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September 19, 1997


Appeal from the Illinois Human Rights Commission.

Released for Publication November 10, 1997.

Presiding Justice Greiman delivered the opinion of the court. Theis and Zwick, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Greiman

PRESIDING JUSTICE GREIMAN delivered the opinion of the court:

Petitioner Jude Alcequeire appeals the dismissal of his racial discrimination claim by the Illinois Human Rights Commission (Commission). The sole issue on appeal is whether the decision of the Commission dismissing petitioner's claim by reason of a lack of substantial evidence was an abuse of discretion or arbitrary and capricious. We affirm the Commission's decision.

Petitioner, a black male, was hired as a computer operator with the Cook County Management Information System (MIS) on August 8, 1985, suspended on August 26, 1992, and discharged from his employment on September 3, 1992. On October 6, 1992, petitioner filed a charge of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (Department) and alleged discrimination by being suspended from his job and in retaliation for filing prior discrimination claims. Petitioner never alleged discrimination regarding his discharge.

The Department investigated petitioner's claims. The investigator conducted interviews with seven witnesses and examined numerous documents relevant to the petitioner's claims.

The investigation report revealed the following uncontested facts. Petitioner was scheduled to work overtime on August 22, 1992 (Saturday), and August 23, 1992 (Sunday). The purpose of the overtime work was to generate tax bills. Petitioner previously had complained that he was not allowed to work as much overtime as white employees. On August 22, 1992, petitioner's scheduling supervisor (Eugene Majka) telephoned petitioner's director (Joseph Yaeger) at home to complain that petitioner was sleeping on the job and performing poorly by interfering with the work that was to be generated. On August 23, 1992, director Yaeger called petitioner and told him not to report to work that day because of his alleged poor performance, including sleeping, the previous day (Saturday).

On August 24, 1992, director Yaeger wrote a memo to the chief administrative officer (Albert Pritchett) requesting permission to commence termination proceedings against petitioner "for (1) disrespect and insubordination to supervisors and management personnel; (2) sleeping on the job; and (3) threatening violence should he not be given his way." On August 25, 1992, petitioner was informed that he was suspended indefinitely.

In response to the discrimination charge, MIS asserted that petitioner was suspended for nonracial reasons. MIS submitted that petitioner

"had been repeatedly warned about his insubordinate behavior, his excessive verbal and racial attacks against his supervisors and managers, his threats and intimidations of co-workers and of supervisors, as well as his poor work performance as indicated by his coming to work on Saturday, August 22, 1992, on an overtime basis to do very important work and continually sleeping on the job, which seriously reduced tax bill production for that day."

The Department interviewed seven witnesses that corroborated the position taken by MIS about petitioner's work history: (1) Joseph Yaeger (white), former director of petitioner; (2) Robert Farrington (white), assistant director of petitioner; (3) Thomas Ryan (white), clerk and coworker of petitioner; (4) Alfred Orrico (white), computer operator and coworker of petitioner; (5) Generall Voker (black and Liberian-American), computer operator and coworker of petitioner; (6) Mikal Ahmad (black), computer operator and immediate supervisor of petitioner on date of cause of petitioner's suspension; and (7) Don Ciesla (white), operations manager.

All of the witnesses stated that petitioner was always using racial epithets toward his coworkers, supervisors and managers. Petitioner's verbal attacks were variously described as "excessivley aggressive" and "routine." Petitioner referred to black personnel who disagreed with him as "uncle toms" and to white personnel as "racists," "fascists" or "imperialists." In addition, petitioner sometimes delivered his tirades angrily and in a threatening or intimidating manner.

The interviews further revealed that, over the course of his employment, petitioner was verbally abusive, disrespectful, and insubordinate toward supervisors and managers and interpreted everything he did not like as a racial plot against him. ...

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