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Oakes v. City of Chicago

December 22, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable David H. Coar


Brian C. Oakes complains that the City of Chicago discriminated against him on the basis of his age, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 623 et seq., when it declined to interview him for the director of police records position and hired a substantially younger applicant, despite Oakes's allegedly superior qualifications. The City has moved for summary judgment. For the following reasons, that motion is GRANTED.


On May 9, 2008, Brian Oakes applied to be the new director of police records ("DPR") for the Chicago Police Department ("CPD"). He was fifty five years old at the time. Oakes was one of 141 applicants, but he was not among the three applicants selected for an interview. Instead, the City interviewed John Roberts, Lynn McCullough, and Joseph Perfetti, and it ultimately hired Perfetti. Perfetti's precise age has not been disclosed in either party's Local Rule 56.1 statement, but there seems to be no dispute that he is substantially younger than Oakes.

(Oakes believes Perfetti is "about 34.") Oakes joined the CPD in 1973 as a patrol officer and retired as a sergeant in 2005, when he took up employment at the Office of Emergency Management Communications until 2007. Oakes worked in the Records Division of the CPD from April 2002 to January 2005. During that time, he intermittently served as acting DPR for a total of about ten days.

The Director of Police Records Position

The CPD's Bureau of Administrative Services is divided into two sections, which in turn are divided into nine divisions. An assistant deputy superintendent ("ADS") is in charge of each section. ADS Marvin Shear is in charge of one section, comprising the Finance, Human Resources, General Support, Fleet, and Facilities Divisions; ADS Howard Lodding is in charge of the other, comprising the Information Services, Records, Research and Development, and Professional Counseling Programs Divisions. Theodore O'Keefe is the deputy superintendent who has overseen day-to-day operations of the Bureau since July 2007. The ADS in charge of the Records Division is the DPR's immediate superior. The DPR directly oversees the day-today operations of the Records Division, which handles a variety of law-enforcement records in paper and electronic form and employs over 300 workers in two sections and twenty subsections.

On May 5, 2008, the City's Department of Human Resources posted a job announcement for a new DPR on its job-application website. Applicants were invited to apply electronically by uploading a resume or by filling out an electronic application form. The electronic application form appears to have a field for the applicant's date of birth. Shear remembered there being age information in some of the applicants' submissions. Oakes testified that he reviewed "roughly . . . 140" applications in connection with this litigation and did not see any birth dates listed on any of them.

The DPR Selection Process

O'Keefe appointed Shear to perform an initial screen of the applicants. Shear had previously been the ADS in charge of the Records Division and had participated in the DPR selection process in 2004 as an interviewer. As part of that process, Shear interviewed Oakes, Perfetti, and Mary Kay Hegarty, who got the job. As the initial screener in 2008, Shear reviewed all 141 applicants' resumes (or application forms) in light of the screening criteria sheet, which he testified he had no hand in preparing, and the DPR job description. Shear considered five factors: educational credentials, prior experience, overall employment history, experience within the law-enforcement community, and employment specifically related to police criminal history records management. As he reviewed the applicants' submissions, it became clear to Shear that he knew several of them personally, but he never told O'Keefe. Shear did not take any written notes while reviewing the applicants' submissions.

O'Keefe testified by affidavit that he instructed Shear to select three applicants to be interviewed; Shear testified in his deposition that he was required (by what or whom he did not say) to select at least two and could have selected more than three. O'Keefe and Shear agreed, in any case, that three was an appropriate number. After Shear completed the screening process, he forwarded the names of the three candidates he selected to the CPD's Human Resources Division. He did not rank the candidates in terms of their qualifications or provide any further input to the interviewers. City policy forbids the screener from conducting the interviews; O'Keefe and Tracey Ladner, the director of the Human Resources division, conducted the interviews. Both recommended Perfetti, who began as the new DPR on August 1, 2008.

O'Keefe testified by affidavit that he determined that Lodding should not participate in the hiring process because Lodding directly supervised one of the applicants, namely Perfetti, who was the acting DPR at the time of the screening process. As acting DPR, Perfetti was Oakes's supervisor. Lodding also knew Perfetti's father-in-law, a former deputy superintendent of the CPD.

Shear's Choice of Candidates

Shear testified by affidavit that he did not select Oakes for interview because he believed that McCullough, Roberts, and Perfetti were more qualified than Oakes. Shear testified that, based on his comparison of their resumes, he concluded that McCullough, Roberts, and Perfetti all had either more years of records management experience or a higher level of supervisory authority than Oakes, or both.

Regarding McCullough, Shear testified by affidavit that he selected her for interview because her resume indicated that she has a master's degree and eleven years of records management experience as a sergeant with the Cook County Sheriff's Department. Shear further testified that he selected Roberts for interview because his resume indicated that he holds a doctoral degree; that he worked in several divisions of CPD and achieved every nonexempt sworn rank, including patrol officer, detective, sergeant, lieutenant, and captain; and that he oversaw police records as a sergeant in CPD's Bureau of Technical Services. Lastly, Shear testified that he selected Perfetti for interview because his resume indicated that he served as the acting DPR for over a year and managed two sections of the Records Division for over six years, and that he has a master's degree.

At his deposition, Shear testified that "[a]s far as records are concerned and the management within records, I would say that [Oakes] has more experience than Mr. Roberts." He also testified that Oakes has more experience than McCullough as far as CPD records in particular are concerned, and that Oakes had ...

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