United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
KATRINA B. COMER, Plaintiff,
SCHOOL CITY OF HAMMOND INC., Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
LOZANO, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
matter is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment
filed by School City of Hammond, Inc., on November 2, 2016.
For the reasons set forth below, this motion is
GRANTED and this case is DISMISSED
B. Comer (“Comer”) was employed by the School
City of Hammond, Inc. (“Hammond School”) as a
painter from May 2010 until July 1, 2014. During her time
with Hammond School, Comer filed several charges with the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).
Relevant here are two charges filed in 2014.
March 29, 2014, Comer filed Charge No. 470-2014-01277 against
the Hammond School. In this charge, Comer alleged that she
was retaliated against for filing two previous charges with
the EEOC and discriminated against due to her race and sex. A
few months later, on July 10, 2014, Comer filed Charge No.
470-2014-02282 against the Hammond School. Under this charge,
Comer alleged Hammond School terminated her position in
retaliation for filing the three previous charges. The EEOC
issued its Dismissal and Notice of Rights for Charge Nos.
470-2014-02282 and 470-2014-01277 on September 30, 2014.
December 29, 2014, Comer filed a pro se employment
discrimination complaint against Hammond School and Diane
Schweitzer. Comer retained counsel and the complaint was
amended and to allege multiple claims, as follows: 1)
unlawful discrimination and job elimination based on race and
sex in violation of Title VII; 2) retaliation in violation of
Title VII; 3) a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. section 1983 for
a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment; and 4) a violation
of 42 U.S.C. section 1981. The Defendants filed a motion to
dismiss the amended complaint. This Court dismissed all
claims except the Title VII claims against Hammond School
arising under EEOC Charge Nos. 470-2014-01277 and
the close of discovery, the instant motion for summary
judgment was filed. The motion is now fully briefed and ripe
judgment must be granted when “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). A
genuine dispute of material fact exists when “the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505,
91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Not every dispute between the parties
makes summary judgment inappropriate; “[o]nly disputes
over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under
the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary
judgment.” Id. To determine whether a genuine
dispute of material fact exists, the Court must construe all
facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and
draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.
See Ogden v. Atterholt, 606 F.3d 355, 358 (7th Cir.
opposing a properly supported summary judgment motion may not
rely on allegations in her own pleading but rather must
“marshal and present the court with the evidence she
contends will prove her case.” Goodman v. Nat'l
Sec. Agency, Inc., 621 F.3d 651, 654 (7th Cir. 2010).
“[I]nferences relying on mere speculation or conjecture
will not suffice.” Stephens v. Erickson, 569
F.3d 779, 786 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). If the
nonmoving party fails to establish the existence of an
essential element on which she bears the burden of proof at
trial, summary judgment is proper. See Massey v.
Johnson, 457 F.3d 711, 716 (7th Cir. 2006).
support of the instant summary judgment motion, Hammond
School has set forth a detailed summary of the evidence
before this Court, supported by citations to the evidence.
(DE #40-1). In response, Comer explicitly indicates that she
admits the truth of the Hammond School's undisputed
facts, although she denies that those facts entitle Hammond
School to summary judgment. (DE #43-1 at 2). Comer also
tendered nine numbered paragraphs designated as disputed
material facts. These paragraphs consist of short conclusory
statements or questions without citations to the record. They
will therefore be disregarded by this Court. Because the facts
in this case are undisputed, the Court has relied heavily on
the facts as presented in the Hammond School's statement
of undisputed material facts, supplementing and editing where
School is a political subdivision of the State of Indiana.
The Superintendent is Dr. Walter J. Watkins. (“Dr.
Watkins”). Hammond School is governed by a seven-person
elected Board of School Trustees. Dr. Diane Schweitzer
(“Dr. Schweitzer”) is Hammond School's
Director of Buildings and Grounds, and has served in this
position since September 2011. Dr. Schweitzer's duties
involve managing the Maintenance Department, which includes a
number of departments, such as HVAC, plumbing and the
painting department. These departments are also referred to
as “crafts.” Comer is an African-American woman
who began working at Hammond School as a painter in May 2010.
Ed Cassady (“Cassady”) was Comer's supervisor
until his death in March 2014. Cassady was Caucasian. Until
Cassady's death, Comer and Cassady were the only two
employees in Hammond School's painting department. Comer
and Cassady were good friends. Both Comer and Cassady were
members of Local 460, the painter's union. Each of the
departments within Hammond School's maintenance
department, or “crafts”, employ people that are
members of each craft's respective union. All of the
employees in the Maintenance Department are based in the
Hammond School's warehouse.
to Dr. Schweitzer assuming these responsibilities,
Comer's supervisor was Joe Hickman
(“Hickman”). In 2010, while Hickman was
Comer's supervisor, there was an incident involving
another employee in the maintenance department, Kevin
Kolcznski (“Kolcznski”), who is Caucasian.
Cassady and Comer were sitting in a room watching something
on a computer when Kolcznski walked past the room. Kolcznski
asked them if they were watching “porn.” Cassady
said “no” and, together with Comer, complained to
Hickman. Comer was not disciplined in any way as a result of
the incident or her complaint to Hickman.
Kuc (“Kuc”), another maintenance department
employee, is Caucasian and worked in Buildings and Grounds.
Comer alleged that he gave the “Hitler salute” to
herself and Cassady on several occasions. Cassady advised
Comer that “he does it all the time” and the
gesture was not limited to Comer. Comer reported this to
Cassady, and Cassady told Hickman. Comer was not disciplined
or reprimanded in any way because of this incident or the
report to Hickman.
next incident occurred at a Christmas party for employees of
the maintenance department in December 2010. The Christmas
party was not held on School property. The Plaintiff was
sitting at a table at the party with several people,
including Kolcznski, Kuc, and Keith Kleinfeldt
(“Kleinfeldt”). Someone made a comment about
having three “K's” sitting there. At that
point, Kolcznski put his hood on over his head and started
laughing, and then said “KKK.” No one else at the
party was inappropriate, and all others were nice to Comer.
Comer made a report regarding this incident to Cassady and
she believes he then told Hickman. Comer was not disciplined
for making this report.
also took issue regarding a comment made by Kolcznski to
Cassady to the effect that Comer did not do any work while
Cassady was on vacation. Comer believes this occurred in
2011. Cassady spoke to Hickman regarding this statement.
Comer was not disciplined, reprimanded or demoted in any way
due to Kolcznski's alleged remark.
also was disturbed regarding a remark that she believes was
placed in Cassady's 2011 evaluation that suggested that
Cassady should provide Comer with additional training so that
she could expand her knowledge within the Maintenance
Department. The remarks were directed to Cassady, not Comer.
They did not state that Comer was failing to perform any of