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DAVIS v. INTEGRATED SYSTEMS SOLUTIONS CORPORATIONS

March 31, 2003

MARJORIE DAVIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
INTEGRATED SYSTEMS SOLUTIONS CORPORATIONS, A/K/A ISSC, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wayne R. Andersen, United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM, OPINION AND ORDER

This case is before the Court on the following motions: 1) defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law on plaintiff's back pay, front pay and additional Equal Pay Act ("EPA") claims; 2) plaintiffs motion for equitable relief and additional EPA damages; and 3) plaintiffs motion for entry nunc pro tunc of the judgment. For the following reasons, we grant in part and deny in part defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law and plaintiff's motion for equitable relief and additional EPA damages. We deny plaintiffs motion for entry nunc pro tunc of the judgment.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, a former employee in defendant's Customer Service Center, alleged in this action that she was discriminated against on the basis of her gender in violation of Title VII, and on the basis of her race in violation of Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiff also alleged that defendant violated the Equal Pay Act ("EPA") by compensating her less than male employees for equal work. Following a jury trial, the jury returned a verdict for plaintiff on her § 1981 claim in the amount of $165,000. The jury also returned a verdict for plaintiff on her Equal Pay Act claim, awarding her $8,350. The jury returned a verdict for the defendant on plaintiffs Title VII race and gender discrimination claims.

Presently before the Court are plaintiff's claims for wilfulness (liquidated) damages under the EPA, back pay, reinstatement, and/or front pay in lieu of reinstatement.

DISCUSSION

I. Equal Pay Act Liquidated Damages

At trial, plaintiff made a claim for Equal Pay Act damages for the period beginning March 1995 and ending in September 1996. The jury found in favor of plaintiff under the Equal Pay Act and awarded her $8,350. On the verdict form, the jury checked the box for finding a wilful violation. Thus, the jury determined that defendant's Equal Pay Act violation was wilful-a finding that defendant either knew it was violating the Act or was indifferent to whether or not it was violating the Act. See Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Thurston, 469 U.S. 111, 125-29 (1985); Walton v. United Consumers Club, Inc., 786 F.2d 303, 310-11 (7th Cir. 1986).

Because the Equal Pay Act is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act, it is subject to the same remedial provisions as the Fair Labor Standards Act, which provides for the doubling of an award for a wilful violation of the Act. 29 U.S.C. § 206 (d), 216(d). See also Herman v. RSR, Sec. Services, Ltd., 172 F.3d 132, 142-43 (2d Cir. 1998).

In this case, the evidence supports the doubling of the damage award under the liquidated damages provision of the EPA. At trial, the evidence revealed that in June 1995, Pamela Mustain, plaintiff's supervisor, received an equity study and recommendation to do a salary adjustment on plaintiff because she fell below the minimum salary range. Ms. Mustain contended that she did not give plaintiff the raise she was due because plaintiff was on a performance improvement plan. However, Loretta Ferlouta of Human Resources testified that after April, 1995, plaintiff was not on a performance improvement plan. In fact, no salary increase was given to plaintiff until almost one year later, in May 1996.

For these reasons, we find that defendant has not shown that it acted in good faith and had reasonable grounds for believing that its acts were in conformity with the EPA. Therefore, we find that plaintiff is entitled to damages in the amount of $16,700.00 under the EPA.

II. Equitable Relief under § 1981

The jury also found that defendant discriminated against plaintiff based on race, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and awarded compensatory damages in the amount of $165,000. Lost wages are recoverable under § 1981 to the same extent as they are under Title VII. See Albermarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 422 U.S. 405, 418 (1975); Johnson v. Railway Express Agency, Inc., 421 U.S. 454, 460 (1975); Holland v. Jefferson, 883 F.2d 1307 (7th Cir. 1989). Back pay, reinstatement and front pay in lieu of ...


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