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Castro v. Devry Univ., Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois

April 22, 2013


Page 966

For Elizabeth Castro, Latonya Brooks, Michael A. Florez, Plaintiffs: Thomas Carl Crooks, Attorney at Law, Chicago, IL.

For DeVry University, Inc., Defendant: Brian M Stolzenbach, Joseph S. Turner, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Ashley Susan Kircher, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, Chicago, IL; Ashley Choren Workman, Seyfarth Shaw Llp, Chicago, ID.


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SHEILA FINNEGAN, United States Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiffs Elizabeth Castro, Michael A. Florez, and Latonya Brooks filed a two-count complaint charging their former employer, DeVry University, with (a) subjecting them to a hostile work environment through derogatory racial and ethnic statements by their supervisor, and (b) terminating their employment in retaliation for complaining about the supervisor's conduct, both in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. , as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The parties consented to the jurisdiction of the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). DeVry has now filed separate motions for summary judgment as to each Plaintiff. In their consolidated response, Plaintiffs concede that the hostile work environment claims should be dismissed but argue that the retaliatory discharge claims must be decided by a jury. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants DeVry's motions for summary judgment as to all claims.


In April 2007, Plaintiffs went to Human Resources (" HR" ) and jointly complained about their manager, Phil Giambone, the Dean of Admissions for DeVry's Chicago office. Castro was an Assistant Dean, directly supervising Brooks and Florez who worked as " Advisors" in recruiting students. During the meeting with HR, Plaintiffs said Giambone created a " hostile environment" because of his derogatory ethnic and racial comments and his " management by threats" style. They gave examples

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of the derogatory comments that he frequently made. As for the threats, Brooks described how she questioned Giambone at a meeting about the very old recruiting leads they were receiving and he later warned that she would not be around long if she was disloyal to him. Plaintiffs also complained to HR that Giambone made Advisors feel guilty for taking a vacation or personal day. They said his lack of management skills had led to extremely low morale and was the reason so many Advisors had left, predicting more would do so if his behavior continued.

A few months later, in July 2007, DeVry made a number of personnel changes. Giambone was moved out of the Chicago office and into the field, so his interactions with Plaintiffs ceased (in August 2008 he stopped working for DeVry entirely). A handful of others were also moved, including Castro. Though her salary did not change, Castro was stripped of her supervisory duties and transferred to another office where she worked as a Senior Advisor. Florez and Brooks remained in the Chicago office but reported to new supervisors. Each Plaintiff remained at DeVry for an extended period after this but ultimately was terminated: Florez in February 2008, Brooks in July 2008, and Castro in November 2009.

In September 2010, Plaintiffs filed this joint lawsuit, alleging that each was fired in retaliation for complaining to HR about Giambone in April 2007. DeVry acknowledges that Plaintiffs engaged in " protected conduct" when they informed HR about Giambone's derogatory racial and ethnic comments. All parties agree that the key issue now is whether Plaintiffs can establish a causal nexus between that protected conduct and their eventual terminations under different supervisors several months later: 10 months later for Florez; 15 months later for Brooks; and 26 months later for Castro.

In opposing summary judgment, Plaintiffs argue that they have established that nexus using the direct method of proof and based on circumstantial evidence. To overcome the lack of temporal proximity between the protected conduct and the terminations, Plaintiffs focus heavily on Giambone's " retaliatory" conduct shortly after the meeting with HR even though he admittedly was gone three months later and played no role in their terminations. Plaintiffs also attempt (without success) to show that their new supervisors learned and cared that they told HR about Giambone's offensive statements and thus were motivated to retaliate and eventually terminate them.

Unfortunately for Plaintiffs, even when the factual disputes are resolved (and inferences drawn) in their favor, they are unable to muster sufficient evidence of a causal connection between the protected conduct and the terminations. Given all the circumstances here, including the change in supervisors, the long passage of time between the protected conduct and the terminations, and the many intervening events that bear on what happened, no reasonable inference can be drawn that the terminations were in retaliation for the protected conduct.


A. The Parties

DeVry is a for-profit organization that grants higher education degrees in Illinois

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and elsewhere. See DeVry website, (last visited Apr. 16, 2013). During the relevant time period, Christine Hierl served as Dean of Enrollment Management for the Chicago Metro area (hereinafter " Dean Hierl" ). (Hierl Decl., Doc. 49-3 at ¶ 2). Reporting to Dean Hierl were two Directors of Admissions (" DA" ): Phil Giambone was responsible for the Chicago office, and Kathaleen Berry was responsible for the other two Chicagoland DeVry locations in Addison and Tinley Park. ( Id. at ¶ 3).

