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Sauceda v. Central Pool Supply, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Rock Island Division

March 29, 2017




         Before the Court are Defendant Central Pool and Supply's (“CPS”) motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 21; Defendant's motion to strike portions of Plaintiff's response to that motion, ECF No. 28; and Plaintiff's motion for an order correcting his response, ECF No. 31. For the following reasons, the motion for summary judgment is DENIED. The other motions are MOOT.


         Plaintiff Sauceda's father is French, and his mother is Mexican, and Hispanic. Sauceda Dep. 90:3-23, Pl.'s Ex. 2, ECF No. 26-2. CPS is a swimming pool distribution and retail business in Moline, Illinois. CPS hired Sauceda as a driver on February 20, 2012. Since it is a pool company, CPS's business is seasonal. The company has only three full-time salaried employees: the district manager, the store manager, and the warehouse manager. Randy Gebhardt has been the district manager for CPS since 1988, and owns CPS with his brother. Greg Sommer is the store manager. Mitchell George was the warehouse manager at the time Sauceda was hired. George hired Sauceda, but Gebhardt ultimately made the hiring decisions. According to George, when George hired Sauceda, Gebhardt was upset when he discovered that Sauceda had Mexican heritage. George Aff. ¶ 8, ECF No. 26-1.

         Sauceda's responsibilities as driver included delivering pool supplies to customers from the Moline store location. For the first few months after Sauceda was hired, George was his immediate supervisor. Eventually, Gebhardt fired George, Sauceda Dep. 23:9-11, and Bill Parker was hired as warehouse manager, id. at 23:4-8. Later, Gebhardt also fired Parker, [2] id. at 15-25, and Gebhardt promoted Sauceda to warehouse manager. The responsibilities of this position included ensuring that warehouse inventory was correct, that materials were delivered correctly, and the hiring and firing of warehouse workers. However, Sauceda still worked as a driver in tandem with his responsibilities as warehouse manager. Id. at 24:10-19. Sauceda also had to check all orders leaving the warehouse to ensure that they were correct. In the warehouse manager position, Gebhardt was Sauceda's immediate supervisor.

         Although Sauceda and Gebhardt appear to have had a friendly relationship in some ways, with Gebhardt at one point lending Sauceda $700 for a plane ticket to go see his relatives, Sauceda describes it as rife with acts of racism by Gebhardt. The acts Sauceda attests to are listed below in no particular order.

• Gebhardt called Sauceda a “Frenchican, ” a term whose attempted humor came from Sauceda's mixed heritage.[3] Sauceda Dep. 57:13-19, 57:24-58:7.
• Once Sauceda became warehouse manager, Gebhardt talked about Sauceda's ethnicity on “[a]lmost a daily basis, ” id. at 59:6, and “constantly, ” id. at 73:9. Gebhardt brought it up in such ways as telling Sauceda to tell Spanish-speaking customers, for whom Sauceda would translate, that the store didn't accept pesos, asking Sauceda in September 2012 if he would like the day off on Mexican Independence Day, and asking Sauceda if he “[rode] a burro and [drank] tequila like all Mexicans.” Id. at 59:8-13.
• Gebhardt called Sauceda a “[s]tupid fuckin' Mexican” when something was not on a pallet for an order. Id. at 67:14. Sauceda said that Gebhardt did this “[y]ou know, just every time he had a chance.” Id. at 67:15.
• He frequently referred to Sauceda as a “dirty Mexican.” Id. at 99:22-100:5.
• Gebhardt asked Sauceda if he had any cousins or relatives who were in the United States illegally. Id. at 70:7-11.
• “During the preliminary stages of the hiring process . . . Gebhardt told [George] directly, ‘Do not hire any Mexicans or black people. All they do is steal from me.'” George Aff ¶ 6.
• Gebhardt told Sauceda to “hire a Mexican because they'll work until their fingers fall off, and everyone should own at least one or two.” Id. at 70:21-24. Gebhardt also asked Sauceda “Do you know any Mexicans that do yardwork? I need my grass cut. Everybody should own one or two Mexicans, or a Mexican and a nigger.” Id. at 73:21-23.
• When Congresswoman Cheri Bustos was running for congress, Gebhardt told Sauceda “[if] she wins, it'll be tacos for everyone.” Id. at 73:12-13.
• At one point, Sauceda was unloading a truck while it was raining, and his back was wet. Gebhardt patted him on the back and said “you should be ...

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