618 F.3d 688 (7th Cir. 2010), 07-2288, Berry v. Chicago Transit Authority

Docket Nº:07-2288.
Citation:618 F.3d 688
Opinion Judge:ROVNER, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:Cynthia BERRY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY, Defendant-Appellee.
Attorney:Armand L. Andry, Attorney (argued), Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff-Appellant. Rachel L. Kaplan, Attorney (argued), Chicago Transit Authority, Diane M. Ainsworth, Attorney, Ainsworth & Associates, Chicago, IL, for Defendant-Appellee.
Judge Panel:Before KANNE, ROVNER, and TINDER, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:August 23, 2010
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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618 F.3d 688 (7th Cir. 2010)

Cynthia BERRY, Plaintiff-Appellant,



No. 07-2288.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

August 23, 2010

Argued April 6, 2010.

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Armand L. Andry, Attorney (argued), Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Rachel L. Kaplan, Attorney (argued), Chicago Transit Authority, Diane M. Ainsworth, Attorney, Ainsworth & Associates, Chicago, IL, for Defendant-Appellee.

Before KANNE, ROVNER, and TINDER, Circuit Judges.

ROVNER, Circuit Judge.

Cynthia Berry filed suit against her employer, the Chicago Transit Authority (" CTA" ), claiming that it discriminated against her because of her sex and subjected her to a hostile work environment, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the CTA, and Berry appeals. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

The CTA hired Berry as a carpenter in 2002. She worked alongside other carpenters, electricians, mechanics, and welders in the bus overhaul section of Area 315 at the CTA's South Shops facility. In January 2006-when the incident that precipitated this lawsuit occurred-Berry was one of only two women among approximately 50 employees in Area 315, and the only woman among approximately 15 carpenters there.

Berry and other workers in Area 315-including Philip Carmichael, an electrician, and Earl Marshall, a mechanic-often played cards during breaks. During her morning break on January 17 or 18, 2006, Berry went to the break area and sat on a bench at a picnic-style table with Marshall and two other employees, John Hill and Raymond Hardy. Carmichael followed Berry into the break area. Marshall wanted to play cards with Carmichael as his partner, against Hill and Hardy; he ordered Berry to get up from the table. Berry, offended by Marshall's commanding tone, remained seated. According to Berry, Carmichael sat down and straddled the bench so that he was facing Hardy, with his back close to Berry.

Marshall suggested that the four men move to the other end of the table; he, Hill, and Hardy did so. Berry says Carmichael remained where he was seated and began rubbing his back against her shoulder. She jumped up, told him not to rub himself against her, and sat down next to Hardy at the other end of the table. At this point, Berry says, Marshall began telling her to get up from the table again. Not wanting Marshall to think he could order her around, she remained seated, but began rubbing her temples to compose herself. According to Berry, she next felt Carmichael grabbing her breasts and lifting her up from the bench. Holding her in the air, he rubbed her buttocks against the front of his body-from his chest to his penis-three times before bringing her to the ground with force. Berry landed off-balance, with only one leg on the ground, and says Carmichael then pushed her into a fence. Upset and wanting to avoid any men, she lay down in a bus for the rest of her shift.

The next day, Berry told Michael Gorman-a manager at the South Shops facility, and one of her supervisors-how she had been sexually harassed the previous day. According to Berry, Gorman responded by telling her that she was " a pain in the butt" and that she could lose her job if she filed charges against Carmichael. Nonetheless, Gorman called Thelma Crigler, a CTA equal employment opportunity investigator, and asked her to investigate the incident. Crigler told Gorman she would not be able to conduct an investigation until the following week, and

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she asked him to collect statements about what happened from Berry, Carmichael, Marshall, Hill, and Hardy. After Berry wrote her statement and gave it to Gorman, he told her that the other employees had said that she sat in Carmichael's lap. Berry denied that, and says Gorman responded by telling her he didn't care what had happened, and that " he was going to do whatever it takes to protect CTA."

Berry also called the police to the South Shops facility on the day after the incident, telling them that Carmichael had attacked her. The police spoke with Berry, Carmichael, and Gorman, and determined that Berry had been the aggressor. Later that day, before Berry took her lunch break, Gorman told her to stay away from the break area pending Crigler's investigation. Gorman did not tell Carmichael or the other employees who saw the incident to stay away from the break area, although he did tell Carmichael to stay away from Berry. According to Berry, when she asked if Gorman had told the men involved not to go to the break area, Gorman replied, " Women aren't the only ones who can file sexual harassment."

Crigler's investigation ultimately reached a conclusion similar to that of the police: After reviewing the statements given to Gorman and interviewing Berry, Carmichael, and other employees, Crigler found no substantial evidence that Berry had been sexually harassed. Instead, Crigler determined that Berry had been the aggressor, sitting between Carmichael's legs; Carmichael picked her up-by the waist, he said-to move her out of his way. Berry contends that Gorman sabotaged Crigler's investigation to prevent her harassers from being punished and to make it appear as if she made false accusations of sexual harassment.

Because of lower-back pain and headaches that she says were caused by Carmichael's actions, Berry went on short-term disability leave soon after the incident in the break area. She sought injured-on-duty status, which would have entitled her to workers' compensation, but was instead placed on sick leave, which meant that she received pay only through June 2006. (Berry never returned to work from sick leave, and her lawyer informed us at argument that she is no longer employed by the CTA.) She maintains that Gorman refused to put her on injured-on-duty status and ordered instead that she be placed on sick leave.

Berry brought this lawsuit against the CTA in July 2006, claiming that Carmichael's actions and Gorman's response created a hostile work environment and constituted sex discrimination. (Her suit also included state-law claims of battery and intentional...

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