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Richadson v. Bank

January 9, 2008

DEVAN RICHARDSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LASALLE BANK, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge George M. Marovich

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Devan Richardson ("Richardson") filed a complaint against LaSalle Bank ("LaSalle") alleging that LaSalle discriminated against him on the basis of his race and color in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. LaSalle moves for summary judgment on plaintiff's claim. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants LaSalle's motion for summary judgment.

I. Background

The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted.*fn1

Plaintiff Richardson worked for defendant LaSalle in LaSalle's Fleet Department. The Fleet Department was responsible for maintaining LaSalle's fleet of corporate vehicles and coordinating use of the vehicles by LaSalle's employees. The Fleet Department was managed by Darryl McGee ("McGee"), LaSalle's Fleet Manager and Executive Director. McGee supervised, among others, Braxton Lee ("Lee"), who worked as a Fleet Supervisor, and plaintiff, who worked as a Fleet Attendant. Richardson worked for LaSalle in the Fleet Department for ten years until October 16, 2002, when LaSalle terminated his employment.

On Monday, October 7, 2002, Richardson drove to work in one of LaSalle's fleet vehicles. Richardson had taken the vehicle home on Friday, October 5, 2002, a fact which Lee--the Fleet Supervisor--knew. Richardson had taken the vehicle home on Friday in order to arrive on Monday early enough to perform oil changes on other fleet vehicles. This was not the first time Richardson had taken a fleet vehicle home when he needed to arrive early the following day. Richardson believed that when he took a fleet vehicle home in order to arrive early the following work day, he was using the fleet vehicle for a "business purpose," which was required under LaSalle's policy.

LaSalle viewed the issue differently. McGee was surprised when he noticed Richardson arrive for work on October 7, 2002 in a fleet car. Richardson had not told McGee ahead of time that he was taking the car. McGee investigated and learned that Richardson had driven the car some 60 miles over the course of the weekend. McGee recommended that LaSalle terminate Richardson's employment.

McGee and a human resources representative met with Richardson on October 16, 2002. At the meeting, Richardson admitted that he had taken a fleet vehicle home over the weekend.

The human resources representative informed Richardson that LaSalle was terminating his employment. LaSalle replaced Richardson with Freddie Stewart, who, like Richardson, is black. McGee, too, is black.

Richardson was not the first employee LaSalle terminated for improper use of a fleet vehicle. In February 2002, LaSalle terminated the employment of Eddie Medina, who had been a Fleet Supervisor, for allowing his wife to use a fleet vehicle.

After his termination, Richardson filed a number of lawsuits. First, on November 6, 2002, Richardson filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In his Charge of Discrimination, Richardson alleged, among other things, that he was discharged on the basis of his race. Richardson received his Notice of Right to Sue on July 6, 2005 and filed the instant suit within the limitations period.

Second, on September 22, 2003, Richardson filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County a complaint under the caption Devan H. Richardson v. Darrly [sic] McGee. The entirety of his complaint read:

Defamation of my Character

I was wrongfully terminated from LaSalle Bank (fleet services) solely on the word of my manager Darrly McGee. He stated I signed paper not to use company cars. Which was not true. Most of Fleet employees was using company cars for years with his knowledge. Darrly McGee said this was not true. He also stated to other people Me & Braxton Lee damage his car--untrue. On the day of my termination security walk me out ...


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