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Hamida H. Naficy v. Illinois Department of Human Services

April 22, 2011

HAMIDA H. NAFICY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. Holderman, Chief Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Hamida H. Naficy ("Naficy"), in her Fifth Amended Complaint, alleges that defendant Illinois Department of Human Services ("IDHS") discriminated and retaliated against her on the basis of her national origin (Iranian) in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII"), and discriminated and retaliated against her in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. (Dkt. No. 31 ("5th Am. Compl.").) On July 12, 2010, this court granted IDHS's motion to dismiss Naficy's § 1981 claims. (Dkt. No. 37.) Now pending before the court is IDHS's motion for summary judgment on Naficy's remaining Title VII claims. (Dkt. No. 58.) For the reasons set forth below, IDHS's motion is granted.

BACKGROUND*fn1

IDHS is a state agency responsible for providing Illinois residents with access to a variety of public aid programs, including a number of mental health institutions in Illinois. (Dkt. No. 60 ("IDHS's SOF") ¶ 5.) Naficy currently works at IDHS's Madden Mental Health Center ("Madden") as a Social Worker III, and is a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees ("AFSCME"). (Id. ¶¶ 6-8.)

In 2010, IDHS closed one of its facilities, the Howe Developmental Center in Tinley Park, Illinois ("Howe"). (Id. ¶ 20.) Pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement in effect between AFSCME and IDHS at all relevant times in 2010 ("CBA"), IDHS was contractually obligated to follow certain procedures when laying off employees or restructuring its workforce. (Id. ¶¶ 9-10; see also IDHS's Ex. A, Ex. 1 ("Art. XX -- Layoff").) Specifically, because IDHS employees at Howe were subject to layoff, they were eligible to "bump" covered employees at other IDHS facilities pursuant to the terms of the CBA. (Id. ¶ 21.*fn2 ) Naficy's pending Title VII claims are based on IDHS's execution of the CBA's bumping provisions with respect to the Howe layoffs in 2010. (Id. ¶¶ 59-63; see also 5th Am. Compl. ¶¶ 19-22.)

1. Relevant CBA Provisions

The CBA requires IDHS to notify all employees potentially affected by a layoff of their rights under the CBA. (IDHS's SOF ¶ 10.) Specifically, IDHS is required to provide employees with information regarding (1) IDHS's seniority roster of employees subject to layoff and potentially affected by layoff; (2) IDHS's vacancy list; and (3) the "bumping" options for employees potentially affected by layoff. (Id. ¶ 11.)

"Bumping" is a process whereby a more senior employee can displace a less senior employee from his or her job position under a set of rules contained within the CBA. (Id. ¶ 12.) The CBA includes six identified "bumping priorities," identified as steps one through six. (Art. XX -- Layoff, §§ 3(c)-(h).) First, an employee subject to layoff "must bump the least senior employee in the same position classification at their work location." (IDHS's SOF ¶ 14 (citing Art. XX -- Layoff, § 3(c)).*fn3 ) Second, "if an employee is unable to bump at the same work location, then an employee must bump the least senior employee in the same position classification in the county where their current position is located." (Id. (citing Art. XX -- Layoff, § 3(d)).) Third, "[i]f neither of these options is available, then an employee must bump into the next lower position in the same position classification series at the same work location." (Id. ¶ 15 (citing Art. XX -- Layoff, § 3(e)).) Fourth, "if this option is not available, then an employee must bump into the next lower position in the same position classification series in the county in which their current position is located." (Id. (citing Art. XX -- Layoff, § 3(f)).) If none of the first four bumping options are available, "then an employee must bump into a position for which they were previously certified" at either the same work location or elsewhere in the county. (Id. ¶ 16 (citing Art. XX -- Layoff, § 3(g)-(h)).)

The CBA's bumping options are exercised by seniority. (IDHS's SOF ¶ 13.) Specifically, the CBA states, Starting with the highest bargaining unit and pay grade, employee(s) may choose to exercise or waive his/her available bump option in (c) through (i),*fn4 if applicable. The employee(s) must make his/her selection known to the Employer at the time of his/her bump meeting and such selection shall be final. An employee may still opt to be laid off at any time prior to the implementation of the bump, however the Employer shall not be required to modify the layoff plan. (Art. XX -- Layoff, § 3(b) (emphasis added).)

