United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. Lee United States District Judge.
Stephanie Brown (“Brown”) has sued Defendant
Illinois Bell Telephone Company (“Illinois Bell”)
pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., for discriminating
against her on the basis of her race. Brown, an employee of
Illinois Bell, claims that she was not offered a specific
position because she is African American. Illinois Bell has
moved for summary judgment. For the reasons stated herein,
Illinois Bell's motion  is granted.
District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1
for summary judgment in the Northern District of Illinois are
governed by Local Rule 56.1. “The obligation set forth
in Local Rule 56.1 ‘is not a mere formality.'
Rather, ‘[i]t follows from the obligation imposed by
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e) on the party opposing summary judgment to
identify specific facts that establish a genuine issue for
trial.'” Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d
895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011) (alteration in original) (quoting
Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 924
(7th Cir. 1994)). The Seventh Circuit has “routinely
held that a district court may strictly enforce compliance
with its local rules regarding summary judgment
motions.” Yancick v. Hanna Steel Corp., 653
F.3d 532, 537 (7th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks
Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the party moving for summary
judgment to provide “a statement of material facts as
to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue
and that entitle the moving party to a judgment as a matter
of law.” LR 56.1(a)(3). In addition, where the
nonmovant is pro se, Local Rule 56.2 requires the
movant to provide a “Notice to Pro Se Litigant
Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment.” LR 56.2. The
nonmovant, whether pro se or not, must then file
“a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving
party's statement, including, in the case of any
disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of
the record, and other supporting materials relied
upon.” LR 56.1(b)(3)(B). In addition, the nonmovant
must present a separate “statement, consisting of short
numbered paragraphs, of any additional facts that require the
denial of summary judgment.” LR 56.1(b)(3)(C).
a responding party's statement fails to dispute the facts
set forth in the moving party's statement in the manner
dictated by [Local Rule 56.1], those facts are deemed
admitted for purposes of the [summary judgment]
motion.” Cracco v. Vitran Express, Inc., 559
F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009); accord LR
56.1(b)(3)(C). Furthermore, district courts, in their
discretion, may “choose[ ] to ignore and not consider
the additional facts that a litigant has proposed” if
the litigant has failed to comply with Local Rule 56.1.
Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., LLC, 401 F.3d 803,
809-10 (7th Cir. 2005). Although pro se plaintiffs
are generally entitled to lenient standards, they are
required to comply with local procedural rules governing
motions for summary judgment. See, e.g., Cady v.
Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1061 (7th Cir. 2006).
moving for summary judgment, Illinois Bell filed and served a
“Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for
Summary Judgment” as required by Local Rule 56.2.
See Def.'s Notice to Pro Se Litigant
Opp. Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 59. The notice detailed the
requirements of the local rules governing summary judgment,
and it warned Brown that her failure to controvert the facts
set forth in Illinois Bell's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3)
Statement would cause those facts to be deemed admitted.
See Id. Despite these admonitions, Brown failed to
properly respond to Illinois Bell's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3)
Statement or submit her own statement of additional facts.
Instead, she filed a response brief with her own version of
certain events but without any citations to the record or
supporting documentation. See Pl.'s Resp.
Def.'s Notice to Pro Se Litigate [sic]
Opp. Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 60. Because Brown's filing is
not compliant with Local Rule 56.1, the Court is entitled to
disregard the facts and objections set forth
therein. Cichon, 401 F.3d at 809-10. That
said, because Brown is proceeding pro se, the Court
has independently reviewed the facts that Brown asserts in
her response to confirm whether they are supported by the
record. The facts set forth in Illinois Bell's Local Rule
56.1(a)(3) Statement are deemed admitted to the extent they
are supported by evidence in the record. See Cracco,
559 F.3d at 632.
following facts are undisputed or have been deemed admitted.
Brown began working for Illinois Bell on April 10, 1995.
See Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 20, ECF
No. 57. She was also a member of a union, which negotiated a
collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that governed Illinois
Bell's hiring and firing procedures. Id.
¶¶ 21, 27. By 2012, she was a Customer Account
Specialist at a facility in Chicago Heights, Illinois.
Id. ¶ 25. In November of that year, Illinois
Bell announced it would be closing that facility.
Id. ¶ 26. Following this announcement, Illinois
Bell followed the procedures laid out in the CBA for
relocating the employees at Chicago Heights. See Id.
to the CBA, Illinois Bell first offered Brown a lump sum
payment to leave the business. Id. ¶ 37. Brown,
however, declined the payment and instead submitted a form
indicating her desire to stay with the company and transfer
to a different facility on Grace Street in Chicago.
Id. ¶¶ 38-39. Because Brown was the
second-longest-serving employee in the Finance category
requesting transfer, she was matched with the Finance
category position occupied by the second-longest-serving
employee who had taken the lump sum payment. Id.
¶¶ 40-41. This position was for a Sales Consultant
role. Id. ¶ 40. On January 28, 2013, Illinois
Bell offered Brown this position, and she accepted the next
day. Id. ¶ 42.
was dissatisfied, though, because she wanted a Service
Representative job. Id. ¶ 62. Service
Representatives and Sales Consultants were both in the
Finance category and had identical duties, with the only
difference being that the two positions had different
compensation plans. Id. ¶ 47; see also
Id. ¶¶ 39-40. Service Representatives had a
more stable pay structure, in that their compensation was not
contingent on their job performance. See Id. ¶
47. By contrast, although Sales Consultants were paid a lower
weekly base rate than Service Representatives, they were
additionally compensated through a “target incentive
plan” that provided them an opportunity to earn more
than Service Representatives. Id.
wanted the Service Representative position because she
preferred its more stable pay structure. See Id.
¶¶ 47, 62. Illinois Bell, however, followed the
transfer policy detailed in the CBA and thus matched the
Finance category employees from the Chicago Heights facility
with open Finance category positions in the Grace Street
facility by order of seniority. See Id. ¶¶
39-40. Because the second-most-senior outgoing employee was a
Sales Consultant, Brown was offered that position.
Id. ¶ 40. The most senior and third-most senior
outgoing employees, though, were Service Representatives.
Id. As a result, the Service Representative position
was offered to the people directly above and below Brown in
the seniority hierarchy. Id. The most senior
transferring employee was a white woman. See Id.
¶ 57. The third-most senior transferring employee was an
African American woman. See Id. ¶ 58.
March 5, 2013, Brown filed a complaint of race discrimination
against Illinois Bell with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC). Id. ¶ 1. Illinois Bell then
placed Brown in a Service Representative position on May 9,
2013. Id. ¶ 64. Several months later, on
November 25, 2013, Brown received a right-to-sue notice from
the EEOC. Id. ¶ 3. This notice informed Brown
that she had ninety days from receipt of the notice to file a
lawsuit. Id. The EEOC also explained this ninety-day
deadline to her during its investigation of her complaint.
Id. ¶ 2.
did not file her lawsuit until November 14, 2014.
Id. ¶ 4. During this time, she did not
communicate with the EEOC, and no one from either the EEOC or
Illinois Bell told her the deadline could be extended beyond
the ninety days specified in the right-to-sue notice.
Id. ¶ 5. On the same day she filed her lawsuit,
Brown also filed an application with the court to proceed
in forma pauperis (“IFP application”).
Id. ¶ 8. In her IFP application, Brown claimed
under penalty of perjury that she was not married and had
received no more than $200 in either salary or wages in the
preceding twelve months. Id.; see also IFP
Application at 2, ECF No. 4. This Court then granted the
application. Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 9; see
also Order of 1/8/15, ECF No. 5. During her ...