United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. ALONSO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
years-long affair with a Sergeant went sour, plaintiff Kelly
Hespe (“Hespe”), a police officer, filed a
twelve-count complaint against defendants City of Chicago
(the “City”), Gerald Breimon (“Sgt.
Breimon”) and Sarah McDermott (“Lt.
McDermott”). Plaintiff seeks relief under Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state
law. The Court previously dismissed some of plaintiff's
claims, and defendants have moved for summary judgment on
plaintiff's remaining claims.
reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies
in part defendants' motion for summary judgment.
following facts are undisputed unless otherwise
Hespe was already married to a Chicago Police Officer when
she joined the Police Academy in March 2001. There, plaintiff
learned, among other things, how to defend herself from
attackers and how to deal with and report domestic violence.
She also received training on how to report sexual
harassment. Since Officer Hespe finished the Police Academy
(and at all times relevant to this case), she has been
assigned to the 14th District.
Chicago Police Department (“CPD”) operates
through twenty-five geographic districts, each of which is
led by a Commander. The chain of command down from the
Commander is Captain, Lieutenant, Sergeant and Officer.
Lieutenants serve as Watch Commanders (a watch being a shift)
and make officer assignments, which means the Lieutenant
decides which officers will be partners. Some officers have
regular partners, but, on any given night, the Lieutenant
might split the partners and pair each with a different
Officer. The Lieutenants are also responsible for assigning
each Officer to the “log” of one of the Sergeants
for each shift. During each shift, each Sergeant is
responsible for observing each Officer assigned to his or her
log at least twice and then recording the details of the
observation onto his or her log. Sergeants are empowered to
issue verbal counseling with respect to minor transgressions,
such as uniform deficiencies. Sergeants can give orders to
police officers, and, if those orders are lawful, police
officers are expected to follow them. Sergeants lack the
authority to make decisions with respect to termination,
suspension, promotion or transfer and also lack the authority
to change work schedules or assignments.
police officer, plaintiff's duties included protecting
life and property and maintaining order. She was responsible
for apprehending suspected violators of the law through the
use of force, arrest and citation procedures. In addition,
plaintiff was charged with enforcing state and local traffic
laws via arrest and citation procedures. Plaintiff was also
charged with knowing: public safety procedures and
strategies; geographic locations in the City; and City and
CPD policies, procedures and regulations. Among her job
duties, plaintiff occasionally responded to domestic violence
calls and gave advice to victims of domestic violence.
interactions relevant to this case started in the autumn of
2008, not long after defendant Sgt. Breimon transferred to
the 14th District and was assigned to First Watch, which is
the overnight shift. Plaintiff also worked First Watch.
met Sgt. Breimon through her then-partner, Officer Gloria
Gomez (“Gomez”). It was around Halloween when
Sgt. Breimon told plaintiff that he should be Tarzan and she
should be Jane. Plaintiff told Gomez she did not like the way
Sgt. Breimon was talking, and Gomez passed that message onto
Sgt. Breimon. A few months later, in the spring of 2009, Sgt.
Breimon showed plaintiff pictures of a naked women, who had
texted the photos to him.
the same time, Sgt. Breimon “pressured” (in
plaintiff's words) her to accept his Facebook friend
request. Plaintiff accepted Sgt. Breimon's Facebook
friend request, and she never blocked his access to her
Facebook account. By the summer of 2009, plaintiff and Sgt.
Breimon had become actual (not merely Facebook) friends. By
then, they had started carpooling together, sometimes at
sexual relationship with Sgt. Breimon began in November 2009
and ended in November 2012. (By August 2011, plaintiff was
divorced from her husband.) It is not clear from the record
how the relationship started, but it is undisputed that,
during the course of the relationship, plaintiff and Sgt.
Breimon went on dates to movies, restaurants and concerts and
met each other's children. It is undisputed that during
the course of the relationship, plaintiff told Sgt. Breimon
she loved and missed him. It is undisputed that plaintiff
sometimes initiated sex with Sgt. Breimon and described to
Sgt. Breimon what she wanted to do to him sexually. Sgt.
