United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Rock Island Division
DARROW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are a Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 28, and
a Motion for Hearing, ECF No. 29, by Defendant Joint
Logistics Managers, Inc. (“JMLI”) on Plaintiff
Anthony Oliver's claim for race discrimination in
employment and retaliatory discharge under 42 U.S.C. §
hired Anthony Oliver, an African-American man, as a
semi-truck driver on July 2, 2012. Oliver's employment
was governed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement
(“CBA”) entered into by JMLI and the
International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local Union No. 371.
The two bargaining units to which JMLI employees belong,
identified as “seniority units” included 1) Motor
Vehicle Repair Employees - Mechanic, Mechanic Helper, Battery
Servicer and 2) Motor Vehicle Operation Employees - Truck
Driver (T/T), truck driver (heavy), shipping/receiving clerk,
tractor operator/vehicle cleaner. Seniority under the CBA
accrues only within the specific seniority unit in which the
employee works. CBA 7.1, Mot. Summ. J. Ex. B, ECF No. 28-3 at
40. At all relevant times, the CBA contained provisions by
which employees subject to a reduction in force (identified
in the CBA as a “reduced employee”) could
displace-or, colloquially, “bump”-less senior
employees, or fill in an existing position within the same
seniority unit. CBA 7.3. Bumping was only allowed when the
reduced employee was deemed “qualified as determined by
the company, ” and no reduced employee was entitled to
bump an employee outside of his seniority unit. Id.
initial position was within the Motor Vehicle Operation
Employees (“Transportation”) unit. On September
30, 2013, Oliver was laid off. Oliver filed a grievance
because he felt that JMLI did not provide the two weeks'
notice of the layoff required by the CBA. He lost this
grievance in arbitration. Oliver stated that he was chosen
for the layoff in 2013, because he was “lowest as far
as seniority.” Pl.'s Dep. Dep. 58:23-24, Mot. Summ.
J. Ex. C, ECF No. 28-4.
January 17, 2014, Tyler Farr, a white employee in the
position of tractor operator/vehicle cleaner, was terminated.
Farr grieved the termination, but in the meantime, Oliver was
recalled by JMLI to work in Farr's position-still in the
Transportation Unit- beginning February 3, 2014. While
working in Farr's position, Oliver sustained an injury
when a piece of machinery rolled over his ankle. Rocky Vance,
a white male, was hired as a temporary employee in April
2014, to replace Oliver while he was out due to his injury.
was released back to work in the same position on July 7,
2014, and he returned to work on July 9, 2014. On July 8,
2014, JMLI, via project manager Scott Schneider, offered
Vance a mechanic position that required five years of
experience. Oliver filed a grievance because the position was
not publicly listed. The grievance was upheld, and Schneider
notified Vance that the offer was rescinded. JMLI posted the
position publicly on July 15, 2014, and both Oliver and Vance
applied. Neither employee had seniority for the position
because both were members of the Transportation Unit and the
mechanic position was in the other seniority unit. The
application required submission of a resume and a
questionnaire administered by Schneider. Oliver had never
been employed as a mechanic prior to applying for the
position. The parties dispute whether Oliver's resume
indicated that he had mechanic experience. On September 8,
2014, Schneider hired Vance to the position. JMLI informed
Oliver around that time that he was not qualified for the
position. Pl.'s Dep. 103:25-104:6. Schneider stated that
in his deposition he was unable to verify that Oliver had
five years of mechanic experience. Oliver filed a grievance
in regard to Vance's hiring on September 10, 2014.
point after Vance's promotion to mechanic, Oliver alleges
that Vance called him a “thief” and a
“f**king n***er” when he picked up a set of keys
off of Vance's work station at the behest of his
an arbitrator concluded in August 2014, that Farr was wrongly
terminated, JMLI was ordered to reinstate him to his previous
position. Farr bumped Oliver because Farr had seniority over
him. The parties dispute whether it was necessary to bump
Oliver: JMLI stated that it had “no choice”
Def.'s UMF ¶ 15, because it needed to reduce
staffing, id. at ¶ 20, while Oliver argues that
the retirement of another employee in the unit left a
position open that Oliver could have filled. Pl.'s UMF
filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (“EEOC”) on August 25, 2014, alleging
discrimination and retaliation based on race, color, and
disability. The charge included allegations that Vance was
wrongly promoted over Oliver, that the test for the mechanic
position was racially biased, and that he endured a hostile
work environment; the charge included that Vance had
“yelled” at Oliver but not that he had used
racial insults. EEOC Charge, ECF No. 28-4 at 99.
was laid off from September 2014 until he received a recall
notice in June 2015, to work temporary duty as a semi-truck
driver while the regular driver was off on disability leave.
Oliver physically returned to work in August 2015. He worked
until he was laid off on September 29, 2015, when the regular
driver returned from disability leave without advance notice
to JMLI. In November 2015, Oliver was recalled to work as a
battery servicer. As of Oliver's last filings with the
Court, on May 18, 2016, he remained employed as a truck
driver. Pl.'s UMF ¶ 30.
other temporary mechanics were hired after Vance at some
point in fall 2014: Patrick Paige, a white male with eight or
nine years of experience as a mechanic in the Marine Corps,
and Medgar Harris, who is black and had at least some
experience as a mechanic. Rocky Vance was terminated in
January 2015, after violating company policy several times.
Legal Standard on a Motion for Summary Judgment
summary judgment stage the court's function is not
“to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the
matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for
trial[- that is, whether] there is sufficient evidence
favoring the non-moving party for a jury to return a
verdict” in its favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986); see Patel v.
Allstate Ins. Co., 105 F.3d 365, 370 (7th Cir. 1997).
The court must view the evidence in the light most favorable
to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in
that party's favor. McCann v. Iroquois Mem'l
Hosp., 622 F.3d 745, 752 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).
42 U.S.C. § 1981 Discrimination Claim
contends that JMLI discriminated against him on the basis of
race when it chose to hire a white mechanic instead of him,
and argues that JMLI engaged in “disparate
treatment” when it allowed white truck drivers without
certain qualifications to stay on the job when Oliver was
laid off. Am. Resistance 1-2; 15.
Legal Standard For Discrimination Claims Arising Under 42
U.S.C. § 1981
1981 “protects the right of all persons ‘to make
and enforce contracts' regardless of race, ”
Carter v. Chicago State Univ., 778 F.3d 651, 657
(7th Cir. 2015) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1981(a)). To
prevail on a Section 1981 claim, the plaintiff must prove
that he has been the victim of intentional discrimination,
Melendez v. Ill. Bell Tel. Co., 79 F.3d 661, 669
(7th Cir. 1996), and may utilize the Title VII's methods
of proof. Humphries v. CBOCS West, Inc., 474 F.3d
387, 403-04 (7th Cir. 2007). At the summary judgment phase,
the plaintiff must either provide a sufficient basis for a
reasonable factfinder to conclude that the evidence, as a
whole, indicates that the plaintiff's race “caused
the discharge or other adverse ...