United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. Lee, United States District Judge.
Doll Curtis has sued the City of Chicago (“the
City”) for race discrimination (Count I) and
retaliation (Count II) in violation of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.,
as well as failure to accommodate (Count III) and retaliation
(Count IV) in violation of the Americans with Disabilities
Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et
seq. Curtis also alleges that the City's actions
violated the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”),
775 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/1 et seq., (Count V). The
City moves for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth
herein, the City's motion  is granted.
District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1
initial matter, the City points out various issues with
Curtis's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) Statement of Additional
Facts. The City contends that Curtis's Statement of
Additional Facts contains (1) citations to exhibits
(specifically, “B, ” “C, ” “E,
” and “H”) that do not correspond to
exhibits within the record, (2) citations to excerpts of
Curtis's deposition that have not been provided, (3)
citations to the entire record of a previous lawsuit without
specifying to which parts of the record she refers or
entering those documents into the record of this case, and
(4) citations to an entire deposition without specifying the
portions to which she cites. See Def.'s Reply
Supp. Mot. Summ. J. at 3-4, ECF No. 127. Additionally, the
City argues, Curtis's Statement of Additional Facts
contains argumentative and conclusory assertions.
District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1 requires a party
opposing summary judgment to file a statement of
“additional facts that require the denial of summary
judgment, including references to the affidavits, parts of
the record, and other supporting materials relied
upon.” N.D.Ill. LR 56.1(b)(3)(C). If the nonmoving
party fails to file such a statement or otherwise controvert
the moving party's statement of facts, “[a]ll
material facts set forth in the statement required of the
moving party will be deemed admitted.” Id.
purpose of statements submitted under Local Rule 56.1 is
“to identify for the Court the evidence supporting a
party's factual assertions in an organized manner.”
Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 585 (N.D. Ill.
2000). Accordingly, these statements must contain
specific references to the record.
“‘[S]pecific reference' means including
proper Bluebook citations to exact pieces of the record that
support the factual contention contained in the paragraph. In
other words, citations must include page (or paragraph)
numbers, as opposed to simply citing an entire deposition,
affidavit, or other exhibit document.” Id. at
583. The Court is entitled to require strict compliance with
this rule, as “district courts are not obliged in our
adversary system to scour the record looking for factual
disputes.” Id. (quoting Waldridge v. Am.
Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922 (7th Cir. 1994)).
“Factual allegations not properly supported by citation
to the record are nullities.” Id.
Court agrees that Curtis's citations to the record leave
much to be desired. Curtis filed two documents
entitled “Plaintiff's 56.1(b)(3) Statement of
Additional Facts” (“Pl.'s SOAF”).
See ECF Nos. 118, 119. Attached to the first
document are Exhibits 1-10 from Curtis's
deposition. ECF No. 118. Attached to the second
document is what appears to be a complete refiling of the
exhibits included with the City's Statement of Facts,
with several additional documents tacked on. Compare
Def.'s Exs., ECF Nos. 94-1-94-3, with Pl.'s
Exs., ECF Nos. 119-1-119-5. In Curtis's filing, as in the
City's, Exhibit B is the sworn declaration of Ramona
Hallihan, the City's Deputy Director of Finance and
Administration, and Exhibit C is the sworn declaration of
Brian Devereaux, Curtis's former supervisor. But
separately, Curtis filed the depositions of Charles Brown (a
former colleague and supervisor) and Katina Buzanis (another
former colleague), to which she appears to refer,
respectively, as Exhibits B and C. See Pl.'s
Add'l Exs., ECF Nos. 123-123-3; Pl.'s SOAF ¶ 1.
Despite this confusion, the Court is able to discern when
Curtis is citing to the Brown and Buzanis depositions as
opposed to the Hallihan and Devereaux declarations, and
apparently the City was similarly capable. See
Def.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Resp. Pl.'s SOAF ¶ 1,
ECF No. 126. Accordingly, the Court declines to strike
Curtis's references to Exhibits B and C.
E and H, however, are a different story. Curtis cites to an
“Exhibit E, ” described as “Plaintiff's
Answers to Interrogatories.” Pl.'s SOAF ¶ 23.
