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Eskridge v. Chicago Board of Educ.

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

June 16, 2014

Ebony Eskridge, Plaintiff,
v.
The Chicago Board of Education, Linda Walker, Jerrold Washington, and Paul Jones, Defendants

Page 782

For Ebony Eskridge, Plaintiff: Danielle Thomas McCain, LEAD ATTORNEY, Thomas McCain Law LLC, Chicago, IL.

For Board of Education of the City of Chicago, also known as Chicago Board of Education, The, Defendant: Lucille A Blackburn, LEAD ATTORNEY, Board of Education of the City of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Patrick J. Rocks, Jr., Jackson Lewis P.C., Chicago, IL; Susan Margaret O'Keefe, Chicago Board of Education, Chicago, IL.

For Linda Walker, Paul Jones, Jerrold Washington, Defendants: Lisa A. Dreishmire, LEAD ATTORNEY, Board of Education for the City of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Lucille A Blackburn, LEAD ATTORNEY, Board of Education of the City of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

Page 783

Memorandum Opinion and Order

Honorable Thomas M. Durkin, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Ebony Eskridge, an engineer at Garrett Morgan Elementary School (" Morgan" ) from September 2009 to February 2011, alleges that former Morgan principals Linda Walker and Jerrold Washington, the Chicago Board of Education (the " Board" ), and Board employee Paul Jones, (collectively, " Defendants" ) denied her requests to work overtime after the school day because she was a woman and retaliated against her in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq. (" Title VII" ), and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d), as amended (the " Equal Pay Act" ). R. 8. Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment. R. 46. For the reasons explained below, Defendants' motion is granted.

Legal Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate " if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The Court considers the entire evidentiary

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record and must view all of the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences from that evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Ball v. Kotter, 723 F.3d 813, 821 (7th Cir. 2013). To defeat summary judgment, a nonmovant must produce more than " a mere scintilla of evidence" and come forward with " specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Harris N.A. v. Hershey, 711 F.3d 794, 798 (7th Cir. 2013). Ultimately, summary judgment is warranted only if a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the nonmovant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The following background is a summary of the material facts, viewed in the light most favorable to Eskridge.

Background

In 1998, the Board and Chicago Park District (the " Park District" ) entered into an Intergovernmental Agreement, which allowed the Park District and the Board to use each other's property for various programs. R. 72 at 2-3 (¶ 8). The Board and the Park District agreed that neither party would pay a fee to the other as a result of the usage. Id. at 3 (¶ 8). Morgan was one of the schools that the Park District used to host programs--it became Mahalia Jackson Park after the school day ended. Id. at 8 (¶ 36). The Chicago Park District Program (" CPDP" or the " Park District program" ) generally operated an after school program at Morgan on Monday through Friday from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Id. at 3 (¶ 10).

Under Principal Walker, there was one engineer staffed at Morgan. R. 72 at 3 (¶ 11). The engineer's hours were 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Id. If the engineers worked during the after school Park District program--after their regularly scheduled time of work--they were paid overtime. R. 48-1 at 25:19-22.[1] The engineers maintained the school heating and cooling, performed repairs at the school, and scheduled custodial staff. R. 81 at 7 (¶ 9). The custodians staffed at Morgan worked eight hour shifts on a sliding schedule, so their shifts started at staggered times from 5:00 a.m. through the early afternoon. R. 72 at 3 (¶ 12). Their duties were to keep the facilities at Morgan clean. R. 48-1 at 24:18-20.

The Board had funding, identified by a " bucket number" which could be used to pay for overtime during the Park District program hours. R. 81 at 3 (¶ 4); R. 48-1 at 20:10-22, 57:16-23. When Park District programs were conducted at Morgan, there were normally two custodial workers present for the program. R. 48-1 at 22:10-14. Principal Walker testified that their tasks were to clean and close the building. Id. 23:6-10. The custodians were not paid overtime during the Park District programs unless they had to stay beyond their regular eight hours shifts for an emergency because their shifts included the Park District program hours. Id. at 25:23-27:1.

Linda Walker was the principal of Morgan from May 2002 through June 30, 2010. R. 72 at 1 (¶ 2). From 2003 until August 2005, for unexplained reasons, Principal Walker was absent from Morgan School and was not supervising the staff. Id. at 4 (¶ 15). When Principal Walker returned to the school in October 2005, she was informed by the Office of Operations that the school engineer, Filiberto Hernandez, had accumulated over $4,000 in overtime pay. Id. at 4 (¶ 16). Hernandez transferred

Page 785

to another Chicago Public School in 2006. R. 72 at 5 (¶ 19).

In October 2006, Principal Walker hired Desmond Hill as the engineer at Morgan School. R. 72 at 5 (¶ 20). Principal Walker testified that she " had allowed Mr. Hill to do payroll, which was customary for engineers to do for their department. And it was brought to [her] attention that he was arbitrarily using Park District at his discretion. Whenever he wanted to work, he was -- so [she] had to take that task away from him." R. 48-1 at 58:13-22. Principal Walker further testified that Hill was " abusing" the administration of payroll. R. 48-1 at 64:19-65:6. Walker's testimony suggests that Hill was inputting payroll for CPS, but was also working and entering overtime during the Park District program at his discretion. Hill resigned after an investigation about his time-keeping irregularities, including " double-dipping," because he was seen at other locations during the time that he was scheduled to work at Morgan. R. 72 at 5-6 (¶ 23). Principal Walker testified that this caused her to be more vigilant about the use of overtime. R. 72 at 5-6 (¶ 23); R. 48-1 at 59:11-14.

