United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. Lee, United States District Judge.
Heather Hilgers (“Hilgers”) has filed suit
against her former employer, Rothschild Investment
Corporation (“Rothschild”), and one of its
employees, Eric Kolkey (“Kolkey”). She brings
claims for hostile work environment, quid pro quo
sexual harassment, sex discrimination, and retaliation
pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
(“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et
seq., and the Illinois Human Rights Act
(“IHRA”), 775 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/1 et
seq. Rothschild and Kolkey (together,
“Defendants”) have filed a motion for summary
judgment as to all claims. For the reasons stated herein, the
motion is denied.
2013, Hilgers interviewed for a summer position with
Rothschild, a Chicago-based investment management firm that
employs approximately fifty individuals. Defs.' LR
56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶¶ 1-2, ECF No. 136. At the time,
Hilgers was twenty-two years old and was in her second year
of law school. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 1, ECF
interviewed with Luke Novak (“Novak”) and Bart
Bonga (“Bonga”). Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt.
¶ 3. According to Hilgers, Novak and Bonga told her
during the interview that they were looking for a candidate
they could hire for a permanent position at the end of the
summer. Id. ¶ 8. Accordingly, Novak asked
Hilgers what her salary requirements would be if the firm
were to eventually offer her a permanent position. Pl.'s
LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 1. Hilgers told Novak that she
was seeking an annual base salary of $75, 000, and, according
to Hilgers, Novak responded by saying: “That's
absolutely doable, not a problem.” Id.
days after the interview, Hilgers received an offer to join
Rothschild's 401(k) practice group as a summer intern
from May 20 to August 30, 2013. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3)
Stmt. ¶¶ 5, 7; see Defs.' Ex. D, Offer
Letter, at 1, ECF No. 136-5. At the time Hilgers joined the
group, it consisted of Novak, Bonga, Eric Kolkey
(“Kolkey”), and an administrative staff member.
Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 11. Novak and Bonga are
partners in the group, each with a fifty-percent interest.
Id. ¶ 10. They supervise Kolkey, whose title is
“Business Development.” Id. ¶¶
12-13. Kolkey's job responsibilities include bringing in
business by calling and arranging appointments with potential
clients. Id. ¶ 12. As of May 2013, Kolkey was
fifty-two years old and married. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C)
Stmt. ¶ 4.
began working at Rothschild in the 401(k) practice group on
May 20, 2013. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 7. She
attests that, as a member of the group, she reported to
Novak, Bonga, and Kolkey. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt.
¶ 2. At various times over the summer, Kolkey assigned
work to Hilgers, asked her to work late, and asked whether
she wanted to move her desk into his office so that she could
learn business development tasks. Id.
days after Hilgers started working at Rothschild, Kolkey sent
her an e-mail with links to his Facebook page and a website
for his social club, the Union League Club of Chicago.
Id. ¶ 15. He also sent Hilgers a “friend
request” on Facebook, which she accepted. Id.
¶ 16. On May 30, 2013, upon Kolkey's invitation,
Kolkey and Hilgers went to the Union League Club for lunch.
See Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 21. After
the lunch, Kolkey sent Hilgers a Facebook message asking her
to give him her cell phone number. Id. Hilgers
responded by providing her number. Id.
11, 2013, Kolkey invited Hilgers to have lunch with him in
his office. Id. ¶ 24. According to Hilgers,
Kolkey told her over lunch that he had
“influence” with Novak and Bonga and that she
would not be hired into a permanent position at Rothschild
unless she got a “sign-off” from Kolkey, as well
as from Novak and Bonga. Pl.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶
16. Kolkey also told Hilgers during this lunch that
“she looked like she walked out of Central Casting,
” that “she looked like [she was] from a TV show,
” and that she was “ethereal, ” by which he
meant “other-worldly” or
next day, on June 12, 2013, Hilgers agreed to have a drink
with Kolkey at the Union League Club after he repeatedly
invited her to do so. Id. ¶ 17. Hilgers
initially intended to have one drink while she waited for her
boyfriend's flight to arrive from out of town.
