(with locations in: Bow, NH, Gilmanton Iron Works, NH, Dover, NH, Gilford, NH, Keene, NH, Lancaster, NH, Lebanon, NH, Manchester, NH, Nashua, NH, Portsmouth, NH, Salem, NH, Stratham, NH, and Berlin, VT)
(we are working to acquire the complete records for ALL years)
We advise current and/or former staff to report any abuses you may have witnessed while working at the Easter Seals Residential Programs. For information on your rights and how to take action, visit www.heal-online.org/blowthewhistle.htm. If you were fired or forced to resign because you opposed any illegal and/or unethical practices at Easter Seals Residential Programs, you have the right to take action.
If you were harmed (family or survivor) by Easter Seals Residential Programs, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you remember the long-term employees and from which years. This will help! Also, if you recognize any of these staff as having worked at another program, please send in any information about their past or present employment at other facilities and/or cults.
HEAL is currently investigating Easter Seals Residential Programs.
|Dorothy Tuttle||Vice President||Easter Seals Center Tuttle is not a licensed mental health, medical, nor social work professional in New Hampshire. Sources: https://nhlicenses.nh.gov/MyLicense%20Verification/Search.aspx and http://business.nh.gov/medicineboard/search.aspx Tuttle is not a licensed mental health, medical, nor social work professional in Vermont. Source: https://secure.vtprofessionals.org/Lookup/LicenseLookup.aspx|
|Carolann Mahoney||Director of Psych. Svcs.||Mahoney is not a licensed mental health, medical, nor social work professional in New Hampshire. Sources: https://nhlicenses.nh.gov/MyLicense%20Verification/Search.aspx and http://business.nh.gov/medicineboard/search.aspx Mahoney is not a licensed mental health, medical, nor social work professional in Vermont. Source: https://secure.vtprofessionals.org/Lookup/LicenseLookup.aspx|
|Paul Ameduri||Coordinator of Res. Svcs.||Ameduri is not a licensed mental health, medical, nor social work professional in New Hampshire. Sources: https://nhlicenses.nh.gov/MyLicense%20Verification/Search.aspx and http://business.nh.gov/medicineboard/search.aspx Ameduri is not a licensed mental health, medical, nor social work professional in Vermont. Source: https://secure.vtprofessionals.org/Lookup/LicenseLookup.aspx|
|Donna Keefe||Admissions Director||Donna Marie Keefe (may be a different person) is a licensed registered nurse in New Hampshire and has been since 1986. Source: https://nhlicenses.nh.gov/MyLicense%20Verification/SearchResults.aspx|
|Other||Other||Bow Facility in Bow, NH|
|Other||Other||Camp Sno Mo in Gilmanton Iron Works, NH|
|Other||Other||The Family Place in Dover, NH|
|Other||Other||Gilford Facility in Gilford, NH|
|Other||Other||Keene Facility in Keene, NH|
|Other||Other||Lancaster Facility in Lancaster, NH|
|Other||Other||Lebanon Facility in Lebanon, NH|
|Other||Other||Auburn Street Facility in Manchester, NH|
|Other||Other||Jolicoeour School in Manchester, NH|
|Other||Other||Manchester Camping and Recreation in Manchester, NH|
|Other||Other||Youth Residential Center (200 Zachary Rd) in Manchester, NH|
|Other||Other||Girls Group Home in Manchester, NH|
|Other||Other||Boys Group Home in Manchester, NH|
|Other||Other||Nashua Facility in Nashua, NH|
|Other||Other||Portsmouth Facility in Portsmouth, NH|
|Other||Other||The Family Place in Raymond, NH|
|Other||Other||Salem Facility in Salem, NH|
|Other||Other||Stratham Facility in Stratham, NH|
|Other||Other||Berlin Facility in Berlin, VT|
|*(Easter Seals Residential Programs, like many other programs in this industry, keeps a "tight lid" on any specific information regarding their staff, qualifications, and practices. Please contact us with the names of any staff of which you have firsthand knowledge or experience. Thank you for your help.)|
|HEAL received an anonymous report that the Easter Seals Residential Program located at 200 Zachary Rd in Manchester, NH is allegedly emotionally and physically abusive. The report was received by e-mail on September 8th, 2011. We are investigating.|
|Easter Seals sued by Sacramento affiliate over mailings Charity accused of misleading business practices SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) —The Sacramento-area Easter Seals affiliate sued the national organization, accusing the charity of unfair business practices and misleading donors. Related AP source: Kings GM D'Alessandro... Woman accuses Michael Lyon of... Expect scattered showers today in the... 61-year-old Manteca man arrested on... Affordable housing development to be... Watch report: Sacramento Easter Seals files lawsuit against parent organization Officials from the Easter Seal Society Superior California accused the national organization of using local post office boxes and customized letters to mislead donors into thinking donations were staying in the Sacramento area. One letter from the national organization even contained the signature of Gary Kasai, the CEO of the Sacramento affiliate, without his permission, the suit alleges. "They still think the money is coming here locally for the services, when in fact, we are not getting the money -- it's leaving the area," said Gary Novak, of the local affiliate. "It is not returning." The Easter Seal Society Superior California serves hundreds of disabled children, adults and seniors in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. "Somebody has got to stand up and say this misleading practice isn't right," Novak said. The Easter Seals Society has been sending out fundraising letters with calendars and return address labels to raise money for decades. The headquarters sent a large portion of proceeds from the fundraisers back to the local affiliates until 2010 when the policy was changed to keep more of those funds for national advocacy programs and other services. The chief strategy officer told KCRA 3 the fundraising campaign is not meant to be misleading and that funds collected are helping the disabled through services nationwide. "We're always testing those messages to make sure that the people (who) receive the mail pieces understand what we do and how the resources will be used and that they would be used across the country," said Randy Rutta, the chief strategy officer. Tax filings from 2012 indicate the national Easter Seals organization earned more than $12 million from direct mail fundraising. The charity spent $1.2 million on the effort. The Sacramento affiliate believes it has lost upwards of $200,000, according to the lawsuit. Novak said the affiliate didn't file the suit because of the money, but because it fears if donors feel misled, that will hurt the credibility of the entire organization -- and ultimately, the children, adults and seniors the affiliate is trying to serve. "All we're really asking is, be clear, communicate it correctly," Novak said. "Let the donor know where it's going -- here or the national organization." Rutta said the lawsuit will likely be handled in mediation. Source: http://www.kcra.com/news/easter-seals-sued-by-sacramento-affiliate-over-mailings/28275252|
|Ex-manager files suit against Easter Seals By TED SIEFER New Hampshire Union Leader CONCORD — The former manager of a disabled treatment center has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against his former employer, Easter Seals of New Hampshire. In the suit, Jeffrey Joseph alleges that he was terminated in part because he complained when his supervisor at the center he worked for in Hollis told him and other staff members to not walk minority patients in the neighborhood due to resident complaints. Joseph, who is black and lives in Goffstown, was hired by Easter Seals in 2008 and was asked to become the house manager at the new treatment center in Hollis for women with severe psychological disorders. The center has since closed. According to the lawsuit, Joseph&#';s supervisor told him and other staff members at an emergency meeting in March 2008 that &#';the neighbors suspected that Hollis House was operating as a crack house or a chop shop, or that it had a potential link to terrorism.&#'; The suit alleges that the complaints were related to Joseph, who wears dreadlocks, another black employee, Kathleen Flax, and Melody Bjorkman, a white woman who wore a Muslim veil. Flax, Bjorkman and another minority staff member, Aimee Gakwaya, are also party to the suit. They live in Manchester. The complaint further alleges that staff were directed to take non-white residents of the house to parks in Nashua, rather than in the neighborhood. In response to the staff members&#'; complaints that the organization was tolerating discrimination, Joseph&#';s supervisor told him and others &#';to play nice in the sandbox.&#'; In a response to the lawsuit, the lawyer for Easter Seals of New Hampshire denied most of the claims against the organization, without elaborating. The organization&#';s lawyer stated in a court document that the supervisor did use the expression &#';play nice in the sandbox,&#'; but denied that the comments were &#';racially motivated.&#'; In an email response, Easter Seals&#'; lawyer, David W. McGrath said: &#';Easter Seals won&#';t comment specifically about pending litigation, but denies the allegations and most definitely will defend the case vigorously.&#'; Joseph was fired in April 2008, a month after the staff meeting and three days before Easter Seals was to discuss concerns about the center with Hollis officials, according to Joseph&#';s complaint. Easter Seals does not specify the cause for Joseph&#';s termination, but denies the allegation that it was for &#';pretextual reasons.&#'; Joseph had first filed a discrimination complaint in July 2008 with the New Hampshire Commission for Civil Rights. The agency found that Joseph had probable cause to pursue legal action. Michael T. Pearson, Joseph&#';s attorney, said the discrimination Easter Seals showed toward his client went beyond the organization&#';s willingness to go along with the &#';racially tinged&#'; concerns of neighbors. &#';We believe he was fired because of his race and that he was retaliated against when he complained about discriminatory policies,&#'; he said. The case could go to trial in the spring. - See more at: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20111006/NEWS/710069969&template=mobileart#sthash.iLhXgVAf.dpuf|
