Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Terri L. Bragg v. Caterpillar Inc

March 28, 2011

TERRI L. BRAGG, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CATERPILLAR INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendant Caterpillar Inc.'s (Caterpillar) motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the court grants the motion for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Terri L. Bragg (Bragg) contends that she began working for Caterpillar in March 2005. Bragg, who is an African American female, claims that she was subjected to harassment in the workplace and was held to more stringent terms and conditions of employment than male co-workers and non-African American co-workers. Between March 2005 and October 2006, Bragg received poor work performance ratings. Bragg was also the subject of various disciplinary actions due to workplace rule violations, poor work performance, and delays in production. The disciplinary actions took the form of verbal counselings, written warnings, suspensions, and demotions. Bragg contends that the disciplinary rules were applied more stringently and harshly to her than to her co-workers. Bragg also contends that she was held to higher production standards than her co-workers and that, unlike her co-workers, she was given certain production quotas. Bragg also contends that her work performance was impaired when, for example, her machine was allegedly sabotaged by a co-worker, and when her machine was allegedly improperly programmed before her shift. In October 2006, Bragg's employment was terminated. Bragg contends that during her employment, she was discriminated against at work because of her race and gender. During the course of her employment, Bragg filed three charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC Charges). Bragg contends that she was also discriminated against at work in retaliation for filing the EEOC Charges.

Bragg includes in her pro se complaint a claim alleging discrimination because of her race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and a Title VII gender discrimination claim. Bragg also includes in her pro se complaint claims alleging discrimination because of her disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq., and claims alleging discrimination because of her age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. In addition, Bragg indicates in her pro se complaint that she is bringing a Title VII retaliation claim, an ADA retaliation claim, and an ADEA retaliation claim. Bragg also includes allegations in her pro se complaint regarding alleged harassment because of her gender and race, indicating that she was pursuing a Title VII hostile work environment claim based on her race and a Title VII hostile work environment claim based on her gender. After filing the pro se complaint, Bragg retained counsel, who filed an appearance on February 26, 2010.

On March 25, 2010, the court granted, without objection by Bragg, Caterpillar's motion to dismiss all claims brought under the ADA and ADEA. Bragg also indicated in response to the instant motion for summary judgment and in the joint initial status report filed with this court that Bragg did not intend to bring Title VII hostile work environment claims. (SJ Ans. 1-5); (J Status R Par. 1, 4, 5). Caterpillar has moved for summary judgment on the remaining Title VII gender discrimination claim, Title VII race discrimination claim, and Title VII retaliation claim.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Smith v. Hope School, 560 F.3d 694, 699 (7th Cir. 2009). In seeking a grant of summary judgment, the moving party must identify "those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)(quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). This initial burden may be satisfied by presenting specific evidence on a particular issue or by pointing out "an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. Once the movant has met this burden, the non-moving party cannot simply rest on the allegations in the pleadings, but, "by affidavits or as otherwise provided for in [Rule 56], must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). A "genuine issue" in the context of a motion for summary judgment is not simply a "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must consider the record as a whole, in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000).

DISCUSSION

I. Title VII Race and Gender Discrimination Claims

Caterpillar moves for summary judgment on the Title VII race and gender discrimination claims. To defeat a defendant's motion for summary judgment on Title VII discrimination claims, a plaintiff can proceed under the direct or indirect method of proof. Montgomery v. American Airlines, Inc., 626 F.3d 382, 393 (7th Cir. 2010). To proceed under the direct method of proof, a plaintiff must point to "direct evidence of-or sufficient circumstantial evidence to allow an inference of-intentional [unlawful] discrimination by [the defendant.]" Id. (stating that "[r]egardless of the type of evidence presented, [the plaintiff] may avoid summary judgment only by presenting sufficient evidence to create a triable issue as to whether his demotion had a discriminatory motivation"); see also Sylvester v. SOS Children's Villages Illinois, Inc., 453 F.3d 900, 903 (7th Cir. 2006)(stating that a plaintiff could show "a convincing mosaic of circumstantial evidence as an alternative 'direct' method to direct evidence of establishing the prima facie case")(internal quotations omitted). In the instant action, Bragg has not pointed to sufficient evidence to proceed under the direct method of proof and has, in fact, instead argued that she can proceed under the indirect method of proof. (SJ Ans. 3-5).

To proceed under the indirect method of proof, a plaintiff must establish a prima facie case by showing: "(1) that [s]he was a member of a protected class, (2) that [s]he was performing h[er] job satisfactorily, (3) that [s]he suffered an adverse employment action, and (4) that [the defendant] treated a similarly situated individual outside [the plaintiff's] protected class more favorably." Montgomery, 626 F.3d at 393. If the plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the defendant "to identify a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the action taken." Id. If such a reason is identified, the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to show that the "proffered reason was a pretext for [unlawful] discrimination. Id. Caterpillar argues that Bragg cannot establish a prima facie case. Caterpillar also argues that it has provided legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for its actions and Bragg has not pointed to sufficient evidence to show that the reasons were a pretext for unlawful discrimination.

A. Prima Facie Case

Caterpillar argues that Bragg has not established a prima facie case because Bragg has not pointed to sufficient evidence showing that she was performing her job satisfactorily at the time of the adverse employments actions or at any period during her employment. Caterpillar also argues that Bragg has not identified similarly-situated employees outside the protected classes who were treated more favorably than her.

1. Lack of Evidence Showing Performing Job Satisfactorily Caterpillar contends that in the relatively short span of time between March 2005 and October 2006, when Bragg was employed at Caterpillar, there was a long and documented history of Bragg's workplace violations and poor work performance. Caterpillar asserts that in the approximate year and a half of employment, Bragg was verbally counseled numerous times by multiple different supervisors, received five written warnings, was suspended six times, demoted twice, and finally discharged. Bragg admits to being counseled, warned, suspended, demoted, and discharged, but argues that such actions were taken because she was treated more harshly than her male co-workers and non-African American co-workers.

a. June 1, 2005 Unsatisfactory Performance

Bragg admits pursuant to Local Rule 56.1, in response to statement of material fact paragraph 6, that on June 1, 2005, she received an overall performance rating of "unsatisfactory" for the time period between March 7, 2005 and May 30, 2005. (R SF Par. 6). Bragg has not pointed to evidence in response to Caterpillar's statement of material fact paragraph 6 showing that her male co-workers or non-African American ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.