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William Scott, et al v. Onyx Waste Servs. Midwest

August 18, 2011

WILLIAM SCOTT, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ONYX WASTE SERVS. MIDWEST, INC., N/K/A VEOLIA ES SOLID WASTE MIDWEST, LLC, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge James B. Zagel

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. BACKGROUND

William Scott, Andrew Watkins, and Cater Curenton brought suit against their former employer Onyx Waste Services Midwest, Inc., now Veolia ES Solid Waste Midwest, LLC, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. Defendant moved for summary judgment against Plaintiffs Watkins and Curenton for failing to exhaust their administrative remedies prior to filing suit. After some later factual discoveries, Curenton conceded his dismissal from the suit in a status hearing held before me on June 1, 2011. For the reasons described below, I now grant Defendant's motion for summary judgment against Plaintiff Watkins.

II. STATEMENT OF FACTS

The following facts are taken from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 statements and amendments thereto. In 2004, the defendant employed Plaintiffs William Scott and Andrew Watkins, both African-Americans, as commercial drivers. They were all employed at Defendant's Evanston facility, and both were later transferred to the Northbrook facility. While employed at the Northbrook facility, Plaintiffs had the same general manager, a Caucasian.

On November 15, 2004, Scott was terminated. The reason given for Scott's discharge was a violation of Defendant's preventable accident policy, which requires the termination of any employee having three preventable accidents within a rolling 12-month period.*fn1 Four months later, on March 10, 2005, Watkins was terminated after his third "preventable accident."

All of the underlying accidents for each Plaintiff were distinct incidents happening at different times.

On June 27, 2005, Scott filed a timely charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The charge noted that the complaint was "brought on behalf of a class of other similarly situated employees." A "right to sue letter" was issued by the EEOC on March 5, 2010. Watkins never filed an EEOC charge or received a right to sue letter.

On June 4, 2010, Plaintiffs brought this lawsuit, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence demonstrates that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The court evaluates the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, making no determinations as to the credibility of witnesses or the weight of the evidence. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Abdullahi v. City of Madison, 423 F.3d 763, 773 (7th Cir. 2006).

IV. DISCUSSION

A. The "Single Filing" Doctrine

Before filing suit under Title VII, an individual must file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and receive a "right to sue letter." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e); Doe v. Oberweis Dairy, 456 F.3d 704, 708 (7th Cir. 2006); Babrocky v. Jewel Food Co., 773 F.2d 857, 863 (7th Cir. 1985). The purpose of this requirement is to give the EEOC a chance to investigate the charge and to encourage the complainant and ...


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