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Jerry Brown v. Illinois Department of Natural Resources

November 8, 2011


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


Pro se plaintiff Jerry Brown brings this suit against the Illinois Department of Natural Resources ("IDNR"), alleging two violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII," 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17): 1) that Defendant used a disparate pay system to discriminate against Plaintiff on account of his race, religion, national origin and ancestry/ethnicity; and 2) retaliation.

Defendant now moves for summary judgment on all counts. Consistent with his three prior Title VII lawsuits against IDNR, Plaintiff has failed to make out a prima facie case of discrimination.*fn1 Defendant's motion is granted.


A. Any Claims Arising Before September 2006 are Time-Barred; Claims That Have Been or Could Have Been Previously Litigated are Barred by Res Judicata Plaintiff is time-barred from filing suit under Title VII for any discrete act about which he did not file an EEOC charge within the 300-day EEOC charging deadline. Brown v. Ill. Dep't. of Natural Res., 499 F.3d 675, 680-81 (7th Cir. 2007). Plaintiff is also barred by res judicata from raising any claims that have been or could have been litigated in his three prior Title VII actions against Defendant. Palka v. City of Chicago, No. 09-C2042, 2011 WL 4921385, at *8 (7th Cir. Oct. 18, 2011). Thus, in this suit, Plaintiff's Title VII claims may pertain only to discrete acts for which he timely filed EEOC claims, that have not, and could not, have been raised in his prior lawsuits.

Plaintiff filed two EEOC charges that apply to this case, one in July 6, 2007 and one in February 9, 2008. Any claims he raises here must therefore be limited to discrete acts that took place between roughly September 12, 2006 and February 9, 2008.


Plaintiff's entire employment history with IDNR has been described in his prior lawsuits; it need not be repeated here. I focus only on the relevant time period described above, as well as prior acts relevant to the Title VII analysis.

In November 1994, Plaintiff was hired by the IDNR's Waste Management and Research Center ("WMRC") as a Manufacturing Process Engineer (now called a Technology Evaluation Specialist). This position was slotted at the Assistant Professional Scientist payroll title. He held essentially the same title until December 2005, when he received a 5% promotional increase and his payroll title was upgraded to Associate Professional Scientist. WMRC granted six other employees 5% promotional increases at the same time. All seven employees had become eligible for these routine payroll-track promotional increases at some point between 2003-2005 but did not receive them because a freeze on state employee salary increases was in place at the time. In December 2005 the freeze was lifted and the employees received their promotional increases.

On September 21, 2006, Plaintiff received his annual performance review from one of his supervisors, Dr. Timothy Lindsey. Plaintiff's overall rating in the performance review was "M--Meets Most Expectatons." Plaintiff claims that he deserved a higher rating and that "Meets Most Expections" reflects a discriminatory "downgrade."

In April and May 2007, Defendant gave 5% pay raises to at least seven employees. The Plaintiff did not receive this 5% pay raise. However, none of the employees who received the 2007 pay raise was given the 5% promotional increases that Plaintiff received in 2005. Defendant claims that the 2007 raises were given to "catch up" the employees who were passed over for promotional increases in 2005. Plaintiff denies this based on the fact that the 2007 salary increases were not termed "promotional increases." Plaintiff knows of no IDNR employees who received more than a 5% salary increase between 2005-2007. Nevertheless, Plaintiff argues that he was entitled to both the 2005 and 2007 pay increases, and that he was denied the 2007 increase due to the allegedly discriminatory downgrade he received in his 2006 performance evaluation and in retaliation for his previous Title VII lawsuits.


Summary judgment should be granted when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The facts presented are to be construed in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Smith v. City of Chicago, 242 F.3d 737, 742 (7th Cir. 2001). Once the moving party has set forth the basis for summary judgment, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party who must go beyond mere allegations and offer specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). The nonmoving party must offer more than "[c]onclusory ...

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