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Erika Renee Riley-Jackson, et al v. Casino Queen

February 25, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge:


(Denying Doc. 146 Defendant Casino Queen's motion for summary judgment as to Plaintiff Jill Hoskins)

I. Introduction

Jill Hoskins brings claims of racial discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation against her employer, Casino Queen, Inc., under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII") and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Hoskins' claims were first filed on November 12, 2007, in Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint (Counts 24, 81 and 117). Hoskins did not file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"); however, in April 2006, she filed a charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR").*fn1

Now before the Court is the Casino Queen's motion for summary judgment or, in the alternative, motion to sever, submitted July 2, 2010 (Doc. 146), which is fully briefed, in that a response (Doc. 205), a reply (Doc. 336) and a sur-reply (Doc. 344) have been filed. The Court's analysis begins with the familiar standard of review for summary judgment motions.

II. Legal Standard Governing Summary Judgment Motions

Summary judgment is appropriate where the pleadings, discovery materials, and any affidavits show that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Turner v. The Saloon, Ltd., 595 F.3d 679, 683 (7th Cir. 2010); Durable Mfg. Co. v. U.S. Department of Labor, 578 F.3d 497, 501 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing FED.R.CIV.P.56(c)). Accord Levy v. Minnesota Life Ins. Co., 517 F.3d 519 (7th Cir. 2008); Breneisen v. Motorola, Inc., 512 F.3d 972 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986)).

In ruling on a summary judgment motion, the district court must construe all facts in the light most favorable to, draw all legitimate inferences in favor of, and resolve all doubts in favor of the non-moving party. National Athletic Sportswear, Inc. v. Westfield Ins. Co., 528 F.3d 508, 512 (7th Cir. 2008). Accord Reget v. City of La Crosse, 595 F.3d 691 (7th Cir. 2010); TAS Distributing Co., Inc. v. Cummins Engine Co., Inc., 491 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2007). 5/7A-102. In sum, Hoskins gives the Court no information beyond the filing of charges of race discrimination and retaliation on April 11, 2006, more than 18 months before she joined the instant action - November 12, 2007.

When the non-moving party bears the burden of proof, though, he must demonstrate the existence of a genuine fact issue to defeat summary judgment. Reget, 595 F.3d at 695. To survive summary judgment, the non-movant must provide admissible evidence on which the jury or court could find in his favor. See Maclin v. SBC Ameritech, 520 F.3d 781, 786 (7th Cir. 2008).

In deciding a summary judgment motion, the court may not evaluate the weight of the evidence, judge the credibility of witnesses, or determine the truth of the matter. The court's only role is to determine whether there is a genuine issue of triable fact. National Athletic, 528 F.3d at 512 (citing Doe v. R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., 42 F.3d 439, 443 (7th Cir. 1994)). As the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals succinctly stated last month: "There is no genuine issue of material fact when no reasonable jury could find in favor of the nonmoving party." Van Antwerp v. City of Peoria, Illinois, 627 F.3d 295, 297 (7th Cir. Dec. 6, 2010) (quoting Brewer v. Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, 479 F.3d 908, 915 (7th Cir. 2007)).

Stated another way, summary judgment is the "put up or shut up" moment in litigation -- the point at which the non-movant must marshal and present to the court the admissible evidence which he contends will prove his case. Goodman v. National Security Agency, Inc., 621 F.3d 651, 654 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Everroad v. Scott Truck Systems, Inc., 604 F.3d 471, 476 (7th Cir. 2010), Eberts v. Goderstad, 569 F.3d 757, 767 (7th Cir. 2009), and AA Sales & Associates, Inc.v. Coni-Seal, Inc., 550 F.3d 605, 613 (7th Cir. 2008)). With these principles in mind, the Court turns to the motion in the instant case.

III. Analysis

Hoskins, an African-American female, has been employed as a cashier by the Casino Queen since October 28, 2004. Hoskins makes numerous claims of racial discrimination and hostile work environment, including disparate discipline and treatment for the use of vulgar language, eating at inappropriate times or places, use of cell phones and appearance. She also claims that African-Americans were racially discriminated against in the Casino Queen's promotion practices. But central to her complaint is her assertion that the Casino Queen discriminated against her and retaliated against her after she alleged that a co-worker, Sara Craine, was a racist.

Hoskins testified to the following sequence of events. On December 27, 2005, Hoskins was following the rotation for seating customers, but when she seated three tables of African-American customers in Craine's section, Craine went over to them and told them to get up. When the African-American customers asked where they were going, Craine told them that she did not know but that Hoskins would find somewhere for them to go. Directly after moving the three tables of African-American customers out of her section, Craine twice accepted a table of white customers with no problem.

Hoskins complained to her supervisors, Monica Bird and Kelly Carey, about Craine's treatment of African-American customers. She told Carey that Craine was a racist because she only moved African-American customers out of her section.

Because Hoskins saw no action being taken against Craine, she reported the incident to Rev. Johnny Scott, President of the East St. Louis Chapter of the NAACP, who told Hoskins that he would contact the Casino Queen and, if necessary, would press the matter. On January 5 and 6, 2006, Craine was suspended with pay pending an ...

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