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Eric Huang v. Continental Casualty Company

January 12, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge George W. Lindberg


Before the court is defendant Continental Casualty Company's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the motion is granted.

I. Factual Background and Procedural History

As an initial matter, the court notes that in a number of respects, plaintiff's filings fail to comply with the rules governing responses to summary judgment motions. For example, some of plaintiff's denials of defendant's statements of fact are not responsive to the statements, or are not supported by citations to the record. In addition, plaintiff improperly presents legal arguments and additional facts in his responses to defendant's statement of facts. Plaintiff's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) statement of additional facts contains a number of statements of fact that are not adequately supported by citations to the record. After briefing on the motion for summary judgment was completed, plaintiff moved to amend his statement of additional facts to add exhibits he had omitted from his original filing. The court granted plaintiff's motion. However, this amendment does not cure the majority of failings in plaintiff's filings.

The court deems admitted any denial of a statement of fact that does not "fairly meet the substance of the material facts asserted," see Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trustees, 233 F.3d 524, 528-29 (7th Cir. 2000), or that is not supported by a citation to the record. See L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B); see also Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 584 (N.D. Ill. 2000). The court disregards legal arguments presented in plaintiff's responses to defendant's statement of facts. See Malec, 191 F.R.D. at 585. The court also disregards additional facts included in plaintiff's response to defendant's statement of facts, rather than in a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) statement of additional facts. See id.; see also Ciomber v. Coop. Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008). The court disregards statements of additional fact that are not supported by citations to the record. See LR 56.1(b)(3)(C). The court also disregards hearsay, which is inadmissible in summary judgment proceedings. See Eisenstadt v. Centel Corp., 113 F.3d 738, 742 (7th Cir. 1997). With these rules in mind, the following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted.

On July 12, 1999, plaintiff began working for defendant as a Systems/Software Engineer Specialist on defendant's Desktop team. Plaintiff's immediate supervisor was Michael Gibbs.

In March 2007, plaintiff received his performance review for 2006. The review gave plaintiff an overall rating of "Meets Most Expectations," but contained comments criticizing a document plaintiff had created as overly long and inaccessible. Plaintiff did not receive a promotion at this time, but did receive a pay increase and a bonus.

Also in March 2007, plaintiff was informed that he was being transferred to defendant's Exchange team. During a May 2007 meeting with Gibbs and Project Lead James Welti to discuss the transfer, Gibbs yelled "you pissed me off" at plaintiff. Plaintiff complained about this incident in an e-mail to defendant's Human Resources Consulting Director, Carolyn Walsh.

Defendant required all four members of the Exchange team, including plaintiff, to share on-call responsibilities by carrying and responding to a pager approximately every fourth weekend. During the time when an employee was on pager duty, he or she was required to be available 24 hours per day. At some point after plaintiff was transferred to the Exchange team, Gibbs informed plaintiff of this off-hours requirement. However, plaintiff refused to work from home on the weekends, citing family obligations. The other members of the Exchange team took turns filling in for plaintiff on the weekends he was assigned to work, in addition to responding to pages on their own assigned weekends.

On November 2, 2007, plaintiff was directed to work a weekend rotation, but refused to do so. On November 9, 2007, after plaintiff reiterated that he was unavailable to work from home on the weekends, Gibbs advised him that failure to provide weekend support could result in disciplinary action, including termination. On November 19, 2007, Gibbs advised plaintiff that he was scheduled to provide weekend support beginning on December 7, 2007. Gibbs and Human Resources representative Tina Nagle reminded plaintiff that being available to work on assigned weekends was a job requirement. Nagle reiterated this reminder in a November 28, 2007 meeting. On December 4, 2007, Gibbs again told plaintiff that he was required to provide coverage on the following weekend. Plaintiff responded that he was unavailable on the weekend, and that nothing was going to change his off-hour and weekend availability in the next year or two.

On December 6, 2007, plaintiff met with Gibbs and Nagle. Nagle told plaintiff that defendant would have no choice but to terminate plaintiff if he could not carry and respond to a pager every fourth weekend. Plaintiff proposed modifying his schedule to work in the office on Sundays instead of Mondays, but he refused to work on the weekend as defendant requested. Nagle then advised plaintiff that his employment was terminated.

Gibbs and Nagle did not allow plaintiff to return to his workstation to collect his belongings. After plaintiff refused to identify the belongings he needed to take with him that day, so that one of defendant's representatives could retrieve them for him, Nagle asked plaintiff to leave the building. Nagle called a security guard to assist her, but plaintiff refused to leave. Plaintiff ultimately left the building in the custody of the Chicago Police Department. Defendant later declined to press charges against plaintiff.

Plaintiff filed a discrimination charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on March 28, 2008, alleging that defendant had discriminated against him based on his race (Asian) and national origin (Chinese), and that defendant had retaliated against him for engaging in protected activity. On November 17, 2010, the EEOC dismissed the charge and issued plaintiff a notice of his right to sue.

Plaintiff filed this case on February 15, 2011. His complaint alleges that defendant discriminated against him in violation of Title VII and 42 U.S.C. ยง 1981 based on his race (Asian) and national origin (Chinese), by giving him groundless negative performance reviews, failing to promote him, transferring him to another position, harassing him, and terminating his employment. The complaint also alleges that defendant retaliated against him for complaining about discrimination, by terminating his employment, having him arrested and criminally prosecuted after he was terminated, and refusing to ...

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