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Ledbetter v. Good Samaritan Ministries

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

February 6, 2015

LINZIE J. LEDBETTER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
GOOD SAMARITAN MINISTRIES, BOBBY ANDERSON, and MICHAEL HEATH, Defendants-Appellees

Argued January 27, 2015

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. No. 3:13-cv-00308-DRH-SCW -- David R. Herndon, Judge.

Linzie J. Ledbetter, Plaintiff - Appellant, Pro se, Carbondale, IL.

For GOOD SAMARITAN MINISTRIES, a project of the Interfaith Counsel, Bobby Anderson, Michael Heath, Defendants - Appellees: Shari R. Rhode, Attorney, Cassie Renee Korando, Attorney, Rhode & Jackson, Carbondale, IL.

Before POSNER, SYKES, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Posner, Circuit Judge

Linzie Ledbetter filed suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 against his former employer, Good Samaritan Ministries of Carbondale, Illinois, a tax-exempt nonprofit organization that provides services to needy people in the Carbondale area by means of " an emergency shelter, a transitional housing program, a soup kitchen, a food pantry, and an emergency assistance program." " Good Samaritan Carbondale--Needs Your Help: What We Do," http://goodsamcarbondale.org/index.html (visited Feb. 2, 2015). He named two of the organization's supervisory employees (Anderson and Heath) as additional defendants. The suit charged retaliation for Ledbetter's having filed a charge of racial discrimination and of retaliation with the EEOC. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants and dismissed the suit, precipitating this appeal.

The plaintiff, who had begun working for Good Samaritan in 2007, was assigned to the shelter. In June 2010 a resident of the shelter complained to defendant Michael Heath, the executive director of Good Samaritan, that she was upset and afraid after Ledbetter had reprimanded

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her for not completing her assigned chores--even though, according to another member of the shelter staff, she had been excused from completing them--and had threatened to evict her from the shelter. Defendant Bobby Anderson, Ledbetter's immediate supervisor, conferred with Heath about the incident and the two then met with Ledbetter and warned him that future misbehavior could result in disciplinary action up to and including discharge.

The same month (June of 2010) Ledbetter filed a charge of racial discrimination and of retaliation with the EEOC. On September 24, 2010, having received his right to sue letter, he filed an employment discrimination suit against Good Samaritan in federal court, charging both retaliation and racial discrimination against him (he is black) by Heath (who is white) and Anderson (who is black), based on their warning to him--for he denied having engaged in any improper behavior toward the resident who had complained about him. The defendants claim they first learned of this suit on October 21, 2010, when they were served. The suit was eventually dismissed for failure to state a claim, and there was no appeal.

According to the defendants, four days after Ledbetter filed that suit one of Good Samaritan's supervisory employees complained to executive director Heath about having been frightened and humiliated by Ledbetter over employee access to the shelter's computer games, which Ledbetter complained the supervisor had revoked. Anderson and Heath warned Ledbetter about the possible consequences of his alleged misconduct.

On October 5 Heath and the president of Good Samaritan's board of directors met with Ledbetter and again warned him about intimidating residents and coworkers (for remember that the second incident of alleged intimidation had occurred just a week earlier). According to Heath and Anderson, after that meeting Ledbetter falsely accused members of both the staff and the board of directors of the institution of lying and of trying to get him fired (Ledbetter denies having made these accusations, which have not been specified). On October 14--nine days after the warning by the executive director and the board president--Heath and Anderson met and, the defendants claim, decided to fire Ledbetter.

The day before the October 5 meeting with Heath and the board president, Ledbetter had filed a charge with the EEOC alleging that he was being discriminated against regarding scheduling and overtime because of his race, his first EEOC charge, and the warning he had ...


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