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Percy Tompkins v. Bank of America Corporation

April 5, 2011

PERCY TOMPKINS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BANK OF AMERICA CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the court grants the motion for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Percy Tompkins (Tompkins), who is an African American male, began working as an Assistant Vice President and Branch Manager for Defendant LaSalle Bank, N.A., a subsidiary of Defendant LaSalle Bank Corporation (LaSalle), on August 30, 2004, at the Matteson, Illinois branch (Matteson Branch). Tompkins contends that he was hired by and annually evaluated by an Area Manager named Sharon Esposito (Esposito), who is a Caucasian female. Tompkins also contends that Esposito gave him favorable performance reviews in 2004, 2005, and 2006. According to Tompkins, Esposito was promoted to a new position in June of 2007, and Mark Henry (Henry), an African American male, assumed Esposito's position as Area Manager. Tompkins claims that he was notified sometime in September of 2007 that he was being transferred to the Joliet, Illinois branch (Joliet Branch).

On or about October 1, 2007, Defendant Bank of America Corporation purchased LaSalle's parent company, and Tompkins was transferred to the Joliet Branch. Tompkins contends that his transfer to the Joliet Branch decreased his responsibilities and resulted in lost income opportunities. Tompkins' position at the Matteson Branch was allegedly assumed by Stan Benes (Benes), a Caucasian male, who had previously been the Branch Manager of both the Joliet Branch and a branch in New Lennox, Illinois (New Lennox Branch).

Tompkins contends that sometime in October of 2007, new "Standards of Conduct" policies were implemented. Tompkins also contends that soon after that, he responded to a fax sent to him by Benes regarding an audit (Audit) being conducted by FlagStar Bank (FlagStar), which related to some verification of deposit forms (VOD Forms) that had been completed for Worldwide Bank and Finance (Worldwide), a customer of Defendants. Tompkins claims that since neither the fax itself nor Benes indicated that the Audit was confidential, Tompkins forwarded the fax to Worldwide in an effort to investigate the problems that Benes had identified with the VOD Forms. Tompkins states that he was terminated on October 22, 2007, allegedly for his actions relating to the Audit. Tompkins claims that Benes and another manager involved in the Audit, Margie Black (Black), who is a Caucasian female, did not suffer any disciplinary action as a result of the incident. Tompkins also contends that after his termination, he was replaced by Diana Kelly (Kelly), a Caucasian female who had been Assistant Branch Manager at the Joliet Branch prior to Tompkins' termination.

Tompkins includes in his amended complaint a claim alleging race discrimination in violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA), 775 ILCS 5/2-101, et. seq. (Count I), a claim alleging race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1966 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Count II), and a claim alleging race discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Section 1981) (Count III). Defendants move for summary judgment on all claims.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Smith v. Hope School, 560 F.3d 694, 699 (7th Cir. 2009). In seeking a grant of summary judgment, the moving party must identify "those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)(quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). This initial burden may be satisfied by presenting specific evidence on a particular issue or by pointing out "an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. Once the movant has met this burden, the non-moving party cannot simply rest on the allegations in the pleadings, but, "by affidavits or as otherwise provided for in [Rule 56], must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). A "genuine issue" in the context of a motion for summary judgment is not simply a "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must consider the record as a whole, in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000).

DISCUSSION

To defeat a defendant's motion for summary judgment on a Title VII discrimination claim, a plaintiff can proceed under the direct or indirect method of proof. Montgomery v. American Airlines, Inc., 626 F.3d 382, 393 (7th Cir. 2010).

At the summary judgment stage, courts generally apply the same analysis to discrimination claims brought pursuant to Section 1981 or the IHRA that courts apply to Title VII claims. Humphries v. CBOCS West, Inc., 474 F.3d 387, 403 (7th Cir. 2007)(stating that courts "generally have applied the same prima facie requirements to discrimination claims brought under Title VII and section 1981"); Keri v. Board of Trustees of Purdue University, 458 F.3d 620, 641 n.5 (7th Cir. 2006)(stating that "both Title VII and § 1981 employ the same analysis"); Zaderaka v. Illinois Human Rights Com'n,545 N.E.2d 684, 687 (Ill. 1989)(adopting "the analytical framework . . . addressing claims brought under Title VII" to an employment discrimination claim brought pursuant to the IDHA).

I. Direct Method

Tompkins argues that he is able to proceed under the direct ...


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