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July 25, 2000


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Alesia, District Judge.


Before the court is defendant's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). For the following reasons, the court grants defendant's motion for summary judgment.


Plaintiff Candace Karczynski ("Karczynski") is a female who worked for defendant Specialty Equipment Manufacturing, Incorporated ("World Dryer")*fn2 from January 2, 1985 to June 4, 1998 at its Berkeley, Illinois office. World Dryer originally hired Karczynski as a customer service representative. Then on April 17, 1995, Karczynski became the Customer Service Manager.

On November 1, 1997, at Karczynski's request, World Dryer transferred her into the credit and collections department where she was assigned to handle the accounts payable and accounts receivable. World Dryer created this position to fit Karczynski's experience and request. However, because of her lack of any previous accounting experience, Tom Vic ("Vic"), World Dryer's Vice President of Operations, warned Karczynski that in order to function in her new position, she may need to read a text or take a course in basic accounting. Over the next six months, Vic monitored Karczynski in her new position and discussed the majority of her duties with her. Vic gradually became concerned that Karczynski was not taking on all of the duties that he expected her to assume in her new position. His concern, however, was not over the quality of her work; it was over the quantity. As a result, Vic did not assign to Karczynski all the additional projects which he would have liked her to handle.

In May of 1998,*fn3 Vic spoke with Randy Cordova ("Cordova"), World Dryer's President, on several occasions about Karczynski's performance. During one of these meetings, Vic told Cordova that the department was shorthanded and, thus, that he had decided to speak to Karczynski about completing more of her duties. In addition, Vic intended to give her a list of her duties, discuss them with her and to work closely with her. Cordova approved of these suggestions. At another meeting, Cordova explained to Vic that Karczynski was a valued employee and if she was not working well in Vic's department, that he (Cordova) would find her another position.

Shortly thereafter, according to Linda Kilbryde ("Kilbryde"), World Dryer's Vice President of Marketing, Vic asked her to speak with Karczynski about her work performance.*fn4 From her conversation with Vic, it was Kilbryde's understanding that Karczynski was performing only about two-thirds of her contemplated duties.

On May 26, 1998, Kilbryde met with Karczynski. During the initial part of the meeting, the two discussed Karczynski's pregnancy, which Karczynski had announced on May 11, 1998, and Kilbryde wished her well. During the remainder of the meeting the two discussed Karczynski's performance and Karczynski's complaints to other employees about her position. Regarding Karczynski's performance, Kilbryde told her that Vic had suggested that it may be helpful for Karczynski to take some basic accounting classes. In addition, Kilbryde explained to Karczynski that she too had taken some classes to help her with her own job responsibilities. In response, Karczynski asked for specific examples of her deficiencies. Kilbryde replied that Karczynski should discuss the deficiencies with Vic. Regarding Karczynski's complaints, Kilbryde told Karczynski that rather than staying in a job which made her unhappy, that she (Kilbryde) would find another job which would make her happy. Kilbryde concluded the meeting by asking Karczynski to refrain from complaining to other employees. At no time during this meeting did Kilbryde threaten to fire Karczynski, tell Karczynski she was on thin ice or state that World Dryer was going to take any type of disciplinary action. Following the meeting, Kilbryde placed a memo documenting the meeting in Karczynski's personnel file. This memo, however, was not a formal "write-up" of a disciplinary problem.

In response to this meeting, Karczynski met with Cordova. During this meeting, Cordova told Karczynski essentially the same things which Kilbryde had previously told her — that Vic was concerned about her failure to complete all of her work.

On or about May 27, 1998, Vic prepared and gave to Karczynski a memo detailing her duties. Following this, Vic and Kilbryde met with Karczynski on June 3, 1998 to go through the list of her duties and to hear her responses. During this meeting, Vic told Karczynski that he wanted her to take on more duties, to take some basic accounting classes and to be in the office until 6:00 p.m. In addition, he also told her that she "had a big mouth" because she had "been complaining to everybody." (Karczynski Dep. at 89:22, 90:2.) Karczynski interpreted Vic's statements to mean that he was unhappy with her work and now claims she did not understand why all of a sudden she was a terrible employee. So, in response, Karczynski became upset, began to cry, said "I can't deal with this. I cannot continue this conversation," (Id. at 91:10-11), and went home for the day.

The following day, June 4, 1998, Karczynski's employment with World Dryer ended. The parties are in dispute as to what occurred during this meeting. Karczynski alleges that Vic fired her but gave her no reason for doing so. (Pl.'s 56.1(b) Response at ¶ 79.) However, Karczynski admits that neither Vic nor Kilbryde gave her any indication that she was allegedly fired because World Dryer did not want to pay for her six-week maternity leave. (Id. at ¶¶ 79-80.) On the other hand, World Dryer, alleges that at no time did anyone fire Karczynski. (Def.'s 56.1(a) Statement at ¶ 81.) According to World Dryer, Karczynski quit on June 4, 1998. (Id.)

On July 5, 1998, World Dryer sent Karczynski's final paycheck and vacation pay via overnight delivery. Upon receipt of her final check, Karczynski telephoned Sue Grammas ("Grammas"), World Dryer's Human Resources Administrator, to inquire about her severance pay. No one returned her call to answer her inquiries. However, Cordova and Vic discussed whether or not Cordova should contact Karczynski. After discussing the matter, Vic suggested that Cordova could call but that Karczynski did not directly report to him, so it would be "somewhat out of line" for Cordova to call her. (Cordova's Dep. at 31:24 & 32:1-3.) Furthermore, Vic testified that if Karczynski had contacted him about returning to work, he would have considered her request.

Subsequently, on August 7, 1998, Karczynski filed a charge of discrimination against World Dryer with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). During the proceedings, Cordova, Kilbryde and Vic stated under oath that Karczynski's pregnancy played no role in her leaving the company. Furthermore, they each testified that she resigned her employment, not that World Dryer terminated her employment. Within a week of the proceedings, Karczynski voluntarily withdrew her charge of discrimination with the IDHR.

On June 28, 1999, Karczynski filed a complaint against defendant claiming that World Dryer violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e(k), when it terminated her employment due to her pregnant condition. On September 2, 1999, Karczynski filed a "First Amended Complaint for Damages." In her amended complaint, ...

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