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Glenn Rippley v. Teamsters Local 525

March 6, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge:


A. Introduction and Procedural Overview

In December 2010, Glenn Rippley filed suit in this District Court against two unions -- Teamsters Local Union No. 50 and Teamsters Local Union No. 525. Proceeding pro se, Rippley used a form employment discrimination complaint on which he checked boxes indicating that he alleged (1) race discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1967 as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (Title VII) "and/or" race discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, (2) religious discrimination under Title VII, and (3) retaliation. Attached to Rippley's complaint was a confusing tangle of exhibits, including charges Rippley filed in October and November 2010 with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), intake questionnaires he filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and right-to-sue notices issued by the EEOC, which are dated September 14, 2010 and November 17, 2010.

Reviewing the complaint while ruling on Rippley's motion for pauper status in January 2011, the undersigned Judge explained (Doc. 4, p. 4):

42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(c) declares it an "unlawful employment practice" for a labor organization: (1) to exclude . or otherwise to discriminate against, any individual because of his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; [or] (2) to . fail or refuse to refer for employment any individual, in any way which would . tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities, or would limit such employment opportunities or otherwise affect his status as an employee or as an applicant for employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin..

Generously construed, Rippley alleges that Defendants acted to limit or deny him employment opportunities based on his race or in retaliation for his prior filing of charges with the EEOC and the National Labor Relations Board The Court granted Rippley pauper status. Both Defendants were served, and they separately responded to Rippley's complaint in March 2011.

Local 525 answered the complaint and counterclaimed against Rippley. Local 50 moved for judgment on the pleadings on Rippley's discrimination claims (under both Title VII and Section 1981) and summary judgment on Rippley's retaliation claim. On May 18, 2011, the Court granted both of Local 50's motions, concluding (Doc. 23, p. 18):

In the wake of this Order, what remains are Rippley's claims against Local 525 for race discrimination (based on Title VII and Section 1981), religious discrimination (based on Title VII), and retaliation (based on Title VII).*fn1

Now before the Court is Local 525's motion for summary judgment as to all of Rippley's claims against it, including race discrimination, religious discrimination, and retaliation (plus a potential claim for breach of the duty of fair representation). Local 525's motion became ripe for ruling January 30, 2012, following the filing of supporting, opposing, and reply briefs (see Docs. 41, 42, 45, 46). Analysis begins with recitation of the governing legal standards.

B. Applicable Legal Standards

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 governs motions for summary judgment. Summary judgment should be granted if the record "shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED.R.CIV.P. 56(a).

Rule 56(c) delineates the procedures for supporting or opposing a summary judgment motion. Rule 56(c)(1) provides that in asserting that a fact cannot be genuinely disputed, a party must point to support in depositions, affidavits, declarations, admissions, or other materials in the record (or show that the adverse party "cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact"). Once this has been done by the movant, the non-movant may not remain silent. "When a summary judgment motion is submitted and supported by evidence as provided in Rule 56(c), the nonmoving party may not rest on mere allegations or denials in its pleadings, but 'must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Serednyj v. Beverly Healthcare, LLC, 656 F.3d 540, 547 (7th Cir. 2011), quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986).

The moving party's burden is discharged by demonstrating to the district court that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Marcatante v. City of Chicago, 657 F.3d 433, 439 (7th Cir. 2011). And the "district court should deny a motion for summary judgment only when the non-moving party presents admissible evidence that creates a genuine issue of material fact." Luster v. Illinois Dept. of Corrections, 652 F.3d 726, 730 (7th Cir. 2011).

In assessing a summary judgment motion, the district court must construe all facts in the light most favorable to, and draw all legitimate inferences in favor of, the non-movant. Righi v. SMC Corp., 632 F.3d 404, 408 (7th Cir. 2011); Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011); Spivey v. Adaptive Marketing, LLC, 622 F.3d 816, 822 (7th Cir. 2010); Reget v. City of La Crosse, 595 F.3d 691, 695 (7th Cir. 2010). But once the movant challenges "the factual support and legal soundness of plaintiffs' claim, the plaintiffs [acquire] the burden of demonstrating that genuine issues [remain] for trial." Marcatante, 657 F.3d at 440, citing Boumehdi v. Plastag Holdings, LLC, 489 F.3d 781, 787 (7th Cir. 2007)(To survive summary judgment, the plaintiffs must make a sufficient showing of evidence for each element they bear the burden of proving at trial). See also Reget, 595 F.3d at 695.

A genuine issue of material fact remains only "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Serednyj, 656 F.3d at 547, citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In other words, to survive summary judgment, the plaintiff must produce admissible evidence on which a jury could find in his favor. Maclin v. SBC Ameritech, 520 F.3d 781, 786 (7th Cir. 2008). In the case at bar, Local 525 has discharged its burden as summary judgment movant, and Plaintiff has not sustained his burden of producing admissible evidence on which a reasonable jury could find in his favor.

C. Summary of Key Undisputed Facts

Local 525 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Local 525) is a labor organization in an industry affecting commerce, within the meaning of Title VII. Local 525 is a member of the Illinois Conference of Teamsters, which is a party to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the Associated General Contractors of Illinois. The CBA was provided to the Court as an attachment to the January 17, 2012 Affidavit of Tim Ryan, the Assistant Business Agent for Teamsters Local 525 (Doc. 42-1).

Local 525 represents employees in the construction industry in the Illinois counties of Calhoun, Green, Jersey, Macoupin, Madison, and Montgomery. Local 50represents employees in the same industry in other Illinois counties -- St. Clair, Bond, Clinton, Fayette, Clay, Wayne, Marion, Jefferson, Washington, Randolph, and Monroe. In accord with the terms of the CBA between the Illinois Conference of Teamsters and the Associated General Contractors of Illinois, Local 525 operates a non-exclusive referral system under which employers can obtain qualified individuals to hire as truck drivers.

Article 4 of the CBA, captioned "Procurement of Labor," provides that the Employer and Union agree that the Union (Local 525) "will maintain a list of persons available for employment," pursuant to the "rules and regulations for the maintenance of the list . set forth below" (Doc. 42-1, p. 9).

The Union is obligated, inter alia, to ensure that any person referred for employment has the proper license to perform the work in question; the referral office is to refer only persons with the skills and experience required for the particular job; and the employer reserves the right to accept or reject the persons referred by the referral office (id., pp. 10-11). Article 4(j) provides that neither the employer nor the Union shall engage in or encourage employment practices ...

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