Breimon and plaintiff communicated and flirted over social
media. In late 2009 or early 2010, plaintiff stripped off her
clothes for Sgt. Breimon over Skype.
relationship between Sgt. Breimon and plaintiff was not
limited to their off-duty hours. Sgt. Breimon and plaintiff
engaged in oral sex and intercourse at the 14th District (in
the parking lot, in the storage room and in the
Sergeant's room) and in Humboldt Park. They texted each
other during work hours to pass the time. Plaintiff would
sometimes sit in Sgt. Breimon's squad car or they would
park their cars next to each other so that they could talk.
plaintiff testified that she tried to make the relationship
work because she thought she loved and cared for Sgt.
Breimon, she also put forth evidence of her concern that if
she were not in a relationship with him, her job would be
negatively affected. Plaintiff put forth evidence that Sgt.
Breimon told her his mother could “get rid of her,
” by which plaintiff apparently means she worried his
mother would terminate her employment. (It is undisputed that
Sgt. Brieman's mother had been the Assistant Deputy
Superintendent for the CPD before she retired in 2001, seven
years before Sgt. Breimon and plaintiff met.) In addition,
plaintiff was worried that if she were not in a relationship
with Sgt. Breimon he would not “stand up for
her.” This may have been a concern for her, because, as
plaintiff testified, one officer told her he did not want to
work with her due to his fear of getting hurt and another
officer asked her whether she could handle the job. Plaintiff
was worried that if she were not in a relationship with Sgt.
Breimon, he would not “ride on jobs” with her and
would not “back her up.”
suggests Sgt. Breimon was protecting plaintiff. One police
officer testified that Sgt. Breimon “showed up”
on plaintiff's jobs and was both protective and helpful
to her with her day-to-day routine. Sgt. Breimon once told
another police officer that he rode on plaintiff's jobs
to keep an eye on her and to make sure nobody got her into
relationship sometimes interfered with plaintiff's
ability to do her job. Sgt. Breimon sometimes logged
plaintiff and her partner as being on long missions so that
they could instead go on long lunches with Sgt. Breimon. Sgt.
Breimon demanded (it is not clear from the record how many
times) that plaintiff come to the 14th District so that he
could kiss her and check whether she was wearing
undergarments. Sgt. Breimon regularly contacted plaintiff by
text and telephone while they were both working, which
impacted plaintiff's ability to concentrate on her job.
Although it is not clear from the record when this happened,
Sgt. Breimon sent plaintiff messages through the personal
data terminal, which plaintiff thought was harassing.
2012, the relationship was rocky. In early 2012, Sgt. Breimon
followed plaintiff and her partner to Illinois Masonic
Hospital and demanded that plaintiff sit in his car with him.
Sgt. Breimon screamed and yelled at plaintiff. When she
wanted to leave, he called her a “fucking whore.”
Later that year, Sgt. Breimon reached into the window of
plaintiff's parked squad car, grabbed her arm and asked
her why she did not answer her phone. In July 2012, while the
two were arguing in a car, Sgt. Breimon threw a handbag. The
parties dispute whether Sgt. Breimon intended for the handbag
to hit plaintiff.
in 2012, Lt. Lameka, who was assigned to the 14th District
First Watch from October 2010 to September 2014, learned that
Sgt. Breimon and plaintiff were in a relationship. In August
or September of 2012, Sgt. Breimon informed Lt. Lameka that
he was taking plaintiff as his date to the wedding of a
co-worker. Plaintiff later asked Lt. Lameka for the night
off. Once Lt. Lameka was aware of the relationship, she tried
to assign the two to different sectors.
point, plaintiff does not say when, Sgt. Breimon threatened
to destroy plaintiff's career and threatened to hold an
outdoor roll call if plaintiff would not be in a relationship
with him. Although she does not say when, plaintiff testified
that Sgt. Breimon showed up at plaintiff's house
uninvited and “stalked” her at her daughter's
relationship was over in or about November 2012. Near the end
of the relationship, plaintiff informed Sgt. Breimon by text
message that she was afraid of him and wanted him to leave
her alone. By December 2012 or January 2013, Sgt. Breimon
transferred to the day shift.
remained a police officer on First Watch. By this time, a
different Lieutenant, defendant Sarah McDermott (“Lt.
McDermott”) had joined the 14th District as First
Lieutenant on the First Watch. Lt. McDermott had been with
the CPD since 1986. Lt. McDermott, as Lieutenant, was
responsible for assigning police officers their partners each
night. When an officer was left without a partner, Lt.
