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Yanez v. Long

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 24, 2014

PHIL LONG, Defendant.


MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

A. Introduction

While incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Greenville, Illinois (FCI-Greenville) in January 2012, Jose Luis Yanez (Plaintiff) filed the above-captioned suit in this Court, alleging constitutional violations related to his demotion and eventual termination from a job with UNICOR industries. Plaintiff's pro se complaint sought monetary damages and injunctive relief pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971).[1]

The complaint survived threshold review under 28 U.S.C. 1915A, via Order recognizing two claims (Count 1 alleging age and race discrimination, and Count 2 alleging retaliation) against a single defendant - Phil Long, Superintendent of Industries at FCI-Greenville.

The case is before the Court on Defendant Long's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 56), filed February 28, 2014. On April 2, 2014, Plaintiff filed his response - a "Memorandum of Law in Support of Affiant's Rebuttal Motion re: Motion for Summary Judgment" (Doc. 58). As described below, the Court will grant Defendant's motion.

B. Applicable Legal Standards

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 governs motions for summary judgment. Summary judgment is appropriate if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Archdiocese of Milwaukee v. Doe, 743 F.3d 1101, 1105 (7th Cir. 2014), citing FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a). Accord Anderson v. Donahoe, 699 F.3d 989, 994 (7th Cir. 2012). A genuine issue of material fact remains "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Serednyj v. Beverly Healthcare, LLC, 656 F.3d 540, 547 (7th Cir. 2011), citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Accord Bunn v. Khoury Enterpr., Inc., 753 F.3d 676, 681-82 (7th Cir. 2014).

To defeat a summary judgment motion, the nonmovant must articulate specific facts showing that a genuine fact issue exists for trial. "A disputed issue is genuine' where a reasonable jury could render a verdict for the non-moving party if the record at trial were identical to the record compiled in the summary judgment proceeding.'" 520 South Michigan Ave. Assoc., Ltd., v. Unite Here Local 1, ___ F.3d ___, 2014 WL 3720253, *9 (7th Cir. July 29, 2014). Summary judgment is not appropriate when evidence in the record indicates that "alternative inferences can be drawn." Anderer v. Jones, 385 F.3d 1043, 1064 (7th Cir. 2004), cert. denied, 546 U.S. 1032 (2005).

In assessing a summary judgment motion, the district court views the facts in the light most favorable to, and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of, the non-movant. Anderson, 699 F.3d at 994; Righi v. SMC Corp., 632 F.3d 404, 408 (7th Cir. 2011); Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011). The district court may not resolve issues of credibility when deciding a summary judgment motion. "Those are issues for a jury at trial, not a court on summary judgment." Williams v. City of Chicago, 733 F.3d 749, 752 (7th Cir. 2013).

When the party moving for summary judgment also bears the burden of proof at trial, he must show that the record contains proof essential to establishing all of the elements of his claim (or prima facie case). Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 331 (1986) ("If the moving party will bear the burden of persuasion at trial, that party must support its motion with credible evidence... that would entitle it to a directed verdict if not controverted at trial"). See also MMG Financial Corp. v. Midwest Amusements Park, LLC, 630 F.3d 651, 656 (7th Cir. 2011); Montgomery v. American Airlines, Inc., 626 F.3d 382, 389 (7th Cir. 2010), citing Smith on Behalf of Smith v. Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 425 (7th Cir. 1997).

By contrast, when the summary judgment movant does not bear the burden at trial (like Defendant Long in the case at bar), he can prevail just by showing an absence of evidence to support any essential element of the nonmovant's case. Modrowski v. Pigatto, 712 F.3d 1166, 1169 (7th Cir. 2013). Bearing these standards in mind, the Court reviews the record before it.

C. Summary of Key Facts and Allegations

Plaintiff alleges that he has worked for UNICOR for twenty years, [2] but his Inmate Work History shows that he was not incarcerated at FCI-Greenville until April 2001 (Doc. 58-3, p. 18). Prior to the events at issue here, Plaintiff filed a grievance on September 8, 2009, based on his demotion to a Grade 2 pay grade (Doc. 58-3, pp. 31, 34).

In that grievance, Plaintiff stated that he had worked in UNICOR since September 15, 2004, and that he believed the demotion was due to his race, Hispanic (Doc. 58-3, p. 34). Plaintiff also alleged that while the demotion was purportedly due to "poor performance, " he had not received a write-up before the demotion (Doc. 58-3, p. 31). While the institutional response is not in the record, it appears Plaintiff was restored to Grade 1 and given an upward adjustment of $102.83 for the months of July, August, and September 2009 (Doc. 58-3, p. 53).

Defendant Long, Superintendent of Industries (SOI) at FCI-Greenville, has submitted an affidavit (Doc. 56-1), explaining the UNICOR (or "FPI") program at FCI-Greenville. FPI positions are classified by pay grades based on the principles of pay equity, economy, and workforce resources (Doc. 56-1, p. 1) (Doc. 56-2, pp. 3-4). The SOI has the authority to classify positions (Doc. 56-1, p. 1) (Doc. 56-2, p. 2).

Long performed an annual review of factory operations in the Fall of 2010 (Doc. 56-1, p. 1). He determined that all Utility Operator positions should be reclassified from Grade 1, which was the highest pay grade, to Grade 2 (Doc. 56-1, p. 1). Long used Form 82 to make these calculations (Doc. 56-7). Worksheets show that Long considered the general educational development, specific vocational development, physical demand, responsibility for equipment and others, and working conditions of the position when determining that it should properly be a Grade 2 job (Doc. 56-7).

Of the nine Utility Operator positions that were classified Grade 1, eight were reclassified as Grade 2 on October 2, 2010, and one was reclassified to Grade 2 on October 18, 2010, because the position was overlooked during the earlier reclassification (Doc. 56-1, p. 1). Long submitted documentation demonstrating that Travis Bean, Eric Hargrove, Lateef Hobbs, Anthony Lemay, Ricardo Long, David Phillips, Todd Turner, Joseph ...

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