Plaintiffs Elizabeth Castro, Michael Florez, and Latonya Brooks are former DeVry employees. (Pl. Castro's 56.1 Resp. (" Castro Resp." ), Doc. 70 at ¶ 1; Pl. Florez's 56.1 Resp. (" Florez Resp." ), Doc. 71 at ¶ 1; Pl. Brooks's 56.1 Resp. (" Brooks Resp." ), Doc. 72 at ¶ 1). Castro and Florez both consider themselves to be of Mexican national origin. (Castro Resp., Doc. 70 at ¶ 1; Florez Resp., Doc. 71 at ¶ 1). Brooks considers her national origin to be African-American and her race to be Black/Non-Hispanic. (Brooks Resp., Doc. 72 at ¶ 1).

Castro began working for DeVry in 1997 as a secretary, and by January 2006 was an Assistant Director of Admissions (" ADA" ) in the Chicago office. (Castro Resp., Doc. 70 at ¶ 5; Pls' Add'l Facts, Doc. 69 at ¶ ¶ 1-2). Until July 2007, Castro supervised co-plaintiffs Florez and Brooks. (Florez Resp., Doc. 71 at ¶ 6; Brooks Resp., Doc. 72 at ¶ 5). Castro in turn reported to DA Giambone who reported to Dean Hierl. (Castro Resp., Doc. 70 at ¶ ¶ 5-6; Florez Resp., Doc. 71 at ¶ 6). Florez and Brooks both worked as Advisors. Giambone interviewed and hired Florez in October 2005; Florez was based out of his home at that time. Giambone twice promoted Florez -- to Advisor I and then to Advisor II. (Florez Resp., Doc. 71 at ¶ 7). Brooks began working as an Advisor in the Chicago office in October 2006. (Brooks Resp., Doc. 72 at ¶ 5).

As Advisors, Florez and Brooks were responsible for " doing phone work, interviewing prospective students, performing follow-up with prospective students, and otherwise assisting prospective students with the enrollment process, all with the ultimate goal of securing students to commence school at DeVry." (Castro Resp., Doc. 70 at ¶ 8). Castro's responsibilities as an ADA consisted of recruiting students to enroll at DeVry, as well as hiring, training, overseeing, and coaching Advisors and ensuring budgets were met. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 7, 9). The primary performance measure for ADAs and Advisors " was the number of students secured to commence school at DeVry," or " starts," with Advisors evaluated on their own numbers and ADAs evaluated on both their own numbers and their team's overall numbers. ( Id. at ¶ 9). Advisors were also evaluated on the process they used to secure starts, such as the number of interviews conducted and applications received. (Brooks Resp., Doc. 72 at ¶ 8). DeVry sat new classes every two months in odd months. (Castro Resp., Doc. 70 at ¶ 10).

B. The 2006 Departmental Reorganization

In the summer of 2006, DeVry reorganized the Enrollment Management Department to categorize ADAs and Advisors either as presenters, who visited high schools to generate leads, or as recruiters,

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who worked in DeVry offices to convert leads into student enrollments. (Castro Resp., Doc. 70 at ¶ 11). As a result of the reorganization, Castro was assigned to be one of two ADAs in the Chicago office where she continued to report to Giambone and had more interaction with him than she did previously. (Castro Dep., Doc. 49-9 at 49:14-50:9, 76:4-8). There, she served as ADA for a team of two Advisors, Florez and Brooks, who were newly designated as " recruiters" at the Chicago office. (Castro Resp., Doc. 70 at ¶ 11; Hierl Decl., Doc. 49-3 at ¶ ¶ 7-8). In this revised role, all Advisors were now expected to work from DeVry offices rather than from their homes, which meant that instead of going to the homes of prospective students as they previously did, the Advisors scheduled appointments with students and their parents in the DeVry offices. (Castro Decl., Doc. 74-1, Tab B at ¶ 3). As a result, " the number of 'no-shows' increased dramatically, thus making recruiting more difficult." ( Id. )

C. Castro's Transfer Request

In October 2006, several months after the reorganization, Castro complained to Giambone that she and her team members were receiving " really bad" leads. She complained again in January 2007 after finding undistributed leads in a drawer. (Castro Resp., Doc. 70 at ¶ 13). During this same time period, Castro talked to Dean Hierl and DA Berry (Giambone's counterpart in the Tinley Park and Addison offices) about possibly transferring to Berry's region. (Castro Dep., Doc. 74-4 at 78:16-79:21). Castro testified that she asked Berry about transferring to her office, but Berry said Hierl would never approve it. Hierl said she needed Castro to help in Chicago because Castro was a great ADA. ( Id. at 78:16-79:1).