But the only “Exhibit E” in the record is Volume
II of Curtis's deposition. See Pl.'s Ex. E,
Curtis Dep. Vol. II, ECF No. 119-2. Accordingly, Curtis's
references to interrogatory responses that are not contained
in the record are stricken. Pl.'s SOAF ¶ 23.
although Curtis cites to an “Exhibit H, ” there
is no exhibit labeled as such in the record. Furthermore,
“Exhibit H” appears in some places to refer to
part of a deposition; however, the documents appended to
Curtis's exhibits after “Exhibit G” contain
no such deposition. See Pl.'s Exs., ECF Nos.
119-3-119-5. Accordingly, Curtis's references to the
deposition in “Exhibit H” are stricken. Pl.'s
SOAF ¶¶ 27, 29. That said, Curtis also refers to an
email written in December 2015 as “Exhibit H.”
Pl.'s SOAF ¶ 30. The six pages appended after
“Exhibit G” do contain such an email.
Accordingly, the Court does not strike this fact and
considers the cited email and responses to be
“Plaintiff's Exhibit H.” See
Pl.'s Ex. H, December 2015 Emails, ECF No. 119-5.
the City is correct that Curtis cites to pages of her
deposition that are not provided in the record. See
Pl.'s SOAF ¶¶ 3, 8, 12 (citing Curtis Dep. at
80), 13, 16, 17 (citing Curtis Dep. at 166-67), 18-19, 20
(citing Curtis Dep. at 126), 22 (citing Curtis Dep. at
166-67), 30. Because Plaintiff has failed to support these
facts with citations to the record, they are stricken.
Curtis improperly cites to the entire record of her previous
lawsuit against the City, Curtis v. City of Chicago,
No. 12 C 7557 (N.D. Ill. filed Sep. 21, 2012). See
Pl.'s SOAF ¶ 5. This citation does not point the
Court to any particular part of that record; nor has Curtis
submitted any documents from that record into evidence in
this case. Accordingly, the cited facts are stricken. See
Id. Additionally, Curtis cites to the City's Answer
in No. 12 C 7557 to support the propositions that (1) she was
reinstated to her position after that lawsuit and received
backpay, and (2) the City knew she had certain disabilities
for which she needed accommodations. Id.
¶¶ 3, 28. The Answer does not support these facts,
so Curtis may not rely on it. See id.; Def.'s
Am. Answer ¶¶ 9, 15, No. 12 C 7557, ECF No. 43.
also improperly cites to the entire deposition of her former
colleague Iris Fojt without specifying a page number.
See Pl.'s SOAF ¶ 32. The City has done the
same thing, see Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. Facts
(“Def.'s SOF”) ¶ 51, ECF No. 94.
Accordingly, the citations of both sides to that deposition
the Court rejects the City's invitation to strike a
number of other statements in Curtis's Statement of
Additional Facts as being conclusory or argumentative. The
Court reviews each statement of fact submitted by the parties
to ensure that it is properly supported by admissible
evidence and will rely only on factual statements based on
who is African-American, first began working for the City in
2000 as an “Auditor I” in the Tax Division of the
Department of Finance. Def.'s SOF ¶¶ 1, 30. She
was promoted to “Auditor II” in December 2002,
and then to “Auditor III” in January 2008.
Id. ¶¶ 31-32. Curtis worked as an Auditor
III in the Tax Division until December 2017. Id.
¶ 1. During that time, she says, she suffered from lower
pelvic disorder, tendinitis, bipolar disorder, depression,
respiratory and musculoskeletal problems, asthma, left knee
pain, and low back pain. Id. ¶¶ 57-58. She
also made several complaints of discrimination to the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and
settled a previous lawsuit against the City claiming
discrimination. Id. ¶¶ 45-46, 48.
Structure of the Tax Division & Applicable
role of auditors in the Tax Division is to “determine
if [a] taxpayer/collector is in full compliance with the
City's tax ordinances and ensure that all monies due and
owing the City have been remitted in accordance with the
City's tax ordinances.” Id. ¶ 7.
