JOAN A. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, Defendant.
RICHARD MILLS, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
Plaintiff Joan A. Williams, an African-American, has asserted pro se claims for hostile work environment racial discrimination and retaliation pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). This activity is alleged to have occurred during the Plaintiff's employment at Defendant Illinois Department of Revenue ("the Defendant" or "the Department"). Williams is employed as a Revenue Tax Specialist III in the Commerce Commission Division.
The Defendant contends it is entitled to summary judgment on all claims, asserting that she is unable to establish a prima facie case of hostile work environment because she has produced no evidence for employer liability. It alleges the Plaintiff has not established a prima facie case of retaliation because she did not suffer an adverse employment action that was causally related to a protected activity. Moreover, the Plaintiff has not produced any evidence tending to show that similarly situated individuals that did not engage in protected activity were treated more favorably than the Plaintiff.
A. Background and allegations of discrimination
As a Revenue Tax Specialist III in the Commerce Commission Division, the Plaintiff is responsible for Electronic Funds Transfers. Previously, Williams was assigned as a Revenue Tax Specialist III to the Local Tax Division from September 2003 through August 2007. In the Local Tax Division, the Plaintiff was responsible for allocating tax revenues to municipalities in the local government.
Rebecca "Becky" Brown was the Plaintiff's immediate supervisor in the Local Tax Division. The Plaintiff alleged that she was subjected to racial discrimination by her supervisor since 2003, having the slurs "nigger please" and "you niggers" yelled at her. Williams claims that she complained regularly to her supervisor about the use of the slurs to no avail. Moreover, she alleges that although she complained to her EEO Officer about the discriminatory behavior of her supervisor, the slurs continued.
The Plaintiff alleges she complained about the use of the phrase "nigger please" to the Department's Internal Security, the EEOC, the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the Office of the Executive Inspector General. On February 2, 2007, the Internal Investigations Division of the Department compiled a list of complaints and investigations that involved the Plaintiff, either as a complainant or as a subject. Internal security has no record of Williams making a complaint regarding the use of racial slurs.
On May 26, 2006, the Plaintiff sent the Department an employment discrimination complaint. In that complaint, the Plaintiff stated that the date of the alleged discriminatory practice was "Continuous/5-25-06;" the basis of the alleged discriminatory practice was race, color, sex, and age; and the people discriminating against Plaintiff were identified as Gloria Crook and Mary DeCroix. Williams stated that the facts of the alleged discrimination are:
I came in without training, and was exspected [sic] to do the work with little or no training. Also everything I do he says isn't correct and my answeres [sic] are the same as the white girls. He told me when I come in that his father had a problem with black people and that he try not to be like that. Cecil Denton has and does attack me everytime [sic] I in the present [sic] of another black person. He has made a statements [sic], such as that none of the black employees in the Dept Of Revenue know their jobs.
Ruby Taylor, the Department's Equal Employment Opportunity Officer, interviewed Williams as part of the investigation into her May 26, 2006 complaint. During that interview, the Plaintiff claimed that employees in her unit routinely used racial slurs. On May 31, 2006, Taylor informed the Plaintiff that she could pursue her EEO complaint with the Department of Human Rights or with the EEOC.
On August 16, 2006, the union interviewed Becky Brown regarding the Plaintiff's complaint about racial slurs. At the time, Brown admitted that she used the phrase "nigger please" with Williams for 15 years back and forth. As the result, the union filed a written grievance on the Plaintiff's behalf. Although she testified that she thought she filed a grievance regarding racial slurs before then, the Plaintiff did not file a grievance regarding the use of racial slurs prior to August 16, 2006.
On August 18, 2006, as a result of Brown's admitted use of the phrase "nigger please, " Cecil Denton sent an email to every employee in the Local Tax Division with the Department's policy regarding harassment and discrimination. Denton also sent a memo stating that no one should be subject to racial slurs. He cautioned employees to treat everyone with respect and honor.
Becky Brown received a one-day suspension and Cecil Denton told Brown that she was not to use that language any longer. The Plaintiff was also offered a transfer to a position where she would not be supervised by Becky Brown. However, Williams did not want to transfer because she did not know the work and the hours were not convenient. Had she accepted the transfer, the Plaintiff would have had the same title and pay as she had in the Local Tax Division.
The Plaintiff claims that Becky Brown used a racial slur one time after Brown was disciplined. This happened around the time the Plaintiff spoke with the Office of the Executive Inspector General or when she filed with the EEOC.
On January 19, 2007, the Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination, alleging that:
My employment began with Respondent in or around October 1974. My most recent position is Revenue Tax Specialist III. I have been subjected to racial discrimination by my supervisor since in or around 2003, with the racial slurs "nigger please" and "you niggers." I complained repeatedly to my supervisor about the use of the slurs to no avail.
On or about June 27, 2006, I complained to the EEO Officer about the discriminatory behavior of my supervisor, but the slurs continued.
I believe I have been discriminated against because of my race, Black, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.
In that charge, the Plaintiff stated that the earliest date of discrimination took place on March 1, 2006 and the latest discrimination took place January 10, 2007. In her January 2007 charge of discrimination, the Plaintiff complained about Becky Brown's one additional use of a racial slur after Brown was ...