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GREENSLADE v. CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

June 26, 1996

RALPH GREENSLADE, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES and THE CHICAGO NEWSPAPER GUILD, LOCAL 71, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DENLOW

 There are two motions currently before the court. Sun-Times has filed a motion for summary judgment as to counts I and III. Guild has filed a motion for summary judgment as to count IV. For the reasons set forth below, the Sun-Times' motion for summary judgment is granted as to counts I and III, and the Guild's motion for summary judgment is granted as to count IV.

 I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 Greenslade is a forty-one year old married male who has been employed by the Chicago Sun-Times since 1980. (Guild 12 M PP 1 and 4). Greenslade worked in the sports department during his entire tenure until December 15, 1994, when he was transferred to the copy desk. (Guild 12 M PP 2 and 105). He has been a Guild member during his entire tenure with the Sun-Times. ( Guild 12 M P 3).

 Laura Wagner ("Wagner") is a twenty-four year old female who was hired by Sun-Times in September, 1994 to work in the sports department as a copy editor. (Guild 12 M PP 5 and 8). Wagner was the only woman on the sports copy desk and worked in close proximity with Greenslade until his transfer. (Guild 12 M PP 6 and 9). They worked the 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. shift together three times a week. (Guild 12 M PP 10 and 11).

 Several weeks after Wagner began working for the Sun-Times, she felt Greenslade was taking an "unnatural amount of interest" in her. (Wag. Dep. p. 27). Wagner's discomfort was attributed to various electronic mail messages, offers for rides home, and comments made by Greenslade. (Guild 12 M PP 13-50). Greenslade knew that he was becoming a "pain in the buff with these ride offers", but he couldn't help himself. ( Guild 12 M P 39). He sensed that he was making Wagner uncomfortable and was aware that Wagner was trying to distance herself from him. (Guild 12 M PP 39 and 40). Wagner began to feel physically ill when she had to work with Greenslade. (Wag. Dep. p. 104). After one of the incidents, Greenslade called his supervisor, Deputy Managing Editor Rick Jaffe (hereinafter "Jaffe"), and told him "he was being mentally tortured, he couldn't sleep at night, the situation was making it difficult for him to work, and that he had brain cramps." (Guild 12 M PP 50-53). Jaffe and Greenslade then decided that the best course of action would be for Greenslade to stop sending electronic mail messages and stop offering rides to Wagner. ( Guild 12 M P 55).

 Sometime following this discussion, Greenslade and Wagner discussed the "situation" whereupon Wagner learned that Greenslade had talked to Jaffe. (Guild 12 M PP 61-69). The next night, Greenslade again electronically mailed a message to Wagner asking her if she wanted a ride home. ( Guild 12 M P 72). Wagner declined the ride offer. ( Guild 12 M P 73). Soon thereafter Wagner met with Jaffe to relate her side of the story. (Wag. Dep. p. 147-158). Jaffe then contacted Greenslade's supervisor, Editor Mark Nadler (hereinafter "Nadler") to advise him of the situation between Greenslade and Wagner. ( Guild 12 M P 78). Nadler then contacted Guild Unit Chair Charles Nicodemus (hereinafter "Nicodemus") to inform him that he and Jaffe were planning to have a meeting with Greenslade and wanted assurances that Guild representation would be available for Greenslade if he so requested. (Guild 12 M PP 82-85). Guild representation was available. ( Guild 12 M P 86).

 Jaffe, Nadler and Greenslade met on December 15, 1994 to discuss the situation in the sports department. (Guild 12 M PP 91-101). Greenslade was repeatedly told he was entitled to Guild representation and several times declined to have a Guild representative during the meeting. (Guild 12 M PP 92-98). During this meeting, it became clear to Nadler and Jaffe that Greenslade and Wagner needed to be separated. (Guild 12 M PP 99). Nadler informed Greenslade that the Sun-Times would be temporarily transferring him to the copy desk in the news department. (Comp. P 11). Jaffe and Nadler had discussed transferring Wagner, but because Greenslade was a better layout person and he was scheduled to be transferred out of the sports department and into the pagination area they decided to transfer Greenslade. (Guild 12 M PP 99-102). Greenslade was transferred to the copy desk effective December 15, 1994, and again transferred to the pagination department effective May 22, 1995. (Guild 12 M PP 105-106). All the positions held by Greenslade were in the editorial department and his base pay remained the same throughout each of his transfers. ( Sun-Times 12 M P 11, 48). Greenslade lost some overtime pay while on the copy desk and while training for the pagination position. ( Sun-Times 12 M P 48). After his transfer to the pagination department, Greenslade did not wish to return to the sports department. ( Guild 12 M P 107).

 After the meeting with Nadler and Jaffe, Greenslade contacted Nicodemus in order to tell him that he had been transferred. ( Guild 12 M P 110). Nicodemus and Greenslade met and discussed his transfer. (Guild 12 M PP 111-115). Nicodemus then informed Guild leader Susy Schultz (hereinafter "Schultz") of Greenslade's transfer. Schultz then commenced an investigation on behalf of the Guild. (Guild 12 M PP 119-120). As part of her investigation, Schultz interviewed Stu Courtney, a sports department employee, Greenslade and Wagner. Id. During Schultz' investigation several Guild members and representatives discussed the matter with Greenslade and with Wagner. (Guild 12 M PP 120-136).

 Following the investigation the Guild set up a meeting with the Sun-Times. (Guild 12 M PP 137-140). Then several Guild representatives met with Greenslade, his wife, and his attorney. At this meeting no decision was made on whether to file a grievance. (Guild 12 M PP 141-142). Shortly thereafter, several Guild leaders decided that it would be difficult to proceed on the merits of Greenslade's case, however, this course of action was not communicated to Greenslade. Correspondence was exchanged between the Guild and Greenslade for some time after the meeting discussing the status of the complaint and the positions of both Greenslade and the Guild. The Guild leadership then had a meeting in February of 1995 and formally decided not to file a grievance on Greenslade's behalf. (Guild 12 M PP 146-160). The Guild's position was communicated to Greenslade in a letter dated February 28, 1995. ( Guild 12 M P 197).

 In a letter dated May 26, 1995, Greenslade advised the Guild that "if you have a final proposal for action against the Sun-Times, please put it in writing and provide it to me by the close of business on Friday, June 2, 1995." ( Guild 12 M P 198). In response to Greenslade's letter, the Guild reaffirmed its decision that it would not proceed with his complaint on any level. ( Guild 12 M P 199). The Guild did not respond to Greenslade because the Guild members believed their position had already been communicated to Greenslade. Id.

 II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

 Summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Celotex Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). This standard is applied with added rigor in employment discrimination ...


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