United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Katie Wiggins filed this action alleging that she was
discriminated and retaliated against by Franciscan Physician
Management Corp., for which she worked as an ultrasound
technician. Discovery closed and Franciscan moved for summary
judgment. Ms. Wiggins, who is represented by counsel, sought
and received an extension of time to respond to the motion,
but never filed a response by that new deadline. Thus,
evaluating the motion on the evidence before it, the Court
concludes that Franciscan is entitled to summary judgment.
the filing of a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving
must present sufficient evidence to show the existence of
each element of its case on which it will bear the burden at
trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
322-23 (1986); Robin v. Espo Eng'g Corp., 200
F.3d 1081, 1088 (7th Cir. 2000). As some courts have put it,
summary judgment is the “put up or shut up”
moment in a lawsuit, when a plaintiff must “show what
evidence [s]he has that would convince a trier of fact”
to find in her favor on any disputed elements. Olendzki
v. Rossi, 765 F.3d 742, 749 (7th Cir. 2014). When a
party fails to submit evidence in response to a motion for
summary judgment, the Court can consider the facts set forth
by the moving party to be undisputed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2).
Accordingly, the Court deems the facts offered by Franciscan
to be undisputed. Those facts are set forth in detail in
Franciscan's filings, but the Court offers a brief
summary of the relevant facts below.
Wiggins (formerly Conerly), an African American woman, was
hired by Franciscan as an ultrasound technician, and started
in March 2015. Ms. Wiggins received a week of orientation,
after which she began training with two experienced
ultrasound technicians. Ms. Wiggins spent half days with each
of those technicians. She began by observing the technicians,
and then began performing ultrasounds herself under their
supervision. This continued for about two months. After the
first month, Ms. Wiggins met with a human resources
representative for a 30-day post-hire meeting. She said that
she was “extremely satisfied” with her employment
so far, that she felt welcomed by other employees, and that
her training was “going good.” After about two
months of working with the two technicians, Ms. Wiggins began
performing ultrasounds herself, under the supervision of a
doctor. The doctor provided verbal instructions and also
reviewed Ms. Wiggins' scans before they were submitted.
That doctor concluded in early June that Ms. Wiggins was
ready to begin performing ultrasounds on her own.
Ms. Wiggins began performing ultrasounds on her own, however,
multiple patients made complaints about her work. At least
one of the doctors she worked with did as well. Accordingly,
her supervisor and other medical staff met and decided to
have another technician observe and review Ms. Wiggins'
work. Before that review occurred, Ms. Wiggins wrote a letter
to her supervisor on June 22, 2015, in which she claimed to
have been discriminated against and subjected to a hostile
work environment. In the letter, Ms. Wiggins stated that she
had not received adequate training, and that one of the
doctors, Dr. Ramirez, had been disrespectful to her and had
criticized her work. Franciscan's human resources manager
conducted an investigation into Ms. Wiggins' concerns.
The investigation found that Ms. Wiggins had received proper
training, and that while Dr. Ramirez had been rude on one
occasion, that situation had already been addressed and Dr.
Ramirez had apologized. The investigation also found no
indication of racial discrimination or harassment.
2015, Ms. Wiggins' work was observed by another
technician, as had been previously decided. The review
revealed a number of errors in Ms. Wiggins' scans, and
Franciscan determined that the patient complaints and
physician concerns were substantiated. Ms. Wiggins was then
placed on a performance improvement plan, which she
successfully completed in late August or early September. At
that time, Ms. Wiggins was moved from Franciscan's
Woman's Clinic facility, where she completed her
training, to its Premier facility, where she had been hired
to work. At that facility, Ms. Wiggins no longer had regular
contact with Dr. Ramirez, who worked in another building, and
she did not encounter any more of the issues that she had
raised in her June 22 letter. However, she submitted a letter
of resignation on November 11, stating that she had
“been treated in an unfavorable manner, ” which
took a toll on her health. No. one at Franciscan had asked or
encouraged her to resign.
Wiggins later filed this action after receiving a
right-to-sue letter. She asserted claims for racial
discrimination under Title VII (Count 1) and § 1981
(Count 2); claims for a hostile work environment under Title
VII (Count 3) and § 1983 (Count 4); and a retaliation
claim (Count 5). After the close of discovery, Franciscan
moved for summary judgment on December 8, 2017. Ms. Wiggins,
by counsel, sought an extension of time to respond to the
motion. The Court granted that request, giving Ms. Wiggins
until February 5, 2018 to respond. However, that date passed
without any filing by Ms. Wiggins. Franciscan then filed a
reply brief, citing Ms. Wiggins' failure to respond. Ms.
Wiggins has not submitted any further filings. Accordingly,
the motion for summary judgment is now ripe.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is proper when 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). A “material” fact is one identified by the
substantive law as affecting the outcome of the suit.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). A “genuine issue” exists with respect to
any material fact when “the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.” Id. Where a factual record taken as a
whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial, and
summary judgment should be granted. Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587
(1986) (citing Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Servs. Co.,
391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968)). In determining whether a genuine
issue of material fact exists, this Court must construe all
facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and
draw all reasonable and justifiable inferences in that
party's favor. Jackson v. Kotter, 541 F.3d 688,
697 (7th Cir. 2008); King v. Preferred Tech. Grp.,
166 F.3d 887, 890 (7th Cir. 1999). Ms. Wiggins' failure
to respond to the motion does not inevitably mean that it
will be granted. Rather, the Court may “grant summary
judgment if the motion and supporting materials-including the
facts considered undisputed- show that the movant is entitled
to it.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(3).
Wiggins has asserted claims for racial discrimination, for a
hostile work environment, and for retaliation. Franciscan
moved for summary judgment on all claims, and the Court
considers them in turn.
Counts 1 and 2, Racial Discrimination
Counts 1 and 2, Ms. Wiggins alleges that she was
discriminated against because of her race when she was denied
training and when she was constructively discharged. Ms.
Wiggins asserts these claims under both Title VII and §
1981, which are analyzed the same for these purposes.
Williams v. Waste Mgmt. of Ill., 361 F.3d 1021, 1028
(7th Cir. 2004). A racial discrimination claim requires a
plaintiff to show that she suffered an adverse employment
action and that it was motivated by her race. Boss v.
Castro, 816 F.3d 910, 916 (7th Cir. 2016). Franciscan
argues that Ms. Wiggins cannot make either ...