United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, DISTRICT JUDGE
Abrego has sued his former employer, the Secretary of
Veterans Affairs (VA),  alleging race and sex discrimination,
retaliation for prior complaints regarding discrimination,
and a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§
2000e-2(a)(1), 2000e-3(a). The Secretary has moved for
summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the Court
grants the Secretary's motion.
is a Hispanic male who worked as a dental assistant in a
North Chicago VA dental clinic within Captain James A. Lovell
Federal Health Care Center (Lovell FHCC) from June 2011
through December 2014. Abrego initially was assigned to Dr.
Strampe, one of the clinic's dentists. Abrego came to
believe that all the female dental assistants received better
treatment and that he was being discriminated against by Dr.
Strampe and others based on his gender and race.
August 2012, Abrego filed an equal employment opportunity
(EEO) complaint alleging race and gender discrimination
related to a hostile work environment. In this complaint,
Abrego identified a number of incidents that he believed to
(1) On August 9, 2011, Dr. Strampe wanted to work with a
female assistant instead of Abrego;
(2) On August 10, 2011, Dr. Strampe was "short
tempered" with Abrego over the computer;
(3) On August 11, 2011, Dr. Strampe continued to be short
tempered with Abrego in the operatory room;
(4) On August 12, 2011, Abrego was "harassed" by
(5) On August 15, 2011, Dr. Strampe and department head Dr.
Bidny "ambushed" Abrego with "lies/false
(6) On August 16, 2011, Dr. Bidny told Abrego that he could
be terminated for attitude;
(7) On September 9, 2011, Abrego was notified that he had not
completed certain training;
(8) On October 8, 2011, Dr. Strampe was "banging"
on the bathroom door looking for Abrego;
(9) On December 30, 2011, Dr. Strampe was short tempered with
Abrego for requesting a "59";
(10) On January 3, 2012, Dr. Strampe did not allow Abrego to
defend himself when a patient insulted him;
(11) On January 20, 2012, Dr. Strampe again was short
tempered with Abrego for invoking a "59";
(12) On January 26, 2012, Dr. Strampe and Dr. Bidny requested
a meeting with Abrego, "ambushed [him] about the
problems that were occurring, " and Dr. Strampe left the
meeting without answering any of Abrego's questions;
(13) On February 3, 2012, Abrego told Dr. Bidny that he was
tired of having problems with Dr. Strampe and that he is
"demanding for him to go to mediation";
(14) On February 7, 2012, Dr. Bidny informed Abrego that Dr.
Strampe was quitting;
(15) On March 29, 2012, Abrego was reassigned to another
Abrego refused to sign Dr. Strampe's mid-evaluation of
him because it contained "false allegations." Dr.
Strampe showed more respect to his new female assistant, and
he took his female assistant and a volunteer on ward exams
when he never took Abrego;
(16) On March 29, 2012, Abrego emailed EEO Program
Manager/ADR Coordinator Nancy Gember about the discrimination
against him, but she did not respond for a month. When she
did respond, she was short tempered. When Abrego emailed
Patrick Sullivan about this, he never heard back;
(17) On March 30, 2012, Abrego tried to set up a meeting with
Captain Oxford, the Associate Director of Dental Services, to
discuss his evaluation, but Oxford's senior chief
"seemed to try to discourage" him, wanting Abrego
to talk to Dr. Fredrickson, Assistant Director of Dental
(18) On April 4, 2012, Abrego's new supervising dentist,
Dr. Hartel, informed Abrego that Dr. Frederickson "was
trying to influence him" by using Dr. Strampe's
prior mid-evaluation for his September 2012 evaluation; and
(19) On June 28, 2012, Dr. Strampe agreed to attend mediation
after Abrego's third attempt.
Def.'s SUMF, Ex. 28. Abrego filed another EEO complaint
in February 2014, this time alleging retaliation. In support
of this allegation, Abrego stated that he received a
"fully successful" rating instead of an
"exceptional" one in October 2013, received a
two-week suspension without pay for recording statements by a
supervisor, and his supervisors illegally accessed his
medical records. Def.'s SUMF, Ex. 29. The VA Office of
Employment Discrimination Complaint Adjudication consolidated
the August 2012 and February 2014 complaints and ultimately
determined that Abrego failed to prove that he had been
discriminated against based on race, sex, or retaliation. Am.
Compl., Ex. A at 32.
October 2014, Abrego filed another EEO complaint, in which he
alleged the following:
(1) On June 4, 2014, dental assistant supervisor Pietrzyk
harassed Abrego for coming in late;
(2) On June 4, 2014, Pietrzyk required Abrego to take
personal leave to participate in a VA-authorized
(3) On June 5, 2014, Pietrzyk hassled Abrego because he had a
meeting with his union representative during work hours;
(4) On June 5, 2014, Pietrzyk was "giving [Abrego] grief
about everything, " including his VA-authorized
instruction of ...