United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
KATHY D. WILEY, Plaintiff,
ELISABETH LUDEMAN CENTER & DHS Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. THARP, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Wiley sued her former employer, the Elisabeth Ludeman Center
and the Illinois Department of Human Services (which runs the
Ludeman Center), for sexual harassment and retaliation under
Title VII. The Department moved for summary judgment as to
all claims. Wiley voluntarily waived her claims for sexual
harassment,  so all that remains are her retaliation
claims. As discussed below, Wiley has failed to demonstrate
an adverse employment action, so the motion for summary
judgment is granted.
times relevant to this action, Kathy Wiley was an employee of
the Illinois Department of Human Services (“the
Department”). See Def.'s Statement of
Facts (“DSOF) ¶ 2, ECF No. 37. Wiley was a Mental
Health Technician at the Department's Elisabeth Ludeman
Center, which is “a live-in facility that provides
services for people with mental and physical
disabilities.” Id. at ¶ 3. Technicians
are typically assigned to a specific house and shift,
although they are reassigned to different houses with some
frequency (Wiley, for instance, was moved at least eleven
times between 2002 and 2008). Id. at ¶ 4.
Technicians are “responsible for the well-being of the
individuals” in their house, typically working in teams
of two to three technicians for each ten or eleven patients.
Id. at ¶ 5-6. Technicians can also be assigned
to the Health Center on any given day as a part of their
ordinary job duties. Id. at ¶ 7. The Health
Center is where house residents go when they are ill, and a
technician's job remains the same when their patient is
in the Health Center. Id. at ¶ 8. A technician
typically begins each workday by confirming whether they will
be going to their assigned house or “pulled” to a
different house or the Health Center depending on the
organization's needs that day. Id. at ¶ 9.
A technician is sometimes assigned to the Health Center
because one of her house's patients has been temporarily
moved to the Health Center. Id. at ¶ 16.
Supervisors typically try to assign Health Center patients to
technicians who are already familiar with them. Pl.'s
Statement of Additional Facts (“PSOF”) ¶ 11,
ECF No. 52.
claims arise from an incident that occurred in her assigned
house on February 3, 2013, when she alleges a fellow
technician sexually harassed her. DSOF ¶ 12-13. This
technician, Alex Caulker, was assigned to the same house as
Wiley. Id. at ¶ 12. Wiley first attempted to
report the harassment to a supervisor on February 8, 2013,
but she was “never able to get it out”
explicitly. Id. at ¶ 20-22. The next day she
was at work, February 11, 2013, she went to Cynthia Dear, a
Unit Director at the Ludeman Center, and reported the
harassment. Id. at ¶ 24-27. Dear asked Wiley
what she would like her to do, and Wiley responded she did
not want to work with Caulker any longer. Id. at
¶ 27. Dear agreed, and told Wiley she would be
reassigned and would not have to work in that house or work
with Caulker. Id. at ¶ 28. Dear instructed
Caulker not to speak with Wiley, and began the process of
moving Caulker to a different shift so that he would not work
during Wiley's shifts. Id. at ¶ 31-35.
Wiley and Caulker never worked together again and did not
have any further contact. Id. at ¶ 36. The
Ludeman Center conducted two separate investigations of the
incident, while the Illinois State Police conducted another.
See Id. at ¶ 55, 65-76.
was immediately assigned to the Health Center for two weeks.
DSOF ¶ 37. Dear told Wiley it would take a week or so to
get Wiley assigned to a new house. Id. at ¶ 38.
During that time, Wiley was assigned to work at the Health
Center with a patient from her previously assigned house.
Id. at ¶ 40. On February 18, 2013, a week after
she reported the harassment, Wiley received an assignment to
work at a new house starting in two weeks (March 3, 2013).
Id. at ¶ 39. At no time did Wiley's title,
pay, or hours change. Id. at ¶ 42. However,
Wiley stopped working at the Ludeman Center on February 22,
before her reassignment to her new house could take effect.
Id. at ¶ 49. On March 28, 2013, she filed a
charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission alleging sex discrimination and
retaliation. Id. at ¶ 77-78. Wiley filed this
lawsuit on November 12, 2014 after her right to sue letter
was issued on September 12, 2014. See EEOC Letter,
ECF No. 37, Ex. 1 at 16.
found the Health Center to be “unfavorable”
because she was unable to do enjoyable activities with her
patients, such as off site trips and time in the gym.
Id. at ¶ 47-48. She was unable to do these
activities because she was assigned to assist only the
particular ill patient in the Health Center during those
days. She does not allege that other Health Center employees
caring for similarly ill patients were allowed to participate
in such activities.
further alleges that some of her coworkers mistreated her.
DSOF ¶ 50. One technician stopped speaking to her, while
another told Wiley it was her fault the colleague had been
“moved around, ” and a third said she didn't
“know who to believe” or didn't believe
Wiley. Id. at ¶ 50-53. Wiley further alleges
that other technicians pointed their fingers, laughed, and
whispered around her, although Wiley did not know their
names. Id. at ¶ 54.
judgment may be granted to the Department only “if
there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law” when
all facts are construed in favor of the non-movant. Lapka
v. Chertoff, 517 F.3d 974, 981 (7th Cir. 2008). Title
VII prohibits retaliation against any person because she
“has opposed any practice made an unlawful employment
practice by this title, or because [she] has made a charge,
testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an
investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this
title.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3. The parties agree
informing her supervisor about the sexual harassment was a
charge under Title VII.
retaliation claim under Title VII can be proved directly or
indirectly. For a direct showing, Wiley must demonstrate
“(1) [she] engaged in statutorily protected expression;
(2) [she] suffered an adverse action at the hands of [the
defendant]; and (3) there was a causal link between the
two.” Jajeh v. County of Cook, 678 F.3d 560,
569 (7th Cir. 2012). “Under the indirect method, the
first two elements remain the same, but instead of proving a
direct causal link, the plaintiff must show that [she] was
performing [her] job satisfactorily and that [she] was
treated less favorably than a similarly situated employee who
did not complain of discrimination.” Stephens v.
Erickson, 569 F.3d 779, 786-87 (7th Cir. 2009). Both
methods require an adverse employment action, and the
Department contends Wiley has not suffered such an action as
a result of either her reassignment to the Health Center or
as a result of her coworkers' comments.
VII “does not set forth a general civility code for the
American workplace” and “does not protect an
employee from trivial harms, petty slights, nor minor
annoyances.” Id. at 790. An action taken by an
employer only qualified as an “adverse action” if
it would have “dissuaded a reasonable worker from
making or supporting a charge of discrimination.”
Id. Actions are considered objectively, although the
context and circumstances of the particular facts inform that
determination. See id. With this standard in mind,
the Court addresses each of Wiley's alleged adverse
Wiley's Reassignment to the Health Center
first alleged adverse employment action was being assigned to
the Health Center “for at least two weeks
straight” and, as a result, not being able to engage in
movie nights and off-site trips with other patients.
See Pl.'s Mem. at 3-4, ECF No. 50. Wiley
“enjoyed” these activities with other patients
and objects to the “duration” of her
“isolated” time in the Health Center.
Id. at 4. Wiley does not allege that her presence at