Court Cases Court Cases
AL  AK  AZ  AR  CA  CO  CT  DE  FL  GA  HI  ID  IL  IN  IA  KS  KY  LA  ME  MD  MA  MI  MN  MS  MO  MT  NE  NV 
NH  NJ  NM  NY  NC  ND  OH  OK  OR  PA  RI  SC  SD  TN  TX  UT  VT  VA  WA  WV  WI  WY  EO  NR  PR  DC  US 
 
View Case Details
 
JAMES T. SANDERS Plaintiff
vs.
CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY Defendant.
 
Case:
No. 95 C 3395
 
Location:
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS EASTERN DIVISION
 
Date:
April 25 1996 Decided
 
Attorneys:
For JAMES T SANDERS plaintiff: Karen Lynn Spencer Cynthia Lynne Hackerott Herbert H. Victor Chicago IL. Herbert H. Victor Attorney at Law Chicago IL. Katherine M. Anthony Jennings Law Firm Chicago IL.
For CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY defendant: Michael Ira Lieberman Chicago Transit Authority Corporate Law Department Apparel Center Chicago IL.
 
Court:
William T. Hart UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
 
Author:
The Hon. Justice William T. Hart
 

Plaintiff James T. Sanders an employee of the Chicago Transit Authority ("CTA") has brought suit against his employer alleging that a series of disciplinary incidents occurring in 1993 were racially motivated and defendant therefore discriminated against him in violation of Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991 42 U.S.C. SEC. 2000e et seq. Plaintiff is African-American. Defendant has moved for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff has been employed by the CTA since 1974 as a bus servicer and for the last eight years has been assigned to the general clean crew cleaning city buses. In 1993 plaintiff was stationed at CTA's 69th Street bus garage. *fn1 At that time there were four other members of the general clean crew stationed at the 69th Street garage all of whom were African-American. Also at that time the general manager of the bus garage was African-American as was the acting foreman of the general clean crew. Several managers involved in the disciplinary actions were white. Plaintiff is a member of Local 241 of the Amalgamated Transit Union; his union representative at the garage was African-American.

The disciplinary actions in question took place between February and June 1993. In the first incident an African-American bus services complained that plaintiff had made inappropriate comments to her saying "Hey. Hey. Hey. It's Fat Albert." Sanders was called to a meeting in which the union representative the acting foreman two white managers and his coworker participated. Sanders denied targeting his coworker; he was told to stop making inappropriate comments.

On May 6 1993 plaintiff's manager noticed that a bus had not been properly cleaned. Several managers inspected the bus learned that it had been assigned to plaintiff and called him to a meeting to discuss the incident. The meeting was continued until the next day so that Sanders could have union representation. On the following day after a second inspection of the bus in plaintiff's presence plaintiff received a disciplinary notice. This notice known as a caution and instruct warning was placed in plaintiff's file for a period of one year.

In June 1993 plaintiff and a coworker Lynn Murray switched stations for cleaning buses. Soon after making the switch plaintiff wanted to switch back but Murray refused. On June 8 1993 Murray accused Sanders of threatening him with a knife. CTA took no action because the accusation could not be corroborated. Murray called the police who searched Sanders and found that he had a pocket knife. The police arrested Sanders.

William Rafferty a white manager subsequently found that Sanders had violated internal policy regarding threatening another employee with a knife on duty. Sanders had union representation during his meeting with Rafferty. Although Rafferty could have discharged him for the offense he gave Sanders a six-day suspension.

Murray continued to report that Sanders was harassing him. On June 17 1993 Murray complained that plaintiff told him "his day would come real soon." Murray once more called the police and signed a complaint against Sanders who was arrested.

Alexander the general manager of the garage ordered that Sanders be sent to the CTA main offices for a psychiatric evaluation. Plaintiff met with the manager of the Labor Maintenance Department someone from the medical department and a counselor in the Employee Assistance Program who sent him for a psychiatric evaluation at Northwestern Hospital. Following a negative urine test for drugs and alcohol plaintiff was allowed to return to work.

On Alexander's order plaintiff was separated from other bus servicers. He continued to service buses but his workstation was in 4 Bay of the garage. The remaining bus servicers were located in 7 Bay.

Approximately two to ten weeks after being sent to 4 Bay plaintiff was arrested for a third time at work. This time he was accused of trying to run over Murray with a bus.

Soon after plaintiff and Murray met with Rafferty and Alexander and were told the incidents had to stop.

On January 13 1994 plaintiff filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and was issued a right to sue letter on March 13 1995.

DISCUSSION

Summary judgment is appropriate only where there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); GCIU Employer Retirement Fund v. Chicago Tribune Co. 66 F.3d 862 864 (7th Cir.1995). Summary judgment will be denied where there is a genuine issue of material fact such that a reasonable jury could find for the non-movant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc. 477 U.S. 242 248-50 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 106 S. Ct.2505 (1986). When considering a motion for summary judgment the entire record must be reviewed drawing all reasonable inferences from the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Cornfield by Lewis v. School Dist. No. 230 991 F.2d 1316 1320 (7th Cir.1993). Factual disputes must be resolved in favor of the non-movant. Eastman Kodak Co. v. Image Technical Services Inc. 504 U.S. 451 112 S. Ct.2072 2077 119 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1992).

