Reed v. Freedom Mortgage Corp., No. 16-3661 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
In November 2012, Freedom hired Reed, an African-American, as a Broker Liaison, reporting to Bidstrup and Sperry (both white). The regular hours for the Downers Grove office were 8 a.m.-5 p.m.. Some employees worked other schedules with permission or to accommodate accounts in other time zones. Freedom’s attendance policy stated that seven absences, late arrivals, or early departures in a 12-month period could trigger disciplinary action, including termination. In January 2013, Bidstrup sent an email to all employees, reiterating that policy; days later she verbally warned Reed about violating the policy. Days later, Bidstrup issued a written warning after Reed arrived at 9:30 a.m. From February 14-April 1, Reed was absent at least eight days. From March 6-April 10, he clocked in late 11 times. On April 9, Bidstrup sent another reminder email. Reed continued to violate the attendance policy. Other employees complained about covering Reed’s work, Reed unsuccessfully applied for an Underwriter position and was denied opportunities to work from home. In 2013, a decline in business prompted a reduction in force across the country. Reed was terminated because of his attendance and disciplinary history; he had less seniority than others in the office. The remaining Liaisons were eventually terminated; no replacements were hired. The office closed in 2014. Reed sued under the Illinois Human Rights Act. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Freedom. Reed had no evidence that he was treated less favorably than similarly situated non-African-Americans, failed to show that the denials of his request to work from home and of promotion were adverse employment actions, and could not prove hostile work environment.