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RUDD v. CHICAGO ASS'N FOR RETARDED CITIZENS

February 16, 1999

MARGO C. RUDD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHICAGO ASSOCIATION FOR RETARDED CITIZENS, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Norgle, District Judge.

OPINION and ORDER

Plaintiff Margo Rudd ("Rudd") filed the instant action alleging wrongful discharge in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended ("Title VII"). See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2 et seq. Before the court is Defendant Chicago Association For Retarded Citizens, Inc.'s (CARC) Motion for Summary Judgment. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND*fn1

In April of 1982, Tim Monahan ("Monahan"), CARC's Director of Children Services, noticed certain deficiencies in Rudd's performance. On April 2, Monahan sent Rudd a letter regarding deficiencies in record keeping that he discovered during a visit the previous day. Five days later, Monahan suspended Rudd without pay because she improperly closed the school the previous day. Without citing to the record, Rudd claims that she was never suspended and that her pay was reinstated.

More warnings followed in 1984 from Douglas Brandow ("Brandow"), Monahan's successor. In March of that year, Brandow sent Rudd a letter regarding her failure to implement new staff hours at the school as she had been instructed to do. In May, during a meeting with Rudd, Brandow expressed his lack of confidence in Rudd's performance as Director, and he informed her that if she did not improve she would be subject to suspension or dismissal. Nevertheless, problems persisted.

In late 1984, Brandow suspended Rudd without pay for approving the installation of a light on school property without administrative approval. In February 1985, he withheld four days' pay from her paycheck because Rudd had taken leave days, and compensation had not been approved for those days. During the following school year, Brandow warned Rudd twice, once for dismissing students and staff before the end of a school day, and for handling staff disciplinary issues in an unprofessional manner. Further warnings followed in later years. Eventually, in 1987, Brandow placed Rudd on CARC's progressive disciplinary policy. And later that year, after various incidents, Brandow placed Rudd on the "second step" of CARC's disciplinary policy.

Prior to Brandow's actions against her, Rudd began complaining about him. Rudd kept notes of six incidents between June of 1986 and April of 1987. One brief note on Rudd's personal calendar page for January 27, 1987, relates to his sexual behavior. It states that Brandow "[p]laced hands inapprop. in front of genitals, 3:15 p.m." (Rudd Dep., Ex. 17.) Other notes relate to work-related issues and are essentially a record of events and conversations Rudd had with Brandow. In short, Rudd believed that Brandow was arbitrary in his decisions. One note reflects her frustration as she refers to Brandow as a "[b]astard." (Id. at p. 8.)

In January 1988, Rudd sent a memorandum to Otto Whitehill ("Whitehall"), CARC's Executive Director, wherein she alleged that during a recent directors' meeting, "Mr. Brandow demonstrated overt, vulgar, lowerbody gyrations. Mr. Brandow constantly `accidentally' kicked my legs and ankles and only excused himself on one occasion." (Rudd Dep., Ex. 20.) Rudd claimed that the situation was "intolerable" and requested a meeting with Whitehill. Id. In May 1988, Rudd sent a similar memorandum to Brandow and requested a meeting with him. In June 1988, Rudd met with Brandow and Kristin MacRae ("MacRae"), CARC's Director of Human Resources. At the meeting, Rudd presented them with a memorandum outlining her complaints against Brandow. She claimed that she had been "subjected to extreme and persistent cruel harassment" by Brandow. (Rudd Dep., Ex. 15.) She further claimed that she was "professionally slandered" and that she was disciplined in violation of her rights. (Id.)

On July 15, 1988, Rudd sent MacRae a memorandum stating that she would schedule a meeting with her to discuss the issues presented in the previous meeting. Rudd noted that several members of her staff requested to meet with MacRae regarding Brandow's behavior toward her. MacRae informed Rudd that if any staff members wanted to schedule an appointment with her they were welcome to do so. No staff members contacted MacRae directly, but on July 20, 1988, she received a letter signed by four of Rudd's subordinates requesting a meeting at the school. On July 25, 1988, Mary Garcia ("Garcia"), the school secretary, contacted MacRae by a separate letter and requested that she not be included in the complaint against Brandow. She further stated that she did not witness any of the conduct Rudd claims she had. In a phone conversation several weeks later, Garcia informed MacRae that Rudd was harassing her and trying to get her to say things about Brandow that were not true.