On January 22, 2007, Castro contacted Deb Maher, DeVry's Director of Human Resources and Ethics Officer, to request a transfer to another department. (Castro Dep., Doc. 74-4 at 82:1-19). Maher emailed her the transfer request form, which Castro submitted a couple months later. ( Id. at 83:5-14). However, Dean Hierl told Castro she would not allow a transfer until after the July class. ( Id. at 156:12-19). In March 2007, Hierl told Castro that she believed Castro's production levels did not justify her compensation. Castro responded by complaining about the quality of the leads she was being given. (Castro Resp., Doc. 70 at ¶ ¶ 15-17).

D. Giambone's Derogatory Racial and Ethnic Comments

When she began working more closely with Giambone after the reorganization, Castro found him to be " a micromanager who unnecessarily and constantly harangued all his subordinates to 'get on the phone.'" (Castro Resp., Doc. 70 at ¶ 12). Moreover, he made frequent racial and ethnic comments within the office. Plaintiffs and at least two other employees found the comments offensive. (Brooks Dep., Doc. 74-2 at 46:11-47:24; Castro Dep., Doc. 74-4 at 98:14-24; Florez Dep., Doc. 74-3 at 167:7-169:10; Leal Dep., Doc. 74-8 at 26:1-27:14; Lucio Dep., Doc. 74-12 at 41:5-42:8).

For example, Giambone regularly asked about the ethnicity of potential students they were attempting to recruit by linking the potential students' ethnicity to their ability to pay the $100 deposit. Former Advisor Mara Leal testified that Giambone " would say that a Hispanic person, more like a Mexican, always had $100; Puerto Rican, a black person were always broke." (Leal Dep., Doc. 74-8 at 26:6-9). Leal also said Giambone would make such statements " [a]s often as I didn't close somebody, because I was supposed to be able to close my own kind. I'm Mexican." ( Id. at

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26:12-14). Brooks testified that Giambone said to her, " 'Well, Puerto Ricans never have any money and Mexicans always have their Catholic money.'" (Brooks Dep., Doc. 74-2 at 47:1-3). Likewise, Castro testified, " Every time we had an interview [Giambone] said, 'So, were they Mexican? Did they have $100? Oh, they didn't have $100? They were probably Puerto Rican, or they were black.'" (Castro Dep., Doc. 74-4 at 98:16-19). Advisor Leo Lucio observed Giambone making similar comments " [w]henever we had interviews" and more frequently " when numbers were down." (Lucio Dep., Doc. 74-12 at 42:2-5). Florez testified that Giambone told him, " 'Mexicans always have $100 in their mattress because it's communion money.'" (Florez Dep., Doc. 74-3 at 168:5-6). All five employees testified that they found Giambone's comments to be offensive and unprofessional, and that they repeatedly asked him to stop making them, to no avail. (Castro Dep., Doc. 74-4 at 106:19-107:10; Lucio Dep., Doc. 74-12 at 42:12-24; Brooks Dep., Doc. 74-2 at 48:17-50:5; Florez Dep., Doc. 49-11 at 167:7-23; Leal Dep., Doc. 74-8 at 27:5-20).

As further evidence of Giambone's offensive comments, Florez testified that in reference to a young Hispanic couple he interviewed, Giambone stated, " 'How old are they? You know, 18, 19 years old and they're married already? Oh, she must be pregnant,'" which Florez construed to suggest " that Mexicans are underage, they get pregnant, and underneath the Catholic religion their parents make them get married...'" (Florez Dep., Doc. 74-3 at 168:22-169:5). Also, on April 14, 2007, Florez asked Giambone for permission to take May 5th off from work to attend a wedding, to which Giambone responded by asking if Florez was going to " get drunk with your people, the Mexicans, on Cinco de Mayo for La Raza?" ( Id. at 198:14-24; 200:1-6). Florez was offended by the remark and reported it to his supervisor, Castro, who also found it upsetting. ( Id. at 199:20-24; 200:21-23; Castro. Dep., Doc. 74-4 at 110:3-11).

