United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. ELLIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Andrea Griffin, who is African American, alleges claims of
racial harassment and retaliation while working for Defendant
Chicago Housing Authority (the “CHA”). She brings
this lawsuit against the CHA for violation of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42
U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. The CHA moves for
summary judgment. Because the Court finds no basis for
employer liability on Griffin's racial harassment claim,
the Court grants summary judgment for the CHA on that claim.
As for her retaliation claim, Griffin has not introduced
evidence that would allow a reasonable jury to find that the
CHA took adverse action against her because she reported
racial harassment; thus, the Court grants the CHA summary
judgment on that claim as well.
worked for the CHA from May 2004 through March 22, 2013,
employed as the office manager in the General Counsel's
Office from March 2006 until she left the CHA. During her
tenure as office manager, she had four supervisors: Gail
Neimann, Jorge Cazares, Scott Ammarell, and Melissa Freeman
Cadoree. Throughout Griffin's employment at the CHA, the
CHA's employee handbook provided that “[e]mployees
must report incidents of discrimination, harassment or
hostile work environment to the CHA's Ethics Officer or
to any other CHA Management Representative.” Doc. 47-12
complains about one of her co-workers, George Brown, a
Caucasian attorney in CHA's General Counsel's Office.
Griffin did not report to Brown, and Brown did not review or
supervise Griffin's job performance or have any input in
her compensation, promotion opportunities, or benefits.
Although Brown and Griffin did not interact on a regular
basis, according to Griffin, Brown used racially offensive
and harassing language toward her and others in 2007, 2009,
2011, 2012, and 2013. Brown also allegedly tossed file
folders toward Griffin from across her desk, delivered his
ARDC registration to her, tossed file folders onto a counter
above where she was storing supplies, motioned as if he was
throwing something in a trash can near her, and let a door
close on her. Griffin did not report these incidents to her
supervisors, the CHA's Human Resources Department, the
Chief or Deputy Chief Legal Officer, the Ethics Officer, or
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”) Officer. Griffin also did not report any
of these incidents to the Illinois Department of Human Rights
(“IDHR”) or the EEOC, despite being asked broadly
about all incidents concerning Brown during the IDHR fact
did report one interaction she had with Brown (the
“conference room incident”) to the CHA, however.
On September 11, 2012, Griffin, Brown, and Audrey Wade,
another CHA attorney, met in a conference room to discuss the
CHA's Housing Choice Voucher program. During the meeting,
Griffin and Brown got into a heated disagreement about who
had responsibility to find space for the program's
consultants to work. Brown pointed his pen at Griffin, saying
it was Griffin's responsibility. Brown did not make any
racially offensive or disparaging remarks or reference
Griffin's race. But Griffin took offense and left the
meeting to seek out Ammarell, the CHA's Chief Legal
Officer at the time. Because Ammarell was unavailable, she
spoke to his assistant and then returned to the meeting.
Cadoree, the Deputy Chief Legal Officer and Griffin's
direct supervisor at the time, who learned that Griffin was
upset from Ammarell's assistant, then interrupted the
meeting to speak with Griffin. Griffin explained to Cadoree
what had occurred without mentioning anything race-related
and indicated that she was fine returning to the meeting,
which she then did. Cadoree met with Brown later that day to
discuss the conference room incident.
addition to speaking with Cadoree, Griffin reported the
conference room incident to Marilyn Jefferson, the CHA's
Senior Director of Human Resources and Training and at the
time the Vice President of Human Resources and Training.
Jefferson then spoke separately with Brown and Wade to
investigate further. Jefferson concluded the incident was
merely a “communication conflict.” Doc. 47 ¶
16. Cadoree, Jefferson, and Ammarell together also met with
Griffin and Brown to discuss civility in the workplace, the
importance of working together, and the need not to raise
voices at each other.
time during her employment at the CHA did Griffin report any
of the other allegedly racially offensive or harassing
interactions she had with Brown of which she now complains,
including when she reported the conference room
incident. Nor did Griffin indicate she could not
work with Brown at any time. Instead, she advised both
Jefferson and Cadoree that she had no issues doing so and
declined suggestions to limit interactions with him by, for
example, placing a mailbox outside her office so people would
not have to enter her office to drop things off or using an
intermediary, such as Cadoree, between the two of them.
in late 2012 and early 2013, Griffin claims that Cadoree, her
immediate supervisor, began to more closely monitor her
performance, changing her work process in a manner that she
no longer operated as autonomously as previously. Griffin
believed this kept her from being as efficient as possible,
but she could not point to any specific decision she normally
would have made autonomously but after the conference room
incident required a different process for approval. Instead,
she admitted that those decisions she claimed she would
normally make autonomously required supervisor approval even
before the incident.
also complains that she did not receive a merit based raise
in early 2013. She does not identify any other individual who
received a similar raise during that same time period.
Additionally, Griffin did not receive a merit based raise in
2010. In fact, she did not receive any pay raises after 2010.
judgment obviates the need for a trial where there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. To
determine whether a genuine issue of fact exists, the Court
must pierce the pleadings and assess the proof as presented
in depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, and
affidavits that are part of the record. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 &
advisory committee's notes. The party seeking summary
judgment bears the initial burden of proving that no genuine
issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d
265 (1986). In response, the non-moving party cannot rest on
mere pleadings alone but must use the evidentiary tools
listed above to identify specific material facts that
demonstrate a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324;
Insolia v. Philip Morris Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 598
(7th Cir. 2000). Although a bare contention that an issue of
fact exists is insufficient to create a factual dispute,
Bellaver v. Quanex Corp., 200 F.3d 485, 492 (7th
Cir. 2000), the Court must construe all facts in a light most
favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable
inferences in that party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).
Compliance with Summary ...