Id. When the flight was canceled, however, she
accepted Kolkey's invitation to stay at the club for
dinner. Id. According to Hilgers, Kolkey told her
during the dinner that she was “beautiful” and
“ethereal” and that her boyfriend “did not
deserve her.” Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 32.
Furthermore, Hilgers claims that Kolkey told her he had
dreams about her, including a recurring dream in which her
hair tasted like candy. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt.
¶ 18. Kolkey also purportedly told Hilgers he
“would do anything” to taste her hair and asked
whether her hair did, in fact, taste like candy. Id.
dinner, according to Hilgers, she and Kolkey walked by a
chocolate counter, and Kolkey asked her whether she wanted
some chocolate. Id. ¶ 19. Hilgers says that she
declined, but Kolkey bought her one of each chocolate at the
counter anyway. Id. For his part, Kolkey claims that
Hilgers asked him to buy her the chocolates. Id.
After buying the chocolates, Kolkey hugged Hilgers.
Id. ¶ 20. According to Hilgers, because of
Kolkey's relatively short height, his head was on her
chest when he hugged her. Id. Defendants deny this
assertion on the basis that, although some evidence indicates
that Kolkey's head was indeed on Hilgers's chest,
other evidence indicates that his head was only “on her
chest level” and not actually touching her. Defs.'
Resp. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 20, ECF No.
148. After Hilgers and Kolkey left the Union League Club,
Kolkey walked Hilgers home while holding an umbrella over her
head. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 35. The next day,
Hilgers purchased chocolates for Kolkey. Id. ¶
37. In her deposition, she explained that she had purchased
the chocolates “to lessen the obligation [she] felt
towards [Kolkey] because he had already paid for dinners and
chocolates.” Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶
later, on June 19, 2013, Kolkey asked Hilgers to come to his
office after work for a “surprise.” Pl.'s LR
56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 21. Hilgers believed that the
“surprise” would be related to a formal offer of
permanent employment. Id. When she arrived at
Kolkey's office, she asked him what the surprise was.
Id. ¶ 22. According to Hilgers, Kolkey
responded: “Well, the surprise was I brought you here
to kiss you.” Id. He then asked whether he
could kiss her, and she told him no. Id. He also
asked whether she would go out for drinks with him, and,
likewise, she told him no. Id.
happened next is a matter of considerable dispute. For her
part, Hilgers described the rest of the scene in Kolkey's
office as follows:
I wrapped up the conversation as quickly as I could. I stood
up, got ready to go out the door. He . . . extends his arm
wide for a hug. I just hugged him to try and get it over
with, but he grabs my shoulders and pushes me back and says,
you know, promise me we'll get together in our next
lifetime. And I said, okay. And he, you know, raised on his
toes, kissed me on the cheek, and I got out of the office.
Id. ¶ 23 (quoting Pl.'s Ex. A, Hilgers
Dep., at 101:6-14, ECF No. 144-2). Kolkey denies grabbing
Hilgers by the shoulders or kissing her. Id.
24, 2013, Hilgers e-mailed Bradley Drake
(“Drake”) to report the incident in Kolkey's
office. Id. ¶ 25. Drake is Rothschild's
Chief Compliance Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and
Executive Vice President. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt.
¶ 43. Hilgers's e-mail described the events in
Kolkey's office on June 19, as well as Kolkey's
previous comments about her appearance and his dreams about
her. Id. In response to the e-mail, Drake met with
Kolkey for about forty-five minutes and also met with Novak
and Bonga for another forty-five minutes. Id. ¶
47. Then, he met with Hilgers and told her that Mr. Kolkey
had “admitted” to everything. Id. ¶
48. Hilgers told Drake that, going forward, she wanted Kolkey
to limit his interactions with her. Id. ¶ 49.
After this discussion with Hilgers, Drake met with Kolkey a
second time, reminded him to conduct himself professionally,
and advised him to interact with Hilgers only when necessary.
