Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

McDade v. YRC Worldwide, Inc.

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

September 13, 2017

GERRY MCDADE, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
YRC WORLDWIDE, INC. a.k.a. YRC, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Susan E. Cox, U.S. Magistrate Judge

         For the reasons discussed herein, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [73] is granted.

         I. Factual Background

         These consolidated cases allege racial discrimination that occurred at the Bolingbrook, Illinois terminal operated by Defendant YRC Worldwide, Inc. (“YRC” or “Defendant”).[1] YRC is a “less-than-truckload carrier that provides transportation and delivery services.” (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 1.)[2] YRC's Bolingbrook terminal opened on February 18, 2007, and employs a number of combination driver/dockworkers (“combo drivers”); all of the Plaintiffs in this case were combo drivers at the Bolingbrook terminal. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 3.) Broadly speaking, the Plaintiffs' operative complaint alleges that YRC discriminated against African American and Hispanic employees in several ways.[3] First, Plaintiffs allege that YRC discriminated against them by giving them more difficult driving assignments. Specifically, African American and Hispanic drivers were assigned to “city” routes Plaintiffs allege are more dangerous, stressful, and likely to cause accidents because the large trucks Plaintiffs drove were difficult to maneuver in denser, urban areas; meanwhile, white drivers were assigned “suburban” routes that were relatively safer and easier. (Allen Compl. at ¶ 77.) Additionally, Plaintiffs had to unload the heaviest and worst loads on the docks, while white drivers were not assigned to the docks or allowed to refuse dock work during difficult loads. (Allen Compl. at ¶ 82.) Second, Plaintiffs allege they received harsher discipline than white drivers at YRC; the complaint focuses primarily on threats of discipline any time Plaintiffs tried to refuse a load or an assignment they did not want. (Allen Compl. at ¶¶ 78-80, 84.) Third, Plaintiffs allege they were given trucks that were in a state of disrepair, whereas white drives were given fully functioning trucks. (Allen Compl. at ¶ 85.) Finally, Plaintiffs allege they were “subjected to a racially hostile working environment” in the form of “inappropriate and hurtful racial stereotypes.” (Allen Compl. at ¶ 86.)

         On September 24, 2010, a group of combo drivers wrote and signed a petition (the “2010 Petition”) that outlined several complaints regarding work assignments; specifically, the petition complained that minority combo drivers were regularly assigned city routes, while white combo drivers were dispatched to suburban routes. (Dkt. 78 at ¶¶ 48-49.) YRC investigated these allegations, but the parties disagree on the validity of the results of that investigation and the results are not particularly relevant to the instant motion. (Dkt. 78 at ¶¶ 50-53.) Each of the Plaintiffs filed a charge alleging race discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the Illinois Department of Human Rights, and the EEOC issued each of them a Notice of Right to Sue. (Allen Compl. at ¶¶4-31.) Plaintiffs filed the Complaint relevant to the instant motion on February 13, 2015, alleging two causes of action: 1) violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and 2) violations of Title VII.

         The two cases currently before the Court were consolidated on the Plaintiffs' motion, with YRC's consent, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42 and Local Rule 40.4 Dkt. 23.) However, this case is not a class action; each of the named Plaintiffs brings his claim in his individual capacity. As such, each Plaintiff has the burden of proving the allegations outlined above in order to prevail on his claims. The parties consented to this Court's jurisdiction on July 17, 2015. (Dkt. 38.) Defendant then filed a motion for summary judgment against four plaintiffs: Eddie Williams, Jr. (“Williams”), Karl Harris (“Harris”), Thomas Jackson (“Jackson”), and Derrick Rias (“Rias”) (collectively, the “Summary Judgment Plaintiffs”). The Court has combed through the record, and lays out the relevant material facts for each of the Summary Judgment Plaintiffs below.

