WILLIAM J. CAMPBELL, Senior District Judge.
Plaintiff-appellant Maxine Scott appeals the district court's dismissal of her Title VII employment discrimination action at the summary judgment stage (see 605 F.Supp. 1047 (1985)). Scott was employed by defendant-appellee Sears, Roebuck & Co. in 1980. She was a participant in a program Sears was involved in with the Chicago Alliance of Business & Employment Training, Inc. The program's goal was to train women in nontraditional areas of employment. It was subsidized with federal Comprehensive Employment & Training Act (CETA) funds. Scott's entire action against Sears was dismissed, yet on appeal she focuses on the dismissal of three of the charges in her complaint in particular. Two of these charges are that she was subjected to unlawful sexual harassment and that she was wrongfully discharged due to her gender, both in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. Scott claims her allegations surrounding these two charges contain genuine issues of material fact and were dismissed prematurely. The third charge that Scott focuses upon is that her termination violated an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing under Illinois contract law. She believes the district court incorrectly dismissed this claim as a matter of Illinois law. For the reasons set forth below, we see no error in the district court's rulings and therefore affirm.
The facts advanced by Scott in the fact section of her brief concerning her sexual harassment claim are as follows. Scott was training to become an automobile mechanic at Sears. She was placed at Sears' Orland Park automotive department after completing a required 12-week training course. A senior mechanic named Eddie Gadberry was assigned to give her on-the-job training in fixing brakes. Gadberry's superior was shop manager John Sanders. Sanders reported to department manager Ernest McDowell. Scott claims she was repeatedly sexually harassed by Gadberry, creating a "hostile environment" actionable under Title VII. She claims Gadberry repeatedly propositioned her, would wink at her and also suggested he give her a rub-down. She additionally alleges that when she asked for advice or assistance, Gadberry would often reply, "what will I get for it?" Scott alleges that a brake mechanic named Dave Frazier slapped her on the buttocks and that mechanic Al Williams
The district court adds the following facts. Scott admitted in her deposition Gadberry never explicitly asked her to have sex and never touched her. She claimed he was "basically nice" and considered him her friend. Gadberry's propositioning apparently amounted to requests to take her to a mall restaurant, the "Green Grasshopper," for drinks after work. Despite the fact Gadberry was known to respond "what will I get for it" when Scott asked him for advice, there is no evidence he ever withheld advice from Scott due to her refusal to "give something" in return. Concerning the conduct of other mechanics, there is no indication that any offensive conduct on their part was repeated or relentless. Scott equates the various mechanics' requests to take her out as requests for sex. She believes the mechanics' "suggestive attitudes" created a hostile working environment within the meaning of Title VII sex discrimination law. Yet Scott admits she never complained to Sanders, McDowell or any other supervisory personnel about any of the above.
As for her gender-based discharge claim, the discussion centers around Scott's productivity and a statement made at the time of her dismissal. Scott claims McDowell and Sanders told her she was not required to meet any productivity quotas but that her goal should be to accomplish two to two and one-half brake jobs per day. After approximately nine months, she had reached a two-brake-job per day level. While Scott admits more experienced mechanics like Gadberry could perform three brake jobs per day, she contends there was insufficient work to keep everyone busy at Sears' Orland Park location. She argues her low productivity was due in part to the fact that she was often assigned to do tire and battery work. Scott claims that when McDowell dismissed her (and the only other woman mechanic named Otis) in July 1981 it was due to her sex. This is evidenced, she claims, by the fact that at the time of her dismissal McDowell told her he "didn't want to pay a woman $7 an hour when he could get a man to do three brake jobs for that." (Scott Dep. 59)
In addressing Scott's gender-based discharge claim, the district court noted Scott was warned three months prior to her dismissal that her productivity was unsatisfactory. The court also noted the absence of any evidence that Gadberry had anything to do with the alleged wrongful termination. It is undisputed that the one time Sanders asked Gadberry to rate her performance Gadberry gave her a favorable rating. Also important is the fact that no mechanics were hired to replace Scott or Ms. Otis. All parties admit business at Sears' Orland Park automotive department was slow.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT/HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT CLAIM
We start by reviewing a few general principles of Title VII sex discrimination law recently enunciated by the United States Supreme Court in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 106 S.Ct. 2399, 91 L.Ed.2d 49 (1986).
