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People v. Xing Ying Employment Agency

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 20, 2018

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS AND ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, ex rel. LISA MADIGAN, Attorney General of the State of Illinois, Plaintiffs,
v.
XING YING EMPLOYMENT AGENCY, a/k/a SHUN YING EMPLOYMENT AGENCY; ZHU YING ZHANG, individually and in her official capacity as owner; JUN JIN CHEUNG, individually and in his official capacity as owner, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          John Z. Lee United States District Judge

         The People of the State of Illinois, the Illinois Department of Labor, and Lisa Madigan (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) brought suit against several employment agencies and their client restaurants, alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and other federal and state civil rights and employment laws. Plaintiffs allege that the agencies and restaurants engaged in discriminatory and abusive treatment of Hispanic employees. Most defendants have settled, but Defendant Xing Ying Employment Agency (“Xing Ying”) and its owners, Zhu Ying Zhang (“Zhang”) and Jun Jin Cheung (“Cheung”) (collectively, “Defendants”) remain.

         Plaintiffs have now moved for partial summary judgment against Defendants on their Title VII claim for discrimination in advertising. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs' motion is granted as to Xing Ying and denied as to Zhang and Cheung.

         Background[1]

         Xing Ying is an unlicensed employment agency located in Chicago. Pls.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶¶ 5, 7, ECF No. 109. Xing Ying finds jobs and refers and places workers into those jobs for a commission. Id. ¶ 6. The agency is co-owned by Zhang and Cheung and operated by Zhang. Id. ¶¶ 8-13.

         World Journal is a widely circulated daily Chinese-language newspaper. Id. ¶¶ 17, 18. Its Chicago edition is distributed in downtown Chicago and the surrounding suburban areas. Id. ¶ 19. World Journal sells advertising placements, with the advertising customer determining the content of the advertisement, as well as the frequency of the advertisement's publication. Id. ¶¶ 22-24. Xing Ying placed daily advertisements in the World Journal almost continually from April 12, 2011 until October 31, 2015. Id. ¶¶ 25-27. From April 12, 2011 through July 17, 2012, Xing Ying's advertisements included the following language:[2]

Chicago Xingying Employment Agency Please contact Ms. Zhang Tel: 312-791-1558 312-791-1503 Cell: 312-927-9958 Lots of Mexicans
Honest and sincere (provide the best Mexicans) Sushi and teppanyaki Station pickup service Open 7 days, 24 hour service Add.: 2228 S. Archer Ave., Chicago, IL 60616

Id. ¶ 29. The advertisements from July 18, 2012 through October 31, 2015 were substantively identical to the above advertisement, except that they also advertised “All trades and professions, ” after the words “Sushi and teppanyaki.” Id. ¶ 30.

         Legal Standard

         “The 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). 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). In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court gives the nonmoving party “the benefit of conflicts in the evidence and reasonable inferences that could be drawn from it.” Grochocinski v. Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, LLP, 719 F.3d 785, 794 (7th Cir. 2013). The Court must not make credibility determinations or weigh conflicting evidence. McCann v. Iroquois Mem'l Hosp., 622 F.3d 745, 752 (7th Cir. 2010).

         Analysis

         Plaintiffs have moved for partial summary judgment on Count II of their Amended Complaint, which alleges that Defendants violated Title VII by engaging in discriminatory advertising. Pls.' Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. at 1, ECF No. 108. Specifically, Plaintiffs claim that Defendants' advertisements unlawfully expressed a preference or specification for “Mexicans” or persons of Latino origin in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(b). Am. Compl. ¶¶ 85, 86.

         I. Background on ...


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