         A. Williams

         Williams is an African American man who worked as a combo driver at the Bolingbrook terminal from its opening in February 2007 until October 2015, when he moved to YRC's Chicago Heights terminal. (Allen Compl. at ¶ 36; Dkt. 78 at ¶¶ 57-58.) For the first three years he was at the Bolingbrook terminal, Williams worked the 2 a.m. shift, but began bidding on the 8 a.m. shift when the Bolingbrook terminal expanded its coverage area to include new routes.[4](Dkt. 78 at ¶¶ 59-60.) Williams was assigned to the 8 a.m. shift and was given the Melrose Park run (presumably a “suburban” route) for several months, but that route was later reassigned to a white combo driver. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 63.) After Williams lost the Melrose Park run, he did not have a particular route he would drive, and would perform whatever assignments were available to him. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 64.) Eventually, Williams took the Cicero run, which was a “city” run; Williams maintains he took the Cicero run because he had become dissatisfied with the random work assignments he was given by his supervisor, Chris Zurales, after losing the Melrose Park run. (Id. at ¶ 65.) Williams testified that the previous driver on the Cicero run struggled with the run and had “a few” accidents while performing it, but he was unsure how many had occurred; Williams did not have any accidents while performing the Cicero run. (Williams Dep. 31:18-21, 35:11-17, June 30, 2016.) For the remainder of his time working at the Bolingbrook terminal, Williams performed the Cicero run. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 66.)

         Williams testified that he did not believe he was disciplined in a discriminatory manner. (Id. at ¶ 78.) He further testified he did not believe YRC assigned him specific trucks due to his race. (Id. at ¶ 74.) Williams stated he never heard any racially offensive language directed toward him while working at the Bolingbrook terminal. (Id. at ¶ 77.) The only time he heard any racially offensive language was when a white combo driver called a Hispanic driver “chico.” (Id. at ¶ 78.)

         B. Harris

         Harris is an African American man who worked as a combo driver at the Bolingbrook terminal from its opening in February 2007 until October 2015, when he moved to YRC's Chicago Heights terminal. (Allen Compl. at ¶ 37; Dkt. 78 at ¶¶ 81-82.) For the first three years he was at the Bolingbrook terminal, Harris primarily did dock work, but also did some driving. (Dkt. 78 at ¶¶ 83.) However, Harris preferred driving to dock work, and bid for the 8:30 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. shift during his last five years at the Bolingbrook terminal, because those shifts primarily consisted of driving work. (Dkt. 78 at ¶¶ 86-87.) Harris was assigned the Midway route (a city route), which he kept until he left the Bolingbrook terminal. (Harris Dep. 27:11-21.) Harris testified that the city routes were more difficult and dangerous than the suburban routes. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 91.) Harris testified that the city routes would sometimes cause him to block traffic while making a delivery, which would lead to “semi arguments, ” but that these “semi arguments” never escalated into physical altercations. (Harris Dep 29:9-30:9, July 7, 2016.) During his time driving from the Bolingbrook terminal, Harris was involved in two accidents. One was on a city route, but Harris testified that the accident was his fault for being “careless;” the second accident occurred on a suburban route. (Dkt. 78 at ¶94.)

         Harris was happy with the tractors he was assigned. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 99.) On a number of occasions, Harris saw white drivers refuse to take certain loads. (Dkt. 78 at ¶¶ 100-101.) However, when African American or Hispanic drivers complained about a route or a load, they were asked if they were refusing their assignment; according to Harris, this is a significant question because refusing a load is tantamount to termination of employment with YRC. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 101.) In other words, Harris considered this question to be a threat to his employment with YRC. Harris provided a lengthy recitation of the disciplinary records of white combo drivers, who Harris believes were disciplined less harshly than he was. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 104.) However, other than being questioned about whether he was refusing a load, Harris has not provided any other disciplinary action he feels was discriminatory.[5] Harris testified he heard racially offensive language in the workplace “all the time, ” but noted that he was not personally offended by it. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 113.)

