Johnson v. Koppers, Inc., No. 12-2561 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Johnson, an African-American woman, was employed at Koppers’ plant from 1995 until her termination in 2008. She had been disciplined for sleeping at her desk in the laboratory, for smoking in the lunch room, for not punching out on the time clock, for fighting with a security guard, and for an altercation with a white male co-worker, O’Connell. Without interviewing Johnson, the plant manager determined that both O’Connell and Johnson were at fault and decided that Johnson should be punished more severely because of her disciplinary history and O’Connell’s allegations of racial harassment. The plant manager warned Johnson that future incidents would lead to termination. O’Connell received a less severe warning letter. The Union filed a grievance on Johnson’s behalf and Johnson’s warning was reduced to a memo that summarized her work obligations and employment status. Johnson was fired after another altercation with O’Connell. A witness indicated that Johnson shoved O’Connell, who filed a police report. Johnson filed suit, alleging discrimination on the basis of her race and gender in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, and 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Koppers.