Id. ¶ 52. In addition, Rothschild required
Kolkey to undergo sexual harassment training and placed him
on “six months' probation.” Id.
¶ 56. At some point after June 24, 2013, Kolkey
approached Hilgers in Rothschild's lunchroom with tears
in his eyes and told her he was “very sorry” for
what had happened. Id. ¶ 57; Pl.'s LR
56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 35.
Kolkey is the only Rothschild employee about whom Hilgers
formally complained to Drake, he is not the only employee
whose conduct gives rise to this lawsuit. Most notably, the
suit is also based upon the conduct and statements of Novak,
Vice President Charles Callahan (“Callahan”), and
Vice President Dan Hord (“Hord”). First,
according to Hilgers, Novak told her in June 2013 that he was
having a “really tough time” supervising her and
was “uncomfortable” having her work in the office
because he was not used to working with women. Defs.' LR
56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 67. Novak also told Hilgers that she
was the first woman Rothschild had ever hired in a
non-administrative capacity, that he had been
“adamantly against hiring her, ” and that she
should avoid dressing “like a secretary.”
Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 3.
regard to Callahan, Hilgers claims that Callahan told her she
should wear a loose tie and a low-cut shirt because that
would be a “sexy look.” Id. ¶ 50.
On another occasion, Callahan purportedly told her that she
would “look great in a burlap sack.” Id.
¶ 51. Additionally, after Hilgers reported the incident
in Kolkey's office, Callahan stopped by her desk, dropped
off an article entitled “Fired for Being Beautiful,
” and told her that the same thing would happen to her.
Id. ¶ 52. During his deposition, Callahan
denied making these comments about Hilgers, but he admitted
to leaving the article on her desk. Id. ¶¶
Hilgers attests that, throughout her employment at
Rothschild, Hord regularly ogled her while making slurping
noises. Id. ¶ 49; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B)
Stmt. ¶ 68. During her deposition, Hilgers characterized
this behavior as inappropriate, and she stated that the
ogling and slurping started a few weeks into her time at
Rothschild and occurred regularly until she left the firm.
Hilgers's Dep. at 91-93; see Pl.'s LR
56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 49. In addition, sometime in July,
Hord told Hilgers that she should be a “trophy
wife.” Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 78.
August 20, 2013, Hilgers sent Novak and Bonga an e-mail to
ask whether they had given any further thought as to whether
they would be extending her a full-time offer. Id.
¶ 83. The next day, Novak and Bonga met with Hilgers and
told her that, although she was a very good employee, she
would not be receiving a full-time offer because her
requested salary of $75, 000 was unacceptable. Id.
¶ 84; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 44. Novak
and Bonga later testified that they would have made Hilgers a
full-time offer if she had been willing to accept a base
salary of approximately $40, 000 per year. Defs.' LR
56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 85. According to Hilgers, however, no
one at Rothschild ever made her any kind of full-time offer
or mentioned anything about a salary around $40, 000.
Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 85 (citing Pl.'s
Ex. W, Hilgers Decl. ¶ 2, ECF No. 144-24). Hilgers's
last day of work at Rothschild was August 28, 2013.
Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 86.
February 13, 2014, Hilgers filed charges of sexual
harassment, sex discrimination, and retaliation with the
Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) against Rothschild
and Kolkey. Id. ¶ 97. The IDHR dismissed the
claims on November 5, 2015. Id. ¶ 98. In the
meantime, Hilgers filed the present lawsuit.
court shall grant summary judgment 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); accord Shell v. Smith, 789 F.3d
715, 717 (7th Cir. 2015). To survive summary judgment, the
nonmoving party must “do more than simply show that
there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts,
” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986), and instead must
“establish some genuine issue for trial such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict in her favor, ”
Gordon v. FedEx Freight, Inc., 674 F.3d 769, 772-73
(7th Cir. 2012). The Court gives the nonmoving party
“the benefit of conflicts in the evidence and
reasonable inferences that could be drawn from it.”