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Krystal Almaguer v. Cook County

September 27, 2012

KRYSTAL ALMAGUER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COOK COUNTY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman

MEMORANDUMOPINIONANDORDER

Plaintiff Krystal Almaguer ("Plaintiff" or "Almaguer")*fn1 , a resident of Cook County, brings forth this matter against Defendant Cook County ("Defendant" or "Cook County"), a municipal corporation, alleging: (1) sexual harassment and gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII") (Count I); (2) violations of her equal protection and due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment pursuant to 42 U.S.C § 1983 ("Section 1983" or "§ 1983") (Counts II and III); and (3) violations of Illinois law for the intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count IV), assault and battery (Count V), respondeat superior (Count VI), and willful and wanton misconduct (Count VII). Defendant moves for summary judgment on all claims pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 and Local Rule 56.1. For the foregoing reasons, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part.

Background

The following facts are taken from the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and affidavits. All inferences have been drawn in favor of the non-movant, Plaintiff Almaguer. Defendant Felice Vanaria ("Vanaria") was employed from 1984 through 1998 with the Cook County Adult Probation Department.*fn2 (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Rule 56 Stmt. at ¶ 5). In 1998, after an investigation, Vanaria was terminated. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Rule 56 Stmt. at ¶¶ 8-17). During his employment with the Cook County Adult Probation Department, in 1995 and 1998, two probationers lodged complaints against Vanaria for demanding sexual favors in exchange for more lenient probation conditions. In addition to these two complaints, sexually inappropriate letters between Vanaria and a third probationer were intercepted by the Cook County Adult Probation Department.*fn3 (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Rule 56 Stmt. at ¶¶ 9-10). In 2002, Vanaria worked for Defendant as an administrative assistant assigned to Cook County Commissioner Joseph Moreno. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Rule 56 Stmt. at ¶ 19). On July 26, 2002, Vanaria's fingerprints were taken in order to check Vanaria's criminal background. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Rule 56 Stmt. at ¶ 20). Subsequently, in 2005, Vanaria was hired by Defendant as the Administrative Assistant III at Oak Forest Hospital. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Rule 56 Stmt. at ¶29). On January 5, 2005, Vanaria's fingerprints were taken before he started to work at Oak Forest Hospital.

In his position as an Administrative Assistant III at Oak Forest Hospital, Vanaria worked as a Continuing Medical Education ("CME") Coordinator. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Rule 56 Stmt. at ¶ 35). Vanaria's main responsibility as a CME Coordinator was to schedule and coordinate programs for the medical staff. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Rule 56 Stmt. at ¶ 36). A pharmaceutical representative complained to Vanaria's direct supervisor that in exchange for setting up a CME speaker program at Oak Forest Hospital, Vanaria had demanded a massage from the representative. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Rule 56 Stmt. at ¶ 44). Vanaria's supervisor subsequently reported the complaint and after an investigation, it was determined that there was not enough evidence to sustain the allegations against Vanaria.*fn4 As a result of the investigation, Vanaria received verbal counseling and was prohibited from further contact with the pharmaceutical representative who lodged the complaint. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Rule 56 Stmt. at ¶ 48-49). This was the only documented complaint against Vanaria during his employment at Oak Forest Hospital. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Rule 56 Stmt. at ¶ 50-51).

Vanaria's position did not give him the authority to hire individuals, nor did he have the authority to offer anyone a position of employment at Oak Forest Hospital, nor did he have the authority to make recommendations to human resources at Oak Forest Hospital for either the hiring or termination of an individual.*fn5 (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Rule 56 Stmt. at ¶ 37). Plaintiff Almaguer is a professional massage therapist. (Pl.'s Stmt. of Additional Facts at ¶1; Almaguer Dep. Tr. 7:1-24). As part of her job, Almaguer would travel to perform massages on clients at their homes. (Almaguer Dep. 25:17-19). One of her clients referred Vanaria to Almaguer for a massage. (Almaguer Dep. 25:13-16). On or about January 25, 2007, Almaguer received a phone call from Vanaria asking what massage services she provided and if she had any flyers which he could pass out at Oak Forest Hospital. (Almaguer Dep. 27:2-6). Almaguer asked if the hospital was hiring and made an appointment to submit her resume to Vanaria. (Almaguer Dep. 27:7-12; Compl. at ¶ 27). Vanaria interviewed Almaguer at the hospital and offered her a position. (Compl. at ¶ 28). Vanaria told Plaintiff that her salary would be $52,000 per year and that she would receive full benefits, vacation, personal days and sick days. (Compl. at ¶28). Vanaria also informed Almaguer that she needed to complete an application, be fingerprinted and consent to drug screening. (Compl. at ¶ 28). Almaguer completed the application form and gave her consent for a background check before leaving the hospital. (Compl. at ¶ 29).

