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Camille L. Thomas v. the City of Chicago and Dan Murphy

August 25, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, District Judge:


This case comes before the Court on Defendant City of Chicago's (the "City") motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the reasons stated below, the motion is granted.


From September 1, 2004, until September 14, 2007, the City employed Plaintiff Camille L. Thomas ("Thomas") as a Staff Assistant in the Financial Services Section (the "Section") of the Department of Fleet (the "Department"). The Department manages the vehicle fleets of all City departments and the Section manages the Department's financial needs. As a Staff Assistant, Thomas was responsible for, among other tasks, logging invoices into a computer program on a daily basis. This dispute arises from Thomas's complaints of gender discrimination and retaliation by her supervisor, Dan Murphy ("Murphy").

Thomas's Work Performance Before her Internal Complaint

When Thomas was hired, she reported to Charmaine Grandau ("Grandau"). In 2005, Grandau gave Thomas an evaluation score of 4 out of 5. After Grandau retired in 2005, Linda Henderson ("Henderson") replaced Grandau for approximately six to nine months. In August 2005, Henderson evaluated Thomas and gave her an evaluation score of 3.8. Henderson noted that Thomas was capable of doing excellent work, but needed to reduce the time she spent on auditing. Henderson further noted that Thomas was unprofessional and had a problem with authority. Henderson explained that Thomas went wherever and did whatever she wanted without prior authorization. In March 2006, Henderson again evaluated Thomas and gave her an evaluation score of 4, but reiterated her prior concerns.

On February 1, 2006, Murphy was hired as the Manager of Finance. In October 2006, Murphy told his Section, including Thomas, to use discretion when having personal conversations at work. Murphy and Henderson both observed that Thomas spoke loudly and socialized with friends at work. On one occasion, Murphy asked Thomas to minimize her talking, laughing, and giggling and Thomas responded, "I'm not going to change who I am." According to Thomas, other men and women socialized, but Murphy did not instruct them to stop talking. Based on her observation, Thomas claims that Murphy discriminated against her as an individual.

In November 2006, Thomas complained to Murphy that she had too much work and needed help. To determine whether Thomas had too much work or needed to better manage her time, Murphy asked Thomas to log her work during the day in fifteen minute intervals. Murphy also asked everyone else in the Section to complete a time log. Based on Thomas's time log, Murphy concluded that Thomas was inefficient and partially attributed Thomas's inefficiency to her socializing.

On November 17, 2006, Murphy asked Thomas to enter an important invoice into the computer. Thomas replied that she was busy and would input the invoice the following day. Murphy verbally reprimanded Thomas for not inputting the invoice that day and for failing to maintain her time logs for the week.

In January 2007, tension grew between Henderson and Thomas, which led to Murphy taking over as Thomas's direct supervisor. Murphy often spent time with Thomas at her desk working on a project or training her to better manage her time.

The 2006 fiscal year ended in February 2007. Around that time, Murphy asked Thomas to work overtime because she was behind in her work. When Thomas refused, other employees worked to help Thomas. Ultimately, Thomas failed to timely input over $740,000 worth of invoices before the end of the 2006 fiscal year. As a result, the Department lost the 2006 funding for the unprepared and unpaid invoices and had to fund the invoices from the upcoming year's fiscal budget.

Before February 2007, Deputy Commissioner Fattore ("Commissioner Fattore") issued a memorandum stating that no vacations would be approved and sick time would only be approved with sufficient evidence of illness until after the 2006 fiscal year ended in February 2007. Notwithstanding the memorandum, the City honored the four days of vacation time, from February 13 to February 17, 2007, that Thomas had previously requested. On February 8, 2007, Thomas called in sick and requested to take a personal day on February 9, 2007, so she could go car shopping. Because of Commissioner Fattore's memorandum, Murphy denied the request for a personal day. Without approval, Thomas took the day off on February 9, 2007, and was not paid for that day. Thomas later edited her time sheet to change February 9, 2007, to a sick day so she would be paid for the day, even though Thomas could not recall seeing a doctor on that day or having a doctor's note to justify her absence.

Thomas's Violence in the Workplace Complaint

In February 2007, Thomas witnessed an event between a fellow female employee, Angela Gutierrez ("Gutierrez"), and Murphy. Gutierrez made an error and Murphy responded by pointing his finger at her and nudging her. On February 2, 2007, Thomas filed a Violence in the Workplace complaint against Murphy which stated that she witnessed Murphy nudge Gutierrez. Thomas also complained that Murphy harassed her, sent her intimidating e-mails, stalked her, and spoke to her with a threatening tone. Thomas never mentioned gender discrimination or sexual harassment in her complaint. That same day, Henderson overheard Murphy ask Thomas about some invoices and Thomas respond "well, do you want to do it?" Henderson submitted a witness statement concerning this incident during the investigation of Thomas's complaint. Ultimately, the investigator determined that insufficient evidence existed to conclude that Murphy violated the City's policies.

Thomas's Work Performance After her Internal Complaint

In March 2007, Henderson and Murphy jointly evaluated Thomas's work performance and gave her an evaluation score of 2. Murphy created notes that formed the basis for his evaluation and used the notes to explain to Thomas the areas that needed improvement. Murphy explained that Thomas needed to improve her timeliness, legibility, accuracy, organization, and prioritization. After the March 2007 evaluation, Thomas was placed on probation for three months and on a Performance Improvement Plan ("Plan"). Because of her poor evaluation score, Thomas did not receive a pay raise. Thomas complained to then-Commissioner of Fleet Management, Howard Henneman ("Commissioner Henneman"). Thomas told Commissioner Henneman about the work she did for the Department and that her work never came back to her with errors. Thomas never complained to Commissioner Henneman about gender discrimination, sexual harassment, or retaliation.

In June 2007, Thomas had not accomplished her Plan's goals and received an evaluation score of 2.4. The City again placed Thomas on probation and, by August 2007, Thomas still failed to meet her Plan's goals. In the August 2007 evaluation, Murphy stated that Thomas's shortcomings prevented him from implementing department-wide processes because her responsibilities were, in some cases, a critical first step. Murphy believed that, between June ...

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