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Drummer v. Bank

July 18, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge


Janice Drummer has sued her former employer, Harris Bank, for race discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2(a) & 2000e-3(a), and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Harris Bank has moved for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the Court grants the motion.


On May 6, 2002, Drummer, who is African-American, began working as a collateral specialist at Harris Bank's Business Loan Servicing Team (BLST), a division of the bank that assists bank branches in processing loans for business clients. As a collateral specialist, Drummer serviced business loans by setting up databases to monitor the loans, responding to inquiries from branch offices, and making sure documents were completed properly. Within the BLST, there were two collateral management teams, each headed by a team manager. Jane Krogh was Drummer's team manager until July 2004, at which time Debbie Daniels took over Krogh's position. The lead supervisor in charge of the BLST was Noreen O'Connor.

Unfortunately, controversy plagued Drummer's employment with Harris Bank from beginning to end. In March 2003, Krogh issued Drummer a written reprimand for failing to meet performance standards. In August 2003, Drummer complained to Kim Gonzalez, an employee in Harris Bank's employment relations division, that Krogh had been assigning Drummer work that should have been assigned to a co-worker who was not African-American. Krogh replied that the co-worker was very busy, and Drummer's workload remained the same.

In October 2003, Drummer said she needed a piece of candy because her blood sugar was low. Krogh responded by sending Drummer an e-mail advising her that she did not have any more sick time. In November 2003, after Drummer took a day off work to care for her mother, Krogh left Drummer a phone message stating that she was not permitted to take the day off and could be terminated if she did not immediately call Krogh back. On December 5, 2003, Drummer complained to Gonzalez that "little jokes was [sic] being made about blacks and the Filipino people." On December 18, 2003, Drummer filed an EEOC charge alleging that Krogh had targeted her for adverse treatment because of her race. On February 9, 2004, the EEOC issued Drummer a notice of right to sue.

In January 2004, Drummer asked O'Connor for permission to enroll in a series of "Omega" training workshops designed to prepare employees for careers in "sale relationship management" or "credit underwriting." O'Connor responded that the training was expensive and that if Drummer wanted to enroll, she would need to prepare a career development plan explaining how the training would further her career objectives. Drummer claims that after she completed a career development plan, O'Connor said the training would not help Drummer meet her objectives. O'Connor also allegedly questioned why the bank should invest that kind of money in Drummer's career.

In June 2004, Drummer and Debbie Daniels, a BLST co-worker, both applied for a promotion to BLST manager. Just before Drummer was scheduled to attend an interview for the position, she was packing the things in her desk because the BLST was moving to a different space. Cathee Laughlin, a Vice President/Manager in the BLST, approached Drummer and instructed her that each employee had been assigned a specific day to pack and that Drummer was not allowed to pack on that particular day. According to Drummer, Laughlin "got loud" after Drummer attempted to explain why she was packing. Laughlin took Drummer into another room, and Drummer missed her interview. The interview was rescheduled for 7:00 a.m. the next day, but shortly after the rescheduled interview took place, O'Connor informed Drummer that Daniels had received the promotion.

On August 3, 2004, Drummer received an unclear e-mail from another Harris Bank employee, Malinda Gonzalez. Drummer told Gonzalez that she was confused about the e-mail, and Gonzalez complained about Drummer's attitude. Daniels called Drummer into her office and told her that she should apologize to Gonzalez.

On August 26, 2004, bank employee Angelo Martorana, who is not African-American, began yelling at Drummer about a computer formatting issue, and the two engaged in a heated argument. According to Drummer, Julie Ellis, Daniels' co-manager, then came up behind Drummer, began banging her pen on a filing cabinet, said "okay, okay, okay, Janice," and told Drummer to shut up. Drummer then turned to Ellis and asked her "what she had to do with it." Ellis said she was a manager on the floor, at which time Drummer claims that she turned back to her desk and proceeded to work.

After learning about this incident, Daniels immediately placed Drummer on probation.

Daniels testified that she determined probation was an appropriate sanction for Drummer's behavior after taking into account Drummer's previous incident with Malinda Gonzalez, her inappropriate behavior with Martorana, and, most importantly, the fact that Drummer was insubordinate to a manager. Martorana was not placed on probation. Instead, his supervisor, Lisa Turner, gave him a documented counseling session. On September 8, 2004, Drummer filed a second complaint with the EEOC. On December 21, 2004, the EEOC issued Drummer a notice of right to sue regarding this complaint.

In November 2004, Kathy Espinosa, a non-African-American co-worker in Drummer's group, yelled and screamed at Drummer. Drummer complained to Daniels, but Espinosa was not disciplined.

In early February 2005, Drummer again attempted to enroll in a training course. She asked Daniels for permission, and Daniels told her to explain in writing why she wanted to participate in the training. On February 15, 2005, Jahkelle Johnson, another Harris Bank employee, told Drummer that she should call the person coordinating the training and request that the coordinator hold a spot in the class pending Daniels' approval. Drummer says that she followed Johnson's recommendation and requested that a spot be held in the class, but that same day, the coordinator sent Drummer an e-mail stating that Drummer -- instead of reserving a spot -- had officially enrolled in the class. The next day, Drummer sent Daniels an e-mail ...

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