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JONES v. GE INFORMATION SERVS.

April 27, 1998

Mary W. Jones, Plaintiff,
v.
General Electric Information Services, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NORGLE

OPINION AND ORDER

 CHARLES R. NORGLE, SR., District Judge:

 Before the court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

 I. BACKGROUND *fn1"

 Plaintiff, Mary W. Jones ("Jones"), has filed two separate complaints against Defendant, General Electric Information Services ("GEIS"), pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000e-17, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 based on two separate employment actions. In Jones' first complaint, filed on October 17, 1996, Jones alleges that she was demoted from her position because of her race. In Jones' second complaint, filed on December 13, 1996, Jones alleges that she was not promoted because of her race and/or in retaliation for filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after her 1993 demotion. On January 10, 1997, Jones' complaints were consolidated.

 On January 7, 1998, the court granted, in part, GEIS' motion for summary judgment, and held that Jones is time-barred from pursuing her § 1981 claim based on her 1993 demotion. With respect to Jones' remaining claims, however, the court took GEIS' motion under advisement, and granted Jones, a pro-se plaintiff *fn2" , an additional opportunity to file a response brief in compliance with Local Rule 12(N). Jones filed a response to GEIS motion for summary judgment on February 25, 1998, and GEIS filed a reply on March 10, 1998. Thus, the matter is ready for disposition.

 GEIS provides consulting and related services involving business-to-business electronic commerce, including Internet access, Intranet consulting, and managed network services. In December of 1985, Jones, a black female, began working at GEIS' Chicago office as a temporary receptionist. Jones reported to GEIS' Midwest Region Manager, then Barbara Cresswell ("Cresswell"), a white female. Approximately two years later, Cresswell offered, and Jones accepted, a full-time position as an Administrator Level II ("Administrator").

 As an Administrator, Jones, in part, acted as an executive secretary for Cresswell. Jones was responsible for making Cresswell's travel arrangements, maintaining Cresswell's daily calendar, ordering office supplies, and arranging the logistics for seminars and sales meetings. In addition, Jones was responsible for performing clerical functions for Cresswell and the sales representatives at the Chicago office. Jones' clerical functions included typing correspondence and entering new client accounts into GEIS' computer system. Cresswell's written evaluations of Jones' performance were generally satisfactory. In 1993, Jones ceased reporting to Cresswell. Thereafter, Charles Skerya ("Skerya"), a white male, was Jones' immediate supervisor.

 In approximately October 1992, Area Sales Manager, Linwood Register ("Register"), a white male began supervising the Chicago office even though he remained physically stationed in New York City. Register's supervisor informed him that the Chicago office was performing unsatisfactorily and that he was responsible for remedying the problem. Register met with Skerya, then the Chicago office's Sales Manager, along with a Technical Manager, in New York to inform them of Register's directive. Register told the Chicago office managers that they had one year to turn the Chicago office around. Register also told the managers that he intended to conduct a formal business review at the Chicago office and that they should be prepared to set forth the Chicago office's accomplishments and goals.

 The formal business review took place on January 6, 1993. Skerya presented a summary and analysis of the Chicago office's performance and future plans. Skerya's business review consisted, in part, of typed handout materials with matching transparencies. The materials were replete with typographical and other clerical errors, e.g, misspellings, unnumbered pages, missing texts, inconsistent usage of symbols, and misaligned columns and rows. After Skerya's presentation, sales representatives from the Chicago office had an opportunity to make their presentations; their presentation materials contained similar errors. Register thought the materials were the worst that he had ever seen in formal business reviews.

 Afterwards, Register met with Skerya and expressed his disappointment with the sloppiness of the presentation materials. Skerya explained that the office Administrator, Jones, had prepared the materials from information he and others provided to her. Jones states in her affidavit that Register's Administrator electronically mailed her the format that must be used for all reviews. Skerya gave her the data to input and told her the order he wanted the slides for his presentation. Several sales representatives in the office told Register that the presentation materials were typical of Jones' quality of work.