Id., 477 U.S. at ___, 106 S.Ct. at 2406.
Although the existence of a hostile environment claim due to sexual harassment has been established under Title VII, the threshold issue in individual cases like the one at bar is whether the instances of harassment alleged by the plaintiff rise to a level of "hostility" offensive enough to be considered actionable. In Meritor the Supreme Court, citing Henson, stated, "For sexual harassment to be actionable, it must be sufficiently severe or pervasive `to alter the conditions of [the victim's] employment and create an abusive working environment'." Meritor, 477 U.S. at ___, 106 S.Ct. at 2406. (Parentheses supplied.)
In the case at bar, we agree with the district court that the harassment plaintiff was subjected to (even as advanced by plaintiff) was not so severe, debilitating or
We note, not insignificantly, that when deposed Scott admitted she considered Gadberry her friend. Additionally, there is no evidence of Gadberry becoming bitter due to Scott's refusal to entertain his advances. For example, there is no evidence Gadberry, as a senior brake mechanic, ever withheld advice from Scott or placed her in a disadvantageous position at the workplace. Indeed, the one time Gadberry was asked to evaluate Scott's performance, his response was favorable. As the district court noted, Scott is not entitled to a summary judgment ruling in her favor merely because she has raised a fact-oriented issue. She must raise a genuine issue of material fact in support of her claim. After reviewing all of the facts she advances, we agree with the district court that Scott has failed to meet her burden. She fails to show the conduct she complains of was so intimidating, offensive or hostile that it affected the "terms, conditions or privileges" of her employment at Sears.
Caveat: a major issue discussed in the briefs is Sears' potential liability for the conduct of Gadberry. We note that implicit in that discussion is the assumption that Scott had an actionable Title VII sexual harassment claim based on hostile environment grounds. Since we have held Scott has not demonstrated harassment necessary to maintain a Title VII hostile environment action, we need not address the liability, if any, that Sears, the employer, would have faced if Gadberry, as a senior mechanic, was found to have engaged in conduct violative of Title VII.
WRONGFUL DISCHARGE CLAIM
Concerning Scott's wrongful discharge claim, plaintiff Scott bears the initial burden of establishing a prima facie case in order to survive summary judgment. (See generally McDonnell Douglas Corporation v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 1824, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973); Box v. A & P Tea Co., 772 F.2d 1372, 1377-78 (7th Cir.1985)). We agree with the district court that Scott has failed to establish at least one necessary element of the prima facie criteria — that she was qualified for her position. Scott admits that after nine months on the job she was capable of performing only two brake jobs per day. She also admits more experienced mechanics could perform three per day. It is undisputed Scott was warned three months before her discharge her productivity was unsatisfactory. (Scott Dep. p. 46.) While she contends the reason for her lower productivity was that she was often assigned to the tire and battery department to work, this argument does not cut in her favor. Everyone admits Sears did not have sufficient work at its Orland Park automotive
IMPLIED COVENANT CLAIM
Finally, Scott claims the district court erred as a matter of law in dismissing her claim that her termination violated an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing pursuant to Illinois state law. We disagree. In her deposition, Scott admits that she never signed a written contract with Sears other than an employment application form, which explicitly stated she was an at-will employee (see Scott Dep. p. 50). In Illinois, implied covenants of good faith and fair dealing do not extend to at-will employees. Indeed, in Criscione v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 66 Ill.App.3d 664, 669-70, 23 Ill.Dec. 455, 459, 384 N.E.2d 91, 95 (1st Dist.1978) defendant Sears prevailed on the same argument advanced by Scott here. The Criscione court stated:
This principle was reaffirmed in Dykstra v. Crestwood Bank, 117 Ill.App.3d 821, 826, 73 Ill.Dec. 307, 311, 454 N.E.2d 51, 55 (1st Dist.1983). Hence, Scott's argument alleging an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing existed between the parties and was breached must fail.
The district court's dismissal of this action is AFFIRMED.