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BRONGEL v. BANK ONE CORPORATION

February 10, 2004.

MEENA BRONGEL, Plaintiff,
v.
BANK ONE CORPORATION, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SUZANNE CONLON, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Meena Brongel ("Brongel") sues Bank One Corporation ("Bank One") for age, color, national origin, race, and sex discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 26 U.S.C. § 12101 ("ADEA"), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended in 1 991 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Bank One moves for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 and Local Rule 56.1.

BACKGROUND

 I. Local Rule 56.1

  Although pro se plaintiffs are entitled to lenient standards, compliance with procedural rules is required. Jones v. Phipps, 39 F.3d 158, 163 (7th Cir. 1994). Brongel has failed to comply with Local Rule 56. Bank One provided Brongel with Local 56.1 notice to pro se litigants opposing summary judgment. Nevertheless, Brongel submitted a ten-page rambling and argumentative response that includes unsubstantiated accusations her deposition transcript was altered, purported factual statements without citation to the record, unsupported rebuttal to the declaration of a Bank Page 2 One employee, and unauthenticated, incomplete portions of documents and correspondence. Brongel's response does not qualify as a Rule 56.1 response or a statement of additional facts. Nor can her response be deemed a declaration or affidavit as it is not sworn under penalty of perjury. 28 U.S.C. § 1746; Eddings v. Lefevour, No. 98 C 7968, 2000 WL 146610, at *7 (N.D. Ill. Sept 29, 2000). Accordingly, BankOne's Rule 56.1 facts are deemed admitted. Oates v. Discovery Zone, 116 F.3d 1161, 1167 (7th Cir. 1997); Flaherty v. Gas Research Inst., 31 F.3d 451, 453 (7th Cir. 1994); L.R. 56.1(b)(2)(B).

 II. Facts

  The following facts are undisputed. Bank One is a multi-bank holding company that provides retail banking, finance and credit card services, as well as commercial banking, trust, and investment management services. Employees in Bank One's information technology department are typically assigned to work in teams at the direction of a team leader who then reports to a higher level manager. From December 1994 until February 2003, Brongel was a programmer in Bank One's Chicago office assigned to mainframe computing and COBOL-language projects. In December 1999, Brongel was assigned to a team managed by Jerry Glass ("Glass"). At her deposition, Brongel admitted that she and Glass had a romantic, flirting and consensual relationship, and alluded to the fact that Glass reminded her of her college boyfriend. Bank One management was unaware of the relationship.

  In September 2000, Glass left Bank One in order to relocate to Las Vegas, Nevada. In December 2000, Glass returned to Chicago and was re-hired by Bank One as a team leader. Although Glass was no longer a manager, his new role included supervision of Brongel. According to Brongel, Glass sought her attentions; she rejected him. Nevertheless, Glass repeatedly made Page 3 unwanted sexual advances over the next several months, including requests for sexual relations and touching. Brongel testified that Glass slowly "got the idea" that she did not want to have a relationship with him. Def. Facts ¶ 21; Brongel Dep. at 36.

  In late 2001, Bank One decided to deploy Brongel's team from their current project to another by March 2002. Brongel and her co-workers were told they could remain on their current team and be deployed, or alternatively, they could interview for other Bank One positions. On November 2, 2001, Brongel met with her manager, Ted Frejek ("Frejek"), after she unsuccessfully interviewed for transfer to another team. At this meeting, Brongel was upset, argumentative, and threatened to resign. In particular, she complained about some of her co-workers' performances, hours and pay. Frejek told Brongel to take time off in order to consider whether she wanted to resign. Brongel admitted Frejek was unaware she was purportedly harassed by Glass at the time of their meeting. Def. Facts ¶ 15; Brongel Dep. at 55.

  Around the same time, Brongel met with a Bank One psychologist and told him that Glass sexually harassed her. Thereafter, Brongel met with Frejek again on November 15, 2001. Frejek asked Lenore Chester ("Chester"), a human resources consultant, to attend. At this meeting, Brongel complained — for the first time — that Glass sexually harassed her. According to Chester, Brongel recanted the allegation when she asked for additional details, admitting she and Glass previously had a consensual relationship that ended several months earlier, that there had been no sexual harassment, that there was no reason they could not work together, and that she did not want to resign. Chester indicated that false allegations were serious, and Brongel apologized. At her Page 4 deposition, Brongel testified that the meeting left her `Very satisfied" and "[everything got smooth]" and went "fine" subsequently.*fn1 Def. Facts ¶ 26; Brongel Dep. at 67-68.

  Over a year later, on December 20, 2002, Brongel again complained about Glass to Frejek. Prior to this date, Brongel had made no complaints about Glass to Frejek, Chester, management, human resources, or employee relations. Brongel told Frejek that Glass kissed her in an elevator two days earlier returning from a work party, and that the kiss was unwanted and unsolicited. Brongel told Frejek, "I want to get his ass because I think he called security." Def. Facts ¶ 38; Brongel Dep. at 147. Frejek contacted human resources. At her deposition, Brongel claimed that her co-workers conspired against her that day. In particular, Brongel thought one employee had drugs in his wallet and Glass planned to put his wallet in her coat and call security.

  After Brongel's complaint, she worked from home until an alternate workstation could be set up in another Bank One building. Glass was removed as Brongel's supervisor, and was placed under Frejek. On January 3, 2003, Chester and Amy Brossard ("Brossard") — a Bank One employee relations specialist — began investigating Brongel's complaint, interviewing Brongel, Glass, and some of their co-workers. On January 6th, Brongel filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. On January 10th, Brongel returned to work at an alternate workstation in another Bank One building under Frejek's supervision.

  The investigation was inconclusive. Brongel told Chester that in the year prior to the kiss, Glass made numerous unwanted sexual advances. Glass told Chester that their relationship was consensual, and the kiss was a shared, passionate one. Nevertheless, Bank One warned Glass to Page 5 avoid personal, non-business communications with Brongel, placed his workstation on the opposite side of the floor from Brongel's, and advised Brongel that she should report directly to Frejek and call Chester if she needed any help. After December 20, 2002, Brongel made no further complaints about Glass.

  On February 11, 2003, Brongel left Bank One and never returned. That same day, she filed an EEOC charge alleging retaliation and claiming; that Glass called the police and had her desk searched, apparently for illegal drugs. On February 15, Brongel left two voicemail messages at Bank One informing Frejek and employee relations that she decided not to return to work. On February 18, Brossard contacted Brongel and confirmed her resignation. At this point, Brongel apparently believed her co-workers were conspiring to plant drugs in her desk. At her deposition, Brongel made numerous accusations, including, for example, that the police were called in connection with her departure from Bank One, that the police and Cook County Judge Robert Bertucci followed her in the days and weeks after she quit, and that someone broke into her car ...


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