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Burns v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

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

February 28, 2017

INETTA BURNS, Plaintiff,
v.
WAL-MART STORES, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN W. DARRAH United States District Court Judge.

         Plaintiff Inetta Burns 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 [34] is denied in part and granted in part.

         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 filed a Motion to Strike [59] Plaintiff's responses to Defendant's Statement of Facts and Plaintiff's Statement of Additional Facts. 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 Motion [60], 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 [60] 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 was a female employee of Wal-Mart, working as a training coordinator at a Wal-Mart store in North Carolina.[2] Plaintiff began her employment with Wal-Mart on or about January 10, 2005. (Dkt. 36 ¶ 1.) Prior to working at Wal-Mart, Plaintiff worked as a manager at K-Mart for over ten years. (Id. ¶ 4.) After Plaintiff was hired by Wal-Mart, she began the Management in Training (“MIT”) program. (Id. ¶ 5.) While Plaintiff was in the MIT program, Wal-Mart was building a new store in Glenwood, Illinois. (Id. ¶ 6.) On March 14, 2005, Plaintiff contacted District Manager Jack Buser and requested to be placed at the Glenwood store as an Assistant Manager when she completed the MIT program. Plaintiff wanted to work at the Glenwood store because it was closer to her home. (Id. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff spoke to Buser about her desire to work in Glenwood on at least two occasions prior to sending her request. (Id. ¶ 8.)

         When Plaintiff completed the MIT program, she was placed as an Assistant Manager in the Wal-Mart store in Matteson, Illinois. (Id. ¶ 9.) After an accident at the Matteson store, Plaintiff requested and received a transfer to the Bradley, Illinois store. (Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff's District Manager, J.D. Hacker, approved her transfer. (Id. ¶ 11.) On May 17, 2005, Plaintiff sent an email to Buser, asking to be transferred to the Glenwood store. Buser advised Plaintiff to speak to Hacker about her request. (Id. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff's request was denied, and she was not transferred to the Glenwood store as an Assistant Manager. (Id. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff alleges that Hacker told her that he would not transfer her to the Glenwood store because she was a new Assistant Manager and that he preferred to staff new stores with experienced managers. (Id. ¶ 15.) Hacker does not remember this conversation but testified that generally, Wal-Mart did not recommend placing new Assistant Managers in new stores. (Id. ¶ 15.) Wal-Mart does not have a written policy regarding placement of new Assistant Managers in new stores. (Id. ¶ 14.) Buser, Hacker and Market Manager Daniel Ketcham testified that new Assistant Managers are generally not placed in new stores because of the difficulties involved with opening a new store. (Id. ¶¶ 14, 16.) Plaintiff later stepped down from her position as Assistant Manager and transferred to the Glenwood store as an Associate on or about August 6, 2005. (Id. ¶ 17.)

         While Plaintiff was working at the Glenwood store, Gewargis Tammo was working as an Assistant Manager in the Tire and Lube Express (“TLE”) department. Plaintiff and Tammo completed the MIT program together. (Id. ¶ 18.) After Tammo completed the MIT program, he was placed as an Assistant Manager in the TLE department at the Glenwood store. (Id. ¶ 21.)

         Plaintiff alleges she was discriminated against on the basis of her sex. After she stepped down from her position as Assistant Manager, Plaintiff alleges she applied for a Support Manager position in 2009. Plaintiff was not granted an interview for the position. Plaintiff overheard that the Support Manager position was given to a male employee. Plaintiff cannot name or describe the people she heard talking about the position and does not know who received the position. She did not verify that a male employee was hired as Support Manager. (Id. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff also alleges that she spoke to Tammo while she was completing the MIT program and discovered that Tammo was receiving more pay. Tammo stated in his deposition that he did not discuss his pay with Plaintiff at any time. (Id. ¶¶ 29-31.) Tammo and Plaintiff were paid the same salary as Assistant Managers. (Id. ¶ 31.) Plaintiff further alleges that she heard male employees discuss their pay and realized that they were making more money than she. (Id. ¶¶ 28, 29.)

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate when “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Courts deciding summary judgment motions must view facts “in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a ‘genuine' dispute as to those facts.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The moving party has the initial burden of establishing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If the moving party meets this burden, “[t]he nonmoving party must point to specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Stephens v. Erickson, 569 F.3d 779, 786 (7th Cir. 2009). Factual disputes do “not preclude summary judgment when the dispute does not involve a ...


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