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Bozek v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

February 14, 2017

RENATA BOZEK, Plaintiff,
v.
WAL-MART STORES, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN W. DARRAH United States District Court Judge.

         Plaintiff Renata Bozek filed a Complaint against Defendant Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (“Wal-mart”) for gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [77] is denied.

         LOCAL RULE 56.1

         Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide “a statement of material facts as to which the party contends there is no genuine issue for trial.” Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Servs., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004). Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) requires the nonmoving party to admit or deny every factual statement proffered by the moving party and to concisely designate any material facts that establish a genuine dispute for trial. See Schrott v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 403 F.3d 940, 944 (7th Cir. 2005). A nonmovant's “mere disagreement with the movant's asserted facts is inadequate if made without reference to specific supporting material.” Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003). In the case of any disagreement, the nonmoving party must reference affidavits, parts of the record, and other materials that support his stance. Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B). To the extent that a response to a statement of material fact provides only extraneous or argumentative information, this response will not constitute a proper denial of the fact, and the fact is admitted. See Graziano v. Vill. of Oak Park, 401 F.Supp.2d 918, 936 (N.D. Ill. 2005). Similarly, to the extent that a statement of fact contains a legal conclusion or otherwise unsupported statement, including a fact that relies upon inadmissible hearsay, such a fact is disregarded. Eisenstadt v. Centel Corp., 113 F.3d 738, 742 (7th Cir. 1997). Pursuant to Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C), the nonmovant may submit additional statements of material facts that “require the denial of summary judgment.”

         A district court is entitled to expect strict compliance with Rule 56.1; substantial compliance is not enough. Ammons, 368 F.3d at 817. “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.” Curtis v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 807 F.3d 215, 218 (7th Cir. 2015) (quoting Cracco v. Vitran Express, Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009)).

         BACKGROUND

         As a preliminary matter, Defendant argues in its Reply that Plaintiff's responses to Defendant's Statement of Facts and Plaintiff's Statement of Additional Facts should be stricken. As noted above, substantial compliance with Local Rule 56.1 is not enough. To the extent that Plaintiff's responses to Defendant's Statement of Facts are not in strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1, the facts that are not properly disputed will be deemed admitted for the purposes of this motion. To the extent that Plaintiff's Statement of Additional Facts relies on inadmissible hearsay or is not supported by the cited material, those additional facts will also not be admitted for the purposes of this Motion.[1] Defendant also moves to strike several exhibits offered in support of Plaintiff's Statement of Additional Facts, arguing that the exhibits have not been authenticated or otherwise made admissible in evidence. As noted by Defendant in its Reply, these documents were produced to Plaintiff by Defendant in this case, and as such, are self-authenticating and constitute admissions of a party opponent. See United States v. Brown, 688 F.2d 1112 (7th Cir. 1982); see also Architectural Iron Workers Local No. 63 Welfare Fund v. United Contractors, Inc., 46 F.Supp.2d 769, 772 (N.D. Ill. 1999). Defendant's motion to strike Plaintiff's exhibits is denied.

         The following facts are taken from the parties' statements of undisputed material facts submitted in accordance with Local Rule 56.1. Plaintiff resides in Orland Park, Illinois. (Compl. ¶ 6.) She began her employment with Wal-Mart on March 21, 1992, at Store #1779 in Bridgeview, Illinois (“Bridgeview Store”). Prior to working for Wal-Mart, Plaintiff worked as coordinator of a graphic arts department and a deli manager. Plaintiff's highest level of education was a year and a half of college. (Dkt. 83 ¶ 6.) Plaintiff was hired as an associate in the jewelry department at the Bridgeview Store. (Dkt. 83 ¶ 7.) Plaintiff was then promoted to Jewelry Department Manager. Plaintiff was the Jewelry Department Manager until she began working as the Stationery Department Manager. (Dkt. 83 ¶¶ 9, 10.) Plaintiff worked at three other Wal-Mart stores in the sporting goods department as a manager, in the invoicing department, and in the pharmacy department. (Dkt. 83 ¶¶ 11-13.)

