Smith v. Illinois Department of Transportation, No. 18-2948 (7th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
During his probationary employment period, Smith challenged and failed to follow directions, was confrontational, engaged in unsafe conduct, and received unsatisfactory evaluations. He filed internal and union complaints, alleging abusive language, docking his hours, and racial discrimination. The Illinois Department of Transportation discharged Smith. Smith sued the Department under Title VII, arguing that it had subjected him to a hostile work environment and fired him in retaliation for his complaints about racial discrimination. The district court granted the Department summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The district court was within its discretion in concluding that Smith’s expert witness testimony was inadmissible as not based on “sufficient facts or data” under Federal Rule of Evidence 702(b). An affidavit sworn by one of Smith’s supervisors was inadmissible because it lacked a proper foundation and was “replete with generalized assertions." Given the extensive evidence that Smith was not meeting his employer’s legitimate expectations, a reasonable jury could not find that the Department fired him because of his protected activity rather than for his poor performance nor could a reasonable jury have resolved the hostile work environment claim in Smith’s favor.