|Blind and deaf man’s caregivers sued over lack of access to interpreters Teddy Loscano, 46, feels his brother David's hands signing "How are you?" in an attempt to communicate while at the home where he stays in Penacook on Friday, August 16, 2013. Losacano is a deaf and blind man at the center of a lawsuit presented by his older brother and guardian David against the organizations that coordinate his care. Loscano struggles to communicate meaningfully after losing his vision over the years and his ability to use American Sign Language. The lawsuit seeks damages with the goal of getting Loscano access to care and training for tactile sign language. (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) In a photograph from 1987, Teddy Losacano poses with his family after his graduation from a school for the deaf. Losacano is a deaf and blind man at the center of a lawsuit presented by his older brother and guardian David against the organizations that coordinate his care. Loscano struggles to communicate meaningfully after losing his vision over the years and his ability to use American Sign Language. The lawsuit seeks damages with the goal of getting Loscano access to care and training for tactile sign language. Photo courtesy of David Losacano Teddy Loscano, 46, waves his hand in front of his face while sitting in his favorite chair at the home he stays at in Penacook on Friday, August 16, 2013. Losacano is a deaf and blind man at the center of a lawsuit presented by his older brother and guardian David against the organizations that coordinate his care. Loscano struggles to communicate meaningfully after losing his vision over the years and his ability to use American Sign Language. The lawsuit seeks damages with the goal of getting Loscano access to care and training for tactile sign language. (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Teddy Loscano, 46, rests his head while sitting in his favorite chair at the home he stays at in Penacook on Friday, August 16, 2013. Losacano is a deaf and blind man at the center of a lawsuit presented by his older brother and guardian David against the organizations that coordinate his care. Loscano struggles to communicate meaningfully after losing his vision over the years and his ability to use American Sign Language. The lawsuit seeks damages with the goal of getting Loscano access to care and training for tactile sign language. (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) By TRICIA L. NADOLNY Monitor staff Sunday, August 18, 2013 (Published in print: Sunday, August 18, 2013) Share on emailEmail Print 1 Comments Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on gmail More Sharing Services 3 The cues offer direction in a world Teddy Losacano can’t see or hear. A tap on the leg means it’s time to eat. A gentle tug at the arm tells the Penacook man it’s time to go, follow the person leading. But last week, as David Losacano tried to communicate with his brother, those cues got in the way. “How are you?” David asked aloud as he formed his fingers into signs and spelled the question into Teddy’s cupped palms. As he finished, David rested his hands on his brother’s legs. Here, the touch meant affection. But Teddy didn’t know that. So he stood up. “See, he thought it was time to eat,” David said, leaning back in his chair as his brother walked to the kitchen and patted the table, looking for lunch. “How can I come up and say just a regular conversation or ‘Hi’? ” Right now, David can’t say those things to his brother. And 46-year-old Teddy – who is blind, deaf and has a cognitive disability sustained from a bout of scarlet fever as an infant – can’t say anything back. According to David, it hasn’t always been this way. The brothers grew up with two deaf parents and he remembers when Teddy was fluent in sign language, allowing him to respond to questions and communicate his own needs. Those skills have slipped away not by natural deterioration, David contends, but because of disuse. In a lawsuit filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Concord, David and his lawyer, Kirk Simoneau, place blame for that digression on the organizations that coordinate Teddy’s care: Community Bridges and Easter Seals of New Hampshire. The lawsuit gives a long-range view of Teddy’s last 15 years in assisted living homes and alleges that those organizations failed day after day to provide staff who could communicate meaningfully with him. Simoneau then points to visit after visit where he says doctors at Concord Hospital and Riverbend’s Concord Psychiatric Associates, also defendants in the lawsuit, offered services or changed medications without a sign language interpreter present. Three of those four defendants declined to comment for this story, and none have responded in court. It will likely be some time before a judge or jury consider the case. The long-term lack of stimulation, David and his attorney contest in the lawsuit, has turned a once “intelligent, creative, kind and sensitive human being into a substantially damaged, limited, frustrated and debilitated shell.” That frustration was clear last week as Teddy patted the kitchen table, realized nothing was there and walked back to his chair, the spot in his home where his brother believes he spends a substantial part of his day. With his eyes closed, Teddy leaned onto the arm rest and placed his forehead in his hand – the same position he had been in before David attempted to break through. “If we stuck you on an island by yourself for a decade, what are your communication skills going to be like?” Simoneau said. “After a decade of being on an island with no one to talk to?” Not present In 1990, after a visit at Concord Hospital, a doctor noted that Teddy could communicate with sign language and follow instructions easily, according to the lawsuit. An interpreter was present for that visit. But Simoneau says that was the last and only time that someone qualified to help Teddy communicate attended one of his appointments at the hospital or Concord Psychiatric Associates. Likewise, sign language interpreters have not been present at meetings where Teddy’s Individualized Service Plan, known as an ISP, was discussed, Simoneau said. According to Simoneau, Teddy’s ISPs are developed by staff from Community Bridges and Easter Seals as well as other specialists. Since 1997, the attorney says, those ISPs have stipulated that Teddy have an American Sign Language interpreter available to him during all appointments, due to being deaf and legally blind. Without that service being provided, doctors have expressed an inability to assess Teddy, with one doctor noting in a report that he had “no way to communicate with him,” according to the lawsuit. During several visits at Concord Hospital, Simoneau said, Teddy became agitated and was either placed in restraints or medicated. During one 2007 visit, when Teddy was taken to the hospital by the police because of erratic behavior, staff noted that he “apparently knows” American Sign Language but didn’t find an interpreter, according to records referenced in the lawsuit. Beyond those specific instances, David is also accusing his brother’s care providers of failing – for years – to stimulate Teddy’s mind and communicate with him on a regular basis past the cues that relay basic instructions. David says he’s been advocating to bring a tactile sign language instructor, who could teach Teddy to understand signs felt with his hands, into his service plan for years. In Teddy’s most recent ISP from July, it’s suggested that he would benefit from learning that skill, according to the suit, which notes that the suggestion was first made years ago. “Nothing ever materializes, and that’s the major reason why he’s gotten like this because nobody’s doing anything but baby-sitting,” David said. “It’s a big baby-sitting job.” David said he’s come to that belief gradually, resulting in the lawsuit being filed now rather than years ago. Simoneau said that for a long time David and his parents were told that Teddy wasn’t capable of meaningful communication. But that theory was “tested” early last year, according to Simoneau, when David decided to bring a specialist from the Northeast Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services to a team meeting of Teddy’s Easter Seals care providers. The woman, who is also deaf, pulled her chair up to Teddy’s, leaned in and started to sign into his hands, David said. “She’s up there trying to talk to him and she goes, ‘Do you know, I am deaf too. Just like you.’ And then she stomps on the floor like this and he’s feeling vibrations, pounding on the floor talking to him,” David said. “And then he smiles.” Then, David said, Teddy began to nod. “In deaf culture that sort of nodding means, ‘I’m paying attention. I’m involved in what you’re saying. Please tell me more,’ ” said Simoneau, whose parents are both deaf. David called the experience “awesome.” And in meeting notes, according to the lawsuit, Teddy’s care team called it “a real eye-opener.” A ‘complicated’ situation Concord Hospital, Concord Psychiatric Associates and Easter Seals of New Hampshire all declined to comment about David’s allegations, citing the ongoing litigation. Susan Silsby, senior vice president of programs at Easter Seals, said the organization is working with its attorneys to defend the case. At Community Bridges, executive director Roy Gerstenberger called the situation “complicated” and said the lawsuit came as a surprise to the agency. He said he couldn’t comment on the specific allegation that Teddy’s care providers have failed to follow through with the recommendations in their own ISPs. But he did say that David is often present at meetings where Teddy’s services are planned and that he would be able to interpret for his brother if necessary. “We have an ongoing relationship with Mr. Losacano and his brother that he has chosen to continue to work with us and receive services from us even though he has an option at any time to switch to another organization,” Gerstenberger said. Concord Hospital has come under fire before related to its treatment of deaf patients. In 2008, the hospital agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by six people who said they were not provided with sign language interpreters during doctors visits and were required to use inadequate auxiliary aids that hospital personnel did not know how to operate. Although the U.S. attorney determined that the hospital violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the hospital didn’t admit to any liability as part of the settlement. Lawsuit’s goal The lawsuit seeks financial damages but Simoneau said last week that the primary goal is getting Teddy adequate care. With proper training, he and David believe Teddy could regain some of the communication skills he’s lost. Ideally, he should be told that it’s time to eat rather than tapped on the leg. Or, Teddy could convey on his own that he’s hungry. “Hungry. Thirsty. The fact that he needs to go to the bathroom. The fact that he wants to go swimming. He can’t communicate any of those things,” Simoneau said. “For the entire time he’s been supervised and cared for by these people they’ve never once had anyone who could communicate with him.” Last week, after Teddy had walked back to his chair from the kitchen, David tried once more time to pull a response from somewhere inside his brother, a place that at times seems unreachable. He leaned in, then held the curve between Teddy’s thumb and pointer finger to his own chin and signed his name – David – several times. He waited to see if Teddy would repeat it, a recognition that maybe he knew his brother was there. Instead Teddy leaned in and the two wrapped their arms around one another. “Now he’s going to identify me by smell,” David said. “He wants to communicate so bad.” But then Teddy stood up, walked to the kitchen and rubbed the table. (Tricia L. Nadolny can be reached at 369-3306 or email@example.com or on Twitter @TriciaNadolny.) Source: http://www.concordmonitor.com/home/7989581-95/slipping-away|
Current and Former Employee Comments:
Staff Cargiver: Easter Seals Reviews | Glassdoor "Member to staff ratio is sometimes over whelming"
Staff Behavioral Interventionist: Easter Seals Reviews | Glassdoor "ESBA has gotten bigger and seems to have shifted focus from the clients to the finances, less communication between BI's and upper management, and even upper management and clientele. Remember to be mindful of your clients and employees, listen to their needs and be communicative and transparent!"
Staff Behavior Interventionist: Easter Seals Reviews | Glassdoor "Difficult to communicate with supervisors"
Staff Residential Counselor: Easter Seals Reviews | Glassdoor “This is a very difficult place. Low pay. Poor working conditions. ” "Lack of communication between the layers of staff can really foul things up and create dangerous situations."
Staff Resident Assistant: Easter Seals Reviews | Glassdoor "no one under management is getting paid enough for the responsibilities severely understaffed high turnover everyone works weekends requests off are impossible because there aren't enough employees benefits are incredibly expensive"
Staff Lead Teacher: Easter Seals Reviews | Glassdoor "No pay during the Summer Months Children can get out of control and no solutions to help manage behavior"
Additional Employee Comments:
Direct Support Staff: "I worked for this organization and am giving the place a scathing review and doing anonymously. I worked in residential programs that were unsafe for staff, clients and staffing was always an issue were having to do direct support sometimes at night and on weekends. Bottom line there is huge turnover in both direct care staff, management and upper management wants to fill beds and bill for services without taking staff into consideration. The place is a law suit waiting to happen. It is the next Lake View."
Psychiatric Adolescent Residential Instructor: "As much as I liked working on a residential psych unit the staff and the way the programs were run there were ridiculous. Every shift was under staffed and it was unorganized. I wouldn't recommend this company."
Program Manager: "My experience was not fantastic but not completely terrible. The compensation was great and flexibility with work schedule was also a nice perk. Other supervisors at your level are very supportive. However, a lot of the supervisors above you are new and trying to figure things out themselves, which leaves you flying blind..and at night, if you look to them for guidance or support. Not to mention, that you can't have any type of personal situation or family crisis happening in your personal life. You will get no sympathy or opportunity to care for yourself or grieve. Many violations of the ABA code of ethics. There was constant intimidation, fear of losing your job and demand to perform and achieve unrealistic expectations. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth, since your supervisor is also trying to figure things out, just like you are. A management seminar wouldn't hurt anyone, as supervisors attempt to "apply ABA principles on you," however, want to run things like a business. Its really one or the other."
Residential Instructor: "Don't believe the hype. Admin make it out to be great and that you matter but as soon as you bring up anything you think is wrong or could be done better you're in the spotlight and not in a good way. They want to pretend they provide quality service but it's glorified babysitting and the kids deserve more and better. Sad to say the least that the company cares more about keeping blemishes off their record than really investing in helping the kids."
Employment Specialist: "Confusing organization. First impression was great but then as you worked with company, it was apparent that there was a lack of organization. HR was dishonest."
Case Manager: "Far too many Vice Presidents and upper management. Never saw treatment modality for autism."
Teacher Assistant: "There are several Easter Seals locations, however the location in West Palm Beach is not a good place to work as teacher. I feel that it is somewhere for anew teacher who is just getting in the childcare field to gain some experience. The plan that they have to deal with children who are tremendously behavioral being that it is a disability service is not effective. No is no room for advancement and the pay isn't good. Their need to be a big change in management also. Its every man for themselves at this place."
Personal Assistant: "No room for advancement at all. Management team is really disrespectful and rude. Pay is very low and they require you to do a lot for the pay."
Direct Support Professional: "The management leaves a lot to be desired, there are people there in supervisory positions who have little to no experience working with people with special needs. I wish they would consider all persons with special needs as SPECIAL and not just the ones they serve, or are contracted to care for. Being Paid For!"
