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Christopher Graham v. At&T Mobility LLC

September 29, 2011

CHRISTOPHER GRAHAM PLAINTIFF,
v.
AT&T MOBILITY LLC, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Virginia M. Kendall

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Christopher Graham sued his employer AT&T Mobility LLC ("AT&T"), asserting that AT&T retaliated and discriminated against him because of his race, and subjected him to a racially hostile work environment. Graham and AT&T are in near-constant litigation: this is Graham's third Title VII suit against AT&T and he files charges regularly with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In this case, Graham asserts that his manager should have picked him to "act up" in a supervisory capacity based on his seniority, and contends his managers subjected him to reprimands, negative performance reviews and forced him to take medical leave because he is black. AT&T moves for summary judgment, contending that it never took any adverse employment action against Graham, and in any event, nothing AT&T did was pretext for racial animosity. For the below reasons, the Court grants AT&T's motion in its entirety.

I. MATERIAL UNDISPUTED FACTS

A. Background

Graham has been a wireless technician for AT&T since 1993 and is assigned to the Field Engineering Department responsible for maintaining AT&T cellular towers in the Chicagoland area.

(Pl. 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 1-2.) As a technician, Graham is represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the CWA and AT&T governs his employment. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. ¶ 1.) David Lindon was Graham's direct supervisor between 2005 and fall 2008, when Albany Zeno, who is black, took over. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 1-2.) Tracy Ryan has been human resources managerat AT&T since 2000. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. ¶ 5.)

B. EEOC Charges and Previous Suits

At regular intervals during his employment at AT&T, Graham filed seven separate charges of discrimination with the EEOC, all of which allege that AT&T discriminated or retaliated against him because of his race. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 8-9, 11, 13, 15-17.) In addition, Graham filed two Title VII suits against AT&T before this one, both of which were decided in AT&T's favor, the first on a motion to dismiss and the second on summary judgment. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 10, 14; see also N.D.

Ill. Case Nos. 04 C 540 and 05 C 994). Graham filed this suit based on his November 2006, August 2007 and November 2008 EEOC charges, which allege violations of Title VII with respect to number of incidents, including:

* he was not permitted to leave a training early;

* he was not permitted to have a union representative in his performance review;

* a co-worker told him that the co-worker did not appreciate being asked about Graham's discrimination claims;

* a manager falsely accused him of not responding to the manager's email;

* his employee name tag went missing;

* his manager offered a temporary supervisory assignment to technicians with less seniority;

* a manager reprimanded him for not repairing an "unsafe" site;

* a manager disciplined for copying certain employees on emails;

* AT&T required him to take an exam and obtain medical releases before returning to work following an injury;

* an IT technician accessed his company-issued laptop without Graham's permission;

* AT&T retaliated against him for bringing the other EEOC charges and lawsuits.

(Pl. 56.1 Resp. ΒΆΒΆ 15-17, 19.) In his brief opposing summary judgment, Graham dropped his contentions that AT&T took adverse employment actions against him with respect to the training class, denying him a union representative at his performance evaluation, the co-worker incident, and the name tag ...


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