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Madison v. City of Chicago

October 14, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Milton I. Shadur Senior United States District Judge


Jacqueline Madison ("Madison") has charged her former employer, the City of Chicago ("City"), with discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII," 42 U.S.C. §§2000e to 2000e-17). City has moved for summary judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. ("Rule") 56, and the motion has been fully briefed. For the reasons stated here, the motion is granted and this action is dismissed.

Summary Judgment Standard

Every Rule 56 movant bears the burden of establishing the absence of any genuine issue of material fact (Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986)).*fn1 For that purpose courts consider the evidentiary record in the light most favorable to nonmovants and draw all reasonable inferences in their favor (Lesch v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 282 F.3d 467, 471 (7th Cir. 2002)). But a non-movant must produce more than "a mere scintilla of evidence" to support the position that a genuine issue of material fact exists (Wheeler v. Lawson, 539 F.3d 629, 634 (7th Cir. 2008)) and "must come forward with specific facts demonstrating that there is a genuine issue for trial" (id.).

Ultimately summary judgment is warranted only if a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the non-movant (Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).*fn2

What follows is a summary of the facts,*fn3 viewed of course in the light most favorable to non-movant Madison.*fn4

Factual Background

Madison is an African-American woman who worked for City's Department of Transportation ("CDOT") as a Coordinator of Special Projects from June 2000 until her termination on December 31, 2008 (C. St. ¶1). In 2003 or 2004 Madison accepted an invitation from Gilberto Quinones ("Quinones") to work for him in the Accounts Payable group of CDOT's Finance Section (id. ¶9). In 2004 Quinones was promoted to Deputy Commissioner and James Bracewell ("Bracewell") was assigned to head the Contracts Section (id. ¶10). When Bracewell left his position, Lou Langone ("Langone") replaced him (id. ¶11).

Madison's problems with City began in 2006. Sometime in the summer of that year Quinones "hit on" Madison (C. St. ¶47). Madison believes the incident was race-related because "it was common knowledge that [Quinones] loved black women" (id.). In October of the same year Quinones yelled at Madison, in a meeting that included seven or eight other City employees, for something Madison believed was outside of her control (C. St. ¶48; M. St. ¶26).*fn5 Also in the fall of 2006, Madison agreed to work for the O'Hare Modernization Program ("OMP")(C. St. ¶13) and did so for a few months before returning to CDOT's Contracts Section (C. St. ¶14). Madison received a positive work evaluation in 2006 (M. St. ¶38).

Madison's problems continued in 2007. During the course of the year Madison was counseled by Bracewell for tardiness on three separate occasions (C. St. ¶40).*fn6 On another occasion in early April, Madison engaged in a verbal altercation in the office with Kesha Thompson ("Thompson"), a consultant to CDOT (C. St. ¶18). After Thompson filed a Workplace Incident Report against Madison with CDOT's Human Resources Section, Assistant Commissioner Tom Carney ("Carney") of that Section conducted an investigation into Thompson's complaint (C. St. ¶19).

In a written statement to Carney, Madison wrote that in the aftermath of the incident she told a co-worker she "wasn't about to lose [her] job over [Thompson], if anything I'll follow [Thompson] home and jump on her in front of her mother" (C. St. Ex. F). Madison noted in the same written statement that "[w]e all laughed because everyone knew it was a joke" (id.). Carney concluded in a June 18 memorandum that Madison had violated Rule XVIII §1 ¶¶50 and 54 ("conduct unbecoming an officer or public employee" and "violence in the workplace")(id. ¶21).*fn7 After refusing to apologize at a pre-disciplinary meeting with Quinones and Langone, Madison was suspended for five days (id. ¶25).*fn8

Sometime in 2007, when Madison was leaving Quinones' office, he called her "a bitch" under his breath (id. ¶60). On July 25, 2007 Madison filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")(id. ¶37).

On November 16, 2008 Madison spoke to Quinones about a personal day request she had recently placed with Langone for the day after Thanksgiving (C. St. ¶25). Quinones told Madison that Langone had to make sure that his section was fully staffed on that date before granting the personal day (id.). Madison responded by raising her voice, telling Quinones that she would have a doctor's appointment that day and leaving Quinones' office (id. ¶26). Quinones wrote a memorandum to Madison admonishing her for the outburst and the threatened misuse of sick leave (id. ¶27).

In March 2008 Madison accepted an offer from Eric McMiller ("McMiller"), Director of Administrative Services, to work for him in CDOT's Finance Section (C. St. ¶15). In response to Langone accusing Madison of taking unauthorized breaks in early August, Madison wrote a letter to Carney complaining of false charges that singled her out (M. St. ¶¶30-31).

Also in August 2008, Carney set up an appointment for Madison with a human resource clinical therapist to address McMiller's claim that Madison had approached him in a threatening manner (M. Dep. 169-70). On September 9 McMiller asked Madison to come into his office, and she asked whether a third person could accompany her (C. St. ¶30; M. Resp. ¶30). After a pre-disciplinary meeting was then held to discuss a recent series of events between McMiller and Madison (C. St. ¶31), on September 13 Madison received a notice advising her that she was being docked one day's pay for violating Personnel Rule XVIII §1 ¶¶25 and 50 ("insubordinate actions" and "conduct unbecoming an officer of public employee")(id. ¶32). On September 30, 2008 Madison filed a Charge of Discrimination with EEOC (id. ¶38).

That same year marked a city-wide budgetary reduction in force ("RIF") to take effect on December 31, 2008 (C. St. ¶33). First Deputy Commissioner Thomas Powers worked with Manager of Finance James Crocker and Carney to prepare a recommendation to CDOT Commissioner Thomas Byrne as to how the agency could best meet the RIF-required spending and personnel cuts (id. ¶34). That recommendation included the names of employees that the group believed would have the least impact on CDOT's operations (C. St. ¶35). Madison received her notice of ...

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