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DOWDY v. PAPPAS

April 4, 2003

TERRY J. DOWDY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MARIA PAPPAS, IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS THE COOK COUNTY TREASURER, AND THE OFFICE OF THE COUNTY TREASURER, COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, United States District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Defendants have moved for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is granted.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Terry Dowdy began working for the Cook County Treasurer's Office on August 3, 1976 as a security officer. In 1994, he was promoted to the position of Chief of Security, which he held until March 20, 2000. As Chief of Security for the Treasurer's Office, Dowdy was expected to: (1) supervise, train and discipline security officers, (2) monitor and maintain surveillance videotape equipment, (3) distribute office keys and security codes, (4) secure tax collections and (5) assure that the collections and vault areas were secure.

Defendant Maria Pappas is the Cook County Treasurer.*fn1 The Treasurer's Office generates over 600,000 real estate tax bills twice a year and collects property taxes from about 1.6 million parcels of real estate. In sum, the Treasurer's Office collects approximately $8 billion of property taxes every year. The office is a public trustee of those collections for taxpayers and taxing agencies.

The Treasurer's Office is especially busy when real estate tax bills are due, because thousands of people come to the office to inquire about their tax bills, complain about their assessment or pay the amount due. Many of these people are upset, confused or angry over their taxes. Accordingly, proper security is essential during this time.

Mike Shine was the Chief Deputy Treasurer of the Cook County Treasurer's Office. He was responsible for personnel, security, and budgetary issues. Commencing in at least December 1998, Shine began to observe problems with Dowdy's work performance and provided him with instructions for improvement. Shine orally counseled Plaintiff as problems arose and issued written reprimands when Plaintiff's work performance did not improve. After the counseling and reprimands, Dowdy's performance still did not improve.

Plaintiff failed to wear his security uniform at times. He sometimes "disappeared" from work during the day. He also failed to monitor and position staff to ensure that they were functioning in an efficient and productive manner. As Chief of Security, Plaintiff was responsible for maintaining constant video surveillance through the use of video recorders. On several occasions, Plaintiff was warned that the video machines were `off' and needed to be on. In February 2000, Shine was investigating an employee who was accused of stealing cash. In connection with the investigation, Shine asked Dowdy to bring him the security tapes for a particular weekend so he could review and observe the employee who was suspected of stealing. Dowdy informed Shine that no recording existed for the weekend because the tapes "ran out." Plaintiff then proceeded to inform Shine that "it happens all the time," but that he had not done anything to fix the problem.

In March 2000, a pre-disciplinary hearing was held for Plaintiff. Shine later terminated Plaintiff's employment based upon a "culmination of mistakes, errors, errors in judgment, and no follow-through," including lapses in security coverage, Plaintiff's disappearances, and Plaintiff's failure to supervise and discipline subordinates.

In April 2000, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). On June 14, 2000, the EEOC issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights letter to Plaintiff. The letter informed him that he had the right to sue within 90 days of the letter. On September 12, 2000, Dowdy filed the complaint in this action alleging that Pappas discriminated against him on the basis of his race (African-American) and his gender (male). He further alleged that Pappas retaliated against him.

ANALYSIS

I. Legal Standard

A. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is proper when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A genuine issue of triable fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable July could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Pugh v. City of Attica, 259 F.3d 619, 625 ...


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