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Hayes-Jackson v. J.P. Morgan Chase National Corporate Services

June 22, 2010

ARMECA O. HAYES-JACKSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
J.P. MORGAN CHASE NATIONAL CORPORATE SERVICES, INC., A/K/A JP MORGAN CHASE BANK, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge David H. Coar

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Armeca Hayes-Jackson ("Plaintiff" or "Hayes-Jackson") brings this action against Defendant ChaseBankCard Services, Inc. ("Defendant" or "Chase"), improperly named as J.P. Morgan Chase National Corporate Services, Inc., alleging discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq. Presently before the Court is Chase's motion for summary judgment on these claims. For the reasons stated below, Chase's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

I.Hayes-Jackson's Employment at Chase

Plaintiff, Hayes-Jackson, is an African-American woman who claims that her former employer, Chase, discriminated against her on the basis of her race. Hayes-Jackson began her employment with Chase at the company's Elgin, Illinois office in September 2002. (Defendant's Rule 56.1 Statement of Material Facts ("DSOF") ¶¶ 5, 7.) In November 2007, Hayes-Jackson assumed the role of Fraud Investigator I in Chase's Consumer Fraud Unit ("CFU"). (Id. ¶ 6.) From the time she began her employment as a fraud investigator until her termination, Hayes- Jackson was directly supervised by Adam Bonk ("Bonk"), who is supervised by Steven Price ("Price"). (Id. ¶¶ 15, 17.) Both Bonk and Price are Caucasian males. (Id. ¶¶ 16, 18.)

As a fraud investigator, Hayes-Jackson's responsibilities included investigating Chase credit card customers' reports of fraudulent activity on their accounts to ensure that Chase did not sustain losses. (Id. ¶ 8.) Hayes-Jackson's job duties required her to engage in constant communication with Chase customers and merchants who accepted Chase-issued credit cards. (Id. ¶ 9.) Hayes-Jackson was randomly assigned cases by a computer program known as "Stoplight," and she was required to handle each case within 20 days after it was assigned to her. (Id. ¶¶ 10-11.) Additionally, under the CFU Call Handling Policy, "[a]ny messages left on voicemail requesting a callback should be responded to as soon as possible and must be returned no more than 2 business days from the date the message was left." (Id. at Ex. 8 (emphasis in original).) During her deposition, Hayes-Jackson testified that she believed she was required to respond to voicemails daily. (Id. ¶ 13.) Hayes-Jackson also acknowledged that her use of Chase's telephone system could be monitored and recorded. (Id. ¶ 14.)

II. Alleged Instances of Discrimination

Hayes-Jackson claims that she experienced several instances of discrimination while she was employed by Chase. First, she claims that she was denied the opportunity to work overtime in the Recovery Phone Unit ("RPU") due to discrimination. On November 7, 2008, Price sent an e-mail to all CFU employees requesting that employees who were interested in working overtime in the RPU respond to his e-mail by Tuesday, November 11, 2008. (Id. ¶¶ 27-28.) Hayes-Jackson did not respond to this e-mail because she believed that the e-mail applied only to employees already in the RPU, and the e-mail did not mention training for the RPU overtime opportunity. (Plaintiff's Rule 56.1 Statement of Material Facts ("PSOF") ¶ 7). In fact, she only discovered that the RPU training was taking place when she saw her co-workers coming and going from the training session. (Hayes-Jackson Dep. 42:9-19, Mar. 4, 2010.) After the training session concluded, Hayes-Jackson asked Bonk why she was not invited and whether she could still receive training. (Hayes-Jackson Dep. 43:9-24.; PSOF¶ 8.) In response, Bonk explained that Hayes-Jackson failed to respond to Price's e-mail and would not be trained. (Id. ¶ 9.) Hayes-Jackson then approached Price to ask him why she was not invited to the RPU training and whether she could still be trained. (Id. ¶ 10.) According to Price, Hayes-Jackson did not approach him until after the RPU training session had already occurred. (DSOF Ex. 12, Price Aff. ¶ 10.) Price claims that all employees who had contacted him in advance, unlike Hayes-Jackson, were allowed to participate in the training session. (DSOF Ex. 12, Price Aff. ¶ 11.) In contrast, Hayes-Jackson alleges that Chase provided training to two non-African-American employees in her department who requested training after the session was held. However, Hayes-Jackson offers no admissible evidence to support this claim. In fact, evidence presented by Chase clearly establishes that one of the two employees named by Hayes-Jackson, Savannah Hernandez ("Hernandez"), had e-mailed Price expressing her interest in participating in the training session the day before it was held. (DSOF Ex. 12, Price Aff. ¶ 11, Ex. B.) Price responded to Hernandez's e-mail with permission to attend the training session. (Id.)

