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NEAL v. ALDEN PRESS

March 10, 1993

CRAIG NEAL, Plaintiff,
v.
ALDEN PRESS, INC., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES RONALD NORGLE, SR.

 This matter originally was a three count action in which plaintiff Craig Neal ("Neal") alleged defendant Alden Press, Inc. ("Alden Press") violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"). Count I alleging discrimination in failure to promote was withdrawn and waived by Neal, and is therefore dismissed with prejudice. Count II alleges termination in retaliation for engaging in protected expression. Count III alleges racially based discrimination in the termination decision.

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. This is an action under Title VII for alleged discrimination and retaliation. (see Stipulated Fact No. 1 of the Pre-Trial Order).

 2. This court has jurisdiction under Title VII 28 U.S.C. § 1343. (See Stipulated Fact No. 2 of the Pre-Trial Order).

 3. This cause of action arose in the Northern District of Illinois and venue is proper in this District under 28 U.S.C. § 1392(b). (See Stipulated Fact No. 3 of the Pre-Trial Order).

 4. Defendant Alden Press is and was, at all times relevant to this lawsuit, a Delaware Corporation duly registered to do business in the State of Illinois and an "employer" within the definition of Title VII. (See Stipulated Fact No. 4 of the Pre-Trial Order).

 5. Plaintiff Neal was at all relevant times an "employee" within the definition of Title VII. (See Stipulated Fact No. 5 of the Pre-Trial Order).

 6. Neal is an African-American citizen of the United States.

 7. Neal was a general full-time hourly unskilled worker employed by Alden Press from August 13, 1982 until September 5, 1986, when he was discharged. (See Stipulated Fact No. 22 of the Pre-Trial Order).

 8. Ronald Pease ("Pease") is a caucasian who worked as the personnel manager for Alden Press from May 1983 through May 1989. After May 1989 he was no longer employed by Alden Press. (See Stipulated Fact No. 8 of the Pre-Trial Order).

 9. As a general worker, Neal's duties included the cleaning of press areas. White workers and black workers routinely did this work. Neal was regarded as a good worker.

 10. In 1985 more than ten employees applied for an apprenticeship position, including Neal.

 11. In May, 1985, Neal was one of six final candidates for the 1985 apprenticeship position.

 12. Two of the six final candidates for the 1985 apprenticeship position were African-American.

 13. Neal did not receive the 1985 apprenticeship position. A well-qualified white man did. Of the six finalists, Wendell Bey, an African-American, ranked highest on the objective factors and had the second most seniority; Neal was tied for second on the objective factors; and Chris Dzwdnowski ("Dzwdnowski"), a white person, was tied for last on the objective score and tied for last in seniority. Tied for last on the objective score and in seniority, Dzwdnowski was ranked first "in order of preference" out of the six finalists. (Pltf.'s Ex. No. 2). According to personnel officer Pease, this ranking was made on the basis of interviews that the six finalists had with two higher echelon white persons, who reported to Pease that their choice was "Chris." Based on these facts, Pease's testimony was that Dzwdnowski was "head and shoulders" above the other finalists.

 14. Dzwdnowski received the 1985 apprenticeship position in September of 1985. (See Stipulated Fact No. 24 of the Pre-Trial Order).

 15. Neal was one of five final candidates for an apprenticeship position in May of 1986.

 16. Two of the five final candidates for the 1986 apprenticeship position were African-American.

 17. Neal did not receive the 1986 apprenticeship position.

 18. Mark Somrek ("Somrek"), a caucasian, received the 1986 apprenticeship position. (See Stipulated Fact No. 26 of the Pre-Trial Order). The reasons Pease gave in 1986 for promoting Somrek over Neal were that the promotion would result in "the least amount of dissention from the rank and file," that Somrek was the most senior under the contract with the union, and that Somrek had shown outside interest in the trade. (Pltf.'s Ex. No. 5). The outside interest included the taking of graphic arts courses. No other applicant took such courses. Pease testified that he was "just trying to follow the collective bargaining agreement." When Dzwdnowski was promoted he was not the highest in seniority.

 19. Before his discharge on September 5, 1986, Neal never complained that race was a factor in his not receiving the apprenticeship position in 1985.

 20. Before his discharge on September 5, 1986, Neal never complained that race was a factor in his not receiving the apprenticeship position in 1986.

 21. On numerous occasions Neal used the expression, "Suck my big black dick." Neal had referred to a white man who was recently hired as "the great white hope." The man hired was muscular, heavy, and tall. In August, 1986, Al Michalek ("Michalek"), one of Alden Press's foremen, said to Neal, "Why don't you go over to him and tell him to suck your big black dick?" Michalek referred to the large white man. Alden Press regarded the statement of Michalek as a racial slur and sanctioned him by letter after learning of it. Michalek was not involved in the decision to terminate Neal. There is no evidence that the decision makers ever made racial comments.

 22. Based on his investigation, Pease concluded that Michalek's comment was made in jest and was precipitated by the racial comment made by Neal. Further, Michalek's comment related to the same comments made by Neal.

 23. Alden Press did not learn about Michalek's racial slur to Neal until it received Neal's charge of discrimination filed October 31, 1986, which was after Neal's discharge on September 5, 1986.

 24. In a letter October 31, 1986, Michalek was disciplined for making the racial slur to Neal.

 25. Neal requested to work the Labor Day weekend from Saturday, August 30, through Monday, September 1, 1986. Alden Press granted the request. Neal did not work those days. (See Stipulated Fact No. 36 of the Pre-Trial Order).

 26. On August 28, 1986, Neal was assigned to work as a general worker on Alden Press's second shift, from 3:00 p.m. through 11:00 p.m.

 27. Neal was assigned to press No. 16 during the second shift. Also working on that press was first pressman Larry Schneider ("Schneider") and second pressman Joseph Fallico ("Fallico").

 28. On August 28, 1986, Fred Thorelius ("Thorelius") was the second shift manager. (See Stipulated Fact No. ...


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