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Mercer v. Dart

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

June 24, 2014

SERGEANT PAMELA P. MERCER, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS DART, Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois, COOK COUNTY, a body politic Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment and motions to strike. For the reasons stated below, the motion for summary judgment is granted in its entirety and the motions to strike are denied.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Pamela P. Mercer (Mercer) is employed at the Cook County Sheriff's Office (Sheriff's Office) where she has continually worked since 1988. Mercer is assigned to the Cook County Department of Corrections where she serves as a correctional sergeant in the Pre-Release Center (PRC). Mercer previously filed a federal employment discrimination lawsuit against the Sheriff's Office in 2009 (Prior Lawsuit). See Mercer v. Cook Cnty., Ill. et. al, WL 1044549 (N.D. Ill. 2012)(granting defendants' motion for summary judgment on all counts); Mercer v. Cook Cnty., Ill., 527 F.Appx. 515, 517 (7th Cir. 2013). Mercer alleges that after she filed the Prior Lawsuit, Cook County Sheriff Commander Edward Byrne (Commander Byrne), Cook County Sheriff Lieutenant Jerry Camel (Lt. Camel), and other Sheriff's Office employees retaliated against her. Mercer also alleges that the same individuals subjected her to discrimination and harassment based upon her race and sex. Mercer argues that Defendant Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart (Sheriff) and Defendant Cook County (County), as his indemnifier, are liable for the discrimination, harassment, and retaliation she claims she endured from 2009 through 2011.

Mercer includes in her complaint a claim alleging race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Count I), Title VII claims alleging sexual discrimination and harassment, (Count II), a Title VII claim alleging unlawful retaliation (Count III), and indemnification claim pursuant to 745 ILCS § 10/9-102 (Count IV). Defendants move for summary judgment on all claims.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Smith v. Hope School, 560 F.3d 694, 699 (7th Cir. 2009). A "genuine issue" of material fact in the context of a motion for summary judgment is not simply a "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must consider the record as a whole, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000).

DISCUSSION

I. Local Rule 56.1

Mercer and Defendants have each filed a Local Rule 56.1 statement of material facts. Defendants have moved to strike Mercer's responses to several paragraphs of Defendants' statement of material facts. Defendants have also moved to strike paragraphs two through fifty of Mercer's statement of additional material facts since they are based upon an affidavit from Mercer that is attached. In both motions, Defendants argue that Mercer's filings are not in compliance with Local Rule 56.1.

In Mercer's response to Defendants' statement of material facts, Mercer admits that the majority of facts are undisputed. (R SF Par. 1-15, 17-19, 21-23, 25, 28-33, 35-36, 40-50, 53, 55-56, 58-60, 62, 65-67, 69-73, 75-76, 78-80). In Mercer's statement of additional material facts, Mercer relies almost exclusively on her own affidavit to support all of her proposed facts. The court has thoroughly reviewed Mercer's statement of additional material facts and her affidavit and will consider such documents to the extent they are based upon evidence in the record and not mere speculation or hearsay. Accordingly, Defendants' motion to strike Mercer's responses and Defendants' motion to strike Mercer's statement of material facts are denied.

II. Title VII Discrimination Claims

Defendants argue that Mercer has not pointed to sufficient evidence to prevail on either of her Title VII discrimination claims. A plaintiff bringing a Title VII discrimination claim can defeat a defendant's motion for summary judgment under the direct or indirect methods of proof. Naficy v. Illinois Dept. of Human Services, 697 F.3d 504, 509-10 (7th Cir. 2012).

A. Direct Method of Proof

Mercer argues that she has pointed to sufficient evidence to proceed on both of her Title VII discrimination claims under the direct method of proof. Under the direct method of proof, a plaintiff must "present direct or circumstantial evidence that creates a convincing mosaic of discrimination on the basis of'" the protected characteristic. Good v. University of Chicago Medical Center, 673 F.3d 670, 674-75 (7th Cir. 2012)(quoting Winsley v. Cook County, 563 F.3d 598, 604 (7th Cir. 2009)); see also Naficy, 697 F.3d at 509-10 (explaining that under the "direct method, ' a plaintiff must marshal sufficient evidence, either direct or circumstantial, that an adverse employment action was motivated by discriminatory animus, " and that "[c]ircumstantial evidence may be sufficient to make out a direct claim of discrimination when the plaintiff presents enough evidence to allow a reasonable factfinder to conclude that the adverse employment ...


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