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Ellis v. City of Chicago

April 15, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: David H. Coar United States District Judge

Honorable David H. Coar


Plaintiff Janice Ellis ("Ellis") brought this action against Defendants City of Chicago (the "City") and Michelle DiCola ("DiCola") (collectively "Defendants"). On January 20, 2010, this Court dismissed Ellis' claims under the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [Dkt. 44.] Presently before this Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment, [Dkt. 47], on Ellis' remaining claims of discrimination and retaliation on the basis of race and color under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000h-6. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.


Pro se litigants are generally entitled to a level of deference not otherwise afforded to ordinary litigants represented by counsel. See e.g., Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam) (requiring liberal construction of pro se litigant pleadints). Nevertheless, "pro se litigants are not entitled to general dispensation from rules of procedure or court-imposed deadlines." Downs v. Westfal, 78 F.3d 1252, 1257 (7th Cir. 1996); see also Members v. Paige, 140 F.3d 699, 702 (7th Cir.1998) (stating that procedural rules "apply to uncounseled litigants and must be enforced"); Greer v. Bd. of Educ., of the City of Chicago, 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001) (holding that a pro se plaintiff should comply with Local Rule 56.1).

In accordance with the Court's order, the City delivered notice to Ellis describing Local Rule 56 in plain English, outlining the consequences of a failure to respond to its motion. See Timms v. Frank, 953 F.2d 281, 285 (7th Cir. 1992). Despite having received this notice, Ellis has failed to file a response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment or Rule 56.1 statement of material facts. "[A] failure to respond by the non-movant as mandated by the local rules results in an admission." Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003); see also Wienco, Inc. v. Katahn Assocs., Inc., 965 F.2d 565, 568 (7th Cir. 1992) (holding that, if the non-movant fails to file a timely statement of disputed material facts, uncontroverted statements in moving party's statement in support of summary judgment are deemed admitted); Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009) ("When a responding party's statement fails to dispute the facts set forth in the moving party's statement in the manner dictated by [Rule 56.1], those facts are deemed admitted for purposes of the motion."). Accordingly, all of Defendants' statements fairly supported by the evidence are deemed admitted. The facts as presented by Defendants are as follows.

Ellis is an African-American woman who works for the City as a Traffic Control Aide ("TCA") in the Office of Emergency Management and Communications ("OEMC"). (Defendants' Rule 56.1 Statement of Undisputed Facts ("SOF") ¶ 1). Her duties and responsibilities as a TCA include reporting for roll call and promptly reporting to her post immediately following roll call. (SOF ¶ 18.)

On December 10, 2008, Ellis arrived late to her post. (SOF ¶ 39.) Doing so violates City Personnel Rules. (Id.) OEMC Superintendent of Special Traffic Services, Michelle DiCola, initiated a complaint investigation ("C.I.") against Ellis for reporting to work 45 minutes late, failure to give proper notification of a late arrival, and failure to follow procedures for taking "personals." (Id.) On February 12, 2009, Ellis filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging discrimination based on her race. (SOF ¶ 4.)

On April 21, 2009, Ellis again arrived late to her post. (SOF ¶ 40.) DiCola initiated another C.I. and Ellis was suspended for three days as a result. (Id.) On May 5, 2009, Ellis arrived late to her post. (SOF ¶ 42.) TCA Supervisor Nicole Iozzo initiated a C.I. against Ellis for that infraction. (Id.) Ellis was suspended for three days. (Id.)

On or about May 12, 2009, after receiving her right to sue letter, Ellis filed a pro se complaint against Defendants before this Court. (SOF ¶ 4; Compl. at 1.) On May 20, 2009, Ellis arrived late to her post. (SOF ¶ 43.) TCA Supervisor Verna Thompson initiated a C.I. against Ellis, resulting in a five-day suspension. (Id.) On November 13, 2009, TCA Supervisor Iozzo filed another C.I. against Ellis when she did not follow City directives and procedure by being inattentive to her radio. (SOF ¶ 44.)

Ellis alleges that DiCola reports her infractions, and that the City subsequently disciplines her, more frequently than Defendants punish non-black TCAs engaging in the same behavior. (Am. Compl. ¶35-37.) Ellis also alleges that Defendants have retaliated against her for filing an EEOC complaint and Title VII lawsuit. (Am. Compl. ¶ 38-39.)

Ellis admits that DiCola has never made any racially derogatory comments to her or called her any names. (SOF ¶ 50.) Nor has Ellis heard DiCola use racial slurs or refer to racial stereotypes. (SOF ¶ 52; Ellis Dep. 61:5-22.) Ellis felt that DiCola referred to African Americans in a derogatory way when selecting a name for an office holiday grab bag. (SOF ¶ 51.) Ellis overheard DiCola asking, "What if you pick someone name that you don't like?" before pulling the name of an African-American whom Ellis believes gets written up all the time. (Ellis Dep. 55:13-58:1.) DiCola also giggled once when a disabled African-American employee said "Jesus" or "God thank you" in the workplace. (Id. at 61:9-62:5.)

DiCola was not served with summons and a copy of the complaint; the process server left these documents under her name at the City ...

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