favor the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000).

DISCUSSION

A plaintiff bringing a Title VII discrimination claim can defeat a defendant's motion for summary judgment under the direct or indirect method of proof. Rhodes v. Illinois Dept. of Transp., 359 F.3d 498, 504 (7th Cir. 2004).

I. Direct Method of Proof

The City argues that Martinez cannot proceed under the direct method of proof. A plaintiff can proceed under the direct method of proof utilizing direct or circumstantial evidence. Rhodes, 359 F.3d at 504. Generally, direct evidence consists of "an admission by the decision-maker that his actions were based upon the prohibited animus." Id. (internal quotations omitted). A plaintiff can also proceed under the direct method of proof utilizing circumstantial evidence "by constructing a convincing mosaic of circumstantial evidence that allows a jury to infer intentional discrimination by the decisionmaker." Id. (internal quotations omitted)(quoting in part Troupe v. May Dept. Stores Co., 20 F.3d 734, 737 (7th Cir. 1994)(stating that "circumstantial evidence, however, must point directly to a discriminatory reason for the employer's action")(internal quotations omitted).

In the instant action, Martinez has not pointed to any direct evidence of unlawful discriminatory animus towards him. For example, Martinez points to statements such as an alleged statement by Sergeant John Fumo that: "the Titanic already left . . . I can't bring it back." (SAF Par. 86). Martinez asks the court to accept the inference proposed by Martinez that the statement by Fumo masked a hidden discriminatory meaning. Martinez has also not pointed to sufficient circumstantial evidence to create a convincing mosaic of circumstantial evidence. Martinez's contentions of discriminatory treatment are not, for example, premised upon any statements directly referencing his national origin or religion. Martinez mainly relies upon inferences drawn from what he deems suspicious and inconsistent explanations for his rejection and his belief that the Department was aware of his religion, national origin, and involvement with GRF. We recognize that in certain instances, "suspicious words or actions," "suspicious timing," or "ambiguous statements" can suffice for the direct method of proof. Hossack v. Floor Covering Associates of Joliet, Inc., 492 F.3d 853, 861-62 (7th Cir. 2007)(quoting in part Troupe, 20 F.3d at 737). However, Martinez has not pointed to sufficient circumstantial evidence of such instances to proceed under the direct method of proof. Martinez admits that "[n]o one at the [Department] told Martinez that he was not going to be hired because his religion is Muslim, and no one at the [Department] made any remarks to him about his religion." (R SF Par. 46, 56). We also note that Martinez does not present any arguments indicating that he can prevail utilizing the direct method of proof and only presents arguments under the indirect method of proof. (Ans. 3). Thus, Martinez cannot proceed under the direct method of proof even when considering the totality of the evidence.

II. Indirect Method of Proof

The City contends that Martinez has not pointed to sufficient evidence to defeat the City's motion for summary judgment under the indirect method of proof. Under the indirect method of proof, a plaintiff has the burden to establish a prima facie case. Antonetti v. Abbott Laboratories, 563 F.3d 587, 591 (7th Cir. 2009). If a plaintiff establishes a prima facie case under the indirect method of proof, the burden shifts to the defendant to provide a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for the action. Id. If the defendant meets that burden, the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to show "'that there is an issue of material fact as to whether the employer's proffered reasons are merely pretext for unlawful discrimination . . ., in order to survive summary judgment.'" Id. (quoting Hudson v. Chicago Transit Authority, 375 F.3d 552, 561 (7th Cir. 2004)). For the indirect method of proof in a failure to hire Title VII case, "a plaintiff must present evidence tending to show that: (1) [h]e was a member of a protected class; (2) [h]e applied for, and was qualified for, an open position; (3) the employer rejected h[im] for the position; and (4) the employer filled the position with an individual outside of the plaintiff's ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.