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Gilliam v. Berkeley Contract Packaging, LLC (Il).

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 27, 2014

ARNETTA GILLIAM, Plaintiff,
v.
BERKELEY CONTRACT PACKAGING, LLC (IL), Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

DAVID R. HERNDON, Chief District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is a motion for summary judgment by defendant Berkeley Contract Packaging, LLC (IL) ("Berkeley") (Doc. 25). Berkeley moves for summary judgment on the allegations of plaintiff Arnetta Gilliam ("Gilliam") of quid pro quo and hostile work environment sexual harassment brought pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e2(a)(1) ("Title VII"), and the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/2-101(E) (the "IHRA"). Gilliam of course opposes summary judgment (Doc. 34).

II. UNDISPUTED FACTS[1]

Berkeley provides packaging services for soaps, shampoos, and other consumer goods Lever Bros. manufactures at Berkeley's Edwardsville, Illinois facility. From March 23, 2011, to June 21, 2011, two temporary staffing agencies, REM and UniQue Consultants, assigned Gilliam to Berkeley's Edwardsville facility. At Berkeley, Gilliam worked on the assembly line (the "Line") and as a cross-trainee in Quality Control ("QC"). Gilliam reported to Shirley Reed ("Reed"), QC Supervisor. Ken Lewis ("Lewis") served as the QC Manager.

As a cross-trainee, Gilliam worked on the Line as needed. In June 2011, Gilliam worked on the Line under the direct supervision of Belem Garcia ("Garcia"). Gilliam disputes the events of June 21, 2011. However, on June 21, 2011, Lewis spoke with Garcia and instructed Berkeley's Floor Manager, DeJuan Lockhart ("Lockhart"), to "let [Gilliam] go" (Doc. 26-4, Lewis Aff., ¶ 9).[2] That same day, Gilliam was instructed not to return to work again at Berkeley.

Gilliam alleges she filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") in July 2011.[3] On June 14, 2012, the IDHR issued Gilliam a Notice of Substantial Evidence (Doc. 38-1). The EEOC adopted the IDHR's findings and issued Gilliam a Notice of Suit Rights, on October 11, 2012 (Doc. 38-2).

Gilliam filed her initial complaint, solely raising claims under the IHRA, in Madison County, Illinois, on September 11, 2012. Berkeley removed Gilliam's amended complaint, which additionally raises claims under Title VII, to this Court on November 15, 2012.

Gilliam's amended complaint alleges the following:

Beginning in May 2011, Lockhart began directing unwelcome comments, unwelcome leering, and unwelcome touching toward Gilliam. By way of example but not limitation, he said to her that she had a "girly[, ] girly body, " "I think you're kind of cute, " "I like those jeans you're wearing[.]" In addition, Lockhart regularly leered at Gilliam. Lockhart directed this conduct toward Gilliam nearly every day she worked between May 2011 and the date of her termination.
On or around June 16, 2011, Lockhart touched Gilliam in a sexual manner by rubbing his hand down her back beginning at the right side of her shoulder proceeding to the middle of her back. Gilliam objected to Lockhart's unwelcome touching.

(Doc. 2-1, pp. 4-5, ¶¶ 15-16).

Gilliam's amended complaint brings separate counts of quid pro quo and hostile work environment sexual harassment under both Title VII and the IHRA. As for quid pro quo harassment, Gilliam alleges Berkeley made, "Gilliam's submission to Lockhart's conduct described in this Complaint either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of her employment, " and that, "Gilliam's rejection of Lockhart's conduct described in this Complaint was used as the basis for [Berkeley's] termination of Gilliam's employment." As for her claims of hostile work environment, Gilliam alleges, "Lockhart's conduct described in this Complaint directed toward Gilliam had the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with Gilliam's work performance and/or created an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment, " and was, "sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of Gilliam's employment and create an abusive working environment."

Berkeley argues summary judgment in its favor is warranted as Gilliam cannot establish a prima facie claim of sexual harassment.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is proper when the pleadings, discovery, and disclosures establish that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Winsley v. Cook Cnty., 563 F.3d 598, 602-03 (7th Cir. 2009); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The movant bears the burden of establishing the absence of fact issues and entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Santaella v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 123 F.3d 456, 461 (7th Cir. 1997) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323). A genuine dispute as to a material fact exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Pugh v. City of Attica, Indiana, 259 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir. 2001). The Court will enter summary judgment against a party who does not "come forward with evidence that would reasonably permit the finder of fact to find in [its] favor on a material question." McGrath v. Gillis, 44 F.3d 567, 569 (7th Cir. 1995).

IV. LAW AND APPLICATION

Gilliam alleges claims of quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment in violation of the IHRA and Title VII. As the IHRA's prohibition of sexual discrimination closely mirrors that of Title VII, Illinois courts and the Illinois Department of Human Rights generally look to federal decisions concerning sexual harassment under Title VII for guidance concerning claims under the IHRA. See Trayling v. Bd. of Fire & Police, 652 N.E.2d 386, 393 (Ill.App. 1995).

Gilliam couches her sexual harassment allegations in separate counts of hostile work environment and quid pro quo sexual harassment. The Supreme Court has explained that these distinctions are generally of limited importance in evaluating sexual harassment claims. ...


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