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Jordan v. Chicago Transit Auth.

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

December 9, 2014

Shelly Jordan, Plaintiff,
v.
Chicago Transit Authority, Defendant

For Shelly L Jordan, Jr, Plaintiff: David K. Welch, LEAD ATTORNEY, Brian Patrick Welch, Jeffrey Chad Dan, John Harold Redfield, Crane, Keyman, Simon, Welch & Clar, Chicago, IL.

For Chicago Transit Authority, Defendant: Judith A. Kelley, Peter A Ahmadian, LEAD ATTORNEYS, David Brian Montgomery, Piemengie Nkengla Hamisu, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago, IL.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

James B. Zagel, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Shelly Jordan brought this action against Defendant Chicago Transit Authority (the " CTA") alleging that he was terminated based on race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq . (" Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (" Section 1981), and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (" Section 1983"). The case is presently before the court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

FACTS AS ALLEGED

Shelly Jordan began working for the CTA as a track maintenance worker, or " trackman, " on March 22, 1999. The CTA operates a public transportation system that covers the City of Chicago and 35 of its surrounding suburbs. As a trackman, Jordan performed various duties in the maintenance, inspection, repair, construction, signaling, and flagging activities associated with track construction and maintenance work. Jordan is African-American.

Area 605

A central component to this case is the CTA's administrative holding program, " Area 605." When CTA employees miss work for medical reasons, they spend up to 26 weeks on short-term disability before the CTA places them in Area 605. To leave Area 605 and return to work, CTA employees must complete a three-step procedure. First, the employee must be found fit to return to work by CTA's medical staff. Next, the employee must provide documentation from the physicians who treated them for the medical conditions that led to the employee's placement into Area 605 verifying that the conditions have been resolved. Third, the CTA must determine that the employee's former worksite has an available and budgeted position for the employee.

After two years in Area 605, the employee must either (1) file for a one-year extension, (2) return to active work status, (3) apply for an Occupational Injury Disability Pension, (4) Apply for a Non-Occupational Disability Pension, (5) or retire; otherwise, the employee will be administratively separated.

Jordan Enters Area 605

While at work in December 2003, Jordan fell on the tracks and injured his back. After 26 weeks of short-term disability, the CTA placed Jordan into Area 605 because of mental and physical issues. In Area 605, Jordan was monitored by Mike Montagna, who works as an Occupational Adjustment Specialist in CTA's Human Resources Department. Montagna reports to Larry Wall, who worked as CTA's General Manager of Benefit Services from 2001 to 2011.

After his accident, Jordan received medical care from a primary care physician he had been seeing since the 1990s, Dr. Leonard Robinson, as well as a psychologist that he began seeing in 2004, Dr. Joyce MacLaren. After being in Area 605 for two years, Jordan requested and received a one-year extension.

Montagna's First Offensive Remarks

When Jordan called Montagna to discuss his return to work on December 13, 2006, Montagna said " why do you want to know this for, I heard you moved to Las Vegas and you only want to know your last date to return by so you can wait until the last minute to return to work." After Jordan told Montagna that it was none of his business, Montagna informed Jordan that he would get back to him about what documentation he needed to provide. Before the conversation ended, Jordan heard Montagna say " you people." Although Jordan called Montagna the next day and left a voicemail, Jordan never heard back from Montagna. When Jordan told Wall about Montagna's ...


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