McDaniel v. Progress Rail Locomotive, Inc., No. 18-3565 (7th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Progress Rail, a manufacturer, has Shop Rules; violations result in “disciplinary action ranging from reprimand to immediate discharge.” Progress hired McDaniel in 2005 as a Material Handler. In 2016, McDaniel complained that Howard, his supervisor, was giving overtime to younger workers. Shortly thereafter Howard issued McDaniel a disciplinary notice for using his cell phone while on work equipment in violation of Shop Rules. McDaniel denied talking on his phone but admitted that it was “on top of the truck” in violation of a Rule. McDaniel received a one-day suspension. Weeks later, Howard claimed McDaniel was using his cell phone to take pictures. McDaniel volunteered his phone to confirm he did not take any photographs. There was no discipline. McDaniel alleges that Howard then assigned him to sweeping and general maintenance duties for three weeks. Months later, McDaniel suffered a serious injury while attempting to move a 106-pound piece of machinery by hand. After investigatory interviews, with a Union Representative in attendance, McDaniel, age 55, was terminated. After filing an EEOC complaint, McDaniel sued, alleging discrimination on the basis of age and retaliation for complaining about a superior, citing the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. 621–34. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Progress. McDaniel has not supplied evidence of any similarly situated employee that would allow a fact-finder to determine whether any adverse employment action was the result of age discrimination or retaliation.