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Valerie Robinson v. Chicago Transit Authority

December 6, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Ronald A. Guzman


Plaintiff has sued defendant for discriminating and retaliating against her in violation of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983, Title VII and state law. The case is before the Court on defendant's Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56 motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the motion as to the federal claims plaintiff asserts in Counts I, II and V and declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims she asserts in Counts III and IV.


In 2000, defendant hired plaintiff, who is African American, as executive assistant for office administration for its Office of the Inspector General ("OIG"). (Pl.'s LR 56.1 (b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 1; Pl.'s App., Tab C, Ex. 29, 2000 Performance Review Page ID# 1375.) At the time, Laurie Barsella was the Inspector General ("IG") and she allowed plaintiff, who was simultaneously enrolled in college, to vary her start time to accommodate her class schedule. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 4.) In 2004, Alison Perona became IG. (PL.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 3.)

As office administrator, plaintiff was responsible for, among other things, administering OIG's petty cash fund. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 8.) In October 2005, plaintiff discovered that $85.00 was missing from the fund. (Id. ¶ 9.) According to Perona, the ensuing investigation revealed "substantial evidence of [plaintiff's] poor controls." (See Pl.'s App., Tab C, Ex. 10, Petty Cash Discrepancy -- Oct. 2005.) Plaintiff says it showed that other employees made mistakes on their petty cash vouchers. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 10.)

Plaintiff was also OIG's timekeeper, which required her to create a biweekly attendance packet that documented the hours worked by OIG employees. (Id. ¶ 22.) She did so by reviewing the employees' arrival and departure times as recorded by the electronic identification card reader, their requests for time off and their notations on the office calendar. (Id.) If there were any gaps or inconsistencies in the card reader data, plaintiff noted them in an electronic exception review report, which she gave to Perona or Deputy IG Paul Sidrys for further investigation. (Id. ¶ 23.) Plaintiff contends that she was not required to document employees' late arrivals or early departures on this report but admits that she did so routinely until March 2007. (Id. ¶ 28.)

In 2005, plaintiff told Perona that she saw pornography on the computers of two OIG employees. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 4.) Perona "immediately addressed" these claims, but determined them to be unfounded. (Pl.'s App., Tab C, Ex. 36, Memo from Robinson to OIG Management (Mar. 23, 2006); Def.'s Resp. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 4.) On another occasion, plaintiff told Perona that an investigator had intimidated her by repeatedly refusing to review an invoice and, when he finally did so, throwing the invoice at her. (Pl.'s App., Tab E, Robinson Dep. 14-17.) Subsequently, Perona instructed all of the investigators via email to give plaintiff their cooperation. (Id. 17.)

In March 2006, Deputy IG Sidrys gave plaintiff a "meets expectations" rating for her 2005 performance. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 12.) At about the same time, Perona told plaintiff, whose college course work was nearly done, that she needed to return to a regular schedule with a start time of 8:00 a.m. (Id. ¶ 13.)

On June 2, 2006, Perona sent an email to plaintiff noting that she had arrived twenty to thirty minutes late each day of the previous pay period and reminding her that her start time was 8:00 a.m. (Id. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff's response was: "I apologize for slacking off in my arrival time during the past pay period. In future assessments of my arrival/departure times, please consider that the building's security system, which is the master for the electronic reader that is immediately outside of the OIG, is ten minutes fast." (Pl.'s App., Tab C, Ex. 41, Email from Robinson to Perona (June 2, 2006).)

Subsequently, Perona asked building management about the master clock and was told that its accuracy was checked each day. (Id., Ex. 15, Email from Perona to Robinson (June 15, 2006).) On June 15, 2006, Perona relayed that information to plaintiff and said:

On June 2, you were re-advised that your working hours were 8-4:30. During the week of June 5, your log in times were: 8:10, 8:08, 8:14 and 7:48. The needs of the OIG dictate that its Office Administrator be present at 8:00 to handle work issues. Staying "late" to make up the time does not mitigate the loss of coverage at the beginning of the work day.

To restate: Your working hours are 8-4:30.

Take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that you are in the office at 8:00 a.m. (Id.)

On March 21, 2007, Sidrys gave plaintiff a "meets expectations" rating for 2006. (Pl.'s 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 18.) Among other things, he said that plaintiff had "reduced the number of late arrivals" but "should continue . . . to further reduce or eliminate tardiness." (Pl.'s App., Tab C, Ex. 37, 2006 Performance Evaluation CTA 000219.)

On April 9, 2007, plaintiff lost her employee identification card. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 19.) The form for requesting a new one required Perona's signature. (Id.) Instead of getting Perona's signature, however, plaintiff signed Perona's name to the form and later told Perona that she had done so. (Id. ¶ 20.)

On April 11, 2007, Perona gave plaintiff a one-day, in-office suspension for having signed Perona's name without authorization to do so. (Pl.'s App., Tab C, Ex. 11, Memo from Perona to OIG Personnel ...

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