United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER 
I. SCHENKIER United States Magistrate Judge.
Noemi Valdivia, filed a two-count first amended complaint
("complaint") against defendant Township High
School District 214 ("District 214" or defendant)
seeking damages and injunctive relief on the grounds that
defendant subjected her to a racially offensive and hostile
work environment, in violation of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq.
("Title VII"), and interfered with her right to
take job-protected leave, in violation of the Family and
Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et
seq, ("FMLA") (doc. # 29: CompL, at
¶¶ 49-58). On May 15, 2017, after briefing by the
parties, this Court denied defendant's motion to dismiss.
Valdivia v. Twp. High Sck Dist. 214, No. 16 C 10333,
2017 WL 2114965, at *5 (N.D. Ill. May 15, 2017).
Subsequently, defendant answered the complaint, and the
parties engaged in discovery. After completion of discovery,
defendant moved for summary judgment (doc. # 58). For the
reasons set forth below, the Court grants defendant's
motion for summary judgment as to plaintiffs Title VII claim,
but denies the motion as to plaintiffs FMLA claim.
legal standards governing motions for summary judgment are
well-established. Summary judgment is appropriate where the
moving party establishes that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and he or she is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). A genuine issue
exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party."
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). The substantive law identifies which facts are
material. Zaya v. Sood, 836 F.3d 800, 804 (7th Cir.
deciding a motion for summary judgment, we construe the facts
and draw reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to
the nonmoving party. Sommerfield v. City of Chicago,
863 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2017). However, "we need not
draw inferences that are supported by only speculation and
conjecture." Woods v. City o/Berwyn, 803 F.3d
865, 869 (7th Cir. 2015); See also Aguilar v.
Gaston-Camara, 861 F.3d 626, 630-31 (7th Cir. 2017).
"[T]he non-movant must 'go beyond the pleadings
(e.g., produce affidavits, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, or admissions on file), to demonstrate that
there is evidence upon which a jury could properly proceed to
find a verdict in her favor.'" Sterk v. Redbox
Automated Retail, LLC, 770 F.3d 618, 627 (7th Cir. 2014)
(quoting Modrowski v. Pigatto, 712 F.3d 1166, 1169
(7th Cir. 2013)). In other words, the non-moving party
"must do more than raise some metaphysical doubt as to
the material facts; [it] must come forward with specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads v. Foxx, 815
F.3d 1068, 1074 (7th Cir. 2016). At tills stage, "[t]he
parties are required to put their evidentiary cards on the
table .... Summary judgment is not a time to be coy . .
." Sommerfield, 863 F.3d at 649 (internal
citations and quotations omitted).
support of its motion for summary judgment, defendant
submitted a Local Rule 56.1 statement of material facts (doc.
# 58: DSOF). Plaintiff responded to defendant's
statement of material facts (doc. # 60: PL's Resp. to
DSOF, pp. 1-19), and filed a Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) statement of
additional facts (doc. # 60: PSOF, pp. 19-24), to which
defendant responded (doc. # 63: Def.'s Resp. to PSOF).
The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise
Valdivia emigrated from Mexico as a child (Def.'s Resp.
to PSOF, ¶ 2). In May 2010, she began working at Elk
Grove High School ("Elk Grove") in District 214
(PL's Resp. to DSOF, ¶ 1). Ms. Valdivia worked as an
assistant to the associate principal of instruction
(Id.), and served as a bilingual support staff
member; in that capacity, she spoke Spanish with some of the
school's Hispanic families (Def.'s Resp. to PSOF,
¶ 3). During the 2010-2011 school year, the associate
principal of instruction position was split between Carmela
Sacchitello and Janet Reed (DSOF, Ex. A: Valdivia Dep. at
28-30). Nancy Holman was the principal at Elk Grove, and the
associate principal of operations was Kyle Burritt
(Id.). Ms. Valdivia worked in the same office as
Diane Free (Ms. Holman's assistant) and Denise Heinol
(Mr. Burritt's assistant) (Id. at 31; Def.'s
Resp. to PSOF, ¶ 1).
1, 2011, plaintiff complained in writing (by text message) to
Ms. Sacchitello about racially derogatory remarks Ms. Heinol
allegedly made about Latino families (Def.'s Resp. to
PSOF, ¶ 4). In the text to Ms. Sacchitello, Ms. Valdivia
wrote that Ms. Heinol's remarks included, among other
things, that she was sick and tired of Mexicans or illegal
aliens coming to the United States because they: do not speak
English, want and expect everything to be handed to them for
free, get to have a bilingual secretary instead of having to
learn English for themselves, keep having babies because
everything is handed to them, and do not file tax returns and
get paid under the table (DSOF, Ex. H: Kelly Dep., Ex. 2:
June 2011 text). Ms. Valdivia requested that Ms. Sacchitello
ask Mr. Burritt not to "bring the racist thing up to
Nancy [Holman]. We all need to survive with the way tilings
are currently. She [Ms. Heinol] just needs to be told to
relax her attitude" (Id.). On June 2, 2011, Ms.
Sacchitello emailed the text conversation to Mr. Burritt
(Def.'s Resp. to PSOF, ¶ 7). That year, plaintiff
also complained to Ms. Reed or Ms. Sacchitello that Ms.
Heinol stated that District 214 was catering to its Latino
families by hiring a bilingual secretary (PL's Resp. to
DSOF, ¶ 24).
Simon replaced Ms. Reed and Ms. Sacchitello as associate
principal of instruction for the 2012-2013 school year
(Valdivia Dep. at 43). Ms. Valdivia does not recall if she
complained to Mr. Simon that her co-workers made racist
comments (Id. at 46). In the summer of 2013, Paul
Kelly replaced Ms. Holman as principal at Elk Grove, and Judi
Miller took over the position as assistant to the principal
(Id. at 31, 45, 49; Kelly Dep. at 14-16). In 2014,
Megan Knight replaced Mr. Simon as associate principal of
instruction (Valdivia Dep. at 104).