Finally, Giambone assigned neighborhoods and leads based on race or national origin. For example, Brooks testified that Giambone assigned her leads " from schools that were primarily on the south side, which are predominantly black schools." (Brooks Dep., Doc. 74-2 at 50:6-51:2). Similarly, Advisor Lucio testified that Giambone " always put the Black advisors in the Black neighborhoods, Latinos with Latinos[,] and Whites with Whites," and that he knew this to be true " [b]ecause [Giambone] told us." (Lucio Dep., Doc. 74-12 at 39:10-17). Leal, who is of Mexican heritage, testified that Giambone gave her " Spanish leads." (Leal Dep., Doc. 74-8 at 30:15-23).

E. Plaintiffs Complain to HR on April 16, 2007 (" Protected Conduct" )

On April 16, 2007, Castro, Florez, and Brooks met with Alana Hurt from the Human Resources Department (" HR Officer Hurt" ) to complain about Giambone's deficiencies as a supervisor, including the offensive racial and ethnic remarks. (Castro Resp., Doc. 70 at ¶ 19; Florez Resp., Doc. 71 at ¶ 18; Brooks Resp., Doc. 72 at ¶ 16.). Since Plaintiffs do not challenge the accuracy of Hurt's typewritten summary of what occurred (this was confirmed during oral argument on the motions), the summary is included in its entirety:

The above advisors [Brooks, Castro, and Florez] came to meet with me to voice their concerns regarding Phil Giambone. According to the advisors, Phil creates a " hostile environment" with derogatory comments and his " management by threats" attitude.
There is an incentive program within the group whereby any advisor that has four applications by Thursday can take Saturday off. Mike Florez had four applications

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last week, but had to come into work, because he had scheduled appointments. He asked Phil if he could take another Saturday off instead. Phil asked which Saturday he wanted off. Mike asked for May 5 off. Phil laughed. He said, " Oh, yeah. I get it. You want to go celebrate with your people. La Raza . . . because it is Cinco de Mayo." [Mike is Mexican.] Mike replied, " Actually, I have a wedding to go to, and it's my wife's birthday."
According to Mike, Phil constantly asks the ethnicity of applicants when he knows they have had interviews with students. He'll secondly ask, " Did you get the $100?" On more than one occasion if the student was of Mexican descent, Phil has remarked, " Well make sure you press them, because you know Mexicans always have $100 on them, guaranteed." This was corroborated by Liz [Castro] and Mara Leal.
On another occasion Mike had a young couple come to see him. The girl was interested in attending DeVry. After they left, Phil asked if Mike had signed them both. Mike told Phil that they were a young couple (the girl was 18; her husband was 19) and had limited resources. They could not afford to both go to school. He told Phil the couple was just married and starting out. Phil remarked, " She's 18, and he's 19 . . . and they are married? She must be pregnant, because you know Mexicans are really religious, and they will marry at an early age if the girl is pregnant." Mike said, " Why can't they just be married, because they are in love?"
Latonya Brooks questioned Phil in a meeting, because there was a problem with them getting leads. The group was getting very old leads. After the meeting Phil approached Latonya and told her that he needed to speak with her. He went on to say, " This business is all about loyalty. Your questioning me in the meeting embarrassed me in front of the team. If you want to get anywhere in this company, you need to show some loyalty, because I have Christine Hierl, Virginia Mechnig and Dave Pauldine in my back pocket. If you are not loyal to me, you will not be around very long." Latonya felt like her job was threatened and vowed never to speak up in a meeting again.
Phil makes the advisors feel guilty for taking a vacation or personal day. He has asked advisors to come in on their vacation to work. He told them that he didn't understand why he had to give them Saturday, April 7 off. The Spring Holiday was on Friday. It is their regular day off. I told Phil to give them an alternative day off for the holiday. He told the advisors that " in his day they worked seven days a week."
They believe that Phil's lack of management skills has been the reason so many people have left. Furthermore, they believe people will continue to leave, as long as Phil is allowed to continue to behave the way he does. The morale of the team is extremely low.

(Def's Appx., Doc. 49-54). As Castro recalled at her deposition, Plaintiffs told Hurt about how Giambone made racial comments " every day" and about his " demotivating" and " demeaning" remarks towards people, his " unprofessional and rude" behavior, the fact that he didn't know how to distribute leads, and that he was hurting production. (Castro Dep., Doc. 49-9 at 102:22-105:15, 134:10-14).

