The opinion of the court was delivered by: David G. Bernthal U.S. Magistrate Judge
E-FILED Tuesday, 06 December, 2011 02:55:41 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD
Plaintiff Latricia Greene filed an Amended Complaint (#19) against Defendant Illinois Department of Employment Security in March 2010. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant, her former employer and also the Illinois agency responsible for adjudicating claims of unemployment benefits, denied her claim for benefits in retaliation for her complaints of racial discrimination and harassment perpetrated by Defendant in connection with her employment. Plaintiff seeks relief under Title VII. Federal jurisdiction is based on federal question pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The parties have consented to the exercise of jurisdiction by a United States Magistrate Judge.
In May 2011, Defendant filed Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (#33). Plaintiff filed a Response to Motion for Summary Judgment (#35). Defendant filed Defendant's Reply to Plaintiff's Response to Motion for Summary Judgment (#36). After reviewing the parties' pleadings, memoranda, and submitted evidence, this Court hereby GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (#33).
As a preliminary matter, the Court must address whether there are any genuine issues of material fact precluding summary judgment.
The Court begins by noting that Plaintiff has failed to comply with Local Rule 7.1(D)(2), which provides that a party responding to a motion for summary judgment must list by number each fact from the movant's motion for summary judgment which is either conceded to be undisputed and material, disputed and material, disputed and immaterial, or undisputed and immaterial. Most confusingly, in a section titled "Material Issues of Fact Admitted," Plaintiff admits certain facts in numbered paragraphs, but these numbered paragraphs do not correspond to the numbered paragraphs in Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. Local Rule 7.1(D)(2)(6) states that "a failure to respond to any numbered fact will be deemed an admission of fact."
Perhaps alleviating the significance of the errors in format, the Court also notes that Plaintiff does not appear to contest the substance of Defendant's proposed facts. Plaintiff lists only one "material issue of fact denied," which concerns the date of Plaintiff's discharge. Additionally, Plaintiff makes a nonspecific statement that "the remainder of the facts stated in Defendant's motion under Section II: Undisputed Material Facts are irrelevant and immaterial to this matter." (#35, p. 6). Furthermore, Defendant's proposed undisputed material facts largely recount dates and decisions in the well-documented agency adjudicatory process, in which Defendant considered Plaintiff's claim for unemployment benefits.
Next, Plaintiff has proposed several Additional Material Facts. Defendant disputes Plaintiff's additional material facts at (#35, pp. 6-7, ¶¶ 1, 2, and 5) on the grounds that these proposed additional facts each state a legal conclusion, and are unsupported by evidentiary documentation, in violation of Local Rule 7.1(D)(2)(b)(5). The Court agrees with Defendant's objections. The Court will not consider these proposed additional material facts.
Because Plaintiff failed to comply with Local Rule 7.1(D), and because Plaintiff does not appear to dispute the substance of Defendant's proposed undisputed material facts, this Court deems all of Defendant's undisputed material facts admitted, with the exception of (#33, ¶ 14), which Plaintiff properly contested.*fn1 Furthermore, the Court rejects Plaintiff's proposed additional material facts at (#35, pp. 6-7, ¶¶ 1, 2, and 5).
The following background information is taken from the undisputed facts, as well as evidence submitted to the Court. For the reasons discussed above, this Court primarily relies on Defendant's undisputed material facts at (#33, pp. 3-9, ¶¶ 1-41), as well as evidence submitted by both parties.
Plaintiff was employed by the Illinois Department of Employment Security from August 1988 through April 2005 as a Program Representative. (#33, ¶ 1). She worked in an office in Kankakee, Illinois. (#33, ¶ 1). The Local Office Manager of this office at the relevant time was Gloria Richard. (#33, ¶ 3). Andrew Nicholos, a Field Office Supervisor, was Plaintiff's direct supervisor. (#33, ¶5; #33-1, p. 34).
On February 17, 2005, Plaintiff was directed to leave work after it became clear that Plaintiff was unable to perform any of the essential functions of her job, for reasons related to Plaintiff's health. (#33, ¶ 2; #33-1, p. 141). Plaintiff testified that she had suffered an injury at work near that period of time. (#33-1, p. 25). In a letter from Ms. Richard to Plaintiff dated February 18, 2005, Ms. Richard instructed Plaintiff to either return to work immediately, or if she was unable to work, to submit a CMS-95 form confirming temporary disability. (#33-1, p. 141). A CMS-95 form is a form used as a physician's statement providing authorization for disability leave and return to work. The letter also instructed Plaintiff to communicate with her supervisor on a daily basis until she received approval for a leave of absence. (#33-1, p. 141).
Plaintiff did not respond to Ms. Richard's letter. Apparently, Plaintiff thought that she only needed to comply with instructions she received from her union representative and from individuals with Defendant's main office in Chicago (hereinafter "the Chicago office"). (#33-1, pp. 34-38). Plaintiff testified that she routinely sought approval for leave through the Chicago office, and that she thought they were handling her worker's compensation claim in this instance. (#33-1, pp. 34-38).
In a letter from Mr. Nicholos to Plaintiff dated March 9, 2005, Mr. Nicholos informed Plaintiff that because she had been absent from work since February 17, and she had not called her supervisor or manager, her absence was considered unauthorized. (#33-1, p. 143).
Mr. Nicholos instructed Plaintiff to contact him or Ms. Richard immediately. The letter stated: "If you need to request a disability leave of absence, you must have your physician complete the enclosed CMS-95 form and return it to HRM no later than the close of business, March 16, 2005." (#33-1, p. 143).
On March 18, two days after the deadline indicated in Mr. Nicholos's letter, Plaintiff faxed a CMS-95 form. (#33, ¶ 9; #33-1, pp. 144-47). The time stamp of from the fax is clearly indicated on the exhibit as being sent on March 18, 2005, at 10:34 a.m., with a number for the sender and recipient. (#33-1, pp. 144-47). In addition to being tardy in submitting the form, Plaintiff submitted it to an individual ...