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McIntosh v. Illinois Dep't of Employment Security

July 2, 2007

THERESA MCINTOSH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the court on the motion of Defendant Illinois Department of Employment Security ("IDES") for summary judgment in its favor on the complaint of Plaintiff Theresa McIntosh. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

McIntosh has been employed with IDES since 1974. In 1980, she became an Unemployment Insurance ("UI") Special Agent in the Benefit Payment Control department of IDES. She is also fluent in Spanish; her language skills apparently were obtained through school.*fn1 She is African American, and although the parties do not specify where she was born, there is no indication that it was not in the United States.

In January 2003, Patrick James, a former colleague of McIntosh's whom she had trained when he first started with IDES, became her direct supervisor. Charlene McLaughlin was James's supervisor as well as the manager of the department where McIntosh worked. James and McLaughlin are both African American, but neither speaks Spanish.

While she worked in Benefit Payment Control, part of McIntosh's duties included interpreting for Spanish-speaking clients. Because of these additional duties, she was paid more than other UI Special Agents. In March 2003, James made a comment to McIntosh that she made more money than he did and speculated that she was the only Spanish-speaking African American working for the State of Illinois. By all accounts, that began to sour their working relationship, and McIntosh began to look for other positions within IDES.

In early 2004, a supervisor's position opened within a unit other than the one where McIntosh worked. McIntosh did not submit an application for the position, but she contends that it was because the position was filled so quickly that she did not have an opportunity to apply. The position was given to Marco Morales, a Hispanic man. According to McIntosh, she was more qualified than he. McLaughlin was the person responsible for hiring Morales.

On February 29, 2004, James saw McIntosh away from her desk during the work day and told her to return to her work area. Apparently put off by his tone or demeanor, she responded that he did not have to speak to her in that way, and he wrote her up for insubordination. The write-up was later removed from her file. Relations between the two continued to disintegrate, and in March they agreed after meeting with McLaughlin that they would communicate only via email. Not all interactions occurred over email; on April 6, McIntosh was chatting with a co-worker at her desk, and James informed both of them that she could not have company.

In April, McIntosh asked McLaughlin to transfer her to a new unit. According to McLaughlin, she offered McIntosh several different options, none of which McIntosh accepted. Around the same time, McIntosh also applied for the position of assistant manager of the Benefit Payment Control unit. The posting specified that applicants had to have a current qualifying promotional grade from Central Management Services. McIntosh did not have a current promotional grade, and the job went to a white woman, Debbie Davis.

In June, James and McIntosh had two additional run-ins. In the first, he chastised her (via email) for taking an hour and a half for lunch rather than her scheduled hour. He indicated that he would issue an oral reprimand for her behavior, but he never did so. In the second, McIntosh was reading a union book at her desk, and James instructed her to close it. Despite the fact that they had agreed to communicate via email to minimize their face-to-face contact, McIntosh began to take exception to the amount of emails James was sending to her and the time it took her to read them.

In July, McIntosh again requested to transfer to a different unit. McLaughlin informed her that she could not transfer because the positions had not been posted. In 2005, McIntosh applied to be a manager in the IDES office in Evanston. She was interviewed by a man from Springfield named Pete Setter. Setter and two other unidentified people later decided to hire Arthur Clexton, a white man.

In December 2004, James instructed McIntosh to provide him with a list of claimants for whom she had scheduled interviews. She responded that she had not scheduled any, and he requested an explanation. When McIntosh did not explain the lack of interviews, she was issued a written reprimand that was later withdrawn. A few days later, James instructed McIntosh to open all emails he sent to her. She did not comply with this instruction, and James issued a three-day suspension that was later reduced to two days.

In February 2005, McIntosh had a radio at her desk during work hours. James instructed her that she could not play a radio at her station. After intervention from McLaughlin and the union, McIntosh and other employees were permitted to listen to radios at their work stations if it did not disturb their co-workers and did not affect members of the public who were in the office. On April 25, McIntosh filed a charge of sex discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the EEOC claiming that James had been harassing her since February of 2003 and specifically alluding to the incident involving the radio.

On May 3, the agency dismissed the charge and issued her a right-to-sue letter. The same day, McIntosh filed another charge, this time alleging that James had harassed her since November 2004 on account of her age and race and in ...


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