United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
CLARA S. NUTTALL, Plaintiff,
PRESIDENTIAL PAVILION, LLC, Defendant.
SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge.
This matter is before the court on Defendant Presidential Pavilion, LLC's (Presidential) motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the motion for summary judgment is granted.
In January of 2010, Plaintiff Clara Shenell Nuttall (Nuttall) was allegedly employed by Presidential as a Dietary Aide. Nuttall contends that beginning on January 25, 2010 and continuing through January 30, 2010, she was subjected to harassment based on her national origin, sex, and disability. Nuttall claims that during the five days in question her supervisor, Michelle Holloway (Holloway) called Nuttall names and made derogatory comments about the quality of her work. Holloway also allegedly grabbed utensils from Nuttall's hand and shut a door in Nuttall's face. It is undisputed that after Nuttall complained about the alleged harassment, she requested a transfer and was reassigned to a new position where she actually earned more money. Nuttall allegedly worked in that position until her employment was terminated in April 2012. Nuttall contends that the termination of her employment constituted unlawful discrimination. Nuttall includes in her complaint a claim alleging discrimination based on her national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., a Title VII sex discrimination claim, a Title VII hostile work environment claim, a claim alleging discrimination based on an alleged disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and an ADA hostile work environment claim. Presidential moves for summary judgment on all claims.
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).
I. Hostile Work Environment Claims
Presidential moves for summary judgment on the hostile work environment claims. Under the protections provided by Title VII, an employer is barred from creating a "hostile work environment." Orton-Bell v. Indiana, 2014 WL 3566338, at *4-*5 (7th Cir. 2014). To defeat a defendant's motion for summary judgment on a hostile work environment claim, a plaintiff must establish: (1) that "the work environment [was] both subjectively and objectively offensive, " (2) that the protected characteristic was "the cause of the harassment, " (3) that "the conduct [was] severe or pervasive, " and (4) that "there [is] a basis for employer liability." Id. at *5 (internal quotations omitted)(quoting Chaib v. Indiana, 744 F.3d 974, 985 (7th Cir. 2014)). As to Nuttall's ADA hostile work environment claim, the Seventh Circuit has not yet recognized such a claim and this court declines to do so as well. See Lloyd v. Swifty Transp., Inc., 552 F.3d 594, 603 (7th Cir. 2009)(stating that the Court has "not decided whether allowing a hostile work environment is actionable under the ADA"); Latham v. Donahue, 2014 WL 1876145, at *4 (N.D. Ill. 2014)(stating that "[t]he Seventh Circuit has not expressly decided whether a hostile work environment claim exists under the Rehabilitation Act or the ADA"). The court notes, however, that regardless of whether Nuttall's ADA hostile work environment claim were deemed to be a cognizable claim, Presidential is entitled to prevail as a matter of law.
Presidential argues that Nuttall has failed to point to sufficient evidence of a hostile work environment. The court notes that in opposition to the motion for summary judgment, Nuttall fails to offer any arguments in support of her hostile work environment claim. Nuttall fails to even reference her hostile work environment claims in response to the instant motion. See Nichols v. Michigan City Plant Planning Dept., 755 F.3d 594, 600 (7th Cir. 2014)(stating that "[t]he non-moving party waives any arguments that were not raised in its response to the moving party's motion for summary judgment"). Based on Nuttall's filings, it appears that Nuttall believes that her hostile work environment claim is the same as her Title VII discrimination claim. Nuttall argues, for example, in support of her Title VII discrimination claims that conduct by Holloway was "consistent" and "pervasive." (Ans. SJ 6). However, a Title VII hostile work environment claim and a Title VII discrimination claim are distinct claims, subject to different standards under case law. See, e.g., Orton-Bell, 2014 WL 3566338 at *4-*7 (addressing a hostile work environment claim and a discrimination claim separately); Nichols, 755 F.3d at 600-04 (same); Chaib, 744 F.3d at 981-85 (same).
In the instant action, in support of her hostile work environment claims, Nuttall asserts that certain isolated comments were made to her during a limited five-day period in 2010. Nuttall also contends that on one occasion utensils were snatched from her hands and that a door was slammed in her face. (Nutt. Aff. Par. 15-16). Nuttall has not pointed to evidence to show that she suffered any physical harm or was in any danger of a physical injury. Pursuant to Local Rule 56.1, Nuttall admits that after she complained about Holloway's alleged conduct, Presidential asked Nuttall if she would like a transfer, and when Nuttall responded in the affirmative, Presidential immediately transferred Nuttall to the Housekeeping department where Nuttall would not be supervised by Holloway. (R SF Par. 32); (Nutt. Aff. Par. 25). Nuttall also admits that at her new assignment, she received "more hours, " which was "better for" her because "she made more money, " and that she was "better off in Housekeeping." (R SF Par. 32). Nuttall admits that after the alleged comments by Holloway during a limited five-day period, Nuttall "never ran into Holloway or had any interaction with her, " and that "everything was fine for over two years after her transfer from Dietary to Housekeeping." (R SF Par. 32). Nuttall has not pointed to evidence to show that the alleged harassment was severe or pervasive. Nor has Nuttall pointed to sufficient evidence to show that the cause of the comments allegedly made by Holloway was Nuttall's sex, national origin, or alleged disability. Therefore, Presidential's motion for summary judgment on the hostile work environment claims is granted.
II. Title VII Discrimination Claims
Presidential moves for summary judgment on the Title VII ...