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VALLABHAPURAPU v. FIRST NAT'L BANK OF CHICAGO

March 23, 1998

DURGAPRASAD L. VALLABHAPURAPU, Plaintiff,
v.
THE FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF CHICAGO, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CASTILLO

 Plaintiff Durgaprasad Vallabhapurapu ("Prasad") filed suit in this Court against his employer, First National Bank of Chicago ("FNB"), seeking compensatory damages and back pay arising from his demotion. Count I of Prasad's complaint alleges that FNB demoted him because of his national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq. Count II alleges that the demotion was based on race in violation of Title VII. Count III charges that FNB demoted Prasad because of his age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. FNB has moved for summary judgment on all counts. Both parties have also filed motions to strike certain evidence from the record.

 RELEVANT FACTS1

 We begin by presenting the facts in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Wolf v. Buss America, Inc., 77 F.3d 914, 918 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 866, 136 L. Ed. 2d 116, 117 S. Ct. 175 (1996). Prasad began working for FNB in 1978. Def.'s Facts P 1. On July 5, 1993, he was promoted from Security Supervisor III, grade 9 ("Sergeant"), to Security Supervisor I, grade 12 ("Commander") for the third shift of FNB's security operations. Id. Prasad is of Indian descent, Asian race, and is over 40 years old. Def.'s Facts P 5.

 The decision to promote Prasad (and later to demote him) was made by Timothy T. Janes. Def.'s Facts P 4; Janes Dep., Ex. C, at 10-11. Janes has been FNB's regional manager of security operations for the last five years. Def.'s Facts. P 4; Janes Dep., at 4. As such, he has been either directly or indirectly in charge of Prasad during this time. Def.'s Facts P 4; Janes Dep., at 4. When he promoted Prasad, Janes knew his age, race and national origin. Def.'s Fact P 4; Janes Aff., Ex. D, P 5.

 The employees Janes promoted normally received a raise to the minimum level of their new salary grade. If the employee's former salary exceeded the new minimum, however, Janes simply raised the employee's salary 2-4%. Def.'s Facts P 7; Janes Aff., P 3. Since Prasad already earned more than the base salary for his new grade 12 position, Janes gave Prasad a 2% raise. *fn2" He was also aware that Prasad had received a 3% raise less than a month before his promotion. Def.'s Facts PP 6, 8; Janes Aff. PP 3-4. The 2% increase took into consideration the salaries of other shift commanders as well -- Janes did not want a new shift commander's compensation to exceed that of more senior shift commanders. Def.'s Facts P 8; Janes Aff., P 4. Prasad's 2% raise placed him well above the minimum pay level for his position. Def.'s Facts P 8; Janes Aff. P 4.

 Prasad began in his new position on July 5, 1993. Comp. P 8. As third shift Commander, Prasad's duties included supervising security personnel, and building trust, confidence and cooperation among third shift employees. Def.'s Facts P 9; Pl. Dep., at 54, 58. In March 1994, however, several of Prasad's subordinates -- George L. VonKrause, Sandra M. Jacobs, Sharon C. Robinson, and Juanita M. Davis -- began complaining to Janes about Prasad's management style. *fn3" Def.'s Facts PP 10-12; Janes Dep., at 17-18, 103-04. Richard D. Bargas and Daniel F. Kenealy, both sergeants (mid-level supervisors) on the third shift, also complained about Prasad's poor management. Def.'s Facts PP 11-12; Janes Aff., P 6; Janes Dep., at 17-18, 103-04. None of these complaints were ever documented or made part of Prasad's personnel file. Pl.'s Add'l Facts P 3.

