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THOMAS v. METRA RAIL SERV.

October 22, 1996

CARL E. THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
METRA RAIL SERVICE, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NORGLE

 CHARLES R. NORGLE, SR., District Judge:

 Before the court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons set forth in this memorandum, the motion is granted.

 I. *fn1"

 Defendant Metra Rail Service ("Metra"), formally known as the Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation, fired Plaintiff Carl E. Thomas ("Thomas") on September 8, 1993. Metra contends that it fired Thomas, a Ticket Sales Clerk for Metra, because he failed to remit moneys collected from ticket sales. Thomas, a pro se litigant, argues that Metra terminated him in retaliation for a charge of discrimination filed in 1990 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Thus, Thomas initiated this lawsuit by filing the Complaint. The Complaint alleges violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

 Thomas became a Ticket Sales Clerk for Metra in 1988. Thomas' duties included selling tickets to passengers and remitting the moneys received from the passengers to Metra. On September 1, 1993, Thomas' supervisor, R.R. Mielzynski ("Mielzynski"), served upon Thomas a formal investigation notice, which stated:

 
The purpose of this investigation is to develop the facts, determine the cause, and assess responsibility, if any, in connection with your alleged falsification of corporation documents relating to the return of your August, 1993, monthly ticket. Specifically, wherein you reported you were returning Zone A to G monthly ticket # 690845 and Zone A to H monthly ticket # 694288 unsold, and your alleged failure to properly remit monies received from your total ticket sales of August 2, 1993 discovered on August 31, 1993 in conversations with customers who purchased the aforementioned tickets from you while you were assigned a Ticket Sales Clerk position at Union Station on August 2, 1993.

 The value of the tickets for which Thomas allegedly did not remit moneys to Metra was $ 230.85.

 Pursuant to the respective collective bargaining agreement between Metra and Thomas' union, Metra conducted an investigation hearing on September 3, 1993. At the hearing, Thomas had legal representation provided by his union, and had the opportunity to solicit testimony from and cross-examine witnesses. Thomas also had the opportunity to present his own version of the facts.

 The investigation proceeding revealed many important facts. On August 20, 1993, Thomas' assistant supervisor received a call from the "lead revenue clerk," who reported to the assistant supervisor that certain tickets were missing from the unsold ticket stock returned by Thomas. The assistant supervisor forwarded the complaint to the Ticket Services division for review, which turned the complaint over to the Department of Revenue Accounting. The Department of Revenue Accounting confirmed the underlying facts of the complaint against Thomas, as did the Audit Department on a subsequent review. The reviews by both the Department of Revenue Accounts and the Audit Department determined that Thomas sold more tickets than he reported and returned to Metra, thus profiting from the money given to him by customers for the unreported and unreturned tickets. The determination was made through examination of accounting records and discussion with commuters who purchased the tickets identified on Thomas' report as unsold. Thomas contended at the hearing that Metra never issued the alleged "stolen tickets" to him, but attorneys for Metra submitted an invoice sheet and other records showing that the tickets were, in fact, assigned to Thomas.

 At the completion of the hearing, Mielzynski, Thomas' ultimate supervisor, concluded that Thomas violated Metra policy in failing to remit the ticket funds. Mielzynski terminated Thomas' employment with Metra.

 Thomas appealed the termination to the Public Law Board ("PLB"), an appellate review panel established in accordance with the Railway Labor Act. The PLB has the authority to conduct hearings to determine whether sufficient evidence existed to support the disciplinary action taken by Metra. The PLB may reduce the type of punishment if it deems the punishment too severe. Pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement, both Thomas and Metra are bound by the PLB's findings.

 The PLB reviewed the investigation transcript and relevant documents submitted by Metra and Thomas' union. On December 27, 1995, the PLB affirmed the termination, finding that the undisputed facts established that Thomas failed to remit funds in violation of Metra rules.

 Metra records show that it systematically terminates employees of all races found to have failed to report receipt of monies. For example, on April 1, 1992, Metra dismissed Victor Ahramovich, a caucasian male, for "giving away" tickets valued at approximately $ 210.00. On April 8, 1994, Metra terminated Andrew Selep, a Caucasian male, for failing to report receipt of monies in the amount of $ 42.95. On April 19, 1994, Metra terminated Giuseppe Lucente, a caucasian male, for failing to report properly the receipt of monies from a conductor in the amount of $ 74.20. On May 22, ...


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