United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Phillips 66
Company's (“P66”) Motion [Doc. 18] for
Summary Judgment. Plaintiff filed a Response [Doc. 20] and
the Defendant filed a Reply [Doc. 21]. Local Rule 7.1(c)
states that reply briefs are not favored and should be filed
only in exceptional circumstance. Defendant has stated such
circumstances and the Court will consider its reply brief.
filed a complaint [Doc. 1-2] in the Circuit Court, Third
Judicial Circuit, Madison County, Illinois and the defendant
removed to this court pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
The complaint alleges one count of violation of the Illinois
Human Rights Act (“IHRA”)(775 ILCS 5/1-101,
et seq.) in that the plaintiff was wrongfully
suspended and terminated by P66 in retaliation for her
reporting “harassment, discrimination and/or disparate
treatment” and for “filing of a Charge with the
IDHR.” [Doc. 1-2 at 7].
motion for summary judgment argues that plaintiff's claim
fails because: (1) “[p]laintiff did not engage in
statutorily protected activity supporting a retaliation
claim”; (2) “[p]laintif cannot establish a
genuine issue of material fact as to the existence of a
causal link between Plaintiff's alleged protected
activity and her suspension and termination;” and (3)
that “[p]laintiff also cannot establish a genuine issue
of material fact as to whether P66's stated reasons for
suspending and terminating Plaintiff were a pretext for
retaliation.” As such, defendant argues that summary
judgment is appropriate as a matter of law.
judgment must be granted, “if 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(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Spath v. Hayes Wheels
Int'l-Ind., Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 396 (7th Cir. 2000).
The reviewing court must construe the evidence in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of that party. See Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986);
Chelios v. Heavener, 520 F.3d 678, 685 (7th Cir.
2008); Spath, 211 F.3d at 396.
initial summary judgment burden of production is on the
moving party to show the Court that there is no reason to
have a trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323;
Modrowski v. Pigatto, 712 F.3d 1166, 1168 (7th Cir.
2013). Where the non-moving party carries the burden of proof
at trial, the moving party may satisfy its burden of
production in one of two ways. It may present evidence that
affirmatively negates an essential element of the non-moving
party's case, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A),
or it may point to an absence of evidence to support an
essential element of the non-moving party's case without
actually submitting any evidence, see Fed. R. Civ.
P. 56(c)(1)(B). Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-25;
Modrowski, 712 F.3d at 1169. Where the moving party
fails to meet its strict burden, a court cannot enter summary
judgment for the moving party even if the opposing party
fails to present relevant evidence in response to the motion.
Cooper v. Lane, 969 F.2d 368, 371 (7th Cir. 1992).
responding to a summary judgment motion, the nonmoving party
may not simply rest upon the allegations contained in the
pleadings, but must present specific facts to show that a
genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex, 477
U.S. at 322-26; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57;
Modrowski, 712 F.3d at 1168. A genuine issue of
material fact is not demonstrated by the mere existence of
“some alleged factual dispute between the parties,
” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247, or by “some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, ”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material
fact exists only if “a fair-minded jury could return a
verdict for the [nonmoving party] on the evidence
presented.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.
“[i]t is, of course, well established that, as a
general matter, a district court exercising jurisdiction
because the parties are of diverse citizenship must apply
state substantive law and federal procedural law.”
Windy City Metal Fabricators & Supply, Inc. v. CIT
Tech. Fin. Servs., Inc., 536 F.3d 663, 670 (7th Cir.
2008) (citing Erie R.R. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64
(1938)). As this court is exercising jurisdiction based on
diversity, it will apply Illinois substantive law and federal
is settled law in Illinois that an employee at will may be
terminated by his employer at any time for any reason or none
at all. A narrow exception to the “employment at
will” doctrine has been established in those cases
wherein an employee can demonstrate that he was terminated in
retaliation for his actions.” Pratt v. Caterpillar
Tractor Co., 500 N.E.2d 1001, 1002 (Ill.App.3d Dist.
1986). “A valid claim for retaliatory discharge
requires a showing that (1) an employee has been discharged;
(2) in retaliation for the employee's activities; and (3)
that the discharge violates a clear mandate of public
policy.” McCoy v. Maytag Corp., 495 F.3d 515,
520-21 (7th Cir. 2007)(citing Carter v. Tennant Co.,
383 F.3d 673, 677 (7th Cir.2004) (quoting Bourbon v.
Kmart Corp., 223 F.3d 469, 472 (7th Cir.2000)). The
parties also agree that Illinois courts apply the analytical
framework of Title VII to claims under the IHRA.
employment discrimination matters, the “legal standard
. . . is simply whether the evidence would permit a
reasonable factfinder to conclude that the plaintiff's
race, ethnicity, sex, religion, or other proscribed factor
caused the discharge or other adverse employment action.
Evidence must be considered as a whole, rather than asking
whether any particular piece of evidence proves the case by
itself-or whether just the “direct” evidence does
so, or the ‘indirect' evidence. Evidence is
evidence. Relevant evidence must be considered and irrelevant
evidence disregarded, but no evidence should be treated
differently from other evidence because it can be labeled
‘direct' or ‘indirect.'” Ortiz
v. Werner Enterprises, Inc., 834 F.3d 760, 765 (7th Cir.
the burden-shifting framework created by McDonnell
Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36
L.Ed.2d 668 (1073) remains applicable to discrimination
cases. Id. Under the McDonnell framework,
“[o]nce a plaintiff has established a prima facie case
of disparate treatment, the burden of production shifts to
the defendant to provide a legitimate, nondiscriminatory
reason for the decision. If the defendant satisfies its
burden, then the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to ...