Shortly thereafter, on September 23, 1988, MacRae received another memorandum from staff members requesting a meeting with her. This memorandum was initialed only by the school's social worker, JoAnn Statum ("Statum"), and Garcia. During this time, Rudd was preparing statements for the four complaining employees. She first prepared handwritten statements and then typed statements dated July 1988.*fn2 All alleged inappropriate behavior by Brandow. Three days later, Garcia again contacted MacRae to inform her that Rudd forced her to type a letter containing falsehoods about Brandow.

MacRae subsequently met with Whitehall to discuss the matter. They were concerned that Rudd was intimidating staff members in furtherance of her complaints against Brandow. On October 17, 1988, Garcia again contacted MacRae to inform her that she wanted to be disassociated with Rudd's complaint. MacRae received a similar letter from Thelma Johnson ("Johnson"), a teacher, and one of the four individuals who signed the original letter. MacRae also received a packet from another signatory, Ruth Couderc ("Couderc"), the school Matron. Couderc had refused to sign the statement that Rudd had prepared and requested that she sign. Couderc returned the document to Rudd, explaining: "I return this original document, not dictated or prepared by me, unsigned as the allegation or charge is untrue and was never witnessed by me." (Rudd Dep., Ex. 23.) Couderc mailed copies to MacRae.

Ultimately, one statement was signed by Statum, who had earlier canceled a scheduled meeting with MacRae. The 1988 statement alleged that Brandow behaved unprofessionally during a meeting in 1986. Brandow allegedly placed his foot on Statum's desk so that "his genital area was in direct view" of her face, and at some point "manipulated" his crotch area. (Def.12(M) Statement Ex. K.) CARC immediately initiated an investigation. Brandow denied the allegations in a meeting with Whitehill. On October 19, 1988, Whitehill and MacRae met with Statum. During the meeting, Statum said that there had been an incident with Brandow, but she did not consider it sexual harassment. To her it was an "invasion of her space." (Id. Exs. M & N.) Statum told Whitehill and MacRae that she signed the letter only because of pressure by Rudd.

In the next two months, MacRae received calls from Theresa Scott ("Scott"), and Barbara Zuick ("Zuick"), two teachers at the school. Both informed her that the allegations were lies. Scott further noted her concerns in this matter because Rudd was her supervisor, and Zuick informed MacRae that Rudd threatened to charge her with insubordination when she refused to sign a statement. In December 1988, Rudd submitted various memoranda describing Brandow's inappropriate conduct. Included with her submissions was a cover letter with signature lines for six employees, which Rudd explained was "to verify that each staff person, read and received a copy of the documented incidents." (Rudd Dep., Ex. 21.) The signature lines were for the four individuals who signed the initial letter to MacRae, as well as for Scott and Zuick. Garcia, Statum and Scott signed the cover letter indicating they "read and received" the statements. Johnson, Zuick and Couderc's lines were not signed; however, Rudd added notations that they were either mailed or received.

On the same day that MacRae received Rudd's packet, Rudd sent a memorandum to Zuick regarding her rejection of the statement. In the memorandum, Rudd stated:

  It was my responsibility as Director of Mary Alyce
  School to ask you additional questions about Mr.
  Brandow [sic] alleged behavior in your presence. You
  stated to me that "you might have said Mr. Brandow
  was nervous," gives credence to the fact, [sic] the
  [sic] behavior was discussed with me by you at times
  so stated in the memo.
  Mrs. Zuick, please be aware that this is the second
  incident where you have attempted to recant your
  statements to me regarding facts which you personally
  related to me.
  Mrs. Zuick[,] I am legally obligated to submit
  statements of this nature to the Department of ...

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