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Kaniewski v. Roundy's Illinois, LLC

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

August 5, 2019




         Plaintiff Breann Kaniewski brought a one count Complaint against her former employer, Defendant Roundy's Illinois, LLC (d/b/a/ Mariano's). Plaintiff, who was employed as a pharmacy technician, alleges that Defendant violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, when one of its store managers proposed reducing her work schedule in anticipation of her return from pregnancy leave. Defendant now moves for summary judgment on the grounds that Plaintiff never experienced an adverse employment action, among other reasons. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.


         Plaintiff was hired on December 12, 2015 to work as a full-time pharmacy technician in the Shorewood, Illinois, Mariano's store. (Dkt. 32, ¶ 4). When she began her employment, Plaintiff read and acknowledged receipt of the Mariano's Employee Handbook which puts employees on notice that they are never guaranteed a certain number of hours. (Id. at ¶¶ 18, 20). Pursuant to the operative collective bargaining agreement, pharmacy technicians are paid on an hourly basis while pharmacists at Mariano's are salaried positions. (Id. at ¶ 7). The CBA further defines full-time employees as those who work at least 35 hours per week. (Id. at ¶ 11). Full-time pharmacy technicians are considered “Level 3” employees and receive a higher hourly wage range than part-time, “Level 2” technicians. (Id. at ¶ 12). Plaintiff began her employment at Mariano's as a Level 3 technician, earning $14.85 an hour. (Id. at ¶ 13).

         Three months after being hired, Plaintiff informed Defendant in March 2016 that she was pregnant. (Id. at ¶ 24). She eventually was granted a leave of absence which lasted for approximately three months, including the time immediately before and after she gave birth. (Id. at ¶¶ 25, 27-28). Plaintiff's last day of work before her pregnancy leave was September 2, 2016, and she was scheduled to return to work in December 2016. (Id.).

         Prior to Plaintiff's return to work, Ryan Tutko, the pharmacy manager, scheduled a meeting with Plaintiff in early December 2016. (Id. at ¶¶ 33-35). The purpose of this meeting was to discuss Plaintiff's hours of availability upon her return from pregnancy leave and to place her back on the store's work schedule. (Id.). During the meeting, Plaintiff told Tutko that she wanted to return to work on a fulltime basis but would require a modified work schedule to accommodate her childcare needs. (Id. at ¶ 38). Tutko expressed that he did not have a problem with a modified work schedule. (Id.). Because of this, Plaintiff was required to complete a new “Hours of Availability” form, which again contained language advising employees that no amount of hours is ever guaranteed. (Id. at ¶ 39). Plaintiff understood at the time of this meeting that if she worked less than 35 hours per week, she would not be considered a full-time employee and would likewise see a reduction in her hourly wage. (Id. at ¶¶ 40-41, 45).

         Also, during the meeting between Plaintiff and Tutko, Tutko gave Plaintiff a copy of his scheduling notes which suggested a schedule of 25 hours per week for Plaintiff starting on December 19, 2016. (Id. at ¶ 42). December 19, 2016 was the earliest possible day that Plaintiff could return to work as prescribed by CBA rules. (Id. at ¶¶ 43-44). The People Services Manager-not Tutko-is solely responsible for preparing the storewide schedule, with ultimate approval by the Store Director. (Id. at ¶ 53, 55-56). While Tutko submits his scheduling notes to the People Services Manager, these notes are often rejected and other schedules are implemented. (Id. at ¶ 57). Specifically, Tutko's proposed 25 hour schedule for Plaintiff could not have been implemented because the scheduling software would not have permitted Plaintiff to be scheduled for less than 35 hours per week. (Id. at ¶ 58). The only individual within the Mariano's entity with the authority to change Plaintiff's status from a full-time employee to a part-time employee was the Vice President of Human Resources. (Id. at ¶ 66).

         Instead of returning to work as scheduled, Plaintiff resigned on December 17, 2016, via fax. (Id. at ¶¶ 27, 31). Plaintiff never worked under the part-time schedule as proposed by Tutko in the December meeting, nor did she ever receive a reduction in pay. (Id. at ¶¶ 68-70, 74).


         Summary judgment is proper when “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with any affidavits, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Sorensen v. WD-40 Co., 792 F.3d 712, 722 (7th Cir. 2015). In determining whether a genuine issue of fact exists, the Court must take the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the party opposing the motion. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); see also Bennington v. Caterpillar Inc., 275 F.3d 654, 658 (7th Cir. 2001). The party opposing summary judgment “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). “The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. A failure to make a showing of just one element of the prima facie case is fatal to a plaintiff at the summary judgment stage. See Arizanovska v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 682 F.3d 698, 702 (7th Cir. 2012). If plaintiff satisfies the prima facie elements, the burden shifts to the defendant to proffer a legitimate and nondiscriminatory reason for the allegedly discriminatory action taken. Id. Then, if defendant offers a nondiscriminatory reason, the burden returns to plaintiff to “produce[] evidence that the proffered reason was a pretext for improper discrimination.” Id.

         The Court “limit[s] its analysis of the facts on summary judgment to evidence that is properly identified and supported in the parties' [Local Rule 56.1] statement.” Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trustees, 233 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2000). Where a proposed statement of fact is supported by the record and not adequately rebutted, the Court will accept that statement as true for purposes of summary judgment. An adequate rebuttal requires a citation to specific support in the record; an unsubstantiated denial is not adequate. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Drake v. Minnesota Mining & Mfg. Co., 134 F.3d 878, 887 (7th Cir. 1998) (“Rule 56 demands something more specific than the bald assertion of the general truth of a particular matter, rather it requires affidavits that cite specific concrete facts establishing the existence of the truth of the matter asserted.”) (internal quotations omitted).


         I. Pregnancy Discrimination Claim

         Plaintiff's pregnancy discrimination claim fails as a matter of law almost as soon as it begins as she fails to present sufficient evidence to make a prima facie showing of employment discrimination. Quite simply, Plaintiff did not suffer a cognizable injury in the form of ...

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