resign until six months after she filed her EEOC charge.
It is true that a temporal connection between an employee's protected activity and an employer's adverse action is generally enough to establish a prima facie connection between the adverse action and the protected activity. See. e.g., Holland v. Jefferson Nat'l Life Ins. Co., 883 F.2d 1307, 1315 (7th Cir. 1989) (citation omitted). The conduct Locke complains of occurred after her EEOC filing.
Locke thought that she would be fired (perhaps for discriminatory reasons) and did not want to lose her benefits, so she retired. GRI states that she would not have been fired; and Locke has admitted that, even if she had been fired, she would not have lost her benefits. The court is not prepared to hold that the mere suspicion of future discriminatory conduct can create a work environment so unbearable that a reasonable person would resign to keep benefits without first ascertaining whether those benefits would actually be lost. Undocumented and amorphous fear of actionable discrimination is not enough for constructive discharge.
Even looking at Locke's contentions in conjunction with all evidence in this case, and in the light most favorable to Locke, they can not establish working conditions so difficult that a reasonable person would feel compelled to resign, or that the conditions were difficult because of her EEOC charge. At most, Locke has alleged a few, isolated moments of retaliation without aggravation. This is not enough to establish that she was constructively discharged. A reasonable person would have remained on the job while seeking redress for her alleged suffering. Accordingly, Locke suffered no actionable adverse retaliatory employment action and cannot establish retaliation for her EEOC filing under a theory of constructive discharge.
B. Equal Pay Act
GRI asserts that Locke cannot support her Equal Pay Act claim. The court agrees. In order to set forth a prima facie case under the Equal Pay Act, Locke must establish that GRI paid different wages to male and female employees who held substantially the same job positions. In other words, she must show that (1) GRI "paid different wages to employees of opposite sexes (2) for equal work requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and (3) the employees worked under similar working conditions." Young v. Meystel, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9424, No. 95 C 2548, 1996 WL 385339, at *2 (N.D. Ill. July 3, 1996) (citation omitted). See also Weiss v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co., 990 F.2d 333, 338 (7th Cir 1993). Locke has in no way produced any evidence which could establish this prima facie case.
To survive summary judgment, Locke must meet the threshold requirement of showing a substantial similarity between her job and jobs which she claims are equivalent. Edmondson v. Simon, 497 F. Supp. 411 (N.D. Ill. 1980). To determine whether positions are substantially the same for purposes of Equal Pay Act analysis, courts may reference actual job performance and content. Soto v. Adams Elevator Equip. Co., 941 F.2d 543, 548 (7th Cir. 1991). Locke must separately demonstrate each element of the equal work standard -- equal skill, effort, and responsibility must each be shown. See 29 C.F.R. § 1620.14(a). Failure to show even one of these elements is fatal.
Locke has not identified any positions which she considers substantially the same as hers. The only person she identifies as earning more than her is Duggan in September 1991; however, she does not state that Duggan performed substantially the same work. She has a "feeling" that another project manager once told her that the "going rate" for project managers was $ 60,000 when she was making $ 52,000. However, Locke admitted that various project managers had different duties, responsibilities, and qualifications. She also testified to seeing a copy of wage increase records from 1983 which made it clear to her that men who were hired after her were making more money for the same work.
The only specifically male salary appearing in the evidence is that of Green, who earned $ 4,900 less than Locke. Locke does not identify anyone, male or female, who she claims was equally skilled, put forth equal work, or had equal responsibility, much less a male who was paid more than Locke or any other woman at GRI.
Locke's suspicion that she earned less than men in substantially the same position is inadequate to support an Equal Pay Act claim past summary judgment. "Inferences and opinions must be grounded on more than flights of fancy, speculations, hunches, intuitions, or rumors." Rand v. CF Indus., Inc., 42 F.3d 1139, 1146 (7th Cir. 1994). Locke produced no reliable evidence of unequal pay. As such, the court must grant summary judgment in favor of GRI on Locke's Equal Pay Act claim.
Although Locke may have been dissatisfied with her position, she has in no way linked her dissatisfaction to animus resulting from her age or sex. For the foregoing reasons, GRI's motion for summary judgment is granted.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
CHARLES RONALD NORGLE, SR., Judge
United States District Court
JUDGMENT IN A CIVIL CASE
Decision by Court. This action came to a hearing before the Court. The issues have been heard and a decision has been rendered.
IT IS ORDERED AND ADJUDGED summary judgment is granted in favor of defendant GAS RESEARCH INSTITUTE and against plaintiff KATHLEEN S. LOCKE.
August 6, 1996