Johnson v. Advocate Health and Hospitals Corp., No. 16-3848 (7th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs claim that they faced racial discrimination while working as Environmental Service Technicians (EVS techs) at Advocate, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e; 42 U.S.C. 1981. In 2012, Advocate contracted with Aramark and reorganized the supervision of the EVS department; Aramark was responsible for managing the department while abiding by Advocate's policies, including Advocate’s non-discrimination policy. Plaintiffs claim that Aramark supervisors engaged in discriminatory acts, in that: two plaintiffs were paid less than white EVS techs; two were denied promotions and raises; plaintiffs were managed and disciplined more scrupulously than their non-African-American co-workers, and terminated in a discriminatory fashion; African-American plaintiffs were given less desirable and more strenuous assignments; Aramark supervisors subjected plaintiffs to offensive and derogatory racial comments, creating a hostile work environment. The district court granted Advocate summary judgment, concluding that the plaintiffs did not experience severe or pervasive race-based harassment, that there was no basis for employer liability, and that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that racial animus motivated the decisions to terminate three plaintiffs. As for the hostile work environment claim, the lower court held that cited comments, although concerning, were too isolated, indirect, and sporadic, and not so serious as to have affected working conditions. The Seventh Circuit remanded the hostile work environment claim but otherwise affirmed.