According to Samaras, "[e]mployees who waive their bumping option are not guaranteed employment with IDHS." (Id. ¶ 17 (citing Samaras's Aff. ¶ 13).) Although the CBA states, "[i]n the event that an employee waives or refuses to accept an available bump under this provision, the employee shall be laid off," (Art. XX -- Layoff, §§ 3(c)-(d); IDHS's SOF ¶ 14), an employee who waives his or her bumping option may nevertheless be allowed to apply for a vacant position with IDHS under the terms of the CBA. Specifically, the CBA requires IDHS to "offer[ ] a transfer or voluntary reduction within the agency's available bargaining unit vacancies in lieu of layoff, . . . provided the employee is qualified for such vacancy." (Art. XX -- Layoff, § 3(j); IDHS's SOF ¶ 18; see also Art. XX -- Layoff, § 3(b) ("An employee(s) who chooses to waive his/her available bump option, or if no bump option was available, may choose to exercise his/her right to a Transfer or Voluntary Reduction in Lieu of Layoff (j), if applicable and seniority permitting.").) Vacancies are not offered "until all eligible employees have exercised their right to bump." (IDHS's SOF ¶ 19; see also Art. XX -- Layoff, § 3(b) ("Agency vacancies shall be offered, if applicable and seniority permitting, upon completion of the bumping process, (c) through (i).").)

2. IDHS's Execution of the 2010 Howe Layoffs On January 22, 2010, Naficy and other IDHS employees potentially affected by the

Howe closure received a letter from IDHS notifying them of a possible layoff. (IDHS's SOF ¶ 29.) According to the January 22, 2010 letter, Naficy's potential bump options at Madden included the following positions: (1) Social Worker III; (2) Social Worker III (Spanish Speaking); (3) Social Worker III (part-time); and (4) Social Worker II. (Id. ¶ 30; see also Naficy's Resp. to IDHS's SOF ¶ 30 ("Plaintiff admits this is what the letter says . . . .").) The January 22, 2010 letter also notified Naficy that she could choose not to bump into another position and instead select an IDHS vacancy for which she was qualified, seniority permitting. (Id.) The layoff notification included a list of potential vacancies that employees could choose from, seniority permitting, if they chose to waive their right to bump. (IDHS's SOF ¶ 49.*fn5

On February 2, 2010, IDHS and AFSCME representatives met with various IDHS employees, including Naficy, at Howe to discuss each employee's options under the CBA. (Id. ¶ 32.) As employees exercised their bumping options, Naficy was bumped from her position as a Social Worker III by a more senior IDHS employee. (Id. ¶ 33.) By the time Naficy met with IDHS and AFSCME representatives to make her election under the CBA, there was no full-time Social Worker III position at Madden available for Naficy to bump into, due to the bumping choices made by IDHS employees with more seniority. (Id. ¶ 34.*fn6 ) It is undisputed that Naficy is not a fluent Spanish speaker. (Id. ¶ 35.)

At the February 2, 2010 meeting, Samaras informed Naficy that, as a result of bumping options exercised by more senior IDHS employees, her only bump option was to a part-time Social Worker III position. (Id. ¶ 39.) Naficy was not offered the opportunity to bump into a Social Worker II position at Madden, or at any other IDHS facility. (Dkt. No. 63 at 18-23 ("Naficy's Add'l Facts") ¶¶ 85, 87.) When Naficy questioned "why options that were previously listed that [Naficy] was eligible for were no longer available," she received no explanation. (Id. ¶ 86 (citing Naficy's Ex. 1 ("Naficy's Aff.") ¶ 5).*fn7 ) Samaras also did not explain "any available option to wait for vacancies at a later date." (Id. ¶ 86 (citing Naficy's Aff. ¶ 5).*fn8 ) Samaras did, however, tell Naficy that she could not be guaranteed employment with IDHS if she waived her right to bump. (Id. ¶ 87; IDHS's SOF ¶ 40.)

During the February 2, 2010 meeting, IDHS staff filled out a form for Naficy to sign, indicating her election to bump into the part-time Social Worker III position at Madden, and Naficy signed the form. (IDHS's SOF ¶¶ 41-42; Naficy's Add'l Facts ¶ 80.) Naficy's reassignment became effective on June 1, 2010. (IDHS's SOF ¶ 54.) As a part-time Social Worker III, Naficy worked from midnight to 6:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. (Id. ¶ 55.) On August 1, 2010, Naficy returned to a full-time Social ...


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