         In 2001, Plaintiff was promoted to the Management in Training (“MIT”) program and transferred to Store #1938 in Bedford Park, Illinois (“Bedford Park Store”), for training. (Dkt. 83 ¶ 14.) While attending the MIT program, Plaintiff alleges that she was sent to the backroom of the Bedford Park Store to prep for inventory while male employees were allowed to attend class. (Dkt. 83 ¶ 16.) After completing the MIT program, Plaintiff became an Assistant Manager at the Bedford Park Store. Plaintiff was then asked to transfer to the overnight shift and become a Night Receiving Assistant Manager. After working for six months as an Assistant Manager at the Bedford Park Store, Plaintiff applied for Co-Manager and Manager of Specialty Divisions for optical and loss prevention. Plaintiff was not selected for those positions. (Dkt. 83 ¶ 21.) At the time Plaintiff applied, Wal-Mart's Promotional Guidelines precluded promotions from Assistant Manager to Co-Manager unless the applicant had worked in his or her current store for one year. (Dkt. 83 ¶ 21.)

         In 2002, Plaintiff spoke to Store Manager Mark Sanders to discuss pay disparities between male and female employees at Wal-Mart. Specifically, Plaintiff mentioned the disparity between her pay and the pay of two other male Assistant Managers at the Bedford Park Store (Landrus Cole and Manolete Rhem). In response to Plaintiff's concerns, Sanders told her that “we do not discuss pay.” Plaintiff understood that comment to mean that Wal-Mart's policy was that employees were not to discuss their pay. (Dkt. 83 ¶ 42.)

         In 2004, Plaintiff requested to move from her position as Night Receiving Assistant Manager at the Bedford Park Store to work as a Photo Manager at the Bridgeview Store. Plaintiff received a reduction in pay due to the move. (Dkt. 83 ¶ 43.) Plaintiff alleges that Wal- Mart allowed male employees who were involuntarily demoted to retain their salaries, but reduced her salary when she voluntarily stepped down as Assistant Manager. (Dkt. 83 ¶ 44.)

         While employed at the Bridgeview Store as Photo Manager, Plaintiff received two “coachings.” A “coaching” is a disciplinary action that is either oral or written. When an employee receives a coaching, the employee becomes ineligible for a promotion or for a transfer to another store for one year. (Dkt 83 ¶ 48.) Plaintiff received these coachings on May 6, 2005 and July 12, 2005. (Dkt. 83 ¶¶ 49, 50.) After working a few months as Photo Manager, Plaintiff's position was eliminated, and she was placed in a lab tech position in the Vision Center. The lab tech position was an hourly position. (Dkt. 83 ¶ 51.)

         In 2005, Plaintiff transferred to Store #1737 in Villa Park, Illinois (“Villa Park Store”) to work as a Support Manager. While at the Villa Park Store, Plaintiff applied for two upper management positions in the Vision Center, three Assistant Manager positions in Wal-Mart Division 1, Supercenter, Neighborhood Markets, and three other unidentified Assistant Manager positions. (Dkt. 83 ¶ 52.) Director of Personnel Victoria Cadwell interviewed Plaintiff for an Assistant Manager position but determined that Plaintiff was not ready. Plaintiff also received an oral coaching for attendance and punctuality while at the Villa Park Store. (Dkt. 83 ¶¶ 52, 53.)

         On December 12, 2008, Plaintiff applied for a Field Project Supervisor position while working as a Training Coordinator at Store #2215 in Darien, Illinois. She did not receive a position as a Field Project Supervisor. These positions were filled by Kenneth Lawrence, Kristopher McDonald, and Julie Smith. (Dkt. 83 ¶ 55.) In May of 2010, Plaintiff went on medical leave. Plaintiff was eventually ...


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