Pursuant to Vanaria's request for her social security card and birth certificate, Almaguer returned to Vanaria's office on February 1, 2007. (Compl. at ¶ 31). Upon her arrival, Vanaria shut the door and proceeded to make certain sexual requests of her in exchange for her employment with the hospital including a kiss, removal of her clothing, and a massage "with [Almaguer] wearing something sexy." (Compl. at ¶¶ 32-36). Almaguer states that she thought Vanaria's demands were a condition of her employment, and therefore, she undressed as requested. (Compl. at ¶ 36). After she complied, Vanaria then squeezed Almaguer's buttocks and kissed her on her mouth and neck. (Compl. at ¶¶ 32-36). Almaguer eventually pulled away from Vanaria's advances and got dressed. Once dressed, Vanaria took Almaguer to the Rehabilitation Department in the hospital and explained that it was where she would be working. (Compl. at ¶¶ 36-38). Shortly thereafter, Almaguer telephoned Vanaria and explained that she was uncomfortable with their last interaction and declined the position with the hospital. (Compl. at ¶¶ 39-40).

On February 5, 2007, Almaguer was contacted by Vanaria who offered her another position at the hospital. (Compl. at ¶ 41). Almaguer expressed interest in the position on the condition that she did not have to submit to sexual demands in order to receive the job. (Compl. at ¶ 41). On February 12, 2007, Vanaria called Almaguer again and affirmed that as a condition of employment, she would still have to give him a massage while wearing something sexy. (Compl. at ¶ 42). Almaguer states that she reluctantly scheduled a massage appointment with Vanaria for Thursday, February 15, 2007 at her home. (Compl. at ¶ 42).

On or about February 15, 2007, Vanaria arrived at Almaguer's home massage studio for his scheduled massage with employment paperwork for Almaguer to sign. (Compl. at ¶ 43). Vanaria got undressed and Almaguer states that at Vanaria's direction, she got undressed and began to give Vanaria a massage. (Compl. at ¶ 43). During the massage Vanaria told her that he had previously conditioned employment in exchange for sexual demands with ten other women prior to Almaguer. (Compl. at ¶ 43). During the massage, Vanaria turned to face Almaguer, pulled her towards him, and touched her in a sexual manner. (Compl. at ¶ 44). Vanaria, upset with Almaguer for her reluctance to engage in further sexual activity, explained to her that he would not give her the employment papers unless she performed manual stimulation on him. (Compl. at ¶ 44). Almaguer complied with Vanaria's request and was eventually given the employment papers. (Compl. at ¶ 44). Almaguer signed the papers and Vanaria left her home. (Compl. at ¶ 44).

On or about February 22, 2007 Almaguer received a phone call from a woman who explained that she was calling from the Human Resources Department at Oak Forest Hospital to confirm that Almaguer's start date was March 5, 2007. (Compl. at ¶ 46). The woman explained that the job title had been changed to "Therapist" and that Almaguer needed to set up another appointment with Vanaria to complete a new application. (Compl. at ¶ 46). Almaguer subsequently called Vanaria and inquired about the change in job title. (Compl. at ¶ 47). Vanaria explained that the Therapist position paid $10,000 more a year and that Almaguer owed him another massage for the job. (Compl. at ¶ 47). Vanaria said that he would bring the new job application with him when he was to receive his second massage. (Compl. at ¶ 47).

Immediately thereafter, Almaguer called Oak Forest Hospital's Human Resources Department and explained that she had been offered a position with the hospital. (Compl. at ¶ 48). Almaguer was informed, however, that Oak Forest Hospital was not hiring or accepting employment applications. (Compl. at ¶ 48). Upon learning this information, Almaguer contacted Orland Park Police Department. (Compl. at ¶ 49). Vanaria was placed on unpaid administrative leave after being arrested by the Orland Park Police. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Rule 56 Stmt. at ¶ 33). Vanaria never returned to work at Oak Forest Hospital after placed on leave and his final day of employment was on March 30, 2007. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Rule 56 Stmt. at ¶ 34). Vanaria eventually pled guilty to one count of bribery and one count of official misconduct.*fn6 (Compl. at ¶ 51). Almaguer now brings forth several claims against Cook County alleging that as Vanaria's employer, Cook County is liable for Vanaria's misconduct. (Compl. at ¶¶ 54-71). Specifically, Almaguer filed a complaint against Defendant, Cook County alleging:

(1) sexual harassment and gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII") (Count I); (2) violations of her equal protection and due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment pursuant to 42 U.S.C § 1983 (Counts II and III); and (3) violations of Illinois law for the intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count IV), assault and battery (Count V), respondeat superior (Count VI), and willful and wanton misconduct (Count VII). (Compl. at ¶¶ 72-132).

Legal Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate where "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(2). The burden is upon the moving party to demonstrate that no genuine issue respecting any material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, all ambiguities must be resolved and all inferences drawn in favor of the nonmoving party. Abdullahi v. City of Madison, 423, F.3d 763, 773 (7th Cir. 2005). Summary judgment is improper in a ...


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