Auditor III is a senior auditing position that reports to an
Audit Supervisor. Id. ¶¶ 7, 32. As an
Auditor III, Curtis was responsible for reviewing
taxpayers' financial records, which sometimes involved
traveling to taxpayer sites to retrieve and review the
files. Id. ¶ 32.; see
Def.'s Ex. A, Curtis Dep. Vol. I at 33:17-39:23, ECF No.
are assigned to different sections of the Tax Division and
given tax-enforcement assignments by their supervisors.
Def.'s SOF ¶ 18. Their tax-enforcement caseloads are
determined at the beginning of each calendar year and consist
of new case assignments and cases that were assigned the
previous year but not completed. Id. ¶ 20.
Audit Supervisors analyze each auditor's caseload to
determine the number and type of cases that should be
completed each year (a “target assessment”).
Id. ¶¶ 20, 22. Target assessments vary
among auditors and factor in the tax type and complexity of
each case. Id. ¶ 22. Audit Supervisors determine
the amount of time each case should take. Id. ¶
Division uses the “Time Metric System” to measure
the work performed by each auditor. The System is a set of
guidelines used to measure how much time auditors spend on
cases, which is then compared to the target assessments set
by the Audit Supervisor. Def.'s SOF ¶¶ 20-21.
At the beginning of each year, auditors are given memoranda
explaining their target goals for the upcoming six-month
review period. Id. ¶ 24. Written performance
evaluations then are conducted every six months using the
“Performance Management System, ” which measures
auditors' compliance with productivity and quality
standards. Id. ¶ 25. Performance ratings fall
on a five-point scale: 1.0 to 1.9 (unsatisfactory), 2.0 to
2.7 (requires improvement), 2.8 to 3.4 (good), and 3.5 to 4.0
(very good). Id. Failure to meet the time metric
goals may result in an auditor being placed on a Performance
Improvement Plan (“PIP”). Id. ¶ 27.
A PIP is “designed to monitor the performance of the
auditor by setting clear and detailed expectations for their
performance and provid[ing] them a date by which they are
able to meet those expectations.” Id.
Division is governed by a collective bargaining agreement.
Id. ¶ 14. This agreement establishes a
progressive discipline policy under which, at the
employer's discretion, disciplinary action may consist of
“an oral warning, written reprimand, suspension (up to
30 days) or discharge, depending . . . upon various factors,
such as, but not limited to, the severity of the offense or
the employee's prior record.” Id.
¶¶ 16-17. Before disciplinary action is taken, it
must be reviewed and approved by upper management and labor
relations officials. Id. ¶ 26.
The City's Reasonable Accommodations Policy
City's Disability Officer is responsible for reviewing
and granting all requests for accommodations by City
employees. Id. ¶ 59. Jennifer Smith was the
Disability Officer until June 2017, when Kathryn
Perry-Hopkins succeeded her. Id. ¶¶ 58-59,
of the accommodation process, a qualifying employee could
agree to be reassigned, and he or she would be referred to
the Reassignment Team. Id. The Reassignment Team
then searches for a vacant City position (of lesser or equal
rank to the employee's current position) for a period of
90 days. Id. ¶¶ 59, 61. The vacant
position must be one for which the employee is qualified and
able to perform the essential functions, taking into account
medical restrictions. Id. ¶ 61. The employee
does not have to interview for the position, and the new
department must accept the reassigned employee. Id.
The Reassignment Team may extend the 90-day period as needed.
Chronology of Events
March 2014, Curtis settled her prior lawsuit against the
City. Id. ¶ 48. Shortly thereafter, she was
assigned to a new Audit Supervisor, Brian Devereaux, who
recently had been promoted to the position. Pl.'s SOAF
¶¶ 4, 6. Curtis believes that she should have been
promoted to the Audit Supervisor position instead of
Devereaux. Id. ¶¶ 4-5; see also
Def.'s SOF ¶ 52.
August 2014, Devereaux reviewed Curtis's performance for
the first half of the year and noted that she had received a
2.5 time metric rating and a 2.8 overall rating. Def.'s
SOF ¶ 38; see Def.'s Ex. C, Devereaux
Decl., Ex. 2, 2014 Performance Records at 25, ECF No.
