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Golla v. Office of Chief Judge of Cook County

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

November 15, 2017

Francis J. Golla, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Office of the Chief Judge of Cook County, Illinois and Cook County, Illinois, Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued September 28, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 11 C 8149 - Harry D. Leinenweber, Judge.

          Before Bauer, Manion, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.

          BAUER, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         Francis Joseph Golla brought this Title VII race discrimination action against his former employer, the Office of the Chief Judge of Cook County, Illinois, and Cook County, Illinois, itself for purposes of indemnifying any judgment (collectively, "Defendants"). After discovery the district court granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Golla appeals that decision, and we affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Golla's complaint alleged that the Office of the Chief Judge ("the Office") had engaged in intentional reverse racial discrimination by paying Deotis Taylor, an African-American male, a significantly higher salary than Golla, a white male, despite working in the same department and performing the same duties under essentially the same title.

         The Office is the administrative arm of the Cook County circuit courts with numerous departments, including Adult Probation, Juvenile Probation, Social Services, Forensic Clinical Services, and the Chief Judge's Office. Golla, who has a law degree, started working in the Office in 1983 as a Court Coordinator. Golla's employment with the Office was terminated on March 16, 1995, but he was reinstated ten months after he filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the parties reached a settlement. As part of the settlement agreement, Golla was reinstated at a Grade 14 pay position. Golla assumed the title of Law Clerk I, and was assigned to assist in the jury room at other circuit courts, before moving into the juvenile courthouse.

         In 2004, Golla transferred to the Social Services Department. While there, Golla retained the title of Law Clerk I, and continued to be paid at Grade 14 until he resigned on May 31, 2013. Golla's duties in the Social Services Department were administrative in nature, and included filing, creating reports, case initialization, and processing intakes.

         Deotis Taylor began working at the Office in 1978 as a Probation Officer, and then became a Jury Room Manager in 1998. Taylor's personnel records indicated that in 1998, he was paid at Grade 22. Taylor left the Office in 1999 to run for Illinois State Senate.

         The Office rehired Taylor in 2005, and assigned him to the Social Services Department. Taylor assumed the title Legal Systems Analyst at a Grade 22 pay position. He remained in that position until he retired on September 26, 2013. Taylor's duties in the Social Services Department were also administrative, and included processing case files to courtrooms, conducting criminal background checks, and organizing and disposing of files.

         Despite the different formal titles, Golla and Taylor were both listed in the Social Services directory under the title Administrative Assistant. In addition, both Golla and Taylor worked on intake forms, called SCERTs, on a daily basis. These forms were generated when an individual who had been sentenced did not physically appear at the Social Services Department for intake. Taylor wrote up the SCERT form, assigned a caseworker to it, and conducted a criminal background check on the individual. Golla received completed SCERTs and entered the information into a computer system.

         Vanessa Whitehead, who is African-American, served as the Deputy Director of Management Services in the Social Services Department, in which position she was the direct supervisor of both Golla and Taylor. Whitehead testified in her deposition that she had no role in determining an employee's pay grade.

         In support of their motion for summary judgment, Defendants introduced an affidavit from Sharon Hoffman, who was the Assistant Director of the Social Services Department until March, 2014. Hoffman's affidavit affirmed that the Social Services Department had no control over an employee's pay grade. Instead, employees who transferred into the Social Services Department retained their pay grade from their prior department. Hoffman's affidavit also listed seventeen Social ...


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