McDermott made a point to ride with that officer for safety
reasons and because it provided an opportunity to observe and
teach. For example, Lt. McDermott rode with Officer Ricken
when he was assigned to work without a partner. During the
ride, Lt. McDermott quizzed Officer Ricken on “general
order oriented questions.”
McDermott rode with plaintiff for the first time on March 7,
2013, a night when plaintiff had no partner. Although Lt.
McDermott made the decision on the spot to ride with
plaintiff, she was happy to have the chance to ride with
plaintiff, because she had been concerned about
plaintiff's abilities as a police officer. Previously,
when plaintiff had been assigned to protect the scene of a
police-involved shooting, it appeared to Lt. McDermott that
plaintiff was not properly performing her job. In addition,
on at least two occasions, plaintiff had been late to roll
March 7, 2013 shift, Lt. McDermott assigned plaintiff as
driver so she could observe plaintiff's performance. Lt.
McDermott sat next to plaintiff, and Sgt. Tamara Margolis
(“Sgt. Margolis”) sat in the backseat. The ride
lasted from about 11:15 p.m. until about 3:00 a.m. Lt.
McDermott observed that plaintiff lacked the knowledge of a
street police officer and had trouble performing a traffic
stop. Lt. McDermott observed that plaintiff did not seem to
know where she was going, drove slowly (20 miles per hour)
and did not use emergency equipment.
McDermott attempted to assess plaintiff's knowledge of
the 14th District by asking her questions about the
District's geography. When plaintiff did not know the
answers, Lt. McDermott drew plaintiff a map and began
quizzing plaintiff (as she had done with other officers) in
an attempt to teach her. While Lt. McDermott was quizzing
plaintiff about the streets in the 14th District, Lt.
McDermott held her baton in her hands. Plaintiff testified
that Lt. McDermott told plaintiff that if she answered any
questions incorrectly, Lt. McDermott would hit plaintiff in
the head with her baton. When plaintiff answered incorrectly,
Lt. McDermott hit her own hand with the baton. It is
undisputed that Lt. McDermott never hit plaintiff with the
baton. During the game, Lt. McDermott and Sgt. Margolis
laughed at plaintiff.
the ride, plaintiff did not say that she was upset. Instead,
she laughed and thanked Lt. McDermott for helping. In
addition, plaintiff shared stories about herself, including
where she was born and places she had lived. At the end of
the ride, plaintiff again thanked Lt. McDermott.
the ride was over, Lt. McDermott wrote a memo about
plaintiff's performance deficiencies. Lt. McDermott then
discussed those deficiencies with District Commander Frank
Valdez (“Commander Valdez”), and the two decided
plaintiff should work with a Sergeant until she could receive
meantime, on March 8, 2013, plaintiff registered a complaint
(a “complaint register”) against Lt. McDermott in
connection with the prior evening's ride along. Lt.
McDermott did not learn of the complaint register until March
9, after she and Commander Valdez had already decided that
plaintiff would ride with a Sergeant until she had more
March 11, 2013, plaintiff was on paid medical leave from
work. Plaintiff remains a police officer to this
day, though her paid medical leave expired at the end of
April 2014. She is now on unpaid leave.
early 2013, Lt. Lameka and Sgt. Shaun Fleischhacker wrote
letters of recommendation on plaintiff's behalf in
support of plaintiff's application for admission to the
graduate program in Public Safety Administration at the
Calumet College of St. Joseph.
maintains an Equal Employment Opportunity Policy (“EEO
Policy”). The EEO Policy expressly prohibits sexual
harassment, discrimination based on sex and retaliation. The
EEO Policy also defines and describes those terms, as well as
explaining how to complain, should an employee feel that he
or she is a victim of discrimination, harassment or
retaliation. Specifically, the EEO Policy sets out that an
employee can complain to a supervisor, the Independent Police
Review Board, the Office of Legal Affairs or the Bureau of
Internal Affairs. The City also maintains a “Violence
in the Workplace” Policy that expresses the City's
desire to provide a safe and healthy workplace. The Violence
in the Workplace Policy also provides guidelines on
preventing and reporting incidents of violence at work.
has never filed a complaint register (“CR”),
grievance or written complaint of any kind with CPD or her
union about Sgt. Breimon's conduct toward her. Nor did