 George VonKrause, a protection officer working under Prasad, talked to Janes about Prasad several times. Def.'s Facts P 13; Janes Dep., at 29. VonKrause complained that Prasad yelled at him, demeaned him in front of others, and did not listen when approached by other security officers. Def. Facts P 13; Janes Dep., at 30. In addition, VonKrause told Janes that morale was low on the shift because of Prasad's ineffective management. Def. Facts P 13; Janes Dep., at 30-31, 35-36. He alleged that Prasad often held female officers to a higher standard than their male counterparts and reprimanded the women more frequently. Def.'s Facts. P 13; Janes Dep., at 106-07. VonKrause explained that other officers had the same complaints but were afraid to come forward for fear that Prasad would retaliate against them. Def. Facts. P 13; Janes Dep., at 36.

 Other protection officers and sergeants on the shift echoed these sentiments. Officer Sharon Robinson informed Janes that Prasad treated employees on the shift poorly, berating them in front of their peers. Def.'s Facts P 15; Janes Dep., at 103-04. Officer Juanita Davis told Janes she was one of those employees, reporting that Prasad frequently berated and demeaned her. Def.'s Facts P 16; Janes Dep., at 103-04. Sergeants Bargas and Kenealy repeatedly complained that Prasad had belittled them in front of others and undermined their authority. Def.'s Facts PP 17-18; Janes Dep., at 25-28, 36-37. Janes says he was concerned about these complaints, and considered them serious because of their nature, frequency and number. Def.'s Facts PP 19, 20; Janes Dep., at 107-08. Despite his concern, Janes did not record the complaints or keep notes from his conversations with these employees. Pl.'s Add'l Facts P 3.

 Based on Prasad's experience working other shifts and his discussions with other shift supervisors, Prasad maintains that employee morale on his shift was no worse than on other shifts. *fn4" Pl.'s Facts P 21, Pl.'s Aff. P 5. Nevertheless, in Janes' view, during the time that Prasad was third shift Commander, his crew's morale was much worse than others'. Def.'s Facts P 21; Janes Dep., at 33-34. Janes formed this assessment based on the number and substance of comments about Prasad, and the employees' general demeanor and attitude coming off the shift. Def.'s Facts P 21; Janes Dep., at 34-35.

 Janes had a few one-on-one meetings with Prasad to make him aware of these complaints, as well as to counsel him on improving his leadership. Def.'s Facts P 22; Janes Dep., at 40-43, 50-51. Janes also discussed, in general terms, employee complaints and morale in meetings with Prasad and all the shift commanders, and discussed problems specific to the third shift in meetings with just Prasad and his sergeants. Def.'s Facts PP 22-24; Pl.'s Facts P 22; Def.'s Resp. P 10; Janes Dep., at 45-46; Pl.'s Dep., at 67, 180. Janes detailed employee complaints about low morale and Prasad's refusal to entertain their requests and suggestions. Def.'s Facts P 24; Janes Dep., at 45-46; Pl.'s Dep. at 68-71, 180. Following these meetings, Prasad agreed to implement strategies to manage the shift more effectively and compassionately. Def.'s Facts P 25; Pl.'s Dep., at 189. He concurred that improving morale, maintaining open communication, and soliciting ideas from employees were among his legitimate job expectations. Def.'s Facts. P 25; Pl.'s Dep., at 81.

 In June 1994, Janes completed Prasad's written evaluation covering the May 1993 through May 1994 time period. Prasad received an "accomplished" rating, which fell in the middle of a three-point scale. Def.'s Facts P 26; Ex. F., Def.'s Mot. For Sum. Jdgt. Janes tempered the rating slightly by mentioning that Prasad needed to work on his management skills:

 
Overall, Prasad has been an effective supervisor over the 3rd shift uniformed security operations. He is very dedicated to the bank and to his unit and has made good strides in creating an effective operating atmosphere for the shift. Prasad needs to improve in his management style as it relates to leadership of the officers on his shift, being more diplomatic and sensitive to the protection officers' needs, while still exercising a fair, consistent and complete approach to the operations of the unit. Overall, Prasad has performed at an accomplished level in his position as commander of the third shift.

 Ex. F., Def.'s Mot. For Sum. Jdgt. Prasad was also rated "accomplished" before his promotion. Pl.'s Mot. In. ...


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