United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Employment — discrimination
Where an employer’s action was motivated solely by personal conflict, summary judgment was properly granted to the employer on the employee’s Title VII claim.
“An employee engages in a protected activity by either: (1) filing a charge, testifying, assisting or participating in any manner in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under Title VII or other employment statutes; or (2) opposing an unlawful employment practice. Vague and obscure ‘complaints’ do not constitute protected activity. See Andonissamy v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 547 F.3d 841, 850-51 (7th Cir. 2008). The record demonstrates that Sim’s behavior toward Northington did not involve Northington’s race or gender; rather, it was personal and based on Northington’s involvement with Maghett. There is nothing in the record which indicates that Sims, who is of the same race and gender as Northington, was motivated by anything but personal conflict. Because the harassment itself was not a purported violation of Title VII, Northington’s complaints do not qualify as alleging a protected activity. The district court properly held that Northington’s retaliation claim fails as a matter of law.”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Manning, J., Cudahy, J.