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PACKARD v. TCF NATIONAL BANK

December 9, 2005.

JAMES M. PACKARD, Plaintiff,
v.
TCF NATIONAL BANK and DANIEL HOFFMAN, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: PAUL PLUNKETT, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

James Packard ("Plaintiff") has filed a lawsuit against TCF National Bank ("Bank") and Daniel Hoffman alleging reverse gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), as well as the state law claim of intentional interference with business relations. Before the Court is Defendants' Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56 motion for summary judgment. After careful review of the evidence, we conclude that Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate there are triable issues of material fact and, accordingly, Defendants' motion for summary judgement is granted.

Facts

  Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are undisputed. Packard, a white male, was an employee with the Bank from September 16, 1996 through April 11, 2003. Plaintiff last was employed as a branch lending manager and was supervised by Hoffman. While Plaintiff was managing a branch in Schaumburg, Illinois, one of the loan processors, Jolynn Adkins, reported directly to him. Subsequently, Adkins and Plaintiff held the same managerial position at different branches. (Defs.' Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statement of Facts ¶ 7.)

  The First Harassment Complaint

  In mid-February 2002, while stationed at different offices but both in the branch lending manager position, Packard called Adkins and told her that he was thinking of her while buying a gift for his wife and that he felt close to her because of the advances that she had initiated toward him just a few weeks earlier on a business trip. (Id. ¶¶ 9, 10.) On the trip, Adkins asked Packard to become intimate with her, but Packard ultimately declined.

  A few days later on February 17, 2002, Packard telephoned Adkins a total of three to five times all in one day. (Id. ¶ 13.) At that point Adkins complained to her boss, Tom Torossian, about the calls and Torossian informed TCF's Human Resources Manager, Judy Bradbury. Bradbury was advised that Packard called Adkins and told her he could not eat or sleep and he wanted to meet with her but did "not want to have sex with her." (Id. ¶ 15.) In a conversation with Bradbury, Adkins requested that the phone calls from Packard cease. On February 19, 2002, Bradbury met with Packard and explained to him that Adkins had filed a sexual harassment complaint against him. Packard then admitted that, just the previous day, he had called Adkins five to seven times, but explained he only wanted to be friends with her. Packard was then required to take a sexual harassment class, but his employment status was otherwise unaffected. However, Bradbury instructed Packard that from that point forward, he was to have no further contact "whatsoever" with Adkins and, if he did, he would be terminated. (Id. ¶ 18.); (Packard Dep. at 40.) In February 2003, following a conversation with Hoffman regarding his low performance and production, Packard filed a complaint about Hoffman with Bradbury. Although Packard admitted to Bradbury that his sales were down and that, previously in 2001, he was also advised that his work was not up to par, he alleged that Hoffman harassed others and erroneously directed Plaintiff to change the customary procedure of handling of loan payoff letters. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 20, 21, 22.); (Pl's Rule 56.1(b)(3) Statement of Facts in Opp'n to Defs.' Motion for Summ. J. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff reported Hoffman's directives to upper management and contends that this is when Plaintiff's problems with Hoffman began. In 2001, Plaintiff was told in his performance review that he needed to make more contacts and should be working longer hours.

  The Second Harassment Complaint

  On April 2, 2003, as part of his job as a branch lending manager, Packard was dropping off loan files at TCF's Lombard branch. Adkins, as part of her job as a branch lending manager at a different branch, was also dropping off her loan files that day. Once Packard recognized Adkins in the parking lot, he walked "at a quickened pace" behind her and although he did not recall whether he said her name aloud, he concedes that he thought her name and it is possible that he called out her name. (Defs.' Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statement of Facts ¶ 30.) Adkins told Torossian about the uncomfortable situation she faced in the parking lot and Torossian, in turn, informed Bradbury of the incident. On April 3, 2003, Bradbury spoke with Adkins and confirmed the April 2, 2002 incident.

  On or about April 9, 2003, at Bradbury's request, Hoffman and Torossian met with Packard to ask him about the April 2, 2003 incident. (Id. at 29.) At that time, Packard admitted that he walked at a quickened pace behind Adkins and thought he said her name to himself, but may very well have said it aloud. Hoffman, accordingly, suspended Packard for violating the admonition that he have "no contact whatsoever" with Adkins. (Packard Dep at 40.) Even though Plaintiff admits he was walking behind Adkins, he denies "following" her. Bradbury did not personally speak with Packard regarding the incident because he admitted to quickly walking behind Adkins and concedes that he thought her name aloud. (Id. ¶ 51.) Bradbury contends that because Packard did not deny the substance of the allegations upon which she based her decision, she had sufficient information to determine, without further investigation, that termination was appropriate. Packard disagrees and claims that he did deny following Adkins and told Hoffman that he met her only by coincidence, which means he did deny the allegations. (Defs.' Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statement of Facts ¶ 39.)

  Generally, Bradbury and her human resources team determine investigation procedures for all sexual harassment claims alleged by both male and female employees. After the investigation and at Bradbury's direction, on April 11, 2003, Hoffman and Torossian again met with Packard and explained to him that because of harassment, or because he violated Bradbury's directives to not have contact with Adkins, he would no longer be employed with TCF. (Pl's Resp. in Opp'n to Defs.' Motion for Summ. J. ¶ 34.) However, it is undisputed that Hoffman was not involved in the actual decision to terminate Packard. (Id. ¶ 43.) During the conversation with Hoffman and Torossian, Packard stated that he understood that Adkins could have been "terrified" that day because he did walk at a quickened pace after her. (Id. ¶ 36.)

  After being fired, Plaintiff telephoned Bradbury and she affirmed that Packard was fired for harassment. At that time, Packard told Bradbury that he loved Adkins and understands how he could have frightened her by walking behind her and possibly saying her name aloud. Packard again called Bradbury on April 14, 2003, to inform her that he believed that Hoffman was biased against him because he had previously complained about him. However, all parties agree that Hoffman never knew of Packard's complaints about him. (Id. ¶ 38.) Packard also told Bradbury that he wished to file a complaint against Adkins because he did not follow her, they were merely in the same parking lot and he was behind her by coincidence. (Id. ¶ 39.) In yet another telephone call to Bradbury, Plaintiff said that Hoffman was biased and retaliated against him and that he also wished to file a complaint against Adkins for filing a false harassment claim against him. (Id. ¶¶ 34-35.) Packard claims that Adkins, who was similarly situated to him, was treated more favorably, in that her sexual harassment complaints against Packard were investigated and believed, but his false allegation complaints against her were not. (Id. ¶ 44.)

  Legal Standard

  To prevail on a summary judgment motion, "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, [must] 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). At this stage, we do not weigh evidence or determine the truth of the matters asserted. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). We view all evidence and draw all inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Michas v. Health Cost Controls of Ill., Inc., 209 F.3d 687, 692 ...


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