The burden of establishing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact rests with the movant. Jakubiec v. Cities Service Co. 844 F.2d 470 473 (7th Cir.1988). The non-movant however must make a showing sufficient to establish any essential element for which it will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett 477 U.S. 317 322 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 106 S. Ct.2548 (1986). The non-moving party cannot rest on the pleadings alone but must identify specific facts to establish that there is a genuine triable issue. Cornfield 991 F.2d at 1320. The party must do more than simply "show there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp. 475 U.S. 574 586 89 L. Ed. 2d 538 106 S. Ct.1348 (1986). It is not sufficient to show evidence of purportedly disputed facts if those facts are not plausible in light of the entire record. See Carey v. Canada Inc. 950 F.2d 481 485 (7th Cir.1991); Collins v. Associated Pathologists Ltd. 844 F.2d 473 476-77 (7th Cir.) cert. denied 488 U.S. 852 102 L. Ed. 2d 110 109 S. Ct.137 (1988).

A plaintiff claiming discriminatory discharge under Title VII must ultimately prove intentional discrimination. St. Mary's Honor Ctr. v. Hicks 509 U.S. 502 113 S. Ct.2742 2747 125 L. Ed. 2d 407 (1993). Because there is no direct evidence of discrimination in this case plaintiff is bound to follow the "indirect burden shifting method of proof articulated in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green 411 U.S. 792 36 L. Ed. 2d 668 93 S. Ct.1817 (1973)." Id.

Under the McDonnell Douglas framework plaintiff must first establish some variant of a prima facie case of racial discrimination. St. Mary's Honor Ctr.113 S. Ct. at 2746-47; McDonnell Douglas 411 U.S. at 802 n.13 (prima facie case will vary depending upon the type of case and the factual situation alleged). Establishment of the prima facie case creates a presumption which in the absence of a explanation would require a finding of discrimination. Hicks 113 S. Ct. at 2748 & n.3.

In order to establish a prima facie case plaintiff must show (1) he belongs to a protected class (2) he performed his job satisfactorily (3) he suffered an adverse employment action; and (4) his employer treated similarly situated employees outside his classification more favorably. Little v. Cox's Supermarkets 71 F.3d 637 642 n.3 (7th Cir.1995) citing Lenoir v. Roll Coater Inc. 13 F.3d 1130 1132 (7th Cir.1994).

Plaintiff's failure to show any evidence that similarly situated employees not in the protected class were treated more favorably is dispositive. Plaintiff asserts that he knows of white workers who were not disciplined for rule infractions or who had alcohol and drug problems but were not sent to Employee Assistance. These assertions are insufficient to establish evidence of disparate treatment.

Plaintiff's assertions must be discounted first because they lack the evidentiary foundation to be admissible in court. Although plaintiff may be able to state that he observed infractions of the rules which to his knowledge were not punished plaintiff has not demonstrated any personal knowledge of the manner in which other employees are disciplined. Nor did plaintiff offer any documentary evidence to support his assertions.

Even if plaintiff could establish that some disciplinary breaches occurred he has not established that they represent similar conduct for purposes of proving disparate treatment. Hiatt v. Rockwell International Corp. 26 F.3d 761 771 (7th Cir.1994). Plaintiff must provide some basis for comparing his behavior--including three arrests at work for incidents in which he allegedly threatened a coworker-- to other disciplinary actions in the workplace. Id. Plaintiff needs to demonstrate more than occasional leniency or infractions of the rules. Id. There must be some showing of systematic discrimination uncovered through evidence such as personnel records or corroborating testimony which establishes that non-protected employees routinely received more favorable treatment. E.E.O.C. v. Our Lady of Resurrection Medical Center 77 F.3d 145 151 (7th Cir.1996); Bush v. Commonwealth Edison 990 F.2d 928 932 (7th Cir.1993). "Incomplete or arbitrary comparisons reveal nothing concerning discrimination [cite omitted] and that is all that we are left with here." Hiatt 26 F.3d at 771.

Finally plaintiff has presented no evidence that race played a factor in the disciplinary actions taken against him. His immediate supervisor the union representative and the general manager of the garage at the time were all African-American. The most restrictive actions taken--ordering a psychiatric evaluation and separating him from other bus services--were initiated by Alexander the general manager. Plaintiff does not suggest that the white managers working below Alexander showed any particular hostility to plaintiff or that the disciplinary actions were challenged by his foreman or the union representative as discriminatory.

This is a frivolous case. There is no basis for inferring that race played any role in the actions taken against him.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that defendant's motion for summary judgment [13] is granted. The Clerk of Court is ordered to enter judgment in favor of defendant the Chicago Transit Authority and against plaintiff James T. Sanders dismissing the cause of action with prejudice.

ENTER:

William T. Hart

UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 
Notes:

*fn1 The 69th Street garage closed in 1995. Plaintiff is now stationed at the 74th Street garage.