Family Support Worker: "This was the WORST place to work!!!!! If you are thinking about this company/ job DON't its the worst!!!!! Too much work for too little pay...too much stress!!!!! The staff is rude except for a few but I would not refer anyone to this job!!! Run far away from this place!!!"
|Sharon Cosey v. Easter Seals Society Metropolitan Chicago IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS EASTERN DIVISION March 16, 2012 SHARON COSEY, PLAINTIFF, v. EASTER SEALS SOCIETY METROPOLITAN CHICAGO, INC, DEFENDANT. The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Michael T. Mason MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER Michael T. Mason, United States Magistrate Judge: On April 23, 2010, plaintiff Sharon Cosey ("plaintiff") filed a two-count complaint  against her former employer, Easter Seals Society Metropolitan Chicago, Inc. ("Easter Seals"), alleging racial discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Easter Seals now moves for summary judgment  on both counts of plaintiff's complaint.For the reasons set forth below, Easter Seals' motion for summary judgment is granted.*fn1 I. Relevant Facts A. Background Easter Seals is an Illinois not-for-profit organization that provides comprehensive services for individuals with disabilities or other special needs and their families in order to improve quality of life and maximize the independence of these individuals. (Def.'s LR 56.1 Statement of Facts ("SOF")  ¶ 4.) Easter Seals operates the Autism Day School (the "School"), located in Tinley Park, Illinois. (SOF ¶ 5.) The School services autistic children from preschool through age 22. (SOF ¶ 6.) Maryellen Bucci ("Ms. Bucci") is the School's Program Manager. (SOF ¶ 7.) Similar to a school principal, she is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the School. (Id.) Every student at the School is assigned to a classroom, and each classroom has a classroom teacher. (SOF ¶ 9.) Because of their disabilities, many of the students at the School require one-on-one assistance from an aid. (SOF ¶ 6.) These "1:1 aides" are assigned to one student and are generally with the student at all times while the student is at the School. (SOF ¶¶ 6, 12.) Their job is to assist the student in learning, protect the student, protect others from the student, and to provide assistance to the classroom teacher. (SOF ¶ 6.)Typically, each classroom has several 1:1 aides, in addition to the classroom teacher. (SOF ¶ 11.) Plaintiff was employed as a 1:1 aide at the School from June 11, 2007 until she was terminated on October 28, 2008. (SOF ¶¶ 8, 13.) The June 11, 2007 letter setting out the terms of her employment stated that the employment relationship was "terminable at will, which means that either [plaintiff] or ESMC [Easter Seals] may terminate [plaintiff's] employment at any time and for any reason or for no reason with or without notice." (SOF ¶ 15; Ex. E to Bucci Aff. [22-1].)At the time she accepted the position, plaintiff signed three documents regarding her employment: 1) her job description, 2) the staff manual for the 2007-2008 school year, and 3) the School's Policy on Supervision and Accountability for Clients (the "Supervision Policy") (SOF ¶ 16.) The primary directive of the Supervision Policy is that "[e]ach staff member with direct responsibility for participants is responsible, at all times, for knowing the location and/or activity of all participants within his/her assigned group and ensuring the safety and well-being [of] each of those participants at all times." (Ex. C to Bucci Aff.) It also states that "[i]f a participant is unaccounted for at any time, staff members with direct or indirect responsibility should...notify the Program Manager/supervisor immediately and issue a 'Code Red/Missing Client.'" (Id.) The Supervision Policy provides: "[F]ailure to comply with any of the policies contained herein may result in discipline up to and including termination. Gross misconduct is grounds for immediate dismissal." (Id.) Plaintiff acknowledged in writing that she reviewed and understood the Supervision Policy and agreed to adhere to its provisions. (SOF ¶ 17.) B. The September 18, 2008 Incident On September 18, 2008, plaintiff was assigned as a 1:1 aide to Tyler, a fifteen-year old student at the School, who functions at the level of an 18-month old. (SOF ¶¶ 23-24.) Tyler is non-verbal and communicates by pointing at a picture book. (Id.) That afternoon, plaintiff took Tyler from the classroom to the occupational therapy room. (SOF ¶ 25.) When it was time to return to the classroom, Tyler left the occupational therapy room and turned to walk toward the front door of the school, rather than in the direction of the classroom. (SOF ¶ 26.) Plaintiff saw Tyler heading in the wrong direction, but turned back to pick up his picture book. (SOF ¶ 27.) Plaintiff then lost sight of Tyler and did not tell anyone or ask anyone for help. (SOF ¶ 28, Cosey Dep. Tr. [22-3] at 109.) Two other School employees, Carrie Slaymaker and Ann Nixon-Hammoudeh, saw Tyler leaving the building and saw that plaintiff was not with him or in the hallway behind him. (SOF ¶ 29; Bucci Aff. at ¶ 20; Ex. 3 to Pl's Br. [22-3], Slaymaker Aff at ¶¶ 5-8; Ex. 4 to Pl's Br. [22-3], Nixon-Hammoudeh Aff. at ¶¶ 5-8.) Once outside, Ms. Nixon-Hammoudeh saw Tyler walking away from the building. (SOF ¶ 30; Nixon-Hammoudeh Aff. at ¶¶ 5-8.) She called his name but he did not respond. (Nixon-Hammoudeh Aff. at ¶ 10.) When Tyler kept walking away from the building, she followed and intercepted him. (Nixon-Hammoudeh Aff. at ¶ 11.) After Ms. Nixon-Hammoudeh stopped Tyler, plaintiff exited the building, walked up to them and stated, "he runs so fast." (SOF ¶ 31; Nixon-Hammoudeh Aff. at ¶¶ 11-13.) According to Ms. Nixon-Hammoudeh, Tyler was not running when he left the building, and plaintiff later testified in her deposition that Tyler does not run. (SOF ¶¶ 32-33; Nixon-Hammoudeh Aff. at ¶ 14; Cosey Dep. Tr. at 108.) After this incident, Ms. Bucci suspended plaintiff for three days for violating the Supervision Policy and placing a special needs student at risk. (SOF ¶ 34.) The dates of plaintiff's suspension were September 29, September 30 and October 1, 2008. Plaintiff was instructed to report back to work on October 2, 2008. (Id.) At her deposition, plaintiff admitted to her actions on September 18, 2008, and she agreed that her conduct was wrong. (SOF ¶ 35.) Her only objection to her suspension was that Ms. Bucci did not discuss the incident with her, but instead relied on the accounts of other employees. (SOF ¶ 36.) Following her suspension, on October 2, 2008, plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") against Easter Seals, claiming that her suspension was an act of racial discrimination. (SOF ¶ 37.) As part of her complaint, plaintiff claimed that a white female teacher, Ms. Stephanie Abel, was not suspended after she had neglected a child under her care. (SOF ¶ 37; Compl.  Ex. A.) Ms. Abel was a classroom teacher and, on one occasion while her classroom 1:1 aides were at lunch, one of the students in her classroom left the School building. (Cosey Dep. Tr. at 126.) At her deposition, plaintiff stated that she was not aware of any disciplinary action against Ms. Abel, but she stated that it was possible that Ms. Abel was punished without her knowledge. (SOF ¶ 39; Cosey Dep. Tr. at 128.) She also testified that aside from her claim about Ms. Abel, she had no other proof to support her claim that her suspension was based on racial discrimination. (SOF ¶ 38; Cosey Dep. Tr. at 129.) In fact, Ms. Abel did receive a one-day suspension and a 30-day probationary period for her violation. (SOF ¶ 40.) According to Easter Seals, Ms. Abel was suspended for one day, rather than three, because (unlike plaintiff) she immediately reported the missing child to the administration. (Id.) C. The October 22, 2008 Incident A second incident occurred on October 22, 2008, shortly after plaintiff returned from her suspension. On that date, plaintiff was assigned as a 1:1 aide to a student in Ms. Susan Honn's classroom. (SOF ¶ 41.) There were seven students in this classroom, including Victor, who was 18-years old, non-verbal and functioned at the level of a 2-year old. (SOF ¶ 42.) Plaintiff was not Victor's 1:1 aide on this date. (Resp. to Pl's SOF ¶ 52.) At lunch time, plaintiff and two other aides (Tanya O'Connor and Ryan Rohloff) were instructed to bring Ms. Honn's entire class to the lunchroom and to supervise all seven students