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KEYS v. CONTINENTAL ILLINOIS NAT. BANK & T. CO. OF CHICAGO

April 16, 1973

CHARLES L. KEYS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CONTINENTAL ILLINOIS NATIONAL BANK AND TRUST COMPANY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bauer, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This cause comes on defendant's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

This is a civil rights action brought by the plaintiff, a cost accountant, against his former employer, to allegedly vindicate his right to equal employment and freedom of expression guaranteed under the United States Constitution and protected by 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Jurisdiction is based upon Title 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 1332(a)(1) and 1343(4). The amount in controversy is alleged to exceed $10,000 exclusive of interest and costs. The plaintiff, Charles L. Keys, is a United States citizen and a resident of Chicago, Illinois. The defendant Continental Illinois Bank and Trust Company is incorporated in Illinois and has its principal place of business in the Northern District of Illinois.

The plaintiff in his complaint alleges, inter alia, the following facts:

  1. Plaintiff is a black-American male whose known
    American ancestry is primarily of Negroid-African
    descent. The plaintiff, like the majority of
    American males of Negroid-African ancestry, regards
    the display of facial hair growth in the form of
    mustaches, goatees, beards and long sideburns as
    traditional symbols of black-American masculinity.
  2. Plaintiff began employment with the defendant
    corporation on or about July 28, 1969, and remained
    employed until on or about May 4, 1971, at which
    time he was discharged for racial reasons.
  4. The effect of defendant's dress code regulation is
    to have a chilling effect upon the plaintiff and
    other black men who seek to communicate black pride
    and beauty through the cultivation of facial hair
    growth; and that this would curtail plaintiff's
    right to express his black personality which is a
    symbolic expression of freedom of speech.*fn1
  5. The detrimental racist action of the defendant has
    altered the plaintiff's family-life structure from
    one of patriarchy to one of matriarchy, as the
    plaintiff is no longer the chief breadwinner of the
    family, thereby causing irreparable psychological
    damage to the plaintiff, and plaintiff's spouse and
    children. Defendant has further sought to punish,
    intimidate and cause undue hardship to the
    plaintiff for not conforming to racist white
    thoughts by maliciously attempting to delay and
    hinder the plaintiff's justifiable claims to
    unemployment compensation.

The plaintiff seeks to recover $500,000 as actual damages, and $500,000 as exemplary damages, plus the cost of this action.

The defendant, in its instant motion, contends that there are no material issues of fact and that defendant is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. In support of the instant motion, the defendant has filed affidavits and exhibits which disclose in relevant part:

  1. Plaintiff was employed on July 28, 1969. Prior to
    his employment, plaintiff completed an application
    for employment. Above the plaintiff's signature on
    the application appeared the following language:
    "I further understand and agree that my employment
  with the bank may be terminated at the discretion of
  the bank. . . . If employed, I will comply with all
  applicable bank rules and regulations now and
  hereafter in effect."
  2. In April, 1971, Continental adopted a formal dress
    and personal appearance code. When plaintiff failed
    to comply with the code by May 4, 1971, the date
    set by his superiors for compliance, plaintiff was
    sent to the Personnel Department by his supervisor
    with a recommendation that he be terminated. At
    this time, plaintiff was given another opportunity
    to comply with the code. After initially

    indicating a willingness to trim his sideburns to
    meet the code standards, plaintiff again refused to
    trim his sideburns to comply with the code and,
    therefore, was terminated on May 7, 1971. Between
    ...

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