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Barbara J. Good v. the University of Chicago Medical Center

June 23, 2011

BARBARA J. GOOD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICAL CENTER, AN ILLINOIS MOT-FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Ronald A. Guzman

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff has sued defendant for reverse race discrimination pursuant to Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The case is before the Court on defendant's Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56 motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the motion.

Facts

Defendant's Radiology Department has four components, the Computerized Tomography Department ("CT"), the Magnetic Resonance Imaging ("MRI") Department, the Ultrasound Department and the Nuclear Medicine/Positron Emission Technology ("PET") Department, each of which has a manager. (Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶¶ 5-6.) Each of the components assigns staff technologists, who do the imaging, to one of three daily shifts, and designates a lead technologist, also called an Imaging Team Leader, for each shift. (Id. ¶¶ 7-8, 11.) All staff and lead technologists are bi-weekly employees. (See id. ¶ 10; Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶ 10.) All managers, also called Imaging Center Leaders, are monthly, managerial employees. (Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶¶ 12-13.)

Each year, the managers review the bi-weekly employees' performance and assign each an overall rating from 1 ("Needs Improvement. Consistently performs below job requirements" ) to 5 ("Role Model. Provides an example to which other Hospital employees can aspire.") (See id. ¶ 27; Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶ 27; id., Ex. E, Good Dep. Ex. 1, Good Performance Review of June 23, 2007.) It is defendant's policy to put any bi-weekly employee whose overall rating is less than 3 on a performance improvement plan ("PIP"). (See Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶ 29; Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶ 29; id., Ex. F, Austin Dep. Ex. 16, Best Practices Managing Low Performing Employee at 12.)

Bi-weekly employees are also subject to defendant's four-step Progressive Corrective Action Policy and an employee's "failure to meet conditions of corrective action," which includes failing to complete a PIP, is grounds for termination. (See Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt., Ex. C, Austin Decl. Ex. 2, Univ. Chi. Med. Ctr. Policy & Proc. Manual, Employee Termination at 2; id., Ex. 3, Univ. Chi. Hosps. Personnel Policy Guidelines, Progressive Corrective Action at 1.) Monthly employees are not subject to this policy. (See id., Ex. 3, Univ. Chi. Hosps. Personnel Policy Guidelines, Progressive Corrective Action at 2.) Rather, "[t]heir performance problems [are] dealt with on a case by case basis." (Id.)

According to defendant's Policy and Procedure Manual, "it is the policy of the University of Chicago Hospitals to demote [an] individual[]" who "cannot perform . . . her assigned job responsibilities" because "her skills are not matched to the requirements of the job" or she "lack[s] . . . motivation to perform up to standards." (Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt., Ex. 11, Univ. Chi. Med. Ctr. Policy & Proc. Manual, Personnel Policy Guidelines, Demotion at 1.)

In 1994, defendant hired plaintiff as lead technologist in the CT Department. (Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶ 17.) In 1999, plaintiff resigned for a brief period of time but was re-hired by defendant as a CT staff technologist later that year. (Id. ¶¶ 18-19.)

In 2004, defendant promoted her to lead technologist. (Id. ¶ 20.) From 2005 through the end of her employment, plaintiff's supervisor was CT Manager Cliff Sissel, who is white. (Id. ¶¶ 22-23.) Sissel's supervisor was Monica Geyer, the Assistant Director of Specialty Imaging Services, who is white. (Id.)

Sissel reviewed Good's performance for the period July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2007 and gave her an overall rating of 2.65 out of 5. (Id. ¶ 24.) He noted that:

Managing the workflow and patient schedule are areas that need improvement. . . .

She needs to keep her staff informed of expectations/changes in the department . . . . [and] openly support the goals of the department and the organization at all times. . . . . [Barbara] needs to remain a positive influence in the department and eliminate negative comments around her staff. Barbara has been counseled in the past about changing this behavior and has made attempts to improve that have not been sustained. . . . . . . .

Barbara has the ability to be a successful team leader. . . . Things that are holding Barbara back are the communication she has with her shift, fair work distribution, and controlling the schedule. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt., Ex. E, Sissel Dep. Ex. 1, Good Performance Review of June 23, 2007 at 2-4.)

Because plaintiff's rating was below 3, on July 11, 2007, Sissel and Geyer gave her a ninety-day PIP. (Pls.' Resp. Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ΒΆΒΆ 35-38.) ...


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