In September 2009, Principal Walker hired Eskridge as an engineer for Morgan. R. 72 at 2 (¶ 7). When Eskridge was hired, Principal Walker told her that " overtime was not needed for the engineer at Morgan." R. 72 at 6 (¶ 25). It was Principal Walker's practice to be at the school to supervise the custodians during the Park District program, after the school day ended. R. 48-1 at 50:12-19. If Principal Walker was not there, there was no supervisor to oversee the custodial staff that worked until the end of the Park District program. R. 48-1 at 53:3-9. In September 2009, Eskridge asked the assistant principal, Joseph Haley, if she could work overtime during the Park District program and he approved it. R. 72 at 6 (¶ 26).

On October 22, 2009, Principal Walker issued Eskridge a letter of concern. R. 72 at 7 (¶ 29). The letter asked Eskridge to explain her use of overtime and why, after Principal Walker and Eskridge had " a couple" of conversations about how overtime hours were used at Morgan, Eskridge stayed past her 2:00 p.m. quitting time. Id. However, Principal Walker approved overtime for Eskridge in December 2009 for special projects and emergencies. R. 72 at 6 (¶ 27). On December 24, 2009, Eskridge sent an email to her union president, William Iacullo, stating that she would like to file a grievance because " Ms. Walker only wants me to use the park district overtime bucket when I have a special project to do that she will approve of." R. 72 at 7 (¶ 30). Iacullo responded by email stating that " [We] have had this issue with [Principal Walker] before." R. 72 at 7 (¶ 31).

Principal Walker approved overtime for Eskridge in January 2010 for performing " preventative maintenance" around the school. Eskridge testified that she also worked overtime in February 2010. R. 72 at 6 (¶ 27). Eskridge's overtime sheets also show that she worked overtime in March, April, and June of 2010. R. 72 at 6-7 (¶ 28). On March 17, 2010, Principal Walker issued Eskridge a cautionary notice regarding her use of overtime during the Park District program hours. Id. at 7 (¶ 32).

On March 31, 2010, Iacullo filed a grievance on behalf of Eskridge. R. 72 at 7 (¶ 33). The grievance alleged that Eskridge was " being denied her contractual right to be present and on duty for occupancy of Non Board programs that are funded with fees for usage of the building outside normal hours. Specifically, the Chicago Park District." Id. at 8 (¶ 34).

Page 786

According to the agreement between the Board and International Union of Operating Engineers, AFL-CIO, Local 143-143B (the " CBA" ), Section 7-2.2 " the engineer-in-charge or his/her designee shall be present and on duty for such occupancies when non-BOARD programs provide for fees paid for building usage pursuant to the permit procedure." R. 72 at 3 (¶ 9) (emphasis added).

On May 11, 2010 a grievance meeting was held. R. 72 at 8 (¶ 35). On May 24, 2010, Principal Walker denied the grievance and wrote a letter explaining her reasoning, which stated:

Ms. Eskridge is not being denied her contractual rights to be present and on duty for occupancy of Non-Board programs that are funded with fees for usage of the building outside of normal hours. Specifically, the Chicago Park District. There are no fees being paid. The Chicago Public Schools and specifically Garrett A. Morgan have an intergovernmental agreement with the Chicago Park District. Our gym becomes Mahalia Jackson Park at 2:00 p.m. daily and no funds are exchanged.

R. 72 at 8 (¶ 36). Eskridge appealed Principal Walker's decision to the Office of Employee Relations (" OER" ). R. 72 at 8 (¶ 37). On June 7, 2010, a hearing took place on Eskridge's appeal. Id. Eskridge, union representative Don Colagrossi, Principal Walker, and OER Hearing Officer Alan Grossman attended. Id.

On June 30, 2010, while the OER decision was pending, Principal Walker retired as principal of Morgan. R. 72 at 8 (¶ 38). Jerrold Washington became principal of Morgan effective July 1, 2010, through January 1, 2012. R. 72 at 2, 8 (¶ ¶ 3, 38). When Principal Washington became principal, Eskridge requested overtime for the Park District program. Id. at 8 (¶ 39). Principal Washington granted Eskridge's requests and Eskridge worked Park District program overtime in September and October 2010. Id. at 9 (¶ 40).[2] On an unspecified date around September 2010, Eskridge requested that her husband, Donte Eskridge (" Donte" ), an engineer at another school, be allowed to work her overtime hours at Morgan. Id. at 9 (¶ 41). Principal Washington did not believe that was appropriate and he declined the request. Id. at 9 (¶ 42).

On October 5, 2010, the OER issued a grievance decision on Eskridge's case. R. 72 at 9 (¶ 44). OER determined that because the Park District did not pay a fee, the CBA did not require the engineer-in-charge or his/her designee to be in the building. Id. at 9 (¶ 45). Principal Washington showed the October 5, 2010 decision to Eskridge and told her that she could continue to work overtime during the Park District program hours if she requested it in advance and he authorized it. R. 72 at 9 (¶ 46). On November 17, 2010, Eskridge filed a charge with the EEOC alleging sex discrimination in violation of Title VII. R. 72 at 10 (¶ 51). The box for retaliation was not checked on Eskridge's EEOC complaint. Id. In early February 2011, Eskridge ...


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