while they were there. (SOF ¶ 43.) Victor's 1:1 aide was not among the aides assigned to supervise the class in the lunchroom. (Rohloff Dep. Tr. [27-2] at 14, 15.) At some point during lunch, one of the aides gave Victor permission to go to the bathroom on his own. (SOF ¶ 44.) Plaintiff was not aware that Victor left the lunchroom unescorted. (Pl's Resp. to SOF ¶ 83.) A few minutes later, other School employees found Victor standing alone outside the bathroom. (SOF ¶ 46.) Because no one was watching him, they took Victor back to Ms. Honn's classroom. (Id.) Ms. Honn told them to return Victor to the lunchroom so that he could assist with the lunchroom clean up. (SOF ¶ 47.) At this point, plaintiff was still not aware that any of the students left the lunchroom or that Victor was no longer with the rest of the class. (SOF ¶ 48; Cosey Dep. Tr. at 143.) Ms. Rohloff testified that it was a "routine occurrence" that Victor went to the bathroom unescorted. (Pl's Resp. to SOF ¶ 51; Rohloff Dep. Tr. at 19.) However, it was Ms. Honn's practice to allow students capable of walking without assistance to go to the bathroom unescorted, only if the aide maintained visual contact with the student while the student walked to and from the bathroom. (SOF ¶ 49; Ex. 5 to Pl's Br., Honn Aff. [22-3] at ¶ 13-14.) The aide was to watch the bathroom entrance to see when the student emerged and make certain that the student safely found his or her way back to the lunchroom. (Id.) In addition, Ms. Honn required that the aides assigned to her classroom "keep count of the students assigned to them and know the whereabouts of 'their' students." (SOF ¶ 50; Honn Aff. at ¶ 15.) Plaintiff does not dispute that it was her responsibility to keep count of the students that she and the other aides were responsible for in the lunchroom. (SOF at ¶ 53; Cosey Dep Tr. at 169.) She also does not dispute that on this particular date, they failed to so. (Id.) Ms. Honn reported this incident to Ms. Bucci, who determined that the three aides (plaintiff, Ms. O'Connor and Ms. Rohloff) should be subject to disciplinary action based on their failure to supervise Victor. (SOF ¶ 56.) Because this was Ms. O'Connor and Ms. Rohloff's first violation of the Supervision Policy, they were each given a three-day suspension. (SOF ¶ 57.) Plaintiff was terminated. (SOF at ¶ 58.) D. Easter Seals' Disciplinary Policies According to Easter Seals, plaintiff was terminated because this was her second violation of the Supervision Policy, and it was school policy to terminate an employee for a second strike. (SOF at ¶ 58.) Ms. Bucci testified that typically a second strike will lead to termination, but it depends on the particular situation and the level of the infraction. (Bucci Dep. Tr. [27-1] at 73-74.) A four-level disciplinary policy now governs when an employee violates the Supervision Policy. (SOF at ¶ 60; Bucci Dep. Tr. at 73-76; Bucci Aff. at ¶ 41.) At Level 1, when a supervisor loses track of a student but the student is never unsupervised, a written warning is issued. (Id.)At Level 2, when a student is unsupervised and the supervisor is aware that the student is missing, reports this to others and is looking for the student, a one-day suspension is imposed. (Id.) At Level 3, when a student is unsupervised and the supervisor either is not aware that the student is missing or is aware and does not report it to the administration, a three-day suspension is imposed. (Id.) Finally, at Level 4, when a student is unsupervised and harms him or herself or others, or if the incident is a second violation of the Supervision Policy, the employee is terminated. (Id.) This four-level policy is not in writing and Ms. Bucci is uncertain whether it was formally in place at the time of plaintiff's termination. (Pl's Resp. to SOF at ¶ 60; Bucci Dep. Tr. at 77-78.) However, according to Ms. Bucci, in the past, 21 employees (including plaintiff) have been disciplined for violations of the Supervision Policy. (Bucci Aff. ¶ 41.) All were disciplined consistent with these guidelines, with the exception of one 1:1 aide, who herself is disabled.*fn2 (Id.) Prior to terminating plaintiff, Ms. Bucci and other school administrators looked back to see what they had done previously in similar situations. (Bucci Dep. Tr. at 70-72, 79-80.) Aside from plaintiff, only one other employee has violated the Supervision Policy on two occasions. (SOF ¶ 64.) Brian Hanson, a white male teacher, received a three-day suspension for his first violation of the Supervision Policy, and was later terminated after a second violation. (Id.; Bucci Dep. Tr. at 81, 86-87.) As plaintiff points out, Easter Seals' records indicate that just prior to Mr. Hanson's second violation, there was a separate incident where a student in Mr. Hanson's classroom was missing. (Pl's Resp. to SOF ¶ 64.) This would suggest that Mr. Hanson may have been terminated after a third violation. However, it was unclear whether Mr. Hanson was to blame for this incident or whether that student's 1:1 aide had sole responsibility at the time the student wandered off. (Bucci Dep. Tr. at 87-88.) Ms. Bucci could not recall the specifics of this separate incident. (Bucci Dep. Tr. at 87-90.) At the time of plaintiff's termination, it was her recollection that the infraction which led to Mr. Hanson's termination was only his second violation, and she believed the School's treatment of plaintiff was consistent with this approach. (Id.) E. Plaintiff's Job Performance and Prior Disciplinary Record Plaintiff was reviewed in January of 2008 and received an A in the areas of Preparation, Presentation and Teamwork. (Resp. to SOF at ¶ 96.) She also received an A in the areas of Behavior Management, Organization, Learning Environment, Assessment of Student Performance and Reinforcement, and she received a 3% raise, which is typically given to employees whose performance is average or above average. (Resp. to SOF at ¶ 96-97.) Despite these positive reviews, Ms. Bucci's records reflect a number of other issues with plaintiff's employment. During plaintiff's fifteen months at the School, she was assigned to six teachers. (SOF ¶ 18.) Three teachers (Ms. Abel, Ms. Roberts, and Ms. Nichols) complained about her negative attitude in the classroom and asked that plaintiff be reassigned to a different classroom. (SOF ¶ 19.) In January of 2008, Ms. Roberts reprimanded plaintiff for twice using improper restraints on a student. (SOF ¶ 20.) In May of 2008, plaintiff had a verbal confrontation with Ms. Roberts in front of staff and students in the classroom. (SOF ¶ 21.) Plaintiff admitted her conduct to Ms. Bucci and was then transferred out of Ms. Roberts' classroom. (Id.) On July 30, 2007, plaintiff received a verbal warning from a classroom teacher regarding an incident that occurred at a swimming pool. (SOF ¶ 22.) Plaintiff was also cited for using her cell phone during the work day and for using the School's fax machine and photocopier for personal use. (Id.) Plaintiff received a verbal warning for tardiness in September of 2007, and she was cited for reading a book during working hours and not paying attention to her assigned student in September of 2008. (Id.) She also failed to call in to inform the School that she would be absent on October 2, 2008 when she went to the EEOC office instead of returning to work after her suspension. (Id.) F. EEOC Complaints Plaintiff filed two actions with the EEOC against Easter Seals. On October 2, 2008, she alleged that she was subjected to racial discrimination when she was suspended for three days. (Compl. Ex. A.) On November 3, 2008, she alleged both racial discrimination and retaliation, claiming that her termination was in retaliation for filing the initial charge of discrimination. (Id.) On January 25, 2010, plaintiff received Notice of Right to Sue letters on both claims. (Compl. Ex. B.) She filed her complaint in this action on April 23, 2010, alleging both racial discrimination and retaliation pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). II. Analysis A. Summary Judgment Standard Summary judgment is appropriate where the evidence of record shows that there is "no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). There is no genuine dispute of material fact when "no reasonable jury could find in favor of the nonmoving party." Van Antwerp v. City of Peoria, 627 F.3d 295, 297 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting Brewer v. Bd. of Trs. of the Univ. of Ill., 479 F.3d 908, 915 (7th Cir. 2007)). The movant bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact by specific citation to the record; if the party succeeds in doing so, the burden shifts to the non-movant to set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of fact for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). We must construe all facts and draw all inferences from the record in favor of the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). B. Count I - Racial Discrimination Among other things, Title VII prohibits discrimination or retaliation against any employee based on race. