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PALASTI v. FEDERAL EXPRESS CORPORATION

April 29, 2003

KAREN L. PALASTI, PLAINTIFF, VS. FEDERAL EXPRESS CORPORATION, DEFENDANT


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles Ronald Norgle, Sr., United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

On March 15, 2002, Plaintiff, Karen L. Palasti ("Palasti"). filed suit against her present employer, Federal Express Corporation ("FedEx"), claiming violations of both the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., 42 U.S.C. § 1981(a). Specifically, Palasti complains that FedEx paid her less than similarly situated male employees.

In November of 1994, FedEx hired Palasti as a seasonal courier to work at its South Holland, Illinois station. In October of 1995, FedEx hired Palasti as a regular part-time courier with a route at the South Holland station. In October of 1996, Palasti began to work at a new FedEx station located in Michigan City, Indiana, in order to take over the route of a driver who had resigned. Palasti was never officially transferred from the South Holland location to the Michigan City location. During this time FedEx began to move more of its routes to the new Michigan City facility. In doing so, FedEx offered transfer letters to couriers whose routes would be moving to the new location. It is unclear whether Palasti ever received a transfer letter or received one in June of 1997.*fn1

On June 8, 1997, FedEx tendered an offer letter to Palasti, offering her a swing driver position at the Michigan City location. A swing driver is a courier without a specific route and is used to fill in wherever there is a staffing shortage. Additionally, to work as a swing driver, a courier must obtain both a Department of Transportation and Hazardous Material certification. The offer was subject to FedEx's standard twelve-month non-transfer rule. Palasti signed the letter and accepted the new position.

In October, 1997, Palasti requested a hardship transfer back to the station in South Holland, Illinois. That request, while initially approved by her supervisor, was ultimately denied later that month. After Palasti's request was denied, she applied for three other FedEx positions closer to her home. However, she was not considered for these positions because she was not eligible to transfer due to the twelve-month non-transfer clause in the Michigan City transfer letter. On June 19, 1998, Palasti voluntarily resigned from her position as a full-time Swing Driver. At the time she resigned, Palasti was paid $12.02 per hour,

In August, 1998, Palasti began to inquire about returning to work at FedEx. According to FexEx policy 4-30 (Def's Mot. For Summ. J., Ex. (1), employees who resign from their position lose the senority they have accumulated, unless reinstated by the authorization of the Vice President of Personnel or the Chief Personnel Officer. Palasti was unable to obtain such authorization and was told that she could follow the flew hire process. The new hire process begins with an applicant attending an open house to fill out applications. Palasti followed the new hire process and was offered a part-time courier position at the FedEx Aurora facility. The offer was made orally and by a letter from Sabiena Foster, the Operations Manager for FedEx in the Chicago Metro District. As stated in the letter, Palasti was to be paid $11.91 per hour in her new position, eleven cents less than she was previously paid. Palasti accepted the offer.

In February of 1999, Palasti transferred to the FedEx facility in Hillside, Illinois where she worked both full-time and part-time. Palasti has worked various routes and has taken an extended leave of absence. Palasti works for FedEx to this day.

On March 14, 2002, Palasti filed this lawsuit claiming that FedEx treated her differently from similarly situated males by failing to transfer her and then failing to re-hire her at her former hourly rate.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standards for Summary Judgment.

Summary judgment is permissible when "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The nonmoving party cannot rest on the pleadings alone, but must identify specifie facts, see Cornfield v. Consolidated High Sch. Dist. No. 230, 991 F.2d 1316, 1320 (7th Cir. 1993), that raise more than a mere scintilla of evidence to show a genuine triable issue of material fact. See Murphy v. ITT Technical Services, Inc., 176 F.3d 934. 936 (7th Cir. 1999). In deciding a motion for summary judgment. the court can only consider evidence that would be admissible at trial under the Federal Rules of Evidence. See Bombard v. Fort Wayne Newspapers, Inc., 92 F.3d 560, 562 (7th Cir. 1996). The court views the record and all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). see also, Perdomo v. Browner, 67 F.3d 140, 144 (7th Cir. 1995) "In the light most favorable" simply means that summary judgment is not appropriate if the court must make "a choice of inferences." See United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962), see also, First Nat'l Bank of Arizona v. Cities Service Co., 391 U.S. 253, 280 (1968); Wolf v. Buss (America) Inc., 77 F.3d 914, 922 (7th Cir. 1996). The choice between reasonable inferences from facts is a jury function. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 US. 242, 255 (1986). Because this is FedEx's motion for summary judgment, the court must view the record and all inferences ...


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