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Gomez v. Federal Express, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

October 29, 2014

HECTOR D. GOMEZ, Plaintiff.
v.
FEDERAL EXPRESS, INC. and JOSEF MUFTIC, Defendants

For Hector D Gomez, Plaintiff: Christopher Cooper, LEAD ATTORNEY, Michelle Rachel Ronay, Law Office of Christopher Cooper, Inc., Chicago, IL.

For Federal Express, Inc., Josef Muftic, Defendants: David Porter Knox, LEAD ATTORNEY, Federal Express Corporation, Memphis, TN; Jonathan Hale Claydon, Matthew A. C. Zapf, Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Chicago, IL.

For Josef Muftic, Defendant: David Porter Knox, LEAD ATTORNEY, Federal Express Corporation, Memphis, TN; Matthew A. C. Zapf, Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Chicago, IL.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

SHARON JOHNSON COLEMAN, United States District Judge.

Hector Gomez works at Federal Express, a shipping and transportation company. In 2011, his direct supervisor issued

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him several disciplinary citations that ultimately led to his termination. Several months after Gomez's was fired, FedEx reviewed Gomez's termination, reinstated his employment with full back pay, and assigned him, at his request, a new supervisor. After FedEx fired Gomez, but before FedEx initiated its review of that decision, Gomez sued FedEx in federal court, alleging that FedEx violated federal employment-discrimination laws. Gomez alleges that FedEx fired him and delayed review of his termination in retaliation for complaining of racial discrimination.

FedEx moves for summary judgment on all Gomez's claims. Gomez's allegations, construed very liberally, are based on three events: (1) FedEx's delay in reviewing a pre-termination disciplinary citation; (2) Gomez's actual termination; and (3) FedEx's delay in reviewing the termination. The first two events do not provide Gomez a basis for relief because there is no evidence in the record that Gomez complained of racial discrimination prior to the delay. The third event does not provide a basis for relief because federal law does not forbid a brief delay in an employer's investigation into an already-fired employee's complaint. Consequently, the court grants FedEx's motion and enters judgment for FedEx on all claims.

BACKGROUND[1]

Gomez began employment with FedEx in April 2000. Perrine Decl. ¶ 8, Dkt. # 101-5. Until 2012, Gomez worked as a courier and was based at a Hillside, Illinois facility. Gomez's personnel file contains a mix of positive and negative feedback for his employment before 2011. For instance, one positive note, from January 11, 2010, reads: " Hector[,] I want to thank you for all your hard work last peak [sic]. I understand that it was not easy due to you being new to our station[,] but you survived. Thank you again." Dkt. # 101-5 at 28-29. And one negative note, from about the same time, reads: " You had 4 pickup failures and because of this the station did not make it[s] pickup reliability goal of 99.75%. This type of performance is not acceptable." Id. at 27-28.

1. Gomez's Problems with Muftic

In January 2011, Josef Muftic became Gomez's direct supervisor, Muftic Decl. ¶ 5, Dkt. # 101-6, and Gomez began to experience repeated disciplinary problems at work. Four of Muftic's reproaches of Gomez form the basis of Gomez's lawsuit.

First, FedEx's personnel notes indicate that on January 21, 2011, FedEx staff observed Gomez going to his personal vehicle after reporting to work. Dkt. # 101-5 at 23-24. Muftic provided Gomez with a notice asking him to comply with security procedures but did not take any formal discipline action against Gomez.

Second, on May 19, Gomez arrived late to work but did not indicate this on his time card. Several days later, Gomez

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wrote a short note to Muftic, acknowledging that he forgot to mark himself late and stating that he had " had a lot on my mind." Dkt. # 101-3 at 119. Muftic issued Gomez a formal warning letter, which explained that Gomez's behavior violated FedEx's conduct policy.

Third, that same day, Gomez experienced an additional problem that also led to disciplinary action. He stated in his deposition that he was unable to deliver a package because certain streets were closed for the end of the school day. Gomez Dep. 121-22, Dkt. # 101-3 at 59. In FedEx's internal package-tracking notes, Gomez wrote: " Street blocked off by school." Dkt. # 101-3 at 160. He scanned a door-tag but did not leave the tag at the residence, and he also entered what FedEx calls a " dex-08" code. Gomez left a handwritten note to FedEx in which he explained what happened. Dkt. # 101-3 at 159. In the note, Gomez complained that a " very angry and irate manager," not Muftic, " confronted" him over the incident. Gomez described the ...


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