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BARAKAT v. TACO BELL

July 16, 1997

CARL BARAKAT, Plaintiff
v.
TACO BELL, INC., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GETTLEMAN

 Carl Barakat ("plaintiff") brought this two-count complaint against Taco Bell, Inc. ("defendant"), alleging that defendant failed to promote him and discharged him on the basis of his national origin (Palestinian), ancestry (Arabian) and religion (Moslem), in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000(e) et. seq., as amended. Defendant has filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. For the reasons set forth below, the court grants defendant's motion for summary judgment.

 FACTS

 Plaintiff was born in Jerusalem and is of Palestinian and Arabian ancestry. He has been a United States citizen since the late 1970s. In May 1988, plaintiff was hired by defendant as a general manager of restaurants in the Chicago area. Plaintiff was aware of defendant's conduct expectations and work rules, which state, in relevant part:

 
Taco Bell's objective is to ensure that uniform and consistent standards are applied through the constructive discipline program. The purpose of constructive discipline is to communicate what conduct is unacceptable and to specify the corrective action required.
 
Disciplinary options include...documented verbal consultation, written consultation, or termination.... The Human Resources Manager and field management will investigate the facts and any special circumstances before making a disciplinary decision...The Company maintains the policy that any individual's employment can be terminated, with or without cause, and with or without notice[.]
 
The following work rule violations will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment...
 
7. Engaging in horseplay, harassment, or other behavior disruptive to co-workers, customers, or suppliers....
 
10. Unprofessional conduct that is blatent and intentional.
 
11. Use of extreme, abusive, or threatening language toward co-workers, customers, or suppliers.

 In early 1992, plaintiff indicated to upper management his desire to obtain more responsibility by becoming a market manager, which oversees the performance of the general managers. In August 1992, he began directly reporting to Nick Kallergis ("Kallergis"), the area market manager, and again expressed his interest in the market manager position. Plaintiff's responsibility increased from managing two stores to managing six stores, more than any other manager.

 In the summer of 1994, Babatunde Adeniyi, who reported to plaintiff, complained to Kallergis about plaintiff's use of abusive language, for which Kallergis issued plaintiff a verbal warning. November 9, 1994, Parris Reaves ("Reaves"), another of plaintiff's subordinates, had a confrontation with plaintiff. Three weeks later, in a December 3, 1994, telephone call, Jetha Jones ("Jones"), a recently-hired management trainee in one of plaintiff's stores, told Kallergis that plaintiff had "exploded into a fit of anger" the previous day, and had berated her using language that was "loud, abusive, and profane." Plaintiff denied making the statements.

 Following this incident, Kallergis suspended plaintiff and conducted an investigation. Kallergis asked plaintiff to meet him at one of his restaurants on December 5, 1994. At that meeting, Kallergis informed plaintiff that he would conduct a thorough investigation in conjunction with the Human Resources department. On December 8, 1994, Kallergis and Paul Ramsey ("Ramsey"), the Human Resources Manager, met with plaintiff, telling him that three employees, Jones, Reaves, and Peter Guyse-Crew, ("Guyse-Crew") had "gone on record" with written statements alleging that plaintiff had used loud and profane language at times while conducting business in the restaurant. Ramsey informed plaintiff that this behavior violated defendant's work rules, which required managers to maintain working environments free of harassment and intimidation. Plaintiff acknowledged company standards, but denied all allegations of abusive conduct, suggesting that defendant poll additional employees from his restaurants.

 Later that afternoon, Ramsey and Kallergis drove to another of plaintiff's restaurants and randomly selected three employees to be interviewed regarding plaintiff's management style. Three of plaintiff's subordinates, Samantha Long, Santina Coley and Carla Martinez, verified plaintiff's regular use of profanity and described a work environment where employees feared plaintiff's presence. Ramsey and Kallergis terminated plaintiff's employment on that day. On March 9, 1995, plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal Employment ...


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