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JASKOWSKI v. RODMAN & RENSHAW

January 10, 1994

SUSAN JASKOWSKI, Plaintiff,
v.
RODMAN & RENSHAW, INC., NORMAN MAINS, GREGORY P. QUINLIVAN and KURT KARMIN, Defendants.



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

 MARVIN E. ASPEN, District Judge:

 This action stems from alleged sexual harassment and discrimination committed by defendants Rodman & Renshaw, Inc. ("Rodman & Renshaw"), Norman Mains ("Mains"), Gregory Quinlivan ("Quinlivan"), and Kurt Karmin ("Karmin") (collectively "defendants") against plaintiff Susan Jaskowski ("Jaskowski"). Currently before us is defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, we grant the motion in part and deny it in part.

 I. Summary Judgment Standard

 Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Moreover, we must view the record and all possible inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S. Ct. 993, 994, 8 L. Ed. 2d 176 (1962); Williams v. Williams Electronics, Inc., 856 F.2d 920, 922 (7th Cir. 1988). Summary judgment should be denied "where there is reason to believe that the better course would be to proceed to a full trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2513, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986).

 II. Factual Background1

 Jaskowski worked for Rodman & Renshaw, a stock brokerage firm, from 1981 until October of 1991, when she took a pregnancy leave of absence. Having started as a clerk in the mail room, Jaskowski worked her way up through the ranks at Rodman & Renshaw to become Vice President, Director of Human Resources in 1989. Her salary at the time she left the firm was $ 50,760. At the relevant times, Mains was President of the company, Quinlivan was Executive Vice President and General Counsel, and Karmin was Chairman of the Board and a member of the Executive Committee.

 After Jaskowski became pregnant in 1991, several co-workers made objectionable comments about her condition. In addition to rubbing Jaskowski's stomach uninvited, Mark Grant, an Executive Vice President, commented on the enlargement of pregnant women's breasts, and remarked that he wanted to work only with young, attractive females. Lawrence Helfand, another Executive Vice President, stated that Jaskowski should have stayed at [her] desk rather than out getting pregnant," and suggested that he was "going to have to tell [plaintiff's husband] to keep his penis in his pants." Cmplt. at P 13(c). Finally, two other Executive Vice Presidents, not named as defendants, told Jaskowski that they suspected she had tried to get pregnant, while Karmin commented that his pregnant secretary would not return to work, as her place was at home with her baby.

 In the fall of 1991, Jaskowski's doctor informed her that she would need to take a medical leave of absence in connection with the pregnancy. Rodman & Renshaw has the following medical leave policy:

 
If you are a regular employee and become disabled for at least 30 consecutive days you may be granted a Medical Leave of Absence without pay. The maximum duration of a Medical Leave of Absence is six months. When you are ready to return to work, you must inform the Human Resources Department in writing, at least one week prior to your expected return. You will be offered your original position if and when it becomes available within twelve months of when your Leave began. If your position does not become available, the Company will attempt to find a comparable position for you based on your skills and education. However, the Company is not obligated to create an opening for you. If you are offered your former position or a comparable one and do not accept the offer you will be terminated from the Company.

 Despite this policy, Jaskowski alleges that before she took her medical leave of absence, both Mains and Quinlivan assured her, on several occasions, that when she came back from maternity leave, she would return to her old position or one of comparable pay and responsibility Defendants, however, maintain that they gave Jaskowski no such assurances. Indeed, Mains asserts that he specifically apprised Jaskowski that the company was considering hiring an acting Director of Human Resources during her absence and that they did not know what that decision would mean for Jaskowski. *fn2" In fact, shortly after this conversation, Rodman & Renshaw placed an ad in the Wall Street Journal seeking applicants for Director of Human Resources and notified Jaskowski of this development.

 When Jaskowski sought to return from her maternity leave, Rodman & Renshaw offered her a job as a mutual funds clerk -- a position that paid less than half the salary she had earned as a Vice President and one which Rodman & Renshaw admits was not comparable to her former title. Having assured her that it would continue to search for a comparable job, the firm later notified Jaskowski of an opening for an Assistant Director of Human Resources at a salary of $ 37,500. Believing that the position was a demotion and disliking the lower pay, Jaskowski did not accept the job at that time. The next month, Garvey informed Jaskowski that the Assistant Director's position had been changed and that the salary had been increased to $ 42,000. Once again, Jaskowski refused the offer. *fn3"

 III. Discussion

 A. Individual Defendants' Liability Under Title VII and the Equal Protection Act (Counts I, II, III, and IV)

 At the outset, the individual defendants contend that they cannot be sued as employers under either Title VII or the Equal Protection Act. As Jaskowski openly concedes, we have previously ruled on this issue, finding that neither Act permits suit against individuals. *fn4" See Pommier v. James L. Edelstein Enterprises, 816 F. Supp. 476 (N.D. Ill. 1993); Pelech v. Klaff-Joss, 828 F. Supp. 525 (N.D. ...


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