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POMMIER v. JAMES L. EDELSTEIN ENTERPRISES

March 9, 1993

JENNIFER POMMIER, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES L. EDELSTEIN ENTERPRISES, a/k/a JLE ENTERPRISES and formerly d/b/a ILLINOIS WINE AND SPIRITS; FEDERATED INDUSTRIES; FEDERATED DISTRIBUTORS; MICHAEL SHKOLER; MICHAEL STENSON and DAVID YENGLIN, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARVIN E. ASPEN

 MARVIN E. ASPEN, District Judge:

 Plaintiff Jennifer Pommier brings this sex discrimination action against her former employer, James L. Edelstein Enterprises ("JLE") a/k/a JLE Enterprises and formerly d/b/a Illinois Wine and Spirits, its successor in interest, Federated Industries ("Federated"), and three of her former supervisors, Michael Shkoler, Michael Stenson and David Yenglin. Presently before the court is defendants' motion to dismiss or strike certain portions of Pommier's complaint. The motion presents the following issues: (1) whether Pommier may maintain an action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, against Shkoler, Stenson and Yenglin despite that none of these parties were named as respondents in the EEOC charge; (2) whether Pommier may sue Yenglin for violations of the Equal Pay Act in both his official and individual capacities; (3) whether Pommier's claim against JLE/Federated for intentional infliction of emotional distress is preempted by the Illinois Workers Compensation Act; (4) whether Count V states a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (5) whether Pommier may seek punitive and compensatory damages for alleged violations of Title VII. In connection with the first issue, the parties have submitted substantial materials outside the pleadings. Consequently, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b), the court will treat separately that portion of the motion to dismiss or strike as a motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, we take the following action: (1) we grant summary judgment in favor of Shkoler, Stenson and Yenglin on Pommier's Title VII claims contained in Counts I, III and IV of her complaint; (2) we dismiss Count II of Pommier's complaint against Yenglin in his individual capacity; (3) we deny defendants' motion to dismiss Count V; and (4) we deny defendants' motion to strike Pommier's request for compensatory and punitive damages.

 I. Background

 This action stems from Pommier's employment with JLE, a predecessor of Federated, beginning August 18, 1986 and ending approximately September 30, 1991. During this time period, Pommier worked as a Purchasing Manager, Chain Sales Manager and Key Account Manager. Throughout the course of her employment, Pommier was allegedly subjected to repeated acts of sexual harassment. In response, Pommier filed an internal complaint. Far from remedying the situation, according to Pommier, she was confronted with fierce retaliation, including withholding of information necessary to perform her job, sabotaging programs she had implemented to ensure she would fail, and interfering with her customer contacts in order to ruin her professional reputation and credibility. Pommier also asserts that as a Purchasing Manager and Chain Account Manager, she was paid less money and bonus incentives than male employees who performed the same or comparable duties. In the same vein, Pommier was denied a company car, a benefit provided to other male employees who performed similar jobs. As a result of defendants' conduct, Pommier claims to have suffered from severe emotional distress. Pommier was forced to take a medical leave of absence from her job, during which time she was replaced.

 On January 27, 1992, Pommier filed a charge of sex discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The charge named "JLE Enterprises & Federated Industries, Mike Shkoler, Mike Stenson & Dave Yenglin" as respondents. Pursuant to request by Mitchell Edison of the EEOC, on February 5, 1992, Pommier's attorney wrote a letter to Edison providing specific details as to the pattern and practice of sexual discrimination and harassment, unequal treatment and retaliation allegedly endured by Pommier. By letter dated February 20, 1992, the EEOC informed Pommier that the information she had provided was sufficient to begin processing her charge. Based on the representations contained in the letter, it appears that notice of the charge was served on JLE/Federated.

 Unaccompanied by her attorney, Pommier was interviewed by an EEOC investigator on March 11, 1992. In conjunction with this interview, Pommier provided a detailed affidavit supporting her allegations against both the corporate and individual defendants. Pursuant to EEOC policy and practice, the investigator required Pommier to sign a recomposed charge of discrimination. At that time, the Chicago District Office of the EEOC had a practice to identify and name as respondents only the corporate employer, and not the individual supervisors alleged to have discriminated against the charging party. As such, the rewritten charge deleted all references to the Pommier's supervisors, i.e., Shkoler, Stenson and Yenglin. Further, the EEOC did not serve a copy of the charge on any of the individuals.

 On August 28, 1992, the EEOC completed its investigation of the discrimination charge and notified Pommier of her right to institute a civil action. As required by statute, Pommier filed this action within ninety days of receiving her right-to-sue letter. Count I of her complaint charges JLE/Federated, Shkoler, Stenson and Yenglin with sexual harassment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. In Count II, Pommier alleges that JLE/Federated and Yenglin violated the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1), by paying her a lower salary and fringe benefits than male employees in similar positions. Count III sets forth against all defendants a claim of sex discrimination in violation of Title VII. In Count IV, Pommier asserts that each defendant has violated both Title VII and the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 215(a)(3), by retaliating against her for filing internal sexual harassment and sexual discrimination charges. Finally, Count V charges all defendants with intentional infliction of emotional distress in violation of Illinois common law.

 II. Discussion

 Defendants' motion raises several challenges to Pommier's complaint. First, the individual defendants (Shkoler, Stenson and Yenglin) assert that they must be dismissed from those claims brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Counts I, III and a portion of IV) because they were not named as respondents in the EEOC charge. Second, Yenglin requests that Count II of Pommier's complaint be dismissed against him in his individual capacity as it alleges actions taken only in his official capacity. Third, arguing that the claim is preempted by the Illinois Workers Compensation Act, JLE/Federated prays that it be dismissed from Count V. Additionally, all defendants contend that Count V fails to state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Finally, JLE/Federated moves this court to strike Pommier's request for punitive and compensatory damages for alleged violations of Title VII. We address each issue seriately.

 A. Motion for Summary Judgment

 1. Standard of Review

 Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate if "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). This standard places the initial burden on the moving party to identify "those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986) (quoting Rule 56(c)). Once the moving party has done this, the non-moving party "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court must read all ...


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