United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
HON.WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
cause is before the Court on the Defendant's fully
briefed Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 42). The Court,
being duly advised, now GRANTS the
Defendant's motion for the reasons set forth below.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary 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.” In ruling on
a motion for summary judgment, the admissible evidence
presented by the non-moving party must be believed, and all
reasonable inferences must be drawn in the non-movant's
favor. Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th
Cir. 2009) (“We view the record in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable
inferences in that party's favor.”). However, a
party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may
not rest on its pleadings, but must show what evidence it has
that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires
trial. Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., Inc., 325 F.3d
892, 901 (7th Cir. 2003). Finally, the non-moving party bears
the burden of specifically identifying the relevant evidence
of record, and “the court is not required to scour the
record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary
judgment.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d
713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001).
Plaintiff, Shakeel Baig, brings his Complaint against the
Defendant, State of Indiana, Department of Transportation
(“INDOT”) alleging violations of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
et seq. (“Title VII”). Baig alleges that he was
discriminated against and subjected to a hostile work
environment because of his race, religion, and national
origin, and that the Defendant unlawfully retaliated against
him for complaining of race, religion, and national origin
discrimination and harassment.
originally from Pakistan. He is a practicing Muslim and
identifies as Asian. Baig began working for INDOT in 1997. He
worked in its Crawfordsville, Indiana division office
beginning in 2005. He was hired as a design engineer and
received several promotions. His final promotion was to
Director of Production, a position that was later renamed
Director of Capital Program Management and Director of
Program Management. In this position, among other things, he
was responsible for identifying projects, looking after the
budget, and managing people below him. About five or six
people reported directly to Baig, and he directly or
indirectly supervised about thirty employees.
Plunkett has held the position of Deputy Commissioner of
INDOT's Crawfordsville Division since 2005. Plunkett is
of North American descent, does not practice Islam, and is
Caucasian. Baig reported directly to Plunkett from 2005 to
2013, when a reorganization took place within INDOT. While
Baig and Plunkett continued to work together on projects
after the reorganization, Louis Feagans became Baig's
supervisor. Feagans is of North American descent, does not
practice Islam, and is Caucasian.
generally received good performance reviews. Baig received a
“Meets Expectations” on his 2009, 2010, and 2012
annual performance appraisals. Baig received a rating of
“Exceeds Expectations” on his 2011 annual
performance appraisal. His final performance appraisal,
completed by Feagans for the year 2013, was also a rating of
“Meets Expectations” and included assessments of
“Meets Expectations” or “Exceeds
Expectations” in every individual category. Feagans
completed Baig's “Manager Evaluation” and
reported that “Shakeel needs to continue to work on his
relationships with his staff and providing them with new
challenges and understanding their strengths and
needs.” Dkt. No. 42-7 at 2.
Comments and Actions
mentions numerous negative comments Plunkett made to him over
the course of his employment. In 2008, Plunkett first told
Baig that Baig was lucky to have a spot on the organizational
chart. Plunkett repeated this comment to Baig several times.
2008, Plunkett excluded Baig from a National Guard project
that had begun in 2006. When Plunkett told Baig that he would
not take Baig to a meeting with the National Guard, Plunkett
made a comment that he did not want to scare them and
“doesn't want them to think there's a terrorist
on the ground.” Dkt. No. 42-21 at 6. Plunkett also said
that Baig would scare the mayor of Lafayette if he were to
meet with him.
2010, Baig began growing a beard. Plunkett made multiple
comments suggesting that Baig should shave his beard, his
looked shabby, and that he would look better without the
beard. Plunkett also made comments to Baig that the beard
made him look like a terrorist. Once, during a staff meeting,
Plunkett said that the FBI was watching Baig. Plunkett would
tell Baig that he needed to shave his beard or the FBI would
pick him up.
year to eighteen months when Baig was preparing to fly to
Pakistan, Plunkett would tell Baig that he would have a hard
time getting through security coming back from Pakistan. Baig
last flew to Pakistan in 2013. When Baig would return from
Pakistan, Plunkett would say, “So I guess they let you
go.” Dkt. No. 42-21 at 9.
also asked Baig several culturally insensitive questions. For
example, he asked Baig if he was allowed to marry four wives
and whether he would “get seventy virgins” if he
killed someone. Dkt. No. 42-21 at 30. Plunkett asked Baig if
he was required to wear a beard to return to Pakistan and if
his wife was required to cover her whole body in Pakistan. He
also asked if Baig knew Osama Bin Laden. Plunkett also made
comments about “nuking” Muslims and Muslim
countries and opined that there should be stricter TSA
security for Muslims at the airport.
or 2012, Plunkett called Baig into his office and asked Baig
if it was a cultural thing to throw used toilet paper on the
floor rather than dispose of it in the toilet. When the issue
came up again at a staff meeting, Plunkett again asked Baig
if it was part of his culture to throw toilet paper on the
floor. Plunkett also accused Jawed Bari, a Muslim employee
from India, of throwing toilet paper on the floor. In May
2014, Bari overheard Plunkett say, “these foreigners,
these brown people, they think they are very smart people,
but they are not, they are shit.” Dkt. No. 48-7 at 2.
Plunkett also threatened Baig with “consequences”
after Baig hired Bari.
after President Obama was elected, Plunkett made the comment
that black people thought they would get a free ride because
there was a black president and that deep down he thought
President Obama was a Muslim. Baig found Plunkett's
comments about President Obama being a Muslim to be in a
negative tone. Between 2009 and 2014, Plunkett made racial
comments about President Obama five or six times. The
comments were made in a tone such that Baig believed that
Plunkett did not like African-Americans.
Plunkett made comments about Baig's accent and pretended
that he could not understand Baig. Baig was told by two other
people that Plunkett and Joe Lewein, another employee, were
making fun of his accent. Although Plunkett did not have any
problems pronouncing Baig's name, he did have difficulty
with the names of two other employees-Noor Afrin and Asfahan.
Plunkett commented that he wished they would use nicknames
that he would find easier to pronounce.
usually did not tell Plunkett that his offensive comments
upset him because Plunkett told Baig he did not forget
things, and Plunkett would sometimes get very angry with
Baig, leading Baig to fear retaliation.
would go to Baig's employees to inquire whether Baig was
“doing anything wrong.” Dkt. No. 42-21 at 6. He
did not ask Baig's counterparts, such as Bruce Conrad and
Mark Albers, or his counterparts' employees, about what
they were doing. Plunkett did not give Baig a computer camera
for web-conferences, as other individuals had. Plunkett would
give Baig the worst cars in the district for his department,
and his employees were always having trouble with the cars.
This created hurdles that affected Baig's productivity.