On several occasions during the fourth quarter of 2008, Hayes-Jackson raised concerns about her employment with Karen Kesner ("Kesner"), the Human Resources Business Partner aligned with Chase's credit card operation in Elgin. (DSOF ¶¶ 19, 31-32.) These concerns specifically related to: (1) a pay check issue, (2) Hayes-Jackson's assignment to field Fraud Application calls, and (3) the RPU training opportunity discussed above. With respect to the first issue, Hayes-Jackson believes that her pay check was docked inappropriately as a result of racial discrimination. (Id. ¶ 32; see also PSOF ¶ 15.) After Hayes-Jackson brought this concern to Kesner's attention, the issue was addressed and resolved with Hayes-Jackson's supervisor and Chase's Human Resources Service Center.*fn1 (DSOF ¶ 33.) Hayes-Jackson also submitted concerns to Kesner about how accounts were assigned to fraud investigators. (Id. ¶ 32.) She claims that, on September 11, 2008, Bonk and Price informed her that she had to take Fraud Application ("FRAP") calls, and that if she did not, she would be "marked down in her operating principals." (PSOF ¶¶ 19-20.) Chase never trained Hayes-Jackson in taking FRAP calls. (Id. ¶ 21.) Hayes-Jackson claims that her non-African-American peers were not required to take FRAP calls, although she offers no evidence on this subject aside from her own testimony. (Id. ¶ 22.) In a meeting with Hayes-Jackson, Bonk, and Price, Kesner addressed Hayes-Jackson's concerns about how accounts were assigned and explained that most cases are assigned randomly through Chase's "Stoplight" system. (DSOF ¶ 34.) In response to concerns related to the RPU training opportunity, Bonk and Kesner met with Hayes-Jackson to clarify that the training was limited to employees who had responded to Price's November 7, 2008 e-mail or expressed interest in working overtime prior to the training session. (Id. ¶ 35.)

During her deposition, Hayes-Jackson raised several other allegations of discrimination. She testified that, after she returned from an approved period of FMLA leave, Bonk told her that her statistics were impacted negatively and that she descended from third rank in her department to the bottom of the list. (PSOF ¶ 25.) According to Hayes-Jackson, Bonk threatened to "mark down her operating principals" if her status continued to decline. (Id. ¶ 26.) Hayes-Jackson also testified that she approached Raymond Moss ("Moss"), Human Resources Site Lead and an African-American male, and complained of discrimination. (DSOF ¶¶ 21-22; PSOF ¶ 28.) She claims that Moss told her there was no such thing as discrimination and that he did not like the word "discrimination." (PSOF ¶ 28.) According to Hayes-Jackson, when she informed Moss two or three weeks later that she was still experiencing discrimination, Moss replied that he was too busy to investigate her claims and would get back to her later.

On December 9, 2008, Hayes-Jackson met with Kesner, Bonk, and Price to discuss ways to better communicate and address work issues in the future. (PSOF¶ 36.) She was not satisfied with the results of this meeting and filed a charge of race discrimination with the EEOC in December 2008. (Id. ¶¶ 37-38.)

III. Hayes-Jackson's Assignment to the Business Fraud Unit

On February 4, 2009, Bonk assigned Hayes-Jackson to a temporary project supporting the Business Fraud Unit. (DSOF ¶ 39.) Hayes-Jackson claims that only she, Savannah Hernandez, and Anna Martinez-the only three minority employees in the department-were assigned to the Business Fraud Unit project. (PSOF ¶¶ 31-32.) Chase disputes this testimony and claims that Hayes-Jackson, Hernandez, and Martinez were not the only minority employees in Hayes-Jackson's department. (See Def. Resp. to PSOF ¶ 32.) As a result of her temporary assignment to the Business Fraud Unit, Hayes-Jackson was not required to take on new CFU cases between February 4, 2009 and March 3, 2009. (DSOF ¶ 40.) According to Chase, Hayes-Jackson was told to continue handling the cases that had been assigned to her before she began working with the Business Fraud Unit. (Id. ¶ 41.)

Hayes-Jackson worked on the Business Fraud Unit project and received an "incentive check" for the month of February. (PSOF ¶ 34.) After continuing to work on the project throughout March, Hayes-Jackson returned to her regular department on April 1, 2009. (PSOF¶ 35.) In early April 2009, Jill Norkus ("Norkus"), a Unit Specialist responsible for conducting random call audits of CFU employees reporting to Bonk, performed a random monitor of Hayes-Jackson's voicemail activity. (DSOF ¶¶ 43, 45.) Norkus's review revealed that, on April 2, 2009, Hayes-Jackson had deleted 13 voice messages relating to her assigned CFU cases without taking any action or confirming that the cases had been investigated properly. (Id. ¶ 46.) Although deleted on April 2, 2009, these voicemails were left during February and March. (Id. at Ex.12, Price. Aff. Ex. E.) Clarence Dienberg ("Dienberg"), a Quality Analyst responsible for performing random call audits, performed further investigation on the audit of Hayes-Jackson's voicemail. (Id. ¶¶ 47, 49-50.) Dieberg's investigation established that several of the voicemails Hayes-Jackson had deleted related to cases assigned to her before she began working in the Business Fraud Unit, and some related to cases assigned to Hayes-Jackson as early as December 10, 2008. (Id. ¶ 51; see id. at Ex.12, Price. Aff. Ex. E.) According to Chase, Hayes-Jackson's conduct constituted a major violation of Chase policy, which requires follow-up on voicemails within 48 hours and proper investigation of cases within 20 days after they are assigned. (Id. ¶¶ 11-12, 52-53.) Bonk and Kesner claim that Hayes-Jackson's violations of Chase policy led them to draft a ...


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