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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ind. Decisions - Two Indiana cases today from 7th Circuit

In Chaney v. Plainfield Healthcare Center (SD Ind., Barker), a 17-page opinion, Judge Williams writes:

This case pits a health-care worker’s right to a non-discriminatory workplace against a patient’s demand for white-only health-care providers. Plainfield Healthcare Center is a nursing home that housed a resident who did not want assistance from black certified nursing assistants. Plainfield complied with this racial preference by telling Brenda Chaney, a black nursing assistant, in writing everyday that “no black” assistants should enter this resident’s room or provide her with care.

Chaney brought this action under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. She claims that Plainfield’s practice of acceding to the racial biases of its residents is illegal and created a hostile work environment. She also asserts that Plainfield fired her because she was black. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as amicus, agrees, and together they urge reversal of the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Plainfield. Because the racial preference policy violates Title VII by creating a hostile work environment and because issues of fact remain over whether race motivated the discharge, we reverse the district court’s order. * * *

More fundamentally, Plainfield never corrected the principle source of the racial hostility in the workplace—its willingness to accede to a patient’s racial preferences. The hostility that Chaney described came from daily reminders that Plainfield was employing her on materially different terms than her white co-workers. Fueling this pattern was the racial preference policy, both a source of humiliation for Chaney and fodder for her co-workers, who invoked it regularly. It was, in short, a racially hostile environment, and the evidence presented at summary judgment allows a jury to conclude that Plainfield took insufficient measures to address it.

In USA v. Enedeo Rodriguez, Jr (ND Ind. Springmann), a 22-pge opinion, Judge Kanne writes:
Appellants were conspirators in a drug distribution ring. After their scheme was infiltrated by an undercover officer and they were arrested, Appellants decided to take their chances at trial by jury. Following a five-day trial, each was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. The district court held sentencing hearings during which it overruled each defendant’s sentencing objections and imposed a sentence on each defendant. Appellants now appeal their sentences, claiming that enhancements were improperly applied and reductions were erroneously ignored. We affirm.
Another opinion today, in an Illinois case, Brandt v. Village of Winnetka, looks very interesting, but I haven't had the change to read it. It involves a village "ordinance requiring people whose events occasion the need for * * * all “special services,” such as extra police, closing streets, and rerouting traffic" to pay for them. The court discuses standing, the evaluation of an as-applied challenge, etc.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 20, 2010 02:05 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions