The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID COAR, District Judge
? Jury Verdict. This action came before the Court for a trial by
jury. The issues have been tried and the jury rendered its verdict.
? Decision by Court. This action came to trial or hearing before
the Court. The issues have been tried or heard and a decision has been
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that For the reasons given in the
attached Memorandum Opinion, Defendant's motion for summary judgment
[Doc. 45] is GRANTED in its entirety.
Summary Judgment is hereby entered in favor of the defendant Combined
Insurance Company of America and against the plaintiff Terry L. Boebel.
All other pending motions are moot and terminated. This case is closed.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Terry L. Boebel ("Boebel" or "Plaintiff) is one of ten former and
current female employees who filed a lawsuit on December 14, 2001,
seeking to represent a class of women employed by Combined Insurance
Company of America ("Combined" or "Defendant"). This lawsuit, before the
late Judge James Alesia, alleged hostile work environment, retaliation,
and sex discrimination against women on a class wide basis. Judge Alesia
objected to the joinder of the ten named plaintiffs in a class action
suit, and instructed them to file an amended complaint. However, nine of
the ten plaintiffs (including Boebel) filed a motion to dismiss their
claims. On February 12, 2002, Judge Alesia dismissed these nine
plaintiffs without prejudice. On March 8, 2002, eight of the nine
plaintiffs, including Boebel, filed individual lawsuits. Before this
Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's sex
discrimination/harassment, and retaliation claims. For the reasons set
forth below, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED in its
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Summary judgment is appropriate if, "the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law." Schuster v. Lucent Technologies, Inc.,
327 F.3d 569, 573 (7th Cir. 2003) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)).
When evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the Court views the
evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and makes
all reasonable inferences in her favor. See Haywood v. Lucent
Technologies, 323 F.3d 524 (7th Cir. 2003). The Court accepts the
non-moving party's version of any disputed facts, but only if those facts
are supported by relevant, admissible evidence. Bombard v. Fort
Wavne Newspapers, Inc., 92 F.3d 560, 562 (7th Cir. 1996).
The moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence of genuine
issues of material fact for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Hedberg v. Indiana Bell Tel. Co.,
47 F.3d 928, 931 (7th Cir. 1995). If the moving party meets this burden, the
non-moving party must set forth specific facts that demonstrate the
existence of a genuine issue for trial. Rule 56(e); Celotex,
477 U.S. at 324. To successfully oppose the motion for summary judgment,
the non-moving party cannot rest on the pleadings alone but must
designate specific facts in affidavits, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, or admissions that establish that there is a genuine
triable issue. Selan v. Kiley, 969 F.2d 560, 564 (7th Cir.
I. Overview of Plaintiff's Claims
Plaintiff's allegations of discrimination are divided into three main
categories: (1) hostile environment based upon sexual harassment; (2) sex
discrimination as a result of the disparity in the quality of assignments
Plaintiff and failure to promote because of her gender; and (3)
retaliation by Combined supervisors because of Plaintiffs complaints
of discrimination. For efficiency purposes, the Court will provide a
separate section of undisputed facts for each category of alleged
discrimination. All facts are taken from the Parties' Local
Rule 56.1(a)(3) and (b)(3) Statements of Undisputed Facts. All facts, unless
noted otherwise, are undisputed, with all inferences resolved in favor of
the non-movant. At the outset, however, the Court will set forth the
employment hierarchy system at Combined, and Plaintiff's employment
history with Combined.
A. Combined's Employment Structure*fn1
The entry-level position at Combined is a Sales Agent.*fn2 Sales
agents are primarily responsible for selling insurance door-to-door.
A Sales Agent reports to his or her Sales Manager.*fn3 Sales Managers
also sell insurance door-to-door; however, Sales Managers also provide
assistance to the Sales Agents they supervise, including training. Sales
Managers also do paperwork and recruit Sales Agents to work for Combined.
A Sales Manager reports to his or her District Manager. While District
Managers are primarily responsible for deciding how to divide assignments
between Sales Managers, Sales Managers and District Managers can work
jointly to divide assignments. (Pl. Resp. to Def. Facts, ¶ 22).*fn4
District Managers are also
responsible for the supervision of Sales Managers.
District Managers report to their Sub-Regional Manager. A
Sub-Regional Manager will report to his or her Regional Manager. A
Regional Manager will report to his or her Divisional Manager.
Sub-Regional Managers, Regional Managers, and Divisional Managers are
able to sell insurance as well. (See Def. Resp. to Pl.'s Facts, ¶
14*fn5). However, some of the employment duties particular to
Sub-Regional Managers and Regional Managers include supervising District
Managers and Recruiting new Sales Agents.
B. Plaintiff's Employment History With Combined
Boebel began her employment with Combined in 1989, in the Midwest
Division (located in Wisconsin) as a Sales Agent. Boebel spent the
greater part of the next eleven years employed with Combined, holding
various positions, and spending time in three different states Iowa,
Wisconsin, and Illinois. Boebel's first promotion at Combined came in
1991, when she was promoted to the position of a District Manager in
Wisconsin. Boebel then occupied various sales positions in Wisconsin and
Illinois with Combined until 1994, when she resigned to work in the field
of investment insurance.
In December 1995, Boebel returned to Combined as a Sales Agent, under
the supervision of Ray Galindo ("Galindo"). In September 1996, Galindo
promoted Boebel to the position of District Manager. The Plaintiff worked
in various sales positions in Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, until she
resigned from Combined, in 1998.
In December 1998, Boebel returned to Combined, this time to work in
Wisconsin. Plaintiff resigned in 1999. In July 1999, Boebel returned to
Combined as a Customer Service Agent in Iowa, working under Sales Manager
Bonnie Shaffer ("Shaffer") and District Manager Lyle Meisner ("Meisner").
Boebel was promoted to the position of Sales Manager in Iowa in December
1999. Plaintiff resigned for the final time in
II. Timeliness of Plaintiff's Allegations
Before the merits of Boebel's claims can be addressed, the Court must
address whether any of Boebel's allegations of discrimination are
time-barred. In Illinois, a plaintiff must file a charge of
discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")
or equivalent state agency within 300 days after the "alleged unlawful
employment practice." 42 U.S.C. § 2000 e-5(e)(1). The 300-day limit
begins to run when the defendant has taken the action that injures the
plaintiff and when the plaintiff knows that she has been injured.
Sharp v. United Airlines. 236 F.3d 368 (7th Cir. 2001).
Boebel filed her charge of discrimination with the EEOC on January 16,
2001. Therefore, the Defendant contends that any discrete acts of
discrimination that occurred prior to March 22, 2000 are time
barred.*fn7 The Court agrees with the Defendant, and in analyzing
Plaintiffs' sex discrimination and retaliation allegations, all discrete
acts that occurred prior to March 22, 2000 are time-barred. However, in
analyzing Defendants' sexual harassment/hostile work environment ...