United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
ANTHONY JORDAN, KENNETH GREENLAW, PATRICK NELSON, and THEODIS CHAPMAN Plaintiffs,
TIMOTHY EVANS, CHIEF JUDGE OF THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
L. ELLIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
working as Cook County Juvenile Probation Officers and having
been terminated or transferred to a less desirable position,
Plaintiffs Anthony Jordan, Kenneth Greenlaw, Patrick Nelson,
and Theodis Chapman, on behalf of themselves and a putative
class of similarly situated individuals, sued Defendant
Timothy Evans, in his official capacity as Chief Judge of the
Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, alleging
discrimination based on race and retaliation in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title
VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the Illinois
Civil Rights Act of 2003 (“ICRA”), 740 Ill. Comp.
Stat. 23/5(b). Evans moves to dismiss Plaintiffs' class
claims and for summary judgment on Plaintiffs' individual
claims. The Court grants Evan's motion to dismiss the
class claims because Plaintiffs have abandoned those claims.
The Court grants Evan's motion for summary judgment in
part and denies it in part. Because no reasonable juror could
conclude that either Jordan's or Greenlaw's race
caused their termination based on the evidence presented on
summary judgment, the Court grants Evans' motion for
summary judgment against both Plaintiffs. Additionally,
because the statute of limitations bars Nelson's and
Chapman's claims regarding the supervisor's exam, the
Court grants Evans' motion for summary judgment on those
claims. Finally, because genuine issues of material fact
exist regarding whether Nelson's and Chapman's
transfers effectively amounted to a demotion and whether
Evans' reason for the transfers was merely pretext, the
Court denies Evans' motion for summary judgment on those
claims as to Nelson and Chapman.
Evans, as Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County,
has the ultimate authority in termination and other
disciplinary actions in the Cook County Juvenile Probation
Department (“JPD”). As such, Plaintiffs are suing
him in his official capacity. Jason Smith is the Union
representative for each Plaintiff. He compiled an analysis of
JPD's past disciplines, finding that, although
African-Americans made up approximately forty percent of the
JPD probation officer workforce, from 2008 to 2013, JPD
issued approximately seventy-five percent of the total
suspensions and terminations to African American officers.
Jordan, an African American, began working for JPD as a
Juvenile Probation Officer in April 1998. In 2007, JPD
suspended Jordan following an arrest for possession of
cannabis and domestic battery. Michael Rohan, the director of
JPD at the time, made the decision to suspend Jordan. The
following year, in 2008, JPD again suspended Jordan following
allegations that he sexually harassed an intern. Rohan made
the decision to suspend Jordan after this incident as well.
In 2010, Jordan received a verbal reprimand for using
profanity toward a coworker. Because of these disciplinary
issues, JPD placed Jordan on a three-month supervision plan
in November 2010. In 2011, Jordan received another suspension
and JPD also suspended his supervisor, Michael Willis. In
October 2011, Jordan entered into a Last Chance Agreement
with JPD, which stipulated that in lieu of termination,
Jordan would comply with certain restrictions and
expectations, and if he failed to abide by the restrictions
or meet the expectations, JPD would terminate his employment.
April 2014, Jordan moved to the Electronic Monitoring
Division, where he supervised the electronic monitoring of
fifteen to twenty juveniles. On September 16, 2014, JPD
suspended Jordan because a probationer on Jordan's
caseload committed rape while under Jordan's supervision.
This incident received significant media coverage. Jordan
submitted a violation report for this probationer on
September 14 but did not submit any earlier violation reports
for the probationer despite unauthorized movements overnight
on August 29 and September 3. Following a final suspension
and a pre-disciplinary meeting, JPD terminated Jordan on
February 3, 2015, citing his failure to monitor the
electronic monitoring software on a daily basis and
appropriately respond, his failure to abide by JPD's code
of conduct, and the fact that he was still subject to the
Last Chance Agreement. Neither his supervisor, Brian
Modjeski, or Modjeski's supervisor, William Pieroth,
suffered any discipline as a result of Jordan's failure
to submit a violation report. Rose Golden made the decision
to terminate Jordan in this instance.
only knows of one white employee who entered into a Last
Chance Agreement, Joseph Wozniak, a white non-officer at JPD.
