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Davis v. Jewish Vocational Service

March 17, 2010

MAURICE DAVIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JEWISH VOCATIONAL SERVICE AND ILLINOIS STATE POLICE, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Maurice Davis has sued Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) and Illinois State Police (ISP) for race discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981(a) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). In addition, he has asserted false light and negligence claims against both agencies and claims of defamation and tortious interference with contract against ISP.*fn1 Defendants have moved for summary judgment on all claims. In response, Davis agrees that he cannot pursue a negligence claim but otherwise opposes defendants' motions. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants defendants' motions regarding the remaining claims.

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 Super-America, LLC, 526 F.3d 1099, 1104 (7th Cir. 2008).

Davis is African-American and suffers from traumatic brain injury. He was a client of an organization called EZRA, which referred him to Maurice Hamp, an employment placement specialist at JVS, to assist him in finding a job. JVS, a nonprofit and social services agency, has a rehabilitation division that provides skills training and employment services to persons with disabilities. Hamp met with Davis on August 15, 2005 and determined that his job skills were insufficient to place him in "competitive employment" (i.e., jobs offered to the general public). Hamp referred Davis to the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) with a recommendation to refer him to the JVS Community Based Services (CBS) Janitorial Services Training program (JST). Participants of the CBS JST program must be referred to JVS by IDHS, and they are required to have mental, developmental and/or physical disabilities.

The CBS JST program helps individuals with disabilities gain the skills they need to enter the competitive workforce. To support the program, JVS contracted with various sites to perform janitorial services. Among the sites participating in the program is ISP's headquarters facility located in Des Plaines, Illinois. The contract between ISP and JVS provided that ISP "may conduct criminal and driver history background checks of Vendor's [JVS'] officers, employees or agents who would directly supervise or physically perform any of the Contract requirements at State facilities. Any officer, employee or agent deemed unsuitable by the State must be replaced immediately."

Kaplan Dep., Group Ex. 2 at 19.

On September 30, 2005, Davis met with his IDHS counselor, Luis Cora, who executed an IDHS DRS "individualized plan for employment," referring Davis to JVS for janitorial training. On November 2, 2005, Davis met with Barbara Hankins, JVS' CBS unit team leader, who completed an initial intake assessment and evaluation plan. Included in the paperwork Davis signed that day was a "Background Check Sign-off Form," authorizing JVS to conduct a criminal record check. Hankins recommended Davis for a two-week janitorial evaluation period and determined that Davis was not capable of obtaining and maintaining a job in competitive employment. Once Davis completed two weeks of in-house training, John Southall, Davis' JVS Vocational Trainer, and Hankins recommended transferring Davis for eight more weeks of training.

Although JVS contends that Davis was assigned to the ISP Des Plaines site for eight weeks of training, Davis disputes that contention and claims that his eight-week training program began November 21, 2005 and ended January 16, 2006. The parties agree, however, that on January 20, 2006, Davis began working at the ISP Des Plaines site and that his JVS case manager at that time was Julia Pagelkopf.*fn2

Davis testified that at the time he was at the ISP Des Plaines site, a total of eight JST program participants were assigned to that site, including himself. Of those, three were African-American, four were white, and one was Hispanic. Davis further testified that white JVS janitors were segregated from the others and that they were assigned easier tasks. The parties agree that the tasks of CBS JST participants placed at the ISP Des Plaines site were assigned by the JVS on-site vocational trainer, Jurek Gazdowicz.*fn3

Roy Sanji, an administrative lieutenant at the ISP Des Plaines site from January 2004 through April 2006, testified that he reviewed a criminal background report for "Maurice Davis" on January 25, 2006. The report listed burglary and assault convictions among other crimes charged or committed by persons named Maurice K. Davis (born August 13, 1960), Maurice N. Davis (born July 14, 1962), and Mauriceles Richard Davis IV (born August 14, 1962). Although the Maurice Davis involved in this case was born on August 14, 1962, Sanji believed all the convictions and charges in the report all belonged to him.

Sanji was concerned about the burglary convictions in particular, and he deemed Davis unsuitable to perform services at the ISP Des Plaines facility. Sanji asked his office associate, Kristine Arnold, to contact Ernie Scarpelli who, as assistant/acting building manager of the ISP Des Plaines site for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS), monitors ISP's contract with JVS. Sanji testified that he did not describe the nature of the offenses to Arnold but only asked her to advise CMS that Davis could not enter the Des Plaines facility based on his criminal record.

On January 25, 2006, Scarpelli learned from ISP that it deemed Davis unsuitable to work at the Des Plaines site due to his criminal record. Scarpelli also testified that he was not made privy to the details of Davis' criminal background. That same day, Scarpelli informed Eric Kramp, assistant operations director of JVS' CBS program, that Davis could not enter the ISP Des Plaines site due to his criminal record. Kramp testified that Scarpelli did not identify the specific crimes on Davis' record.

On January 26, 2006, Kramp called Pagelkopf and instructed her to call Gazdowicz at the ISP Des Plaines facility and tell him to send Davis home when he arrived at the site. Davis testified that when he arrived to the facility that day, Gazdowicz called him personally, pushed him out the door, and said, "You were found with a bunch of drugs and guns, and you was in prison for four years." Davis Dep. at 194, 206. Davis called Pagelkopf, and she put Kramp on the phone to explain to Davis why he had ...


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