employment here, and after, he was told to discharge Jackson but was given no work-related reasons for such action. Once again he conducted his own investigation which, he testified, produced evidence that Jackson had only raised the ire of the Executive Director due to a vote she cast in what Ali felt was an unrelated matter involving another community organization. To fire an employee for what Ali thought was a personal reason was violative of his Muslim beliefs and he, therefore, rejected Ashford's decision (as well as the Board's) to terminate Jackson from SENH employment.
Yet plaintiff's testimony is outweighed by the testimony of Ms. Jackson herself. She indicated, and facts fortified this conclusion, that the Board meeting at which she cast the criticized vote was indeed related to her work at SENH. Although Ashford had vested Jackson with what she characterized as "independent discretion," the entire matter was not a personal or political dispute between the Executive Director and her. Plaintiff's individual investigation had again produced incorrect results, yet his refusal to discharge Jackson was premised on those results.
Additionally, the evidence reflected that although Jackson was discharged from her position as Junior Housing Advisor, along with each and every other employee at SENH, she did have substantial problems performing effectively in her position. As the controversy about Jackson increased, she submitted her resignation in late April, effective May 31, 1979. A pervasive problem persisted in plaintiff's Department because the Executive Director had hired Meredith Gilbert to replace Jackson, yet Ms. Jackson was determined to remain in her old office and continue with her duties to the point her resignation took effect. The conflict between Jackson and Gilbert produced considerable tension in the CHRD, and Ali's failure to manage the Department during this dispute, and resolve the difficulties, was one of the significant causes of his discharge. He adamantly refused to follow Ashford's direction that Jackson be fired, and as a compromise, made her a consultant. This solution satisfied neither Jackson nor Gilbert and the matter eventually subsumed most normal responsibilities in CHRD to the point where nothing was being accomplished.
Apart from plaintiff's difficulties over Gilbert's timecard and the continued employment of Jackson, he alleged that his discharge was motivated by the Executive Director's discriminatory attitude towards Ali's Muslim beliefs. A chronology of the final days of Ali's employment at SENH will clarify the evidence concerning this serious complaint.
A meeting was held May 23 at Lockridge's house between Ashford, Gilbert, Ali and Lockridge to attempt to resolve the differences between Ali and Gilbert. While Ashford concurred that Gilbert was a difficult person, he was not the only problem Ali encountered, without resolution, during his brief employment. This session was not effective. On May 25, Ashford initiated another meeting with Ali to discuss procedures in his Department which conference, lasting almost ninety minutes, produced a list of ten specific steps that Ashford directed Ali to undertake to improve the management of CHRD. This list was reduced to writing May 29 in a memorandum from Ashford to Ali, Defendant's Exhibit 6.
Ali was ill and did not appear at work from May 28-30. Because operations at CHRD had reached a standstill, the Executive Director met with that Department's staff on May 30, in Ali's absence. After this meeting, where Ashford was confronted with representations of Ali's managerial incompetence, he deliberated whether to discharge Ali from his position. He concluded then, and later reinforced that determination, that Ali had not implemented any of the procedures discussed and agreed upon at the May 25th meeting: Ali and Gilbert had not reported together to Ashford and it was Ali's responsibility to arrange this, Ali had not called a staff meeting to outline the duties of each coordinator, Ali had not assumed control of supportive services immediately, relieving Gilbert of those responsibilities, and he had not instituted other specified actions aimed at smoothing operations at CHRD. It should be noted that at the May 25 meeting, Ashford had indicated that he would monitor the progress of Ali's Department for ten days, but in the last week of May, Ashford determined that prompter action was necessary for the functioning of the Department.
On May 30, Ali wrote to the Executive Director and mailed to his home address a lengthy personal letter describing his Muslim practices and beliefs and demonstrating his problems at SENH. (Plaintiff's Exh. 7). The plaintiff declared,
I did not come to Southeast Neighborhood House under any false pretence (sic), but as a Muslim dedicated to a cause. If you (Ashford) are as alert about the situations of the world as you seem to be about procedures then you should recognize what I am speaking of, if not you're the one that is in trouble.
Additionally, Ali wrote, "If I do not work toward the goals as outlined by the Holy Quran based on the knowledge given to me then I will be destroyed. I have come too far to allow this to happen." In this letter the plaintiff complained that he had not been given all of the facts needed to lay out proper work responsibilities, and noted a number of special items, such as a debt owed to a local church, about which he demanded to be consulted. The letter begins and ends with quotations from the Holy Quran, and is replete with references to plaintiff's religious ideals.
Ashford received this letter on June 1 when he arrived at his home at about 6:30 p.m. He viewed the letter as an expression of "some deep internal turmoil" in Ali and found it difficult to comprehend. He was upset further by the fact that some of Ali's references to aspects of work at SENH, for example the debt owed to the church, were totally outside of his field of responsibility, and that Ali, as the manager, did not seem to be coping with the problems then existing in the CHRD and which were Ali's responsibility. He interpreted the letter as "an exercise in catharsis," whereby Ali vented his frustrations on Ashford.
On Monday June 4, 1979, Ashford sent Ali a memorandum (Plaintiff's Exh. 9) discharging him from employment with SENH. Ashford informed Ali that his
administrative actions over the past two weeks and the problems which resulted therefrom have led me to conclude that you are either unwilling or incapable of separating personal relationships from professional procedures which are a must if subordinates are to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them in short term and long range programmatic operations.