Shortly after meeting with Plaintiffs, HR Officer Hurt called Maher, the director of HR, to tell her about the complaint. (Def's Reply to Pls' Rule 56.1 Statement (" Def's 56.1 Reply" ), Doc. 84 at ¶ 23; Hurt Dep., Doc. 74-14 at 22:14-15). Hurt then investigated the complaint by composing 16 questions and posing these

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to three other advisors from Giambone's team, including Mara Leal. (Hurt Dep., Doc. 74-14 at 24:9-17, 30:6-20, 31:21-32:22, Exh. 1; Leal Dep., Doc 74-8 at 63:7-65:16). These questions inquired as to the " greatest challenge" faced by the group and how they could be " more successful," and asked for an assessment of how the team was managed and the " climate of the work environment." Still other questions focused on whether the advisor had ever witnessed " any unprofessional conduct or inappropriate language." [2] (Hurt Dep., Doc. 74-14 at Exh. 2).

Upon the HR Director's suggestion, HR Officer Hurt informed Dean Hierl of Plaintiffs' complaint by providing her with the results of the investigation about a week after the complaint was made. (Hurt Dep., Doc. 74-14 at 44:4-45:3). After learning of the complaint, Dean Hierl informed Giambone about it, characterizing this as an example of Castro's negativity. (Pls' Add'l Facts, Doc. 69 at ¶ 35; Giambone Dep., Doc. 74-9 at 52:12-20). Hierl did not share the details concerning whom or what was said to HR. (Giambone Dep., Doc. 74-9 at 47:9-49:15). Giambone assumed the topic was something to do with production. ( Id. at 48:11-16).

F. Giambone's Post-Complaint Conduct

Minutes after the April 16th meeting with HR ended, Giambone went to Castro's office looking " mad, like he was going to hit me," demanding to observe her do phone work, telling her she was " never going to go to PRIDE[3] and [she was] not going to make [her] budget," and " furious[ly]" asking, " 'Do you have anything to tell me? Do you want - anything you want to talk about?'" (Castro Dep., Doc. 74-4 at 142:9-143:14).

Castro and Florez perceived that Giambone then began restricting their leads. ( Id. at 138:20-24; Florez Dep., Doc. 74-3 at 100:4-7). They began receiving " do not call" leads. (Florez Decl., Doc. 74-1, Tab C at ¶ 2.) They also ceased receiving ESM (electronic) leads, though there is no evidence as to whether they were unique in this respect.[4] Brooks testified generally that her " lead flow diminished" after the April 16th meeting, but also conceded that leads typically diminish " around June" when high school students are out of school. (Brooks Dep., Doc. 74-2 at 69:23-70:7, 71:22-72:19).

G. Chicago Team Meeting on April 28, 2007

On April 28, 2007, Dean Hierl convened a team sales meeting attended by the Chicago team, including Plaintiffs. The meeting was motivated at least in part by Hierl's concerns " that we were not going to make budget." (Castro Dep., Doc. 74-4 at 151:15-22). Hierl wanted to " reiterate

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that we needed to stay on task and that we needed to ... focus on our class." ( Id. ). This was a concern because, as Castro put it, " [t]he July class was our biggest class. It was our ultimate class. It was what we worked all year for." ( Id. at 151:23-152:1). During the meeting Castro said that " '[o]ne of the main reasons why we're here today is because Joe [Mucinski] or Phil [Giambone] passed out sophomore leads. We need to be careful. We are recruiting seniors, not sophomores.'" ( Id. at 150:1-23). After Castro made these remarks, Dean Hierl verbally attacked her for the comments to the point of reducing Castro to tears. (Pls' Add'l Facts, Doc. 69 at ¶ ¶ 32-33; Giambone Dep., Doc. 74-9 at 36:8-23). Castro attributes this reprimand to Hierl's racism since immediately after the meeting, Castro overheard Hierl say to Giambone in a stairwell, " 'There's no way we're going to let a bunch of wetbacks run this office.'" (Castro Dep., Doc. 74-4 at 176: 6-14).

Several days after the April 28th meeting, Dean Hierl sent Castro a memo, with copies to Giambone and HR Officer Hurt. The memo noted that Hierl had convened the meeting due to " low" performance and " dismal" morale. The memo then criticized Castro for her conduct during the meeting in repeatedly ignoring Hierl's request to keep comments positive and for engaging in an " unprofessional and disrespectful rant" against Giambone and colleague Joe Mucinski. (Def's Appx., Doc. 49-27). In particular, she identified Castro's statement that she " 'had to get something off [her] chest,'" which Hierl said was followed by criticism of Giambone and Mucinski, including the statement that " 'we are in the position we are in because Joe and Phil weren't paying attention and dropped the ball.'" ( Id. ). After receiving the memo, Castro sent a note to Hierl in response stating that she did not feel she had acted inappropriately. (Castro Dep., Doc. 74-4 at 153:3-7).

