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Bailey v. Illinois Dep't of Corrections

September 9, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge


This matter comes before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 31) filed by Defendant Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"). Plaintiff Michelle Bailey ("Bailey") has responded (Doc. 34), and Defendant has replied (Doc. 35). Bailey alleges that Illinois Department of Corrections is liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.,for sexual discrimination and sexual harassment. IDOC denies any such discrimination or harassment. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion.


I. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is proper 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 moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Spath v. Hayes Wheels Int'l-Ind., Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 396 (7th Cir. 2000). The reviewing court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of that party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Spath, 211 F.3d at 396.This standard is applied with special scrutiny in cases, such as employment discrimination cases, that often turn on issues of intent and credibility. Michas v. Health Cost Controls of Ill., Inc., 209 F.3d 687, 692 (7th Cir. 2000).

In responding to a summary judgment motion, the nonmoving party may not simply rest upon the allegations contained in the pleadings but must present specific facts to show that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-26; Johnson v. City of Fort Wayne, 91 F.3d 922, 931 (7th Cir. 1996). A genuine issue of material fact is not demonstrated by the mere existence of "some alleged factual dispute between the parties," Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247, or by "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts," Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); Michas, 209 F.3d at 692. Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists only if "a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the [nonmoving party] on the evidence presented." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252; accord Michas, 209 F.3d at 692.

II. Facts

Taken in the light most favorable to Bailey, the evidence establishes the following facts. Bailey served as a Corrections Officer for IDOC at the Centralia Correctional Center ("CCC') from January 21, 2002, until her discharge, which serves as the center of the present lawsuit. According to annual evaluations, Bailey had performed her job in a satisfactory manner and had never been involved in a serious disciplinary investigation prior to the following June 2007 incident that resulted in her discharge.

In June 2007, Lamont Clark ("Clark"), an inmate at CCC, asked Bailey to bring him two packs of Black and Mild Cigars from outside the facility. Clark told Bailey that he wanted to trade the cigars for food, which would violate departmental rules governing inmates at CCC. At the time, CCC commissary permitted inmates to carry two packs of cigars, although it is unknown whether the Black and Mild brand of cigars constituted contraband. Following a shakedown of Clark's cell on June 16, 2007, an officer discovered Black and Mild Cigars, and Clark indicated that he had received the cigars from Bailey.

Bailey was thereafter charged with failure to comply with departmental rules, socializing, trading or trafficking, engaging in conduct which impaired her ability to be impartial, granting offenders special privileges, engaging in conduct that was unbecoming, and failing to act in a professional manner. In an interview with Investigator Rick Harrington held on September 6, 2007, Bailey admitted that Clark had expressed his intent to trade the cigars for other items. Assistant Warden Julius Flagg recommended an employee review board hearing regarding Bailey's conduct, which was held on November 1, 2007. At the hearing, Bailey admitted to purchasing the cigars at a local gas station and bringing them into CCC for Clark. Ultimately, the hearing officer found Bailey guilty of all the aforesaid charges; accordingly, the officer recommended Bailey's discharge. Bailey was suspended without pay on November 16, 2007, pending discharge.

Warden Brad Roberts approved and forwarded the recommendation of discharge to Chief of Staff James Reinhart ("Reinhart"), who reviews and issues final disciplinary decisions of five-day suspensions or greater atCCC. Relying on the aforementioned recommendations as well as considering Bailey's position as a correctional officer and her conduct, Reinhart approved Bailey's discharge. Nearly four months since the date of her suspension, Bailey was terminated on March 10, 2008.

Bailey alleges that Jim Endres ("Endres"), Harold Combs ("Combs"), and Mark Copple ("Copple"), three male employees of CCC, engaged in similar or more serious conduct than she but received substantially lighter punishment due to sex discrimination.*fn1 The relevant facts of each will be chronicled in kind.

On or around October 30, 2007, Endres, a male maintenance worker at CCC, was charged with trading or trafficking, theft, and violation of contraband rules. Specifically, an inmate asked Endres whether he could have a piece of candy on another employee's desk. After Endres told the inmate that the other employee was not working, the inmate indicated that the other employee always let him have candy. Endres responded "whatever," and, construing such response as condonation, the inmate took the candy. Endres received a three-day suspension for this incident and retained his position with CCC. Since Endres's punishment was a suspension of less than five days, Reinhart did not take part in review of the disciplinary actions or finding.

On or around August 28, 2006, Combs, a male correctional sergeant with CCC, was found to have violated standards involving conduct, trading and trafficking, key control, unauthorized absence from his post, showing partiality, and armory procedures. Specifically, IDOC Internal Affairs determined that Combs had given an inmate soda and ramen noodles that were either in the prison's garbage or about to be thrown ...

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