Stepp v. Covance Central Laboratory Services, Inc., No. 18-3292 (7th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Stepp sued his former employer, Covance, alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. 2000e–3, by refusing to hire him permanently in retaliation for his earlier complaints about discrimination. Stepp received positive performance reviews in his first nine months. Two of Stepp’s temporary coworkers were made permanent around their nine-month anniversary. While a temporary worker, Stepp, an African-American male, complained that Casteel, his team leader, treated female and white employees better than male and African-American employees and confronted Casteel directly. A manager investigated Stepp’s complaints but found them baseless. Stepp filed formal charges with the EEOC Casteel complained to Ball, a supervisor, that Stepp often stared at him, shook his head, smirked, and said “uh oh.” Shortly thereafter, with Stepp still in temporary status, Covance froze new hires in his department. Stepp asked Ball if Covance did not give him permanent status before the freeze because Casteel had complained about him; she responded “yes.” Stepp’s one-year term as a temporary worker ended soon after. Grubb, a human resources partner, planned to give a 90-day extension to temporary workers whose terms ended near the December holidays but Covance advised him that a 90-day extension was too long, so he shortened the extensions. The Seventh Circuit vacated a judgment in favor of Covance. A reasonable jury could conclude that Covance refused to promote Stepp to permanent status because of his complaints.