United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
E. Bucklo United States District Judge.
Jill Uhlir sues the City of Wheaton, Illinois (“the
City”), alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e
et seq. (“Title VII”), and the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) 29
U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq. Uhlir, an officer of
the Wheaton Police Department (“WPD”), claims
that the City discriminated against her on the basis of her
sex and her age by declining to promote her to the rank of
sergeant. The City seeks summary judgment as to both of
Uhlir's claims. For the reasons discussed below, the
motion is granted.
began working for the WPD as a patrol officer in 1998.
Beginning in 2010 or 2011, she was permitted to act as an
Officer in Charge (“OIC”), a position in which an
officer performs the basic duties of a sergeant when a
shift's primary sergeant is not present. In 2011, Uhlir
applied for promotion to the rank of sergeant. Participants
in the WPD's promotional process are required to undergo
a series of tests, and those who pass are placed on an
eligibility list for a two-year period. When a position
becomes available, the WPD's Chief of Police selects
individuals from the list to serve for one year as a
probationary sergeant. If the candidate performs
satisfactorily during that period, her or she is promoted to
the rank of sergeant.
applied for the sergeant position in 2011, 2013, and 2015.
Each time, she earned a spot on the eligibility list. She was
not selected in 2011 (no candidates were selected that year)
or in 2013 (two other candidates were selected). In 2015,
however, she and another officer, Brian Gabryel, were chosen
from a list of four candidates. Uhlir was selected by James
Volpe, who had become the City's Police Chief in November
2015. Uhlir was the first female in the WPD's history to
be promoted to probationary sergeant. As of the events at
issue here, the WPD had never had a female sergeant,
lieutenant, deputy chief, or chief.
probationary period began in February 2016, and her
performance was assessed on a quarterly basis. Lieutenant
Bill Cooley supervised Uhlir for the first two quarters;
Lieutenant Tom Heidank supervised her for the second two
quarters. Cooley and Heidank prepared quarterly evaluation
memos assessing Uhlir's performance in five key areas:
Teamwork; Job Knowledge; Communication;
Accountability/Responsibility; and Leadership Capability.
Uhlir's quarterly evaluations were reviewed with her and
signed by her.
Uhlir's evaluations noted a number of deficiencies in her
performance. Although she received an “Exceeded
Standards” rating in the Teamwork category, and a
“Meets Standards” rating in the
Accountability/Responsibility category, Uhlir received a
“Needs Improvement” rating in the categories of
Job Knowledge, Communication, and Leadership Capability.
See Uhlir Dep. Ex. 11 at PLT712. Although the
problems identified in her evaluations varied in severity, a
number of them were regarded as serious.
December 2016, Cooley and Heidank summarized their quarterly
evaluations in a joint memo (“the Summary Memo”),
which recommended that Uhlir's probationary period
“be terminated unsatisfactorily.” Id. at
PLT721. The following is a summary of the performance issues
highlighted in the memos.
• On February 7, 2016, Uhlir and three other officers
responded to a home invasion call. Because the dispatcher
gave them the incorrect address, they initially arrived at
the wrong home. After discovering the mistake, the other
officers proceeded to the correct address, but Uhlir stayed
behind briefly to smooth things over with the homeowner.
Following the incident, Cooley told Uhlir that she should
have gone to the correct address immediately with the other
officers, explaining that since four suspects were believed
to have been involved in the home invasion, the officers were
at a numerical disadvantage without her.
• On March 20, 2016, Uhlir responded to a call involving
an apparently mentally ill individual at a convenience store
who had stated that he wanted to hurt someone. Although the
dispatcher had sent officers to provide backup assistance,
Uhlir called them off and confronted the person alone. After
the incident, Cooley told Uhlir that she should not have
called off the backup and that handling the situation with
other officers would have been safer than handling it alone.
• On April 28, 2016, another WPD officer, Michael
Schumaker, complained that Uhlir had made disparaging remarks
about him during the morning roll call. According to
Schumaker, another officer told him that Uhlir had commented
that she found Schumaker disgusting because of his excessive
sweating. Cooley discussed the matter with Uhlir and reported
that she “took full responsibility for her actions and
apologized to the officer, ” adding that she “was
accepting of the coaching and maintained a positive
attitude.” Uhlir Dep. Ex. 11 at 162.
• Cooley observed that Uhlir's “critical
incident reviews” had been returned multiple times for
corrections and had not been submitted in a timely fashion.
He cites one review relating to an incident that occurred on
February 22, 2016, but was not submitted until April 14,
2016, despite several reminders. Id.