Valdivia alleges that Ms. Heinol continued to make derogatory
comments about Latino families, including in 2015, when she
stated that she hoped Donald Trump won the election and ended
illegal immigration (PL's Resp. to DSOF, ¶ 23).
Plaintiff also claims that Ms. Miller twice told her to stop
speaking Spanish because they were in America (Def.'s
Resp. to PSOF, ¶ 10). At some point, Ms. Valdivia
complained to Valerie Norris, the Assistant Principal of
Student Services at Elk Grove,  about her office-mates'
comments, work habits and work distribution; Ms. Valdivia
also told Ms. Norris that she thought Ms. Heinol was a racist
(PL's Resp. to DSOF, ¶¶ 36, 39).
2015, plaintiff complained to Mr. Kelly that her co-worker
made derogatory comments about Latinos, Mexicans and illegal
immigration (PL's Resp. to DSOF, ¶¶ 23, 26). On
August 31, 2015, Mr. Burritt sent the 2011 chat conversation
between Ms. Sacchitello and Ms. Valdivia to Mr. Kelly and Ms.
Knight (Def.'s Resp. to PSOF, ¶ 8). Plaintiff cannot
recall how many times her co-workers made derogatory comments
about Latinos but she asserts that they did so frequently
(PL's Resp. to DSOF, ¶ 25). Mr. Kelly recalls Ms.
Valdivia complaining to him about interoffice disputes with
Ms. Miller and Ms. Heinol, but he does not recall that Ms.
Valdivia ever complained that they made racist or harassing
comments (Id., ¶¶ 29-32).
at Elk Grove, Ms. Valdivia received positive annual reviews
and never received any discipline or reprimands (PL's
Resp. to DSOF, ¶ 3). In March 2016, she applied for a
position as assistant to the principal -- Angela Sisi -- at
District 214's Wheeling High School
("Wheeling"); tills job offered more pay and
prestige than Ms. Valdivia's Elk Grove position
(Def.'s Resp. to PSOF, ¶¶ 14- 15). Ms. Sisi is
the daughter of Ms. Sacchitello; Ms. Sacchitello recommended
Ms, Valdivia as the best assistant she had ever had
(Id., ¶ 16). Ms. Sisi first met plaintiff at
Ms. Sacchitello's home in 2011, and they had bumped into
each other about five times at Elk Grove (PL's Resp. to
DSOF, ¶ 8). In April 2016, Wheeling hired Ms. Valdivia
for a 12-month position, which Ms. Valdivia began in mid-June
2016 (Def.'s Resp. to PSOF, ¶¶ 17-20).
Plaintiff did not discuss problems she had at Elk Grove with
anyone at Wheeling (PL's Resp. to DSOF, ¶ 41).
2016, Ms. Valdivia asserts that she began to feel overwhelmed
and experienced racing thoughts, obsessive worrying, anxiety,
insomnia and loss of appetite (Def.'s Resp. to PSOF,
¶ 21). Ms. Valdivia had never received mental health
treatment, and she did not understand what was happening to
her (PL's Resp. to DSOF, ¶¶ 48-49).
14, 2016, Ms. Valdivia applied for a job closer to her home,
with School District 300; she was offered the position, and
she accepted on or before July 27, 2016 (PL's Resp. to
DSOF, ¶¶ 16-17, 50). Ms. Valdivia was emotional
when she discussed her decision to leave District 214 with
Ms, Sisi; Ms. Valdivia told Ms. Sisi that she had not been
sleeping and she was worried about her career and about
leaving Ms. Sisi (Id., ¶ 54). Ms. Valdivia
asserts that she cried in front of Ms. Sisi and experienced
crying fits at work, but defendant disputes this (Def's
Resp. to PSOF, ¶¶ 21-22; PL's Resp. to DSOF,
¶ 53). On August 4, 2016, Ms. Valdivia submitted her
letter of resignation to Ms. Sisi; Ms. Valdivia asserts that
she was crying when she did so, but defendant disputes this,
acknowledging only that Ms. Valdivia was
"emotional" (Id.; PL's Resp. to DSOF,
¶¶ 55-57). Ms. Valdivia told Ms. Sisi she was going
to take the District 300 job at least partly because it was
closer to her home (Id., ¶ 58).
August 9, 2016, Ms. Valdivia showed up unannounced at Ms.
Sisi's home at 7:00 a.m., asking to rescind her
resignation from Wheeling (Def's Resp. to PSOF, ¶
26). Ms. Valdivia asserts that she was crying, but defendant
disputes this (Id.). Ms. Sisi did not allow Ms.
Valdivia to rescind her resignation, and the District 214
school board accepted Ms. Valdivia's resignation on
August 11, 2016 (Id., ¶ 28; PL's Resp. to
DSOF, ¶ 12). Ms. Sisi never discussed FMLA leave with
plaintiff (PL's Resp. to DSOF, ¶ 59).
Valdivia started work for District 300 on August 12, 2016;
she had completed her employee physical for District 300 on
August 5, 2016, which indicated she had no work restrictions
(PL's Resp. to DSOF, ¶¶ 18-20). On August 20,
2016, plaintiff was hospitalized for four days and given
medication for severe depression and anxiety, and treated for
her inability to sleep (Def's Resp. to PSOF, ¶ 31).
She began seeing a psychiatrist on August 31, 2016, who
diagnosed her with severe major depressive disorder and
moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder (7c/.,
contends that this Court should grant summary judgment in its
favor because Ms. Valdivia has not raised a genuine issue as
to any fact material to her hostile work environment and FMLA