Wozniak entered into the Last Chance Agreement after making
serious threats to a supervisor, and JPD did not terminate
Wozniak after excessive absenteeism while he was still
subject to the Last Chance Agreement.
Greenlaw, an African American, began working as a Juvenile
Probation Officer in 1999. When JPD terminated Greenlaw in
2014, he was serving as a Compliance Officer with the
Intensive Probation Services Division (“IPS”).
His job responsibilities included making visits to
juveniles' homes and schools to verify that juvenile
probationers were complying with the conditions of probation.
In carrying out these responsibilities, Greenlaw used a
JPD-administered gas card for his department vehicle. JPD
required users of the JPD-issued gas cards to keep their
receipts and document the information on a vehicle inspection
sheet before and after their shifts.
March 10, 2013, JPD convened an investigatory hearing
relating to Greenlaw's alleged misuse of his JPD-issued
gas card, specifically forty-five instances of gas purchases
made twice daily that did not correspond with the miles
Greenlaw traveled, three instances of gas purchased at the
beginning of a shift when gas had been purchased at the end
of the previous shift, three instances of gas purchases made
outside of documented work hours, one instance of a gas
purchase made on a day Greenlaw documented he worked the full
day in the office, twenty-eight occasions of missing gas
receipts, and forty instances of missing vehicle inspection
forms. After Greenlaw's rebuttal hearing a month later,
Rohan recommended Greenlaw's termination based on
JPD's investigation, finding that Greenlaw had
fraudulently used his gas card on multiple occasions and that
his non-compliance with department protocols and misuse of
the gas card constituted the equivalent of theft of services.
JPD subsequently terminated Greenlaw's employment. The
only other individual whom Greenlaw knows JPD terminated for
misuse of an assigned department gas card was Ernest Boyd,
his former partner, who is also African American.
Patrick Nelson and Theodis Chapman
Nelson and Theodis Chapman, both African American, began
working for JPD as Probation Officers with the Jumpstart
program in 2001 and 2003, respectively. During their
training, JPD did not pay Nelson and Chapman the
time-and-a-half out-of-state rate that other, non-African
American, employees received. The Jumpstart program provided
education to juvenile probationers who are not complying with
educational services or not going to school. Both Nelson and
Chapman worked as teachers in the Jumpstart program. During
their time with the Jumpstart program, the attendance at the
program fell significantly from a high of seventy students
per class to approximately twelve students per class.
Nelson and Chapman filed two Charges of Discrimination with
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”) against JPD, first in August 2014, and
then in December 2015, alleging race discrimination, and
subsequently, retaliation for their original discrimination
charges and for joining this lawsuit.
September 18, 2015, a little over a month after serving Evans
with the complaint in this case, Evans notified the Union
that he intended to close or reorganize Jumpstart and
transfer Chapman and Nelson to field probation officer
positions. He did so in November 2015, eliminating the
instruction component of Jumpstart and transferring Nelson
and Chapman to field probation positions. No. one filled
their former positions with Jumpstart. Their salaries did not
change; however, they worked more hours and the hours were
less regular. Both Nelson and Chapman lost any opportunity
for professional development in the field of alternative
education, an area in which both had expertise and in which
they wished to continue working. During a meeting with Avik
Das, the Acting Director and Chief Probation Officer of JPD,
Das told Nelson, unsolicited, that Nelson's filing of
this lawsuit was not why JPD removed him from the Jumpstart
the reorganization, a few desirable education and advocacy
positions in the Jumpstart program remained. The collective
bargaining agreement requires JPD to fill new positions by
seniority after a department-wide bid. Neither Nelson nor
Chapman submitted bids for the new positions created by the
reorganization of Jumpstart; however, JPD departed from
standard procedure and did not put new positions, such as the
one given to Tatanisha Jackson, up for bid. ...