United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
Hazel L. Derden, Plaintiff,
Cook County Sheriff's Office, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. Durkin Judge
Derden, represented by counsel, alleges that she was
discriminated and retaliated against by her employer, the
Cook County Sheriff's Office, in violation of Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, she claims
that: (1) the Sheriff failed to promote her in 2016 because
she is black; and (2) the Sheriff retaliated against her
because she was named as a witness in a colleague's EEOC
complaint.The Sheriff has moved for summary judgment.
R. 59. That motion is granted.
judgment is appropriate “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); see also Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The Court
considers the entire evidentiary record and must view all of
the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences from that
evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant.
Horton v. Pobjecky, 883 F.3d 941, 948 (7th Cir.
2018). To defeat summary judgment, a nonmovant must produce
more than a “mere scintilla of evidence” and come
forward with “specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial.” Johnson v. Advocate
Health and Hosps. Corp., 892 F.3d 887, 894, 896 (7th
Cir. 2018). Ultimately, summary judgment is warranted only if
a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the
nonmovant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248 (1986).
defeat summary judgment on her discrimination claim, Derden
must show that she was not promoted because she is black.
See LaRiviere v. Bd. of Trustees of S. Ill. Univ.,
926 F.3d 356, 359 (7th Cir. 2019) (“In racial
discrimination suits, the question we seek to answer is
whether a reasonable juror could conclude that [the
defendant] would have kept her job if she had a different
ethnicity, and everything else had remained the
same.”). Since she has no direct evidence supporting
her claim, Derden relies on the burden shifting method of
McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792
(1973). “Under that framework, [the plaintiff] has the
initial burden of establishing a prima facie case of
discrimination or retaliation, which involves showing that
‘(1) she is a member of a protected class, (2) her job
performance met [the employer's] legitimate expectations,
(3) she suffered an adverse employment action, and (4)
another similarly situated individual who was not in the
protected class was treated more favorably than the
plaintiff.'” LaRiviere, 926 F.3d at 360.
Sheriff argues that there is no evidence that a similarly
situated person who is not black was promoted. Derden argues
that two of the three people who were promoted were white.
But she also admits that both of those people had higher
scores in the point system the Sheriff uses to determine
promotions. See R. 60 at 7 (¶ 29); R. 65 at 3
(¶ 29). (Derden does not claim that this ranking process
itself is discriminatory.) The two white employees who were
promoted were ranked first and second in the point system.
Derden ranked thirteenth. Because the two white employees who
the Sheriff promoted scored higher in the rankings, Derden
has failed to establish a prima facie case that she was
similarly situated to the employees who were promoted.
Sheriff's regulations also permit the Sheriff to make a
discretionary promotion outside the score ranking system in
certain circumstances. In accordance with this regulation,
the Sheriff promoted a black woman who scored 32nd.
See R. 60-10 at 4. Derden argues that this is
evidence of discrimination against her. But since Derden and
the woman who scored 32nd are both black, the preferential
treatment given to the other woman at Derden's expense is
not evidence of racial discrimination.
summary judgment on Derden's discrimination claim is
granted to the Sheriff.
also alleges that the Sheriff retaliated against her because
she was named as a witness in a colleague's EEOC
complaint. Derden claims that the Sheriff took the following
actions in retaliation: (1) denying her access to the payroll
system; (2) forcing her to work with a reduced staff; (3)
threatening her with “write-ups”; (4) denying her
use of “lunch premiums” (a term explained below);
(5) ordering her to require her subordinates to wear certain
uniforms; (6) disciplining her for failing to perform tasks
assigned by an email sent on her day-off; and (7) denying her
the opportunity to attend certain meetings.
defeat summary judgment on a retaliation claim, a plaintiff
must show that “(1) she engaged in a statutorily
protected activity; (2) she performed her job according to
her employer's legitimate expectations; (3) despite her
satisfactory job performance, the employer took an adverse
action against her; and (4) she was treated less favorably
than similarly situated employees who did not engage in
statutorily protected activity.” Rozumalski v. W.F.
Baird & Assocs., Ltd., 2019 WL 3955383, at *4 (7th
Cir. Aug. 22, 2019). The Sheriff argues that Derden has
failed to present evidence of protected activity, adverse
action, or causation.