         C. Jackson

         Jackson is an African American man who worked as a combo driver at the Bolingbrook terminal from its opening in February 2007 until October 2015, when he moved to YRC's Chicago Heights terminal. (Allen Compl. at ¶ 40; Dkt. 78 at ¶¶ 115-117.) For the first three years he was at the Bolingbrook terminal, Jackson primarily did dock work, and eventually began doing some driving for YRC on shorter, suburban runs. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 119.) In 2010, the Bolingbrook terminal expanded its coverage area to include new routes, and Jackson began to bid on (and receive) assignments for the 10 a.m. shift, which consisted primarily of driving work. (Dkt 78 at ¶¶ 120-121.) Jackson began with the Joliet East run (a suburban run), which was subsequently assigned to a white driver, Ron Santor, who had more seniority than Jackson. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 122, Jackson Dep. 26:13-15, July 12, 2016.) Jackson was then assigned to the Oak Park run (a city route), which he kept until he left the Bolingbrook terminal in 2015. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 122.) Jackson testified that the Oak Park run was more difficult, but did not claim it was more dangerous. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 126.)

         Jackson testified that Chris Zurales would look through the truck keys before handing them out to drivers, to ensure white drivers would be given trucks with air conditioning, whereas African American and Hispanic drivers would be given trucks with no air conditioning. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 128.) He further testified that YRC updated its fleet in 2010 or 2011, after which every YRC driver was able to drive an air conditioned truck. (Id.)

         Unlike Harris, Jackson was never asked if he was refusing a load, because he did not want to “test those waters, ” but he did claim white drivers were allowed to refuse loads, whereas minority combo drivers were not. (See Dkt. 78 at ¶ 132.) Jackson alleges minorities were told to get back to work during break times, but white combo drivers were not. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 133.) Jackson further claimed that YRC's drug testing policy was discriminatory. In particular, he believes minority combo drivers were tested more regularly than their white counterparts, and that he was required to wait outside the tester's office, while two unnamed white combo drivers were able to wait in the break room. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 141.) Jackson did receive substantive discipline he claims was in retaliation for signing the 2010 Petition. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 148). In November 2010, Jackson was suspended for 3 days for running a red light while operating a tractor. (Dkt. 74-3, Attachment E.) On March 16, 2011, Jackson was terminated for leaving his trailer unattended. (Dkt. 74-3, Attachment E.) He appealed the decision and the discipline was reduced to a three day suspension. (Id.)

         On one occasion, Jackson claims a dispatcher told him “you're my bitch for the day” after giving him an assignment he did not want. Jackson testified he was called “homeboy” by a white combo driver “on a couple of occasions” at the Bolingbrook terminal, and that a supervisor may have heard the comment because it happened in the break room. (Jackson Dep. 129:12-17; Dkt. 78 at ¶ 143.) He could not recall any other racially insensitive language he heard at YRC. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 144.)

         D. Rias

         Rias is an African American man who worked as a combo driver at the Bolingbrook terminal from its opening in February 2007 until March 2015, when he was involved in an accident that led to his termination. (Allen Compl. at ¶ 35; Dkt. 78 at ¶¶ 149-50.) From 2007-2009, Rias worked the 4 a.m. shift, which typically began with dock work and ended with a mid-morning driving route. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 151.) From 2009 until his termination in 2015, Rias did the Plainfield run (which also included stops in Romeoville and Bolingbrook); Rias testified he considered all of these areas to be suburban. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 154.) However, on two occasions Rias was pulled off of the Plainfield run and it was reassigned to a white combo driver. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 156.) Each of these episodes lasted a few months, and Rias was put onto city runs and “lift gate” duty (a more difficult type of dock work) during those times. (Rias Dep. at 61:4-62:11.) Rias testified that on one run to the west side of Chicago, he had a gun pulled on him during a delivery. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 161.)

         Rias did not have any complaints about truck assignments. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 164.) In his deposition, Rias recalled one instance where he believed the discipline he received was discriminatory; he received a warning letter for leaving his shift to pick up his sick son, despite receiving clearance from a supervisor to do so. (Dkt. 78 at ¶ 165.) Rias's disciplinary file includes several other suspensions and his eventual termination, but he did not identify any of these disciplinary actions as discriminatory.[ ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.