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Shedd v. 1550 N. Lakeshore Condo Association

July 1, 2010

CLARENCE SHEDD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
1550 N. LAKESHORE CONDO ASSOCIATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert W. Gettleman

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Clarence Shedd has brought a two count amended complaint against his former employer, 1550 N. Lakeshore Condo Association, alleging racial discrimination and retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Defendant has moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. For the reasons discussed below, that motion is granted.

FACTS

Defendant is the condominium association of a residential building located at 1550 N. Lakeshore Drive. The building has an underground parking garage with over 240 parking spaces. Plaintiff was employed by defendant from 1997 to July 27, 2004, as garage manager, in charge of the garage's 9 to13 attendants who parked and served the residents' cars. In 2001 plaintiff had an incident with resident Roland Glen. Glen was upset about a scratch on his car and, after disagreeing with plaintiff about the cause, yelled at plaintiff, called him names and threatened his job. Glen made no racially discriminatory comments at that time, but according to plaintiff Glen had a history of angry outbursts containing racially derogatory terms. After the incident plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination against defendant with the City of Chicago Commission on Human Rights ("CCHR").

On November 19, 2003, plaintiff filed an amended charge alleging that defendant retaliated against him for filing the initial charge. The amended charge alleged that the then-property manager, Thomas Engblom, told plaintiff that the president of the board, Richard Condon, wanted plaintiff fired.

The property was managed by Sudler Property Management. Engblom was the on-site property manager from January 2001 through May or June 2004. Engblom trained his replacement, Janet Hope, before he left. Hope began on-site in approximately April 2004. Engblom told Hope that plaintiff had a difficult personality and that he had to be handled with sensitive hands. He thinks he told Hope about plaintiff's discrimination charges, but Hope denies learning of the charges prior to reading the instant complaint.

Hope's first contact with plaintiff was when she called him at his home in late April 2004 while he was on medical leave, to report that a car had been stolen. Throughout the course of her tenure Hope had certain disagreements with plaintiff. One such disagreement involved plaintiff's rate of pay. Plaintiff is a union member but claimed that as an incentive to take the job defendant had agreed to pay him $4 an hour above union scale. When Hope became property manager she did not want to pay plaintiff above union scale wages absent a written acknowledgment of the agreement. Plaintiff had no such writing.

Another dispute involved where Hope's car was parked. During her first several months, her car was always parked on the main floor. After a minor dispute with plaintiff about the cleanliness of the garage, plaintiff refused to allow Hope's car to be parked on the main floor, claiming that the rule was that all employee's cars were parked on the lowest level. Hope told plaintiff that she made the rules and that she was not an employee.

On July 27, 2004, Hope called plaintiff into a meeting in her office. Present were plaintiff, Hope, two of Hope's supervisors from Sudler, and Condon. At the meeting, Mary Wolf, the current Sudler account supervisor, introduced her replacement, Margaret Stokes, who is African American. Stokes asked plaintiff for written support for his pay rate. She also questioned plaintiff about Hope's car. Plaintiff indicated that because Hope was an employee of defendant, her car should be parked on the lower level. Condon replied that Hope was not an employee. Plaintiff became angry, stated that "he knew where this was going," and left the meeting. At this point the parties' version of events differ. Plaintiff claims that he did not quit, did not threaten to quit, that he simply waited around for awhile and then got in is car and went home. He was not scheduled to work the next two days (Saturday and Sunday) but on Monday he called the front desk and said he would not be in. The next day he simply did not go into work because he was upset.

Hope claims that plaintiff quit during the meeting, that after the meeting plaintiff went into Hope's office, walked up very close to her in an intimidating manner and dropped his keys on her desk. Faradeh Harandi, a resident of the building and lawyer who had represented plaintiff in the past, testified that on July 27th plaintiff told her that he had resigned. She also testified that plaintiff had on a number of occasions previously told her that he wanted to resign, but she had always managed to change his mind.

Plaintiff returned to the garage on his next scheduled work day (after the two days he missed) and found the lock cut off his locker. When he inquired about this, Hope told him that he no longer worked there.

After plaintiff's employment ended, defendant initially offered the position to a long time employee of African American descent. When that employee turned the position down, defendant hired James Fuentes, an employee of Puerto Rican descent.

DISCUSSION

A movant is entitled to summary judgment under Rule 56 when the moving papers and affidavits show there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, (1986). Once a moving party has met its burden, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Becker v. Tenenbaum-Hill Assoc., Inc., 914 F.2d 107, 110 (7th Cir. 1990). The court considers the record as a whole and draws all reasonable ...


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