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Michael Pesek v. Caterpillar Inc

July 27, 2012

MICHAEL PESEK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CATERPILLAR INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge John J. Tharp

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Caterpillar, Inc.'s motion for partial summary judgment as to Plaintiff Michael Pesek's claims of retaliation in violation of Title VII and the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA"). For the reasons set forth below, Caterpillar's motion for partial summary judgment is granted and judgment is entered for Caterpillar on the portions of Counts II and IV of Pesek's Complaint alleging retaliation taking place after February 28, 2008.

BACKGROUND

Pesek is an employee of Caterpillar, working as an assembly and test specialist in its Joliet, Illinois, facility. Caterpillar's Statement of Uncontested Facts ("Doc. 61") ¶ 1. Pesek alleges that beginning in August 2007 Caterpillar supervisor Charity Klimkiewicz subjected him to sexual harassment. Cmplt.¶¶ 11-23. Pesek further alleges that he complained about Klimkiewicz's harassing conduct to Caterpillar's human resource representatives, but that Caterpillar failed to take appropriate remedial action. Id. ¶¶ 24-29. Instead, Pesek alleges that Caterpillar terminated him on February 28, 2008, in retaliation for reporting Klimkiewicz's harassment. Id. ¶ 27.

Pesek thereafter filed two charges of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). First, in March 2008, Pesek filed a charge claiming that Klimkiewicz and Caterpillar retaliated against him for having filed a 2006 internal harassment complaint against several co-workers and supervisors. Doc. 61 ¶ 5. Then, in May 2008, Pesek filed a second charge of discrimination with the IDHR alleging that Caterpillar terminated his employment on February 28, 2008 after he refused and opposed Klimkiewicz's sexual advances. Id. ¶ 9.

In addition to filing the IDHR discrimination charges, Pesek also challenged his termination through his union. Cmplt. ¶ 30. After an arbitration regarding his termination, the arbitrator upheld Pesek's challenge, ruling that he was not terminated for just cause and awarding him reinstatement, back pay, and payment of unspecified "contractual benefits" to which Pesek would have been entitled absent the termination Id. ¶ 31; Doc. 57-7 at 13.

Pesek returned to work in October 2009, but he alleges that Caterpillar continued to retaliate against him after his reinstatement. Id. ¶¶ 33-37. Specifically, Pesek alleges that Caterpillar has taken six actions against him since February 28, 2008 that constitute unlawful retaliation:

(1) refusing to correct his mailing address which caused critical correspondence to be sent to an incorrect address;

(2) singling him out for a meeting on the day he returned to work to warn him against future transgressions;

(3) singling him out for a meeting on his third day at work to warn him that he would be terminated if he wrote additional letters complaining about retaliation;

(4) failing to deduct union dues from his paycheck;

(5) wrongfully withholding unspecified money from his paycheck and refusing to directly deposit his paychecks; and

(6) refusing to reimburse him for certain insurance costs and 401(k) costs and penalties he incurred due to his February 28, 2008 termination. Pesek's Opp'n Br. ("Doc. 58") at 8.

On June 9, 2010, Pesek filed a four-count Complaint alleging violations of Title VII and the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA"). Caterpillar moves for partial summary judgment against only those portions of Pesek's retaliation claims (Counts II and IV) complaining of conduct taking place after Pesek's termination on February 28, 2008. Caterpillar admits that there are genuine issues of material fact with respect to ...


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