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Kindle v. Waukegan Community Unit School District 60

November 19, 2009

ANNIE L. KINDLE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WAUKEGAN COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT 60, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, District Judge

Annie Kindle brings this action against Waukegan Community Unit School District 60 (the District) under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1), and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a).*fn1 Kindle, who is employed by the District as a food service employee, alleges several acts of racial harassment and race discrimination, as well as retaliation for filing an earlier race discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The District moves for summary judgment, and for the reasons stated below, the Court grants the motion.

Facts

On a motion for summary judgment, the Court draws "all reasonable inferences from undisputed facts in favor of the nonmoving party and [views] the disputed evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Harney v. Speedway SuperAmerica, LLC, 556 F.3d 1099, 1104 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court takes the following facts from the plaintiff's complaint and from the parties' statements of facts as to which there is no material dispute.

Kindle, who is African-American, has worked in the District in various food service positions since 1986. In 1996, she was promoted to supervisor of the kitchen and cafeteria at Jefferson Middle School (Jefferson). In her role as supervisor, Kindle is responsible for, among other things, ordering food and managing the servers, cashiers, and cooks who work in the Jefferson kitchen and cafeteria.

Much of the District's food services operation is managed and staffed by an outside contractor. These contract services are currently provided by Chartwells and were previously provided by Aramark and Sodexho. As a result of this arrangement, some food service workers in the District are employed by the District, and others are employed by the outside contractor. Similarly, there are both District personnel and outside contractor personnel who manage employees in the food service department. Kindle is, and has been at all relevant times, employed by the District. Her direct supervisor at the District at all times relevant to this lawsuit was Evelyn Driggers, Assistant to the Food Services Director. The Food Services Director position was held by an employee of the outside contractor. Driggers also reported to Bob Luosa, the Director of Business Services for the District.

In 2002, Kindle filed an EEOC charge alleging that she was denied an opportunity to take a temporary assignment at another's school's kitchen due to her race. She received a notice of right to sue from the EEOC and filed a lawsuit in this District. Judge Elaine Bucklo entered an order granting summary judgment in favor of the District in that case on March 15, 2004.

On October 29, 2004 Kindle filed a second EEOC charge alleging, among other things, that she was the subject of retaliation and additional discrimination since the filing of her initial EEOC charge. That second EEOC complaint is the basis for this lawsuit.*fn2

In her first amended complaint in this suit, Kindle alleges that the District harassed her based on race in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and retaliated against her for filing her first EEOC charge and subsequent lawsuit.*fn3 Specifically, Kindle alleges that the District harassed and retaliated against her by denying her the opportunity to work in the Jefferson cafeteria during summer school in 2004; failing to pay her for Good Fridays from 1997 until 2005 or 2006; denying her the opportunity to work overtime at catering events at which outside groups used school facilities; refusing to fill food orders she placed and writing her up for the resulting food shortages; asking her to terminate employees who were found to have criminal records; subjecting her to more frequent and more critical inspections than other food distribution supervisors; and accusing her of falsifying her time cards. Kindle's complaint and memoranda also allege several additional actions by the District, but she has conceded that these are beyond the scope of this lawsuit. Pl.'s Resp. to Def. Mot. for Summ. Judg. 15.

Discussion

Summary judgment is appropriate if "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." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). To determine whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the Court must view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Lesch v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 282 F.3d 467, 471 (7th Cir. 2002). A genuine issue of triable fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

A. Discrimination and Retaliation (Count 2)

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee "with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). Under Title VII, a plaintiff may prove discrimination by presenting evidence of actual discrimination (the "direct method" of proof) or through the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting approach (the "indirect method" of proof). See Darchak v. City of Chicago Bd. of Educ., 580 F.3d 622, 631 (7th Cir. 2009). In addition, under Title VII, an employer may not retaliate against an employee "because he has opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice under this subchapter or because he has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this subchapter." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a). Retaliation, like discrimination, can proved either directly or indirectly. The parties in this case agree ...


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