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a). Easter Seals first argues that there is no genuine issue of material fact with respect to plaintiff's discrimination claim because plaintiff cannot establish a prima facie case. In order to establish racial discrimination under Title VII, a plaintiff may proceed under either the direct method or the indirect method. Because plaintiff does not specify under which method she is bringing her claim, we address both. 1. Direct Method First, to survive summary judgment under the direct method, a plaintiff must present direct or circumstantial evidence that creates a "convincing mosaic of discrimination" on the basis of race. Winsley v. Cook County, 563 F.3d 598, 604 (7th Cir. 2009). This requires "either direct evidence of discriminatory intent (such as an admission) or enough circumstantial evidence to allow a rational jury to infer that discriminatory intent motivated his firing." Burnell v. Gates Rubber Co., 647 F.3d 704, 708 (7th Cir. 2011). "Circumstantial evidence may include suspicious timing, ambiguous statements, behavior or comments directed at others in the protected class, and evidence that similarly situated employees outside the protected class received systematically better treatment." Id. (citing Darchak v. City of Chicago Bd. of Educ., 580 F.3d 622, 631 (7th Cir. 2009)). The circumstantial evidence a plaintiff presents "must point directly to a discriminatory reason for the employer's action." Adams v. Wal--Mart Stores, Inc., 324 F.3d 935, 939 (7th Cir. 2003); see Montgomery v. American Airlines, Inc., 626 F.3d 382, 393 (7th Cir. 2010) (circumstantial evidence in discrimination cases ordinarily consists of "indicators showing what may be the real motivating force for employment decisions"). Because plaintiff has not offered any direct evidence of discriminatory intent, we look for circumstantial evidence in the record, and we find that there is none. Plaintiff cannot point to any statements or behavior towards African-American employees at the School that would suggest any discriminatory intent. Plaintiff has also failed to point to any evidence that Easter Seals "systematically" favored its non-African American employees. Indeed, Easter Seals has provided evidence that 13 white employees and 6 African-American employees (including plaintiff) have been disciplined for violating the Supervision Policy. (Reply to SOF, Ex. 1.) Plaintiff argues that she was the only employee terminated for the incident involving Victor; however, as we will discuss in more detail below, she was the only employee involved for which this was a second violation. As such, we find that plaintiff has failed to meet her burden under the direct method for racial discrimination. 2. Indirect Method Turning to the indirect method, in order to survive summary judgment, plaintiff must establish a prima facie case of discrimination by presenting evidence that: (1) she is a member of a protected class, (2) her job performance was meeting her employer's legitimate expectations, (3) she was subject to a materially adverse employment action, and (4) the employer treated similarly situated employees outside the protected class more favorably. Keri v. Bd. of Trs. of Purdue Univ., 458 F.3d 620, 643 (7th Cir. 2006); Brummett v. Sinclair Broad. Group, Inc., 414 F.3d 686, 692 (7th Cir. 2005); see also McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). If she succeeds in establishing the prima facie case, the burden shifts to the defendant to offer a permissible, non-invidious reason for the alleged discrimination. Keri, 458 F.3d at 643. If the defendant meets this burden, the plaintiff may then rebut that evidence by showing that the employer's reasons are a pretext for discrimination or that the decision was tainted by impermissible, race-based motives. Id. "The ultimate burden of persuading the trier of fact that the defendant intentionally discriminated against the plaintiff remains at all times with the plaintiff." Id. at 643-44 (quoting Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., Inc., 325 F.3d 892, 897 (7th Cir. 2003)). If a plaintiff can demonstrate pretext, summary judgment must be denied. Id. at 644. In her response brief, plaintiff argues that there is a genuine issue of fact with respect to pretext. But before we can get to that issue, we must first examine whether plaintiff has established a prima facie case. Plaintiff easily satisfies the first and third elements: she is an African-American and she was terminated from her position. However, the second and fourth elements - whether her job performance met Easter Seals' legitimate expectations and whether similarly situated employees not in her protected class received more favorable treatment - require a more detailed analysis. With respect to the second prong, plaintiff has not established that her job performance was meeting the School's legitimate expectations. Most notably, plaintiff admits to all the facts surrounding the incidents with Tyler and Victor. (Pl's Resp. to SOF ¶¶ 23-36, 41-53.) She admits that Tyler was out of her sight when he left the building and that she lied when she said he runs so fast. (Pl's Resp. to SOF ¶¶ 29-33.) She also admits that it was her responsibility (along with Ms. Rohloff and Ms. O'Connor) to keep track of Ms. Honn's seven students in the lunchroom and that they failed to do so. (Pl's Resp. to SOF ¶¶ 41-53.) Clearly, plaintiff's actions violate the Supervision Policy, and in a school for children with severe disabilities, it is not unreasonable for the School to expect its employees' compliance. In support of her position that she was meeting Easter Seals' expectations, plaintiff points to Ms. Rohloff's testimony that it was not uncommon for some students (including Victor) to go to the bathroom alone. (Pl's Resp. to SOF ¶ 51.) However, this does not conflict with Easter Seals' position that even when a student can go to the bathroom unescorted, Ms. Honn required the responsible aides to keep an eye on the student while traveling to and from the bathroom. (Hann Aff. at ¶ 14; Pl's Resp. to SOF ¶¶ 52-53.) In her testimony, Ms. Rohloff even agreed that she and the other aides violated the Supervision Policy when they did not have "eyes on him" while he was gone. (Rohloff Dep. Tr. at 52-55.) As such, we are not convinced there is an issue of genuine fact for the jury regarding plaintiff's job performance. See Davis v. Time Warner Cable of Southeastern Wisc., L.P., 651 F.3d 664, 673-74 (7th Cir. 2011) (summary judgment granted on discrimination claim where there was no dispute that plaintiff engaged in the conduct that led to his termination and other employees had been terminated for similar transgressions). In addition, the record reflects, and plaintiff does not dispute, that she was written up for a number of violations, such as using the School's fax machine, telephone, and photocopier for personal use, her tardiness, reading a book during the workday and a few conflicts with classroom teachers. (Resp. to SOF ¶¶ 18-22.) For all of these reasons, we do not believe that plaintiff has satisfied this element of her discrimination claim. Moving on to the fourth element, we also find that plaintiff cannot establish that Easter Seals gave similarly situated employees more favorable treatment. A similarly situated employee is someone "who is directly comparable to her in all material respects." Winsley, 563 F.3d at 605 (quoting Patterson v. Avery Dennison Corp., 281 F.3d 676, 680 (7th Cir. 2002). In order to meet her burden, a plaintiff must demonstrate that employees who were not in the protected class but who were treated more favorably "were similarly situated with respect to performance, qualifications and conduct." Keri, 458 F.3d at 644 (quoting Snipes v. Ill. Dep't of Corrs., 291 F.3d 460, 463 (7th Cir. 2002)). We find that plaintiff has failed to meet this burden. In her complaint, plaintiff relied on her mistaken belief that