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HARRISTON v. CHICAGO TRIBUNE CO.

September 6, 1991

OCTAVIA O. HARRISTON, on her behalf and on behalf of the class of other persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE COMPANY, a corporation, CHARLES BRUMBACK, President, JOHN SLOAN, Vice President, and VINCENT RIORDAN, Manager of Central Division of Retail Advertising, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NORGLE

 CHARLES R. NORGLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Before the court is the motion of plaintiff Octavia Harriston ("Harriston") for class certification and the motion of defendants Chicago Tribune Company, Charles Brumback, John Sloan and Vincent Riordan (collectively "the Tribune") for summary judgment. For the following reasons, Harriston's motion is denied and the Tribune's motion is granted.

 FACTS

 Harriston began working for the Tribune as a part-time voluntary ad-taker in 1965. She thereafter earned a series of promotions within the newspaper's Advertising Department, in 1980 reaching the position of Display Sales Person in the Retail Advertising Department. The instant lawsuit involves Harriston's December 1984 transfer to the position of EEO/Employment Manager in the Employee Relations Department, her June 1987 transfer back to the Advertising Department as a Senior Sales Representative, and her June 1989 resignation.

 The EEO/Employment Manager job involved hiring new employees, recruiting on college campuses, filing EEO reports with the government, and handling discrimination disputes. Harriston had accepted the EEO position reluctantly; she had neither experience in personnel matters nor a college degree. Nevertheless, she viewed the EEO job as a "major opportunity" and "great challenge." The EEO position was a grade 13 position in the Tribune's system, while her former Display Sales job was at grade 9.

 Harriston received one formal performance evaluation as EEO/Employment Manager in June 1986, during which she told George Veon, then the Tribune's Vice President of Employee Relations, that she was "really up over [her] head" and was "struggling" in the position. She received a "satisfactory" rating, the middle level on a five-point scale.

 During the relevant time period, the Tribune had a Management Incentive Fund ("MIF"), a "discretionary bonus program" involving only job positions with an effect on profitability and which were not included in a sales incentive program, among other participation requirements. Harriston was not included in the program during her stint as EEO/Employment Manager, nor were any of her three predecessors in the post included. Two of the predecessors were white females, and one was a white male. Harriston's successor as EEO/Employment Manager, Ron Williams, a black male, became eligible for the MIF program when responsibilities for the position were increased. Harriston, however, contends that her responsibilities in that position were as extensive as Williams's.

 Defendant John Sloan ("Sloan") was hired by the Tribune as Director of Human Resources in December 1986, and Harriston began reporting to him. In April 1987, Sloan succeeded Veon as Vice President of Employee Relations. Sloan devoted his first six months at the Tribune to restaffing the Employee Relations Department with "seasoned professionals." To that end, he hired a black woman as Training and Development Director and an Hispanic man as Employee Relations Manager for the Freedom Center production plant. These two positions were eligible for participation in the MIF program.

 Around this time, Sloan became dissatisfied with Harriston's work as EEO/Employment Manager, and he received complaints about her performance from managers of other Tribune departments and from her subordinates, among others. Consequently, Sloan decided that Harriston and the Tribune would be better off if Harriston transferred back to the Advertising Department. *fn3" Sloan inquired about openings in Advertising suitable for Harriston, and after learning of a Senior Sales Representative opening, informed Harriston. The Senior Sales Representative position was grade 14, a grade higher than the EEO/Employment Manager position.

 Harriston promptly spoke with defendant Vincent Riordan ("Riordan"), Central Division Manager of Retail Advertising and Harriston's manager during his earlier stint in Advertising, about the available Senior Sales opening. The opening was for an "A" territory, with considerable opportunity to earn bonuses. The position also included responsibility for coordinating a new co-op advertising program (known as "RECAS"). Riordan also explained the Advertising Department Incentive Program for which Harriston would become eligible in the Senior Sales job. Harriston accepted the Senior Sales position effective in June 1987 at an annual salary of $ 51,500 -- a $ 2,000 increase from the post she was leaving.

 In June 1988, a year after Harriston rejoined Advertising, she received her first evaluation as a Senior Sales Representative, earning a mid-range "satisfactory" rating from Riordan, but with criticism of her level of sales. Harriston's territory suffered revenue losses of $ 60,000 in the last half of 1987, and $ 25,000 in the first five months of 1988, as well as lost market share from the prior year. *fn4" She nonetheless received an annual raise of $ 2,060. Riordan saw more problems with Harrison's work in 1988; she failed to serve several of her advertising accounts properly, and revenue in her territory declined $ 256,984 for the year compared to the previous year.

 Harriston was removed from the RECAS project by Riordan in January 1989 to allow her to focus more on advertising sales. Revenue continued to decline, however, in Harriston's territory, falling by $ 75,000 in the first four months of 1989. Riordan sent a memo to Harriston in May 1989 stating his dissatisfaction over the situation. The memo did not threaten Harriston's job status, but included a three-week deadline for Harriston to respond to ...


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