The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, U.S. District Judge:
E-FILED 3:10-cv-03034-RM-BGC # 29 Page 1 of 22
Thursday, 20 October, 2011 08:24:54 AM
Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD
Pending is the Defendant's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff Dorothy Louis Taylor filed a pro se Complaint pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-5, wherein she alleged discrimination on the basis of race and retaliation by Defendant Office of the Comptroller.
Plaintiff Dorothy Louis Taylor is an African-American. She is employed at the Office of Illinois Comptroller and has been so employed since August of 1988, except for a brief layoff period between August of 1996 and January of 1998. When the Plaintiff commenced her employment with the Office of the Illinois Comptroller under Roland Burris, she was in the position of a Clerk Typist II, the duties of which included answering the telephone and some typing. Before she was laid off in 1996, the Plaintiff's job title was changed from a Clerk Typist II to Office Associate, though her duties remained the same.
At all times relevant to the Complaint and prior thereto, the Plaintiff has been a member of the General Teamsters Professional and Technical Union Local 916, Illinois Federation of Teachers, which is a collective bargaining unit. When the Plaintiff was called back to work in January of 1998, her position was as an Office Assistant, which is a lower paying job. Her duties were to file and retrieve contracts on a shelf in alphanumeric order. The Plaintiff received requests via a computer or orally. When that employee was finished with the contract, it was returned to the Plaintiff to place back on the shelf. When the file was physically removed from the shelf, the Plaintiff placed a red plastic card in the space where the contract was removed. As an Office Assistant, the Plaintiff also moved files by placing other contracts in boxes which were shipped to a Records Center to make room for newer files. The Plaintiff would also train other employees on the file system so she could have assistance in peak seasons, such as the lapsed appropriations period, which is between June and November. The Plaintiff felt her position was more secure if she belonged to a union.
On or about August 16, 2005, the Plaintiff applied for and received a promotion to the position of Accounting Specialist. Prior to the time that Plaintiff accepted the position of Accounting Specialist, Debra Burton, who would be her supervisor, discussed with her that there were deadlines and what those deadlines were. The Plaintiff was the employee with the most seniority who applied for the position of Accounting Specialist in the Funds, Receipts, and Collections Unit. Because the Plaintiff applied for the position of Accounting Specialist and because she had the most seniority of all applicants who qualified under the union contract, she was offered the position effective August 16, 2005, subject to a three-month probationary period. The letter notifying her that she had been promoted to Accounting Specialist stated there was a three-month probationary period.
The three-month probationary period meant the Plaintiff was required to train in the position for at least three months while management assessed her training progress before she could be certified in the position. The letter offering the promotion to the Plaintiff did not indicate that the probationary period was a minimum of three months such that Plaintiff could stay in the position even if she was unable to meet the expectations of her employer during that time. The three-month probationary period did not guarantee that Plaintiff would be kept in the position for at least three months, if she did not demonstrate the requisite skills to perform the tasks of Accounting Specialist in the Funds, Receipts, and Collections Unit. Thus, the three-month probationary period was a trial period. Neither John Donelan nor Debra Burton hired Dorothy Taylor for the position of Accounting Specialist, because they did not have such authority. Rather Steve Valasek, the Director of State Accounting, made the final determination to offer the position of Accounting Specialist in August of 2005. The Plaintiff's direct supervisor in the position of Accounting Specialist was Debra Burton and Burton's supervisor was James Donelan.
The Plaintiff commenced her employment in the position of Accounting Specialist on August 16, 2005. As with all persons promoted to the position of Accounting Specialist, the Plaintiff was paired with a trainer. The trainer the Plaintiff was paired with was Kay LeSeure, and the arrangements for training were that LeSeure was to train Taylor for approximately one-half of each day. LeSeure was selected as the trainer for the Plaintiff because the Plaintiff was to take her position. LeSeure had also been offered a lateral transfer effective July 25, 2005, and, when not working with the Plaintiff, she was being trained for the other one-half of each work day in the position of an Accounting Specialist in the Court Reporter Program Fiscal Unit, which had different responsibilities than those in the Funds, Receipts, and Collections Unit.
On August 16, 2005, Debra Burton had scheduled a training session between Steve Myers and the Plaintiff for the afternoon, because Myers had experience in entering documents and this provided the Plaintiff with additional exercises in keyboarding so that she could learn the requisite document entry skills. Burton never had to offer additional keyboarding skills to any Accounting Specialist trainee other than the Plaintiff. However, because the Plaintiff did not demonstrate the requisite keyboarding skills, Burton thought it was important to give the Plaintiff the opportunity for this additional training on the first day of the job.
In relevant part, the policy manual of the Office of the Comptroller states as follows: "Lunch time is one (1) hour. It may be taken, with supervisory approval, between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. or some other time depending on the schedule or shift in each work area." The regularly scheduled lunch break for the Plaintiff effective August 16, 2005, was 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. The normal procedure used by Debra Burton when an employee requested a lunch hour outside of the scheduled time period was to have the employee submit the request in writing. The work performed in the Funds, Receipts, and Collections Unit was to be completed by 12:30 p.m. each day so that a daily report could be sent to the Office of the Illinois Treasurer for processing, after which workers in the unit would then begin for the next day's report. In general, benefit time and lunch breaks in the Funds, Receipts, and Collections Unit are not flexible, because of the deadlines of the unit.
On August 16, 2005, shortly before noon, Debra Burton was approached by the Plaintiff who requested that she be allowed to change her lunch break from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. that day. Initially, Burton told the Plaintiff that she could not change her break that day. The reason that Burton initially told the Plaintiff that she could not change her lunch break was because Burton had scheduled Steve Myers to train her that day. However, when the Plaintiff advised her supervisor that she had been requested to attend a court proceeding, Burton agreed to let the Plaintiff change the time of her lunch break, as long as she brought documentation indicating that she was required to attend court. The Plaintiff then told Debra Burton that she was not required to go, but was to be there as a support person. The Plaintiff was allowed to change the time of her lunch break.
The Defendant alleges that Debra Burton did not treat any Caucasians or non-black persons differently than she treated the Plaintiff for court attendance matters. The Plaintiff believes that in the nine days in her position as an Accounting Specialist trainee, she performed the duties satisfactorily. However, no one else told the Plaintiff she was performing the position of Accounting Specialist in a satisfactory manner. Rather, two of her supervisors, John Donelan and Debbie Burton, complained to ...