Ms. Abel, a white teacher, was not disciplined after violating the Supervision Policy. In fact, Ms. Abel was suspended for this infraction. At her deposition, plaintiff testified that she had no other reason to believe that her suspension was racially motivated. (Cosey Dep. Tr. at 129.) Plaintiff now argues that she was the "only employee" who was terminated after the incident with Victor, but this argument is misplaced. Plaintiff was terminated because this was her second violation of the Supervision Policy. Ms. O'Connor and Ms. Rohloff were disciplined as well, but they received a three day suspension because this was their first violation. As such, we do not find that Ms. O'Connor and Ms. Rohloff were "similarly situated." See, e.g., Harris v. Warrick County Sheriff's Dept., 666 F.3d 444, 449 (7th Cir. 2012) (white employees were not similarly situated where their job performance problems did not measure up to plaintiff's). In fact, we find that Ms. O'Connor and Ms. Rohloff's suspensions actually undermine plaintiff's discrimination claim because these two white female aides received the same three-day suspension that plaintiff received for her first violation. Even assuming plaintiff had established a prima facie case, we do not agree that there is any evidence of pretext here. In order to establish pretext, a plaintiff must show that an employer's reasons for termination were "merely made up to cover up their discriminatory reasons." Keri, 458 F.3d at 646. A plaintiff must demonstrate that "(1) the employer's non-discriminatory reason was dishonest and (2) the employer's true reason was based on a discriminatory intent." Montgomery, 626 F.3d at 396; Benuzzi v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chicago , 647 F.3d 652, 663 (7th Cir. 2011) (pretext requires the plaintiff to provide evidence "to support an inference that there was an improper motivation proscribed by law"). "Pretext is more than a mistake on the part of the employer; it is a phony excuse." Hudson v. Chicago Transit Auth., 375 F.3d 552, 561 (7th Cir. 2004). Under this framework, in order to meet her burden here, plaintiff must show not only that Easter Seals' stated reasons for the suspension and termination "were dishonest or phony, but also that the true reason was based on prohibited discriminatory animus." Benuzzi, 647 F.3d at 663-64 (finding no pretext where nothing in the record "so much as hints at" discrimination as a basis for employer's adverse actions). We find that plaintiff has offered no proof of any pretext here. Easter Seals' position is that plaintiff was terminated because she violated the Supervision Policy twice. There is no evidence to suggest that their stated reason is dishonest or rooted in discriminatory motives. Plaintiff argues that pretext is obvious here because the four-level disciplinary policy was not in writing, may not have been formally in place at the time she was terminated and is enforced on a case-by-case basis. She asserts that this suggests that she was unfairly disciplined. We disagree. The Seventh Circuit has repeatedly stated that the courts "do not sit as a super-personnel department to determine which employment infractions deserve greater punishment." Harris, 666 F.3d at 449 (citing Ptasznik v. St. Joseph Hosp., 464 F.3d 691, 697 (7th Cir. 2006)); see Ajayi v. Aramark Bus. Servs., Inc., 336 F.3d 520, 532 (7th Cir. 2003) ("Above all, we are mindful that courts do not sit as super personnel departments, second-guessing an employer's facially legitimate business decisions"). Here, Easter Seals has put forth a legitimate and non-discriminatory basis for terminating plaintiff, namely, her failure to properly supervise a severely disabled child in violation of the Supervision Policy on two occasions. It is our job only to determine whether their decision was racially motivated. Here, without some "semblance of a link" between her race and her termination, plaintiff's discrimination claim "is destined to fail." Benuzzi, 647 F.3d at 664. For these reasons, we find that summary judgment in Easter Seals' favor on plaintiff's discrimination claim is appropriate. C. Count II - Retaliation Defendant also argues that summary judgment is warranted on plaintiff's retaliation claim. In order to establish a claim for retaliation, plaintiff may also proceed under either the direct or the indirect method. Benuzzi, 647 F.3d at 664. Under the direct method, the plaintiff must show that (1) she engaged in statutorily protected activity; (2) she suffered an adverse employment action taken by the employer; and (3) there was a causal connection between the two. Id.; Overly v. KeyBank Nat. Ass'n, 662 F.3d 856, 866 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Kodl v. Bd. of Educ. Sch. Dist. 45, Villa Park, 490 F.3d 558, 562 (7th Cir. 2007)). To prevail under the indirect method, the plaintiff must show that (1) she engaged in statutorily protected activity; (2) she performed his job according to the employer's expectations; (3) she suffered an adverse employment action; and (4) she was treated less favorably than a similarly situated employee. Vance v. Ball State Univ., 646 F.3d 461, 473 (7th Cir. 2011). Similar to the discrimination analysis, if the plaintiff establishes his prima facie case, the burden shifts to the defendant to establish a non-invidious reason for the action. Id. The burden then shifts back to the plaintiff to show that the defendant's reason was pretextual. Id. Again, because it is unclear which method plaintiff seeks to invoke here, we address both methods and conclude that plaintiff cannot prevail under either. Under the direct method, plaintiff's discrimination complaint with the EEOC and her subsequent termination satisfy the first two elements. Plaintiff has not, however, satisfied the third element, which requires a showing of a causal connection between the complaint and the termination. In her response brief, plaintiff says very little about her retaliation claim, although she does point out that her termination came "just weeks" after she made her complaint with the EEOC.*fn3 It is true that "occasionally...an adverse event comes so close on the heels of a protected act that an inference of causation is sensible." Davis, 651 F.3d at 675 (citing Loudermilk v. Best Pallet Co., 636 F.3d 312, 315 (7th Cir. 2011). But, "suspicious timing, standing alone, will rarely be sufficient...to create a triable issue." Argyropoulos v. City of Alton, 539 F.3d 724, 734 (7th Cir. 2008) (quotations omitted) (seven week interval between harassment complaint and termination did not create "rare case where suspicious timing, without more, will carry the day"); Benuzzi, 647 F.3d at 666 (two month time frame did not create an inference of retaliation). Further, given plaintiff's disciplinary record and the fact that she admitted to the conduct that resulted in her termination, we cannot conclude that this is the "rare case" where timing alone may satisfy the direct method. See Jackson v. Motorola, Inc., No. 09 C 1927, 2011 WL 917723, at *10 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 7, 2011) (holding that suspicious timing and poor performance reviews did not satisfy the causal connection element). In addition, although her termination came just weeks after she filed her claim, it immediately followed her second violation of the Policy. Because Easter Seals claims this intervening event led to plaintiff's termination, plaintiff has not established the requisite causal link to prevail on summary judgment under the direct method. Davis, 651 F.3d at 675 (plaintiff could not rely on the proximity between complaint and termination where a significant intervening event occurred, which was the defendant's proffered basis for the termination). Plaintiff also fails under the indirect method because, as discussed above, she cannot establish a prima facie case of discrimination. Her admission that two students under her supervision wandered off, in violation of the Supervision Policy, demonstrates that she was not meeting her employer's expectations. Plaintiff has also not provided sufficient evidence that she was treated less favorably than any similarly situated employee, and Easter Seals has provided a legitimate non-discriminatory explanation for her termination. For all of these reasons, Easter Seals' motion is granted with respect to Count II. III. Conclusion For the foregoing reasons, Easter Seals' motion for summary judgment  is granted. Judgment is entered in defendant's favor and against plaintiff on Count I and II of plaintiff's complaint. It is so ordered. ENTERED: MICHAEL T. MASON United States Magistrate Judge Source: http://il.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.20120316_0000694.NIL.htm/qx|
