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Coppage v. Illinois Bell Telephone Co.

October 22, 2009

ALBERT LAMAR COPPAGE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ILLINOIS BELL TELEPHONE CO., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge

ORDER

Now before the Court is Defendant Illinois Bell Telephone Co.'s ("Bell") Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED.

JURISDICTION

The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343, as the claim asserted in the Complaint presents a federal question under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Albert Lamar Coppage ("Coppage") began working for Bell on December 5, 1999, out of Bell's garage in Peoria, Illinois. Coppage was employed as a customer systems technician. In the year of his termination, his job attendance and performance were poor enough to lead to numerous written warnings. In January 2005, he received a first written warning for job performance. In April 2005, he received a second written warning with a 1-day suspension for job attendance. In May 2005, Coppage again received a second written warning and 1-days suspension for job attendance. He was issued a final written warning with a 3-day suspension on May 13, 2005, for calling in sick and not calling at all in the days leading up to May 13th.

Finally, in September 2005, he received a second written warning and 1-day suspension for poor job performance and a final written warning and 3-day suspension for job presence.

During his time with Bell, Coppage was subject to Bell's Code of Business Conduct. Though it was employee practice not to sign the Code's Acknowledgment Form, Coppage did receive and review the Code of Business Conduct during his employment. Under the heading "Substance Abuse," the Code provides:

Employees must be fit to perform their jobs - and that means not working under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances . . .

Drug and alcohol abuse threatens SBC's safety goals and the existence of a productive and efficient workplace . . .

SBC also strictly prohibits the illegal use, possession, sale, attempted sale, conveyance, distribution, or manufacture of illegal drugs or controlled substances while engaged in any company activity, on company premises, or in company vehicles.

Employees are forbidden from reporting to work, driving on company business or driving a corporate vehicle while under the influence of . . . any illegal drug.

Defendant's Exh. C at ATT 16-17.

Also during his time with Bell, Coppage was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 21 ("the Union"). Under the terms of Bell's and the Union's Collective Bargaining Agreement, Bell would notify the Union of its plan to dismiss an employee for "just cause." The Union could then request a Union Management Review Board meeting ("dismissal panel") to discuss the reasons for the planned dismissal. The meeting provides the employee and his/her Union representatives a chance to ...


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