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Alrazzaq v. Walgreen Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 21, 2014

MARYAM ALRAZZAQ, Plaintiff,
v.
WALGREEN CO. d/b/a WALGREEN PHARMACY SERVICES EASTERN, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN Z. LEE, District Judge.

Plaintiff, Maryam Alrazzaq ("Alrazzaq"), a former Pharmacist employed by Defendant Walgreen Co. ("Walgreen"), is a Muslim woman who was pregnant when Walgreen terminated her employment. Alrazzaq brings suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(2) ("Title VII"), alleging that she was discriminated against based upon her national origin (Count I), gender (Count II), and religion (Count III). Walgreen has moved for summary judgment as to all of Alrazzaq's claims, arguing that it properly terminated her for what it deems "gross misconduct." For the reasons set forth below, Walgreen's motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part.

Local Rule 56.1

Motions for summary judgment in the Northern District of Illinois are governed by Local Rule 56.1. "The obligation set forth in Local Rule 56.1 is not a mere formality.' Rather, [i]t follows from the obligation imposed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e) on the party opposing summary judgment to identify specific facts that establish a genuine issue for trial.'" Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted) (quoting Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 924 (7th Cir. 1994)). The Seventh Circuit has "routinely held that a district court may strictly enforce compliance with its local rules regarding summary judgment motions." Yancick v. Hanna Steel Corp., 653 F.3d 532, 537 (7th Cir. 2011) (quotation omitted).

Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) requires the nonmovant to file a "concise response to the movant's statement that shall contain... a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." See Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B). Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) also "requires specifically that a litigant seeking to oppose a motion for summary judgment file a response that contains a separate statement... of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment.'" Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., L.L.C., 401 F.3d 803, 809 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting Local Rule 56.1).

The failure of a nonmoving party to abide by the rule's requirements carries significant consequences. "All material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party." Local Rule 56.1(b)(3); Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003) ("We have consistently held that a failure to respond by the nonmovant as mandated by the local rules results in an admission."). "This rule may be the most important litigation rule outside statutes of limitation because the consequences of failing to satisfy its requirements are so dire." Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 584 (N.D. Ill. 2000).

Here, Walgreen argues that Alrazzaq fails to comply with Local Rule 56.1 in numerous respects, including, most notably, not properly supporting her denials of Walgreen's statements of fact with appropriate evidence. The Court agrees in certain instances. The Court also notes, however, that its holding below is not contingent on many of the "disputed" facts. As a result, the Court declines to strike most of Alrazzaq's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) statement as Walgreen requests, except as noted below.

Factual Background

Alrazzaq is a licensed Pharmacist and Pharmacy Technician with a Doctorate in Pharmacy. (Def.'s Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 3.) In January 2001, Walgreen hired Alrazzaq as a Pharmacy Intern, and she worked in that position until she obtained her Pharmacy license later that year and became a Staff Pharmacist. ( Id. ¶ 4.) Until late April 2012, Alrazzaq was a Staff Pharmacist at the Hometown, Illinois store. ( Id. ¶¶ 4, 6.) From December 2010 until her termination in late April 2012, Alrazzaq reported to Binita Patel ("Patel"), the store's Pharmacy Manager. ( Id. ¶ 7.) During that time, Alrazzaq reported indirectly to Paul Krynski ("Krynski"), the Pharmacy Supervisor for the Hometown store and approximately twenty-five other Walgreen stores. ( Id. ) In turn, Krynski reported to the District Manager, Anas Al-Hamwi ("Al-Hamwi"). ( Id. )

A. Walgreen's Policies and Procedures

As a Staff Pharmacist at Walgreen, Alrazzaq had numerous required job responsibilities and required skills, which included the following:

JOB RESPONSIBILITIES/TASKS:

1. Reviews and verifies prescriptions to include fully utilizing pharmacy systems, ensuring information is entered correctly, verifying medicine is correct....
....
8. Ensures the proper processing of insurance claims....
9. Adheres to government laws and regulations, corporate policies and procedures, ethics and codes of conduct.
....
11. Provides immunizations....
....
14. Maintains knowledge and skill in the fields of pharmacy and healthcare, reads pharmacy related journals, reads company publications and communications, completes People Plus Learning modules, and continuing education credits, researches new drugs, attends district meetings, etc.
15. Obtains necessary certifications and completes other training required by the company.
....
20. Assists Pharmacy Manager in training employees, including new hire orientation, on-the-job training, cross training, answering questions, determining training needs, following up to ensure training is used, and coaching informally.
....

KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS and ABILITIES: (* denotes not required at entry to the job)

• Knowledge of state and federal pharmacy laws and regulations for taking and dispensing prescriptions.
• * Knowledge of pharmacy products, services, ...

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