|'Get off me, I can't breathe!' Documents detail death at W. Philly's Wordsworth Academy Updated: October 26, 2016 — 11:14 PM EDT 731t An exterior view of Wordsworth Academy, the West Philadelphia school where a 17-year-old boy was found dead after allegedly being restrained and punched by staff members. by Chris Palmer, Staff Writer Chris Palmer Staff Writer A 17-year-old boy who died Oct. 13 at Wordsworth Academy, a residential treatment center in West Philadelphia for troubled youth, stopped breathing after staff members restrained his legs and threw punches at his rib cage, state documents allege. Slideshow 'Get off me, I can't breathe!' Documents detail death at W. Philly's Wordsworth Academy Advertisment 1 of 2 Gallery: 'Get off me, I can't breathe!' Documents detail death at W. Philly's Wordsworth Academy AVI STEINHARDT Wordsworth Academy in West Philadelphia, where a student died this month. The center's residential program was suspended. AVI STEINHARDT A visitor enters Wordsworth Academy in W. Philadelphia. Some of its programs are still operating. prev next Children in the hallway overheard the incident, which took place in the teen's room after 8 p.m., according to violation reports from the Department of Human Services. The reports say the children heard the boy proclaim: " 'I can take this, that's the only thing you got, give me more. I eat those and I can take those.' " They then heard the boy yell, " 'Get off me, I can't breathe!' " the reports say, and then "everything went silent." The boy - identified in the reports as Child #1 - was declared dead at 9:51 p.m. <<< Read the order and a portion of the first violation report here >>> The account of the boy's death is the most detailed description yet of events that led the state on Monday to order Wordsworth to close its residential treatment program, which has served more than 80 youths who have emotional, behavioral, or academic difficulties. The reports also allege that some staff members - including two in the room during the fight with the boy - were not sufficiently trained in restraining children; that its program director "failed to provide implementation of policies related to restraints"; and that the facility had hazardous living conditions including broken heating and air-conditioning units, holes in bedroom walls, and rusted and corroded bathroom facilities. In addition, the reports allege that an unidentified staff member last year had "sexual contact" with three children. The staff member was removed from the program and ultimately fired, the documents say. Debbie Albert, a Wordsworth spokeswoman, said Wednesday that the organization was "limited in our ability to comment on the various allegations raised" due to the ongoing investigation. "We are fully cooperating with all relevant agencies and authorities and are treating this matter with the seriousness and respect it deserves," she said in a statement. No one has been charged in the boy's death, and the Medical Examiner's Office has not ruled on its cause. Authorities have not released his name or hometown. Meanwhile, City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. is expected to introduce a resolution Thursday calling for hearings on the "recent death of a juvenile at Wordsworth Academy, and future plans for safety at juvenile treatment facilities caring for Philadelphia youth." Hearings already were scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in Philadelphia Family Court to determine where children at Wordsworth's residential program should be sent. Wordsworth offers additional services such as foster care and therapy, which are unaffected by the order to close the residential treatment program. The agency is one of 10 that contract with the city's Department of Human Services as "community umbrella organizations" (CUAs), which handle cases while DHS runs oversight and the 24/7 hotline for reporting suspected abuse. The violation reports were included with the state's order to close Wordsworth's residential treatment program. The order was sent Monday to Wordsworth's president, Debra S. Lacks, in a letter signed by Jacqueline L. Rowe, director of the state Bureau of Human Services Licensing. Rowe wrote that the state ordered the closure due to "gross incompetence, negligence, and misconduct" in Wordsworth's residential program. The violation reports - many of which are dated Oct. 14, the day after the boy's death - detail approximately 40 violations of the state code regulating juvenile facilities. The reports do not name any staff members allegedly involved in the confrontation with the teen, identifying them only as Staff Members A, B, and C. According to the reports, multiple staff members had entered the boy's room because he was suspected of stealing another child's iPod. During the search, the reports say, Staff Member A flipped over the boy's bed and threw furniture around. The iPod eventually was found in a soap box in the room and was returned to its owner, the reports say. Staff members then heard the sound of breaking glass from the boy's room. Staff Members A, B, and C returned, the reports say, and found the boy behaving aggressively. In an attempt to restrain him, Staff Member B held the boy's legs and Staff Member A began "throwing punches at the ribs of Child #1," according to the reports. At some point during the restraint, the reports say, the boy "began gasping for breath." Children in the hallway reported hearing him yelling to "get off me, I can't breathe" before the room went silent. Although state law requires staff members to have 40 hours of training per year, the reports say that Staff Member B had completed only 31 hours during the 2015-16 training year, and that Staff Member C had completed only 27. The reports also say the program director and Staff Member E - neither of whom is identified - "failed to protect Child #1 from harm while in care" and did not properly implement restraint-related policies. The reports say those individuals did not comply with regulations about maintenance of the site, and detail a host of violations, including: Broken heating and air-conditioning units in 10 rooms. "Stained, dirty, and unsanitary" flooring in 12 rooms. Several bathrooms with either running faucets, rusted shower heads, or standing water. Inoperable lights in a fourth-floor hallway. Heaters in two bedrooms with "razor sharp edges." At least 12 rooms with exposed electrical wires. Holes in the walls, including one bedroom with a three-foot hole, and another room with a wall "caved in toward the back of the shower wall." A violation report from last year that was included in the state's letter to Wordsworth also alleges that an unidentified staff member had "sexual contact" with three children in 2015. The report, dated April 20, 2016, does not provide additional detail about the alleged abuse, but says that the staff member had sexual contact with one child twice, with another child three times, and with yet another child four times. The staff member was "immediately removed from the program" and subsequently fired, the report says. Three other violation reports from the last year also detail incidents of staff members' inappropriately physically restraining children. Another report says the staff "did not report suspect child abuse" to the proper authorities, but does not elaborate. Wordsworth's residential program, which opened in 2006, is housed on one of the agency's three campuses in the area. The others are in East Falls and Fort Washington, according to the agency's website. The Ford Road campus sits on a small hill near Daphne Road just outside the western edge of Fairmount Park. Children could be seen Wednesday playing on a playground outside the small Wordsworth building. The residential program will continue to operate there as children are relocated. Kait Gillis, a state DHS spokeswoman, said this week that department officials would be on hand daily until that process was complete. firstname.lastname@example.org 215-854-2817@cs_palmer Staff writers Tricia L. Nadolny and Michaela Winberg contributed to this article. Source: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20161027__Get_off_me__I_can_t_breathe___Documents_detail_death_at_W__Philly_s_Wordsworth_Academy.html|
Last Updated:October 27th, 2016