 Register consequently told Skerya that he could either move Jones out of her Administrator position or place her on a performance improvement plan ("plan"). Under the plan, a formal written plan would outline an employee's performance deficiencies and set forth the areas in which the employee must improve over a specified period of time in order to remain employed. In addition to Jones, Register directed Skerya to place three other employees in the region, Eric Gatzke ("Gatzke"), Jim Gruelich ("Gruelich"), and Kevin Hendricks ("Hendricks"), on the plan. All three employees were white sales representatives, and worked in Chicago, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee, respectively. Skerya did not move Jones out of her position or place her on the plan at that time. Gatzke and Gruelich were placed on the plan; Hendricks was terminated after the Milwaukee office was closed.

 In June 1993, Register made an annual presentation to his supervisor in New York. To prepare for the presentation, Register obtained materials from all of his sales offices. Approximately one day before his presentation, Register learned that all offices provided the necessary materials, except for the Chicago office. Instead, Register received an electronic-mail message from Jones, indicating that the Chicago materials were attached; however, the materials were not attached. Register tried to contact Jones at that time to no avail. On the day of his presentation, Register finally contacted Jones and obtained the Chicago materials in time for his presentation. Although Jones does not dispute that there was a delivery problem, Jones denies all responsibility.

 In August 1993, Jones typed a letter for Skerya that was sent to a new and important GEIS customer. In it, Jones misspelled GEIS' name as "GE Infornation Services." Twelve copies of the letter, containing the misspelled company name, were mailed, including one to Register. Register complained about the typographical error to Skerya in an August 25, 1993, memo which stated, in part, that he was "very disappointed" and that it "'shows sloppiness and lack of concern for detail on your [Skerya's] part. This is embarrassing for you [Skerya], Chuck Kirgis, Mary Jones, and me [Register].'" (Def.'s 12(M) Stmt. at P 16.) Skerya then met with Jones and informed her that Register was not happy with the staff at the Chicago office.

 On September 16, 1993, Skerya met with Jones again and informed her that Register had directed him to either place Jones on a 90-day plan or to effectively demote her to a Receptionist, also referred to as Administrator Level I ("Receptionist"). Skerya told Jones that she could choose which she preferred. Jones felt that it was unfair to place her on the plan since she felt there was nothing wrong with her performance. Nonetheless, Jones chose to take the Receptionist's position because she felt that she would not make it through the plan. As a Receptionist, Jones was paid the same salary she was earning as an Administrator.

 After Jones' demotion, Jones, at GEIS' direction, trained new Administrators, typically temporary contract workers, to use GEIS' software and computer systems because she had experience using them. Kyron Johnson ("Johnson"), a black female, was a contract worker who temporarily replaced Jones and performed her duties as an Administrator.

 On October 7, 1993, Jones filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC. In her EEOC complaint, Jones alleged that the September 16, 1993, plan/demotion option was racially motivated. Jones stated at her deposition that her EEOC charge was based on the fact that two white Administrators in the Chicago office were never similarly disciplined. However, Jones admits that those two white Administrators reported to different supervisors, and that there is no record of any performance problems for either of them.

 In February 1994, Kevin Poole ("Poole") began working at the Chicago office, and became Jones' immediate supervisor in 1996. In January 1996, Poole hired Leslie Feduick ("Feduick"), a Hispanic female, as Lead Administrator because Feduick had an outstanding performance record as an Area Administrator, a high level administrative position, at GEIS' San Francisco office. Poole set Feduick's base salary based on Feduick's level of position, and her prior experience and salary. Jones denies that Poole hired Feduick solely for those reasons, and alleges that Feduick was hired to prevent Jones from obtaining that position.

 Feduick was the only Administrator hired in the Chicago office between the time of Jones' 1993 demotion and December 13, 1996. Several other individuals were retained, however, from staffing agencies to perform ...


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