94-3. Because of Curtis's low time metric
rating, Devereaux placed her on a PIP. Def.'s SOF ¶
38; 2014 Performance Records at 25.
filed her first EEOC charge relating to this case on January
5, 2015. Def.'s SOF ¶ 45. In the charge, she alleged
that she had been discriminated against based on her race,
disability, and in retaliation for having previously engaged
in protected complaints about discrimination. Id.
February 27, 2015, Curtis received her performance evaluation
for the second half of 2014. 2014 Performance Records at 27.
For the period from July to December 2014, Curtis received a
2.7 time metric rating and a 2.3 overall rating. Def.'s
SOF ¶ 38; 2014 Performance Records at 27. Devereaux
noted that the “hours on [Curtis's] submitted time
reports [did] not always match the time allocated on [her]
audit programs, ” and that her case hours were
approximately 54% over her target assessment. Def.'s SOF
¶ 38; 2014 Performance Records at 27. Because Curtis had
not met her target assessments and had received a low time
metric score, she was again placed on a PIP. Def.'s SOF
¶ 38; 2014 Performance Records at 28.
later, in March 2015, Devereaux suspended Curtis for ten
days. Def.'s SOF ¶ 42; see Def.'s Ex.
C, Devereaux Decl., Ex. 6, Pl.'s Disciplinary Records at
62- 63, ECF No. 94-3. He explained that Curtis had failed to
meet the performance standards of her position from July 1 to
December 31, 2014. Pl.'s Disciplinary Records at 63. In
particular, although Curtis was expected to complete ten tax
assessments during that period, she completed only
six-despite the fact that she had been on a PIP. Id.
Curtis's disciplinary notice explained that she had
previously received discipline, including written and oral
reprimands and suspensions. Id. at 62.
August 4, 2015, Curtis filed a second EEOC charge related to
this lawsuit. Def.'s SOF ¶ 46. She again claimed she
had experienced discrimination due to her race and in
retaliation for filing previous complaints. Id.
Curtis did not notify anyone at the City, including
Devereaux, that she had filed either the January or August
charges. Id. ¶ 47.
August 31, 2015, Curtis received her performance review for
the first half of 2015. Def.'s SOF ¶ 39;
see Def.'s Ex. C, Devereaux Decl., Ex. 3, 2015
Performance Records at 37, ECF No. 94-3. For the period from
January to June 2015, Curtis received a time metric rating of
2.3 and an overall rating of 2.7. 2015 Performance Records at
37. She was again placed on a PIP. Id.
December 2015, Curtis wrote to Disability Officer Smith,
seeking to modify previous accommodations she had been
granted. See Def.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Resp.
Pl.'s SOAF ¶ 30; Pl.'s Ex. H, December 2015
Emails. Curtis explained: “I'm having difficulty
with the accommodation that has been granted i.e. making
multiple trips to and from my vehicle to carry in the city
owned equipment and etc.” Pl.'s Ex. H, December
2015 Emails. Smith responded that “the best course of
action . . . at this point is to request another
accommodation since you believe that the previously granted
accommodation is not efficient.” Id.
on February 10, 2016, Curtis submitted to Smith a formal
accommodation request. Def.'s SOF ¶ 58. She listed
her impairment as “respiratory and
musculoskeletal” and requested “reassignment to a
non-field audit position i.e. an office position.”
Id.; see Def.'s Ex. E, Curtis Dep. Vol.
II, Ex. 30, Request for Reasonable Accommodation at 2, ECF
No. 94-3. She explained that making multiple trips to and
from her car to carry work-related equipment and documents
“create[d] a respiratory issue” for her. Request
for Reasonable Accommodation at 2. Curtis did not inform
Devereaux about this accommodation request. Def.'s SOF
responded the same day, asking Curtis to confirm whether she
wanted to participate in the reassignment process, which
would involve referring her to the Reassignment Team.
Id. ¶ 59; see Def.'s Ex. G,
Perry-Hopkins Decl., Ex. B, Accommodations Correspondence at
154, ECF No. 94-3. Curtis agreed to participate in
reassignment. Def.'s SOF ¶ 59. And, in response,
Smith sent Curtis a Determination Notice finding that Curtis
could not perform the essential functions of her ...