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Kalus v. Emtec, Inc.

United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

March 23, 2015

KELLY KALUS, Plaintiff,
v.
EMTEC, INC., and RICHARD REID, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

AMY J. ST. EVE, United States District Court Judge.

On June 17, 2013, Plaintiff Kelly Kalus filed a four-count First Amended Complaint against her former employer Defendant Emtec, Inc. and Defendant Richard Reid, Kalus’ former direct supervisor, alleging gender discrimination and a hostile work environment claim in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (Count I), violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq. (Count II), a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. (Count III), and sex and handicap discrimination claims in violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”), 765 ILCS 5/1-101, et seq. (Count IV).[1]

Before the Court is Defendants’ motion for summary judgment and Plaintiff’s cross-motion for partial summary judgment as to her FMLA claims in Count II brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a). For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendants’ motion for summary judgment and denies Plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment. The Court dismisses this lawsuit in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

Local Rule 56.1 “is designed, in part, to aid the district court, ‘which does not have the advantage of the parties’ familiarity with the record and often cannot afford to spend the time combing the record to locate the relevant information, ’ in determining whether a trial is necessary.” Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted). Local Rule 56.1(a) requires the moving party to provide “a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue and that entitle the moving party to a judgment as a matter of law.” Petty v. City of Chicago, 754 F.3d 416, 420 (7th Cir. 2014). “The non-moving party must file a response to the moving party’s statement, and, in the case of any disagreement, cite ‘specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.’” Id. (citation omitted); see also L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(A). Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(c) “requires specifically that a litigant seeking to oppose a motion for summary judgment file a response that contains a separate ‘statement ... of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment.’” Sojka v. Bovis Lend Lease, Inc., 686 F.3d 394, 398 (7th Cir. 2012) (citation omitted). “The obligations set forth by a court’s local rules are not mere formalities.” Zuppardi v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 770 F.3d 644, 648 (7th Cir. 2014).

Here, Kalus’ Rule 56.1(b)(3)(c) statement of additional facts in response to Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, her Rule 56.1(a) statement of facts in support of her motion for partial summary judgment, and her Rule 56.1(b)(3)(A) responses do not meet the requirements or spirit of the local rules. In particular, her statements and responses are riddled with legal arguments, speculation, and extraneous information. See Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 2006) (“statement of material facts did [ ] not comply with Rule 56.1 as it failed to adequately cite the record and was filled with irrelevant information, legal arguments, and conjecture”). Kalus’ Rule 56.1(b)(3)(A) responses to Defendants’ statement of facts often fail to cite to any evidence in the record to refute Defendants’ statements. See Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009) (“When a responding party’s statement fails to dispute the facts set forth in the moving party’s statement in the manner dictated by the rule, those facts are deemed admitted for purposes of the motion.”). Also, both Kalus and Defendants include “recitations of additional facts” in their Rule 56.1(b)(3)(A) responses that the Court will not consider because, according to the local rules, any such facts must be in their Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) statement of additional facts. See Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008). In other words, “Local Rule 56.1 requires specifically that a litigant seeking to oppose a motion for summary judgment file a response that contains a separate ‘statement ... of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment.’” Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., L.L.C., 401 F.3d 803, 809 (7th Cir. 2005) (emphasis in original).

Furthermore, Kalus relies on her declaration to support her facts although some of the statements in her declaration contradict her prior deposition testimony. It is well-settled in this district that a party cannot “create an issue of material fact by submitting an affidavit that contradicts an earlier deposition.” Pourghoraishi v. Flying J, Inc., 449 F.3d 751, 759 (7th Cir. 2006). In addition, certain averments in Kalus’ declaration are hearsay or not within her direct personal knowledge as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c)(4). See Smiley v. Columbia Coll. Chicago, 714 F.3d 998, 1005 (7th Cir. 2013) (“declarations in support of motions for summary judgment must be made on personal knowledge and set forth facts that would be admissible in evidence”).

As the Seventh Circuit instructs, “[f]or litigants appearing in the Northern District of Illinois, the Rule 56.1 statement is a critical, and required, component of a litigant’s response to a motion for summary judgment. The purpose of the local rule is to make the summary judgment process less burdensome on district courts, by requiring the parties to nail down the relevant facts and the way they propose to support them.” Sojka, 686 F.3d at 398. Indeed, district courts are “not required to scour the record looking for factual disputes.” Diadenko v. Folino, 741 F.3d 751, 757 (7th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).

The Court will consider these standards within each Rule 56.1 statement and response to determine the relevant facts of this case, instead of striking Kalus’ Rule 56.1 filings in their entirety as Defendants suggest.

II. Relevant Facts

A. Emtec’s Oracle Practice Groups[2]

Defendant Emtec, located in New Jersey with offices in Chicago, is an information-technology consulting company that specializes in packaged applications, cloud applications, application development, management consulting, and infrastructure services. (R. 75, Defs.’ Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 4; R. 82, Pl.’s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ B.) Plaintiff Kelly Kalus began her employment with Emtec’s predecessor, Emerging Solutions, in July 2011, as the National Practice Director of the Oracle Human Capital Management (“HCM”) practice. (Defs.’ Stmt. Facts ¶ 5.) As the National Practice Director of the Oracle HCM practice, Kalus managed the HCM consultants, marketing, staffing, recruiting, and business development. (R. 146, Kalus Dep., at 34-35.) Defendant Richard Reid, the Oracle National Practice Managing Director, offered Kalus the job and was Kalus’ direct supervisor throughout the relevant time period (Defs.’ Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 5, 9; Pl.’s Stmt. Facts ¶ D.) Shortly after Kalus began her employment, Emtec acquired Emerging Solutions in August 2011. (Defs.’ Stmt. Facts ¶ 8.) After the acquisition, Kalus continued in her role as the National Practice Director managing Emtec’s Oracle HCM practice. (Id.)

Kalus’ peers in the Oracle group, who also reported to Reid, included John Given, the National Practice Director for Oracle Financial, and Todd Siler, the National Practice Director for Oracle Technical. (Id. ¶ 9.) Specifically, Given managed the Oracle financial products, whereas Kalus oversaw the Oracle HCM products. (Id. ¶ 10.) As the Technical Lead, Siler supported both Kalus and Given by providing technical staff on projects. (Id.) Kalus, Given, and Siler each led a team of consultants in their respective practice areas and supervised one or more practice managers, who in turn supervised a number of front-line consultants. (Id. ¶ 11.)

Approximately eight months after Kalus started in her position as National Practice Director of Emtec’s Oracle HCM practice, specifically, on February 17, 2012, Reid told the three Oracle National Practice Directors, namely, Kalus, Given, and Siler, that Emtec planned to expand its Oracle practice to work with Oracle’s new “Fusion” software. (Pl.’s Stmt. Facts ¶ C.) At or around that time, Reid decided to incorporate Oracle Fusion into the existing Oracle practice groups led by Kalus, Given, and Siler, which increased their job responsibilities. (Id.; Defs.’ Stmt. Facts ¶ 12.) Thereafter, Kalus went to Oracle’s headquarters in California for training. (Pl.’s Stmt. Facts ¶ F.) At some point in May 2012, however, Reid decided to make structural changes to the Oracle group by separating Fusion from the existing practice groups and creating a stand-alone Fusion practice. (Defs.’ Stmt. Facts ¶ 68; Pl.’s Stmt. Facts ¶¶ W.1, ...


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