December 11, 2018
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. l:16-cv-11080 -
Ronald A. Guzman, Judge.
Wood, Chief Judge, and Ripple, and Barrett, Circuit Judges.
Ripple, Circuit Judge.
Cervantes brought this action against his employer, Ardagh
Group ("Ardagh"), alleging violations of Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
et seq., and the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS
5/1-101 et seq. ("IHRA"). The complaint
asserted that Ardagh had refused to promote him, had issued
him performance warnings, and had demoted him because of his
race and national origin and in retaliation for previous
complaints about discrimination and harassment. The district
court granted summary judgment in favor of Ardagh.
district court's decision is correct. Mr. Cervantes did
not exhaust his administrative remedies for his
discrimination claims. His retaliation claim also must fail
because there is no evidence of a causal connection between
any protected activity by Mr. Cervantes and an adverse
employment action by Ardagh. Accordingly, we affirm the
judgment of the district court.
Cervantes began his career at Ardagh in 1991 as a pallet
loader. He was promoted to fork lift driver in 1998 and to
electro-mechanic in 2000. His complaint followed an incident
that took place in 2015. Taking the facts in the light most
favorable to Mr. Cervantes,  on June 20, 2015, after
completing his shift, he remained at the Ardagh facility to
assist his father, a fellow Ardagh employee, with fixing a
machine. During this second shift, supervisor Katina Stewart
attempted to call Mr. Cervantes on his radio, but could not
reach him. When Stewart located Mr. Cervantes in the
facility, he explained that he had not responded to the radio
calls because he was not working a second shift; he was only
stay- ing past his shift to help his father. Stewart informed
Mr. Cervantes that if he was not accepting assignments for
the second shift, he must leave the facility. He eventually
complied. Stewart reported the incident, and Mr. Cervantes
was written up for insubordination and temporarily suspended.
Following an investigation, Ardagh demoted Mr. Cervantes from
electro-mechanic to forklift driver.
September 3, 2015, Mr. Cervantes filed a charge with the
Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). In
the section of the form titled "Discrimination Based
On," Mr. Cervantes checked only the box for
"Retaliation." He did not check the box for
race, national origin, or any other basis of discrimination.
The IDHR commenced an investigation into his allegations,
seeking additional information from Mr. Cervantes and from
Ardagh. By March 31, 2016, Mr. Cervantes had retained
counsel, who sent a letter to IDHR on his behalf in response
to the agency's questions about the charge. On July 13,
2016, the IDHR dismissed Mr. Cervantes's charge, finding
a lack of substantial evidence to support his allegations.
December 5, 2016, Mr. Cervantes filed a complaint in the
district court. He alleged that Ardagh had violated Title VII
and the IHRA by failing to promote him, issuing him
performance warnings, and demoting him based on his race and
national origin and in retaliation for his previous
complaints about harassment and discrimination. Ardagh moved
for summary judgment on all claims, and the district court
granted that motion.
district court first determined that Mr. Cervantes could not
proceed on his claims for race and national origin
discrimination because he had failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies and because these allegations were
not reasonably related to his retaliation charge. The
district court then concluded that Mr. Cervantes had failed
to state a claim for retaliation because he had not
established that he engaged in protected activity. He also
failed to offer any evidence that his supervisors were aware
of any complaints he raised and therefore did not demonstrate
a causal connection between any protected activity and an
adverse employment action. The district court entered
judgment in favor of Ardagh on November 14, 2017, and Mr.
Cervantes timely appealed.
review the district court's grant of summary judgment de
novo. Ortiz v. John O. Butler Co.,94 F.3d 1121,
1124 (7th Cir. 1996). "We will not resolve factual
disputes or weigh conflicting evidence," but "will
only determine whether a ...