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THOMAS v. CHRYSLER FINANCIAL

August 25, 2003

SHERRY THOMAS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHRYSLER FINANCIAL, LLC, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Milton Shadur, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Sherry Thomas ("Thomas") has sued her ex-employer Chrysler Financial, LLC ("Chrysler"), charging that its failure to offer her a position as Credit Analyst was motivated by race and was therefore a violation of Title VII (42 U.S.C. § 2000e to 2000e-17) and of 42 U.S.C. § 1981.*fn1 Chrysler has moved for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 56, and both sides have complied with this District Court's LR 56.I.*fn2 For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and order, Chrysler's motion is [ Page 2]

granted and this action is dismissed.*fn3

Summary Judgment Standards

Familiar Rule 56 principles impose on movant Chrysler the burden of establishing the lack of a genuine issue of material fact (Celotex Corp. v. Catrett. 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986)). For that purpose this Court must "consider the evidentiary record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party . . . and draw all reasonable inferences in his favor" (Lesch v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 282 F.3d 467, 471 (7th Cir. 2002). And Pudh v. CitV of Attica. 259 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir. 2001) has echoed the teachings of Anderson v. Liberty-Lobby.Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986):

A genuine issue of triable fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party."
As with any summary judgment motion, this Court accepts nonmovant Thompson's version of any disputed facts, but only so long as it is supported by record evidence. What follows in the Facts section is culled from the parties' submissions in those terms.

Facts

Thompson, an African-American, began working for Chrysler in [ Page 3]

1996 as a temporary employee in its Kansas City, Missouri office (C. St. ¶ 2). Chrysler hired her as a full-time Customer Service Representative in 1997, and in 1999 she transferred to the Chicago Zone office (id. ¶¶ 2-3). On April 23, 2001 Chrysler promoted her to Customer Service Supervisor (id. ¶ (9).*fn4 About a month later Chrysler informed Thomas and the rest of the employees in her department that all Chicago Customer Service positions were being transferred to Philadelphia as part of a company-wide reorganization (id ¶ 12). Employees were told they could transfer to Philadelphia and retain their current positions, but otherwise Chrysler would make "every effort" to find them alternative employment (id.).

Thomas wanted to stay in the Chicago area, so in May or June she applied for one of the Credit Analyst positions that had recently become available (C. St. ¶¶ 14, 16-18). According to Chrysler's internal job posting, some prior experience as a Customer Service Supervisor (but for no specified time period) was necessary to qualify for that position (id., ¶ 18; C. Resp. Exs. 1, 4).

Retail Credit Manager David Pack ("Pack") interviewed at least 14 candidates, including Thomas and two other Customer Service Supervisors in the local office, for the Credit Analyst [ Page 4]

spots (C. St. ¶¶ 17, 19). After the interviews had been conducted but before any decisions were made, Chicago Zone Office Manager Ben Boggs ("Boggs") instructed Pack that only applicants with at least one year of supervisory experience were eligible for the Credit Analyst positions (id. ¶ 20). Pack then hired the other two local Customer Service Supervisors, each of whom had approximately one year's experience (C. St. ¶¶ 23-24). According to Thomas, Pack left her a voicemail stating that she was not hired as Credit Analyst because she needed at least six months of experience as a Customer Service Supervisor (at the time she had held that position for only about 1-½ months) (T. St. ¶ 22; T. Ex. 2 ¶ 9).

By early October the Customer Service Department was officially transferred to Philadelphia (C. St. ¶ 46). Thomas stayed at the Chicago office with the hope that she would be promoted to Credit Analyst after she had been a Customer Service Supervisor for six months (Thomas Aff. ¶ 9). For the time being she retained her Supervisor job title (even though there was no one left to supervise) and was given the few remaining tasks within the department, but she was told she would likely be laid off once those tasks were done (C. St. ¶ 48).

Nothing in the record shows that any new Credit Analyst spots ever became available. One of the two people originally selected for the Credit Analyst ...


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