March 27, 2019
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Illinois. No. 16-1138-DRH - David R. Herndon,
Easterbrook, Kanne, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.
LaRiviere is an African-American woman who worked at Southern
Illinois University-Edwardsville ("SIUE") for
fifteen years. After several conflicts with coworkers,
LaRiviere was notified that she would not be reappointed to
her position. Immediately afterwards, she was transferred to
a new office with less than satisfactory conditions. She sued
SIUE and her supervisors.
district court granted summary judgment for defendants on all
claims. Because LaRiviere has not identified evidence that
her ethnicity was the reason for her termination or of a
causal connection between protected activity and her
termination, we affirm.
following facts are undisputed. In 2002, Southern Illinois
University-Edwardsville hired Janice LaRiviere on a
continuing appointment as an Assistant Director of Building
Maintenance. Her time with the Maintenance Department was
uneventful until March of 2011, when LaRiviere learned that
her supervisor was retiring. She spoke with Kenneth
Neher-SIUE's Vice Chancellor for Administration-about
becoming the new Director of Facilities Management. She asked
if SIUE would waive two requirements: that the position be
publicly posted and filled by someone with an engineering
degree (which LaRiviere does not have). Neher declined to
disregard those requirements and hire LaRiviere.
Neher hired Paul Fuligni to be the Director of Facilities
Management. Fuligni was a (nearly) thirty-year Navy
veteran-having served as a civil engineer with supervisory
authority over hundreds of employees. Despite his manifest
qualifications, LaRiviere believed she had been unfairly
passed over. She filed two state court discrimination
lawsuits challenging SIUE's hiring decisions. Both were
dismissed. The state court dismissed the second lawsuit on
August 14, 2014; the appeal ended in July 2015.
Fuligni hired Donna Meyer to fill a newly created
position-Associate Director of the Facilities Department.
LaRiviere reported directly to Meyer, who reported to
Fuligni. She resented the management styles adopted by her
the next several years, LaRiviere had several conflicts with
coworkers. On multiple instances, she refused to sign a
Position Description Questionnaire, a document prepared by
her supervisor which defined her duties and responsibilities.
In April 2013, LaRiviere refused to sign an updated PDQ -
prepared by Meyer-because she objected to the new duties and
responsibilities outlined within. In early 2016, Meyer gave
LaRiviere an updated PDQ which, LaRiviere believed, did not
accurately reflect her true duties. Ultimately, she signed
the document but also wrote that she was "signing under
record contains other contentious workplace interactions.
During one meeting, LaRiviere referred to a group of
architects as "paper pushers" and stated that she
should receive a bonus for meeting with all of "these
people." In March 2016, LaRiviere submitted sick leave
and vacation requests for a two-week period. She
wasn't ill and tentatively planned to work each of those
days. But LaRiviere didn't want to comply with a recently
implemented 48-hour notice requirement for leave in the event
her plans changed.
these incidents, Lariviere received positive performance
reviews. During her time at SIUE, she received no written
reprimands and only one oral reprimand (for refusing to
discipline a subordinate employee).
5, 2016, SIUE notified LaRiviere that she would not be
reappointed to her position. Pursuant to the applicable
personnel policies, that meant her employment would end in a
year. The district court found -and LaRiviere doesn't
deny-that employees who have not been reappointed are often
transferred to a different office to serve out their term.
That's exactly what happened here. After making ...