United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
CARRIE M. WARREN Plaintiff,
KENDALL COUNTY SHERIFF DWIGHT BAIRD, in his official capacity and as successor in office to Richard Randall,, Defendants.
Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird, Kendall County, Richard
Randall, Scott Koster, and Sabrina Jennings, One of their
DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF
ROWLAND MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird, in his official capacity
as successor in office to Richard Randall (hereinafter
“the Sheriff's Office”); Kendall County,
Illinois; Richard Randall; Scott Koster; and Sabrina Jennings
move for judgment as a matter of law in their favor and
against the plaintiff under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
50. In support of this motion, defendants state as follows:
Carrie Warren has presented the following claims at trial:
(1) Title VII gender discrimination claim against the
Sheriff's Office; (2) Title VII retaliation claim against
the Sheriff's Office; (3) section 1983 equal protection
claims of sex discrimination against the Sheriff's
Office, Randall, Koster, and Jennings; and (4) section 1983
equal protection claims of retaliation against the
Sheriff's Office, Randall, Koster, and Jennings. As a
matter of law, based on the evidence presented thus far at
trial, no reasonable jury could find for Warren on any of her
time before a case is submitted to the jury, a party may move
for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. Fed. Civ. P. 50(a)(2). Rule 50
authorizes the entry of judgment as a matter of law if a
reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient
evidentiary basis to find for the party on that issue.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a)(1); Hall v. Forest River, Inc.,
536 F.3d 615, 619 (7th Cir. 2008). “In other words, the
question is simply whether the evidence as a whole, when
combined with all reasonable inferences permissibly drawn
from that evidence, is sufficient to allow a reasonable jury
to find in favor of the plaintiff.” Id.
No reasonable jury could find that defendants fired Warren in
retaliation for her complaints of discrimination or
succeed on her retaliation claim, Warren was required to
present evidence that, when taken as whole, could permit a
reasonable jury to find that one or more of the defendants
terminated her because of her complaints of gender-based
harassment or discrimination. See Ortiz v. Werner
Enterprises, Inc., 834 F.3d 760, 765 (7th Cir. 2016);
Hobgood v. Ill. Gaming Bd., 731 F.3d 635, 643 (7th
Cir. 2013). Ultimately, the evidence on the whole must show
that Warren would not have been terminated if she had not
complained of gender-based harassment or discrimination but
everything else had been the same. See University of
Texas Sw. Med. Ctr. V. Nassar, 133 S.Ct. 2517, 2528
(2013) (holding that the standard for proving causation in
Title VII retaliation claims is “but-for
Warren lacked a good faith belief that her work
environment was hostile.
state a claim for retaliation, a plaintiff must show that she
reasonably believed in good faith that the practice she
opposed violated Title VII. Fine v. Ryan Int'l
Airlines, 305 F.3d 746, 752 (7th Cir. 2002). The good
faith standard has both a subjective and an objective
component. Plaintiff must show that she had a subjective good
faith belief that the employer was engaged in unlawful
employment practices, and that her belief was objectively
unreasonable in light of the facts and record presented.
Little v. United Technologies, 103 F.3d 956, 960
(11th Cir. 1997). Thus, when a plaintiff brings a retaliation
claim for reporting sexual harassment or hostile work
environment, she must show that the conduct was objectively
hostile and that she subjectively perceived the conduct as
hostile or abusive. Conduct that is not severe or pervasive
enough to create an objectively hostile or abusive work
environment is beyond Title VII's purview, as is conduct
that the victim does not perceive as abusive. Harris v.
Forklift Systems, Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 21 (1993).
Warren testified that the following internal complaints
resulted in her March 2014 termination:
• 2010 complaint to sergeants about Deputy Whitkaneck
calling her a bitch once.
• 2011 complaints to sergeants and Commander Jennings
about Deputy Buis bullying, demeaning, and stalking her, and
disseminating information about her husband.
• 2011 complaint to sergeant about Deputy Montes
refusing to do his share of tasks.
• 2012 complaint to sergeant about Deputy Cantwell after
dispute about nose-ring and fetching an inmate to the jail.
• 2012 conversation with deputy commander and sergeant
about her opinions about the co-ed locker room.
• 2012 complaint of Deputy Baird's one-time sexist
comment about women working in the jail.
• January-February 2013 complaint to sergeant and
Commander Jennings about male deputies not respecting female
deputies, circulating naked pictures consensually among each
other to see who had the biggest penis, and other conduct of
a sexual nature in the jail, which resulted in her discipline
for sexual harassment.
(Trial transcript, Vol 4-A, pp. 657-661; 575-654).
evidence as a whole shows that Warren participated in the
circulation of the naked pictures of the male deputies, and
was not at all offended by them. After all, she admits she
had had consensual sexual relations with and measured the
penis of the very deputy whose naked pictures and videos she
was shown at work. No reasonable jury would believe she was
offended by seeing the naked pictures or even a vibrator at
work by a female co-worker. As to her allegations that male
deputies were masturbating in various parts of the jail, she
admits she never saw it, and has presented no witness who
has. The one-time sexist comment by Baird and one-time sexist
slur by Whitkaneck are isolated, stray remarks, not
pervasive. The problems with Buis, Montes, and Cantwell were
simply inter-personal disputes and boorish behavior, and
there is insufficient evidence for a jury to conclude they
were sex harassment or gender discriminatory. “[T]he
occasional vulgar banter, tinged with sexual innuendo, of
coarse or boorish workers” would be neither pervasive
nor offensive enough to be actionable. Baskerville v.
Culligan Int'l Co., 50 F.3d 428, 430-31 (7th Cir.
There is no evidence of a causal connection
between Warren's complaints and her
superior cannot retaliate against an employee for a protected
activity about which he has no knowledge.” Stephens
v. Erickson, 569 F.3d 779, 798 (7th Cir. 2009). Here,
there is no evidence that Sheriff Randall, one of the
decision-makers, knew anything about Warren's complaints
or discussions with her supervisors before her termination.
Warren testified that during her ...