Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

TURNER v. ABT ELECTRONICS

March 24, 2003

MANUEL Q. TURNER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ABT ELECTRONICS, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Elaine E. Bucklo, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Manuel Turner sued his former employer, defendant Abt Electronics, Inc. ("Abt"), for discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and Section 1981, 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Abt now moves for summary judgment. I grant the motion.

I. Background

Mr. Turner, whose mother is Hispanic and whose father is African-American, began working for Abt in November 1997, and since June 2000 had held the position of truck driver. Each driver is assigned on a daily basis a route on which to make deliveries and service calls. These routes are generally prepared at the end of the preceding day, and distributed to the drivers in the morning.

On November 18, 2000, a dispute arose regarding the route to which Mr. Turner had been assigned for that day. Mr. Turner states that his route had been switched by Georgia Larnbropoulos, a dispatch supervisor without authority to change the routes, with the more difficult route of Richard Morales, another driver with whom Ms. Lambropoulos allegedly had a personal relationship. Mr. Turner further states that Ms. Lambropoulos was only treating him this way because he is African-American. it is undisputed that Mr. Turner spoke to Ms. Lambropoulos and Mr. Morales that morning regarding the route switch, but the details of that meeting are contested. Abt states that Mr. Turner yelled at Ms. Lambropoulos and raised a clenched fist toward her. Abt further states that Mr. Morales was standing next to Ms. Lambropoulos at the time, and that he felt that she was being physically threatened by Mr. Turner.

In addition, Abt states that there were two similar incidents between Mr. Turner and other employees in 2000. Abt states that Mr. Turner became aggressive and used intimidating gestures in a dispute with Ciomara Lopez, a customer dispatcher. Ms. Lopez states that she felt her safety was in jeopardy. Abt states that in another incident, Mr. Turner verbally harassed Kelly Reyes, a cashier.

After learning of this last incident, Abt terminated Mr. Turner's employment on December 11, 2000. Mr. Turner claims that his termination was discriminatory and in retaliation for complaining about Ms. Lambropoulos' actions.

II. Analysis

I grant summary judgment only where "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). While I apply this standard with particular care in employment discrimination cases, Adusumilli v. City of Chicago, 164 F.3d 353, 360-61 (7th Cir. 1998), the non-moving party "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). Here, Mr. Turner bases his claims on both Title VII and Section 1981. Because the same standards governing liability under Title VIT apply to Section 1981, Gonzalez v. Ingersoll Milling Machine Co., 133 F.3d 1025, 1035 (7th Cir. 1998), I will analyze the claims solely under Title VII.

The standards for establishing a case of discrimination or retaliation are essentially identical. In both cases, the plaintiff can either present direct evidence of discrimination or retaliation, or can proceed using the McDonnell Douglas burdenshifting analysis. Perdomo v. Browner, 67 F.3d 140, 144 (7th Cir. 1995) (discrimination); Stone v. City of Indianapolis Pub. Utils. Div., 281 F.3d 640, 644 (7th Cir. 2002) (retaliation).

A. Direct Approach

Under the direct approach Mr. Turner can avoid summary judgment on his discrimination claim by producing enough evidence to create a triable issue of whether his termination had a discriminatory motivation. Wallace v. SMC Pneumatics, Inc., 103 E.3d 1394, 1397 (7th Cir. 1997). Here, the only evidence that Mr. Turner provides under the direct approach are the fact that none of the management or coworkers involved in his termination were African-American, and an allegation that the complaints of Mr. Turner's misconduct by Ms. Lambropoulos, Mr. Morales, Ms. Lopez, and Ms. Reyes were fabricated and not sufficiently investigated by Abt. This "evidence" is simply not sufficient to create a triable issue as to whether his termination had a discriminatory motivation. Even assuming that Mr. Turner's unsupported allegations that four coworkers conspired to have him fired were true, he presents no evidence that those coworkers were motivated by Mr. Turner's race. The simple fact that the coworkers were not African-American is not evidence of an intent to discriminate against African-Americans. Likewise, Mr. Turner presents no evidence that Abt's alleged failure to thoroughly investigate the complaints was due to his race. Again, the fact that the managers involved in receiving the complaints and terminating Mr. Turner were not African-American is not evidence of an intent to discriminate. Mr. Turner's evidence is insufficient to show discrimination under the direct approach.

Similarly, Mr. Turner cannot use the direct approach to avoid summary judgement on his retaliation claim. Under this approach, Mr. Turner must present direct evidence that he was terminated as a result of engaging in protected activity. Stone, 281 F.3d at 644. Abt, for purposes of its summary judgment motion, does not contest that Mr. Turner engaged in protected activity. However, Mr. Turner's evidence that he was fired in retaliation for this activity is no better than his evidence that he was fired because of his race. He provides no evidence that even if coworkers conspired to have him fired by filing false complaints against him, they were motivated by an urge to retaliate for his complaint about Ms. Lambropoulos. Likewise, Mr. Turner fails to provide any evidence that Abt's alleged failure to thoroughly investigate complaints against him and its ultimate decision to fire him were in retaliation for his complaint about Ms. Lambropoulos. Mr. Turner points to the temporal proximity of his complaint to Abt's allegedly retaliatory actions. However, "mere temporal proximity between the filing of the charge of discrimination and the action alleged to have been taken in retaliation for that filing will rarely be sufficient in and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.