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LOCKE v. GAS RESEARCH INST.

August 6, 1996

KATHLEEN S. LOCKE, Plaintiff,
v.
GAS RESEARCH INSTITUTE, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NORGLE

 CHARLES R. NORGLE, SR., District Judge:

 Before the court is Defendant Gas Research Institute's ("GRI") Motion for Summary Judgment against Plaintiff Kathleen S. Locke ("Locke"). For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

 I. Background1

 Locke's Complaint includes various theories of recovery: age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 623(a); gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2; and violation of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 ("Equal Pay Act") 29 U.S.C. § 206(d). Essentially, Locke complains that GRI failed to promote her because of her age and gender, retaliated against her via constructive discharge for filing charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), and paid female employees less than similarly-situated male employees.

 Locke is female and was approximately sixty-three years of age at the time of the alleged discrimination. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in zoology, with a minor in chemistry, from the University of Vermont. She has taken graduate courses in various disciplines but has not completed an advanced degree. She performed laboratory research for Harvard University, and library technical research for Eastman Kodak Company in the field of toxicology and industrial hygiene.

 GRI hired Locke in July 1980, when she was fifty years of age. Locke resigned from GRI in September 1993. During Locke's employment with GRI, GRI's research and development functions were organized by departments, each devoted to a specific discipline and headed by a director. Within each department are various project managers; the project manager positions vary greatly from department to department, each having unique qualifications, duties, and responsibilities.

 GRI hired Locke as a research scientist in the Basic Research Department. Locke was satisfied with her treatment by GRI in this position. Her starting salary was $ 25,000.

 During Locke's employment with GRI, salary adjustments occurred on a yearly basis, with department directors apportioning adjustments within their respective departments. Locke received salary increases at relatively regular intervals throughout her employment with GRI.

 In September 1981, Locke received a promotion to Project Manager, Biochemistry, in the Basic Research Department, and her salary increased to $ 31,300. Locke held this project manager position for five years. She was satisfied with her treatment by GRI until the end of her tenure in this position.

 In January 1986, GRI transferred Locke laterally to the position of Planning and Evaluation Specialist in its planning department as part of a reorganization at GRI. Locke's title became "Planning Specialist" in April 1986. As a planning specialist, Locke initially reported to Myron Gottlieb and then to Joseph Hilyard ("Hilyard"), both males. In this position, Locke's salary continued to increase, reaching $ 47,400 in September 1988.

 In April 1989, Locke contacted William Burnett ("Burnett"), Vice President of GRI, and verbally requested a transfer out of the planning department. She requested the transfer because of conflicts with Hilyard, and because she did not enjoy the type of work she did in that department. Locke stated that she wished to return to a project manager position.

 Locke interviewed for an open project manager position in the Environment and Safety Research Department; in July 1989 she entered the position of Project Manager, Air Quality, in that department. Prior to the transfer, Locke had no educational or vocational experience with air quality. After the transfer, she attended some short seminars on air quality issues. This was a lateral transfer, and Locke did not receive a salary increase.

 In the air quality position, Locke reported to Howard Reiquam ("Reiquam"), Director of Environment and Safety Research. Locke was dissatisfied with Reiquam's supervision because he was not accessible for assistance as she would have liked. However, she stated that he always treated her in a fair manner.

 During Spring 1990, and for the next eighteen months Locke reported to Leslie Donaldson ("Donaldson"), a male, who was acting as a Manager of Environment and Safety Research as part of a rotation through the various departments at GRI. Donaldson reported to Reiquam. Locke felt that Donaldson was a fair supervisor. Locke testified that she agreed with an April 1991 performance appraisal by Donaldson. Among various compliments to Locke's work, the appraisal states that Locke needed to continue developing her technical background, and that she needed to "strengthen her coordination activities with industry, regulatory agencies, and compressor station vendors." Further, the appraisal states that Locke needed continued coaching in budget and program planning activities. The appraisal also states that Locke needed to improve her confidence and initiative.

 While she held the air quality position, Locke worked with Irvin Billick ("Billick") for approximately eight months on various projects, though she continued to report to Reiquam. GRI assigned Locke to work with Billick to provide her with technical training and guidance. However, Locke had difficulty working with Billick. Specifically, she states that Billick excluded her from meetings with contractors and that contractors perceived her as Billick's technical secretary. After a discussion between Locke, Billick, and Reiquam, Locke was no longer required to work with Billick. Locke also generally states that she was not invited to various meetings when she was project manager until she "took the matter up" with Donaldson and Reiquam. By September 1992, Locke's salary had increased to $ 52,200.

 In April 1991, GRI promoted Patricia Duggan ("Duggan") to the position of Project Manager, Environment and Safety Research, at a salary of $ 48,600. Duggan was born in 1959. Duggan's salary increased to $ 51,600 in September 1991. In September 1992, there was one male project manager in the Environment and Safety Research Department, Thomas C. Green ("Green"), who was born in 1952. Greene's salary was $ 47,300.

 In November 1991, Locke applied for a senior project manager position, which was posted on GRI's electronic bulletin board. The position required a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering or science, and knowledge of air quality and environmental issues (particularly with regard to the gas industry). Reiquam generally initiated promotions in the Environment and Safety Research Department by recommending persons in the department to GRI's Human Resource Department and GRI's vice presidents for approval. Promotion decisions are generally made during yearly evaluations in the summer, and become effective in the fall. Locke discussed her application with Reiquam. Locke states that Reiquam indicated to her that it was likely she would be promoted in the "normal cycle." Locke understood this to mean that she would be promoted in the following September. However, Reiquam made no specific promise of promotion nor did the two discuss a specific date.

 Locke was not promoted in September 1992. She questioned Reiquam regarding the denial of the promotion. Although Reiquam said that he understood her disappointment, he stated that he chose not to recommend her for promotion at that time because he did not feel that she was technically qualified for the position. Locke states that her curriculum vitae refutes Reiquam's statement that she lacked the requisite technical background; Locke testified that she met the posted requirements for the senior project manager job, but that she did not meet the different requirements added by Reiquam.

 The position for which Locke applied was withdrawn from the electronic bulletin board in September 1992, with no person being hired into or promoted to the position. When Locke contacted the Human Resources Department, she was told that the position had been eliminated and that it would not be filled.

 Locke filed a complaint with the EEOC in November 1992. Locke complains that Reiquam added his own requirements to the job listing for which Locke applied only after she complained to the EEOC. However, she admits that the listing was removed from the electronic bulletin board in ...


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