Gibbons v. Banterra Bank Corporation


Court: United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

Date published: Dec 19, 2005


The following facts are undisputed. On May 29, 1978, the plaintiff, a high school graduate with no banking experience, was hired as a bank teller by the Bank of Egypt in Marion, Illinois. In 1985, Egypt Bancorp, Inc. acquired the Bank of Egypt. Also about this time, the plaintiff was promoted to loan secretary in the loan department. In 1989, Banterra Corp. acquired Egypt Bancorp.

The plaintiff’s loan department supervisor was Jon Patton, and he remained her supervisor for the next fifteen (15) years. After starting as a loan secretary, the plaintiff began assuming additional lending responsibilities, and eventually, she began doing her loans and in 1993, she received her lending authority.

In 1998, Banterra Bank of Marion merged with four other independent banks which collectively became “Banterra Bank.” As a result of the merger, Banterra Bank experienced numerous organizational changes. For example, in November 1999, the lending group was divided into two divisions: Retail Banking and Commercial Banking. The plaintiff was assigned to the Commercial Banking Division and was later designated as a Commercial Officer I. Another organizational change was the establishment of a company-wide pay grade system, which followed the recommendations of Professional Banking Services. The first formal pay grade system was introduced to employees in 2000.

From 1995 through 2000, plaintiff’s salary increased from $20,000 to $45,000, which is an increase of 125% in five years. From 1993 through 2000, plaintiff received the following bonuses:

1993 $2,000 1994 $3,000 1995 $4,000 1996 $4,000 1997 $4,000 1998 $1,701 1999 $1,125 2000 $1,375

In February 2001, Mr. Patton was transferred out of lending, and as a result, his loan portfolio was distributed among other employees. Plaintiff received over five million dollars, ($5,000,000), of loans from his portfolio, and some of the other loans were assigned to employee Steve Lappin.

On August 24, 2001, the plaintiff delivered a resignation letter. This letter read:

Please accept my resignation effective August 31, 2001. I will work until September 7th if you feel it to be necessary. It has  been a pleasure working with Banterra.

(Doc 35, Exh. M).

Plaintiff’s last day of work was August 24, 2001.

Approximately three weeks after her resignation, the plaintiff asked the defendant for her job back. (Doc. 35, Exh. A, pp. 113-117). According to the defendant, it did not rehire the plaintiff because the bank was reducing its workforce and determined that the plaintiff’s lending portfolio would be naturally reduced through attrition. (Doc. 34, Exh, C, p. 5).

The plaintiff has sued the defendant under Title VII for unequal pay, unequal job duties, and failure to promote. The plaintiff also claims that the defendant subjected her to a hostile work environment based on gender which led to her constructive discharge.



To state a claim of a hostile work environment under Title VII, the plaintiff must allege harassment that is sufficiently “severe or pervasive to alter the terms or conditions of employment.” Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 67 (1986). In other words, a hostile or abusive environment consists of “discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult” in the workplace. Dey v. Colt Constr. and Dev. Co., 28 F.3d 1446, 1453 (7th Cir. 1994) ( quoting Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 21 (1993)). Courts consider the frequency of the conduct, its severity, and whether it reasonably interferes with the employee’s work performance. Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 23 (1993); Rodgers v. Western-Southern Life Ins. Co., 12 F.3d 668, 674 (7th Cir. 1993). Relatively isolated incidents of trivial misconduct do not support a hostile environment claim. See Saxton v. American Telephone and Telegraph Co., 10 F.3d 526, 533 (7th Cir. 1993). About the plaintiff’s constructive discharge claim, the plaintiff needs to show that her [discriminatory] working conditions were “so intolerable that a reasonable person would have been compelled to resign.” Rabinovitz v. Pena, 89 F.3d 482, 489 (7th Cir. 1996).

Here, the plaintiff’s allegations do not rise to the level of a hostile work environment or an environment that would support a constructive discharge claim. Furthermore, the plaintiff stated in her resignation letter that she would work additional days if necessary. Indeed, she wrote that: “It has been a pleasure working with Banterra.” Finally, three weeks after she quit, the plaintiff asked for her job back. Under these circumstances, the Court grants summary judgment on the plaintiff’s hostile work environment and constructive discharge claims.

For all of the above reasons, the defendant’s motion for summary judgment is granted.

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