Chris P. Lane, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Riverview Hospital, Defendant-Appellee.
June 10, 2015
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No.
l:13-cv-01113-TWP-TAB - Tanya Walton Pratt, Judge.
Manion, Williams, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.
Hamilton, Circuit Judge.
Chris Lane sued River-view Hospital, his former employer, for
race discrimination in terminating his employment as a
security guard at the hospital. The district court granted
summary judgment for the defendant. We affirm.
review a grant of summary judgment de novo, and we
give the non-moving party the benefit of conflicts in the
evidence and of any inferences in his favor that might
reasonably be drawn from the evidence. See Mintz v.
Caterpillar Inc., 788 F.3d 673, 679 (7th Cir. 2015). Our
account of the facts is filtered through that summary
African American and began working as a security guard at
Riverview Hospital in 1999. He had a successful employment
record at the hospital, without any formal discipline until
the event at the center of this lawsuit.
August 2012, a 17-year-old male autistic patient started
hitting, swinging at, and kicking his caregivers. The
situation had gotten so far out of hand that the health care
professionals were afraid to approach the young man or to
enter the room. A nurse summoned security.
responded and entered the room. He saw the patient kick one
of the staff in the back. Lane then tried to restrain the
patient, who tried to bite him and then spit in Lane's
mouth. As the patient prepared to spit again, Lane slapped
him in the face with his open palm, making "solid
contact." The patient settled down and stopped swinging
and kicking at Lane and the health care professionals in the
the incident, Lane completed a written report for the
hospital explaining why he thought the slap was justified
under the circumstances. He also filed a report with the
Sheriff's Department, where he had status as a special
deputy as a condition of his work for the hospital. The
recipients of these reports concluded he had shown poor
judgment and had overreacted without trying less violent
steps to gain control of the situation. The Sheriff's
Department actually sought to file a criminal assault charge
against Lane, but the prosecutor declined to bring a charge.
hospital, the outcome was different. Ann Kuzee, the
hospital's director of human resources, also investigated
the incident. Kuzee reviews and enforces Riverview's
rules, policies, and procedures, and she becomes involved any
time a supervisor proposes to discipline or fire an employee
who is not a physician. Kuzee does not have the final say in
whether to fire an employee. Her recommendations are
presented to the Executive Steering Committee for decision.
confirming with Lane that he had in fact slapped the patient,
Kuzee recommended that his employment be terminated. The
hospital has a policy on restraints that prohibits "any
form of restraint that is not medically necessary or is used
as a means of coercion, discipline, convenience, or
retaliation by staff, " and another policy prohibits
acts or threats of violence. The Executive Steering Committee
approved Ku-zee's recommendation on the condition that
she consult the Sheriff's Department about whether the
force used by Lane, a deputized officer, was appropriate. A
major at the Sheriff's Department told Kuzee that he
thought Lane's slap was not an appropriate use of force
for the situation.
hospital told Lane that if he did not resign, he would be
fired. He chose to resign a few days later. The district
court treated the situation as a constructive discharge, and
that point is not at issue in the appeal.
exhausting administrative remedies through a complaint to the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Lane filed suit for
race discrimination in employment in violation of Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a),
and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. We analyze Title VII and §
1981 claims under the same framework. E.g., Whitfield v.
Int'l Truck & Engine Corp., 755 F.3d 438, 442
(7th Cir. 2014).
were the entire story, we would have an employer's
disciplinary decision that would be well within an
employer's discretion to make. The question is whether
Lane offered enough additional evidence to ...