Castro was very upset by the " wetback" comment and decided that she needed a transfer. (Castro Dep., Doc. 74-4 at 178:14-20). Two days later, on April 30, 2007, Castro submitted another transfer request for any opening for an ADA or DA position, and indicated that she " would like to work closer to home." (Def's Appx., Doc. 49-28). Giambone signed off on the transfer request the same day. ( Id.; Castro Dep., Doc. 74-4 at 154:1-156:10). Dean Hierl agreed to work with Castro to facilitate a transfer after the July class was seated (Castro Dep., Doc. 74-4 at 156:5-19), but later said she was not going to approve the transfer. (Castro Decl., Doc 74-1, Tab B at ¶ 8). The record does not indicate what reason, if any, Hierl gave Castro for her decision to deny the transfer request.

H. Changes in Leadership/Offices in July 2007

In July 2007, Dean Hierl made a number of organizational changes. First, she replaced Giambone with Kathaleen Berry as the DA in the Chicago office. Berry already served in this position for the two suburban offices in Addison and Tinley Park but she now assumed responsibility for the Chicago office as well. (Hierl Decl., Doc. 49-3 at ¶ 11). Giambone was transferred out of the Chicago office and into the field where he resumed a prior position as High School Manager. ( Id. at ¶ 10). At this point he ceased having supervisory authority over Plaintiffs or day-to-day contact with them. (Castro Resp., Doc. 70 at ¶ 32; Florez Resp., Doc. 71 at ¶ 29; Brooks Resp., Doc. 72 at ¶ 20). By August 2008, Giambone stopped working for DeVry entirely. (Offutt Decl., Doc. 49-5 at ¶ 4).

Also as part of Dean Hierl's organizational changes, Joe Mucinski, who had been a High School Manager, was demoted to an Advisor, reporting to Giambone.

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(Hierl Decl., Doc. 49-3 at ¶ 10). Hierl retained Lourdes " Lou" Ramos as an ADA in the Chicago office but ADA Julie Strauss, from the Tinley Park office, began spending more time at the Chicago office to assist Ramos. (Florez Resp., Doc. 71 at ¶ 31; Brooks Resp., Doc 72 at ¶ 23). Hierl eliminated the second ADA position in Chicago (the one that Castro had held), and transferred Castro to the Addison office where she was demoted to Senior Advisor.[5] There Castro reported to ADA Karen " Casey" Tobin, who in turn reported to DA Berry. (Hierl Decl., Doc. 49-3 at ¶ 9; Castro Dep., Doc. 49-9 at 183:19-184:22, 199:9-17). Hierl maintained the pay of Castro, Giambone, and Mucinski at the same levels as before. (Hierl Decl., Doc. 49-3 at ¶ 12).

On July 11, 2007, after Castro's transfer, Giambone said to Florez: " 'You see what happens to traitors like Liz [Castro], . . . I told you if you want to be someone in this company, you need to be loyal.'" (Florez Dep., Doc. 74-3 at 216:10-14). Castro believed she was demoted because " I went to HR, and they were going to use me as an example." (Castro Dep., Doc. 74-4 at 198:2-8). Dean Hierl testified that she wanted Castro out of the Chicago office because she was the " primary negative person" there. (Hierl Decl., Doc. 49-3 at ¶ 12). She largely blamed Castro for the office's performance problems as reflected by her comments in Giambone's performance review for the first half of 2007 (rated not meeting expectations), where Hierl wrote: " Although Phil made his March and May classes, July was a disaster. He was plagued with morale and personnel issues and this directly affected performance. Phil gave it his best shot to minimize the loss from July, unfortunately, with unmotivated advisors and manipulating Assistant Directors the class was too far gone." (Pls' Add'l Facts, Doc. 69 at ¶ 58; Giambone Dep., Doc. 74-9 at 118:1-6). Giambone testified that he understood Castro to be the " manipulating" Assistant Director referenced in the review. (Pls' Add'l Facts, Doc. 69 at ¶ 58; Giambone Dep., Doc. 74-9 at 119:16-120:3).

After the staff changes in July 2007, Florez and Brooks remained in DeVry's Chicago office under the supervision of ADAs Strauss and Ramos and DA Berry. Castro worked out of the Addison office where she was supervised by ADA Tobin and DA Berry. Since the facts as to each Plaintiff diverge considerably after July 2007, this Opinion discusses ...

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