United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
July 1, 2004.
WOODWARD GOVERNOR CO.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: PHILIP REINHARD, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A class of plaintiffs brought suit against their employer,
defendant Woodward Governor Company ("Woodward"), alleging that
Woodward discriminated against them on the basis of their race.
Plaintiffs' suit is pursuant to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as
amended by 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII") and the Civil
Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, as amended by the Civil
Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 1981A. This court has
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Woodward submits a renewed
motion to dismiss or transfer the claims of plaintiff Fred Wynne
based on improper venue pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(3).
In considering a motion to dismiss for improper venue, the
plaintiff bears the burden of establishing proper venue. Santa's
Best Craft, LLC v. Janning et al., 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11042
at *3 (N.D.Ill. Jun. 23, 2003). The burden is met by making a
prima facie showing that venue is proper. Sagmel, Inc. v.
Firebird Int'l, Inc. et al., 1993 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4355 at *4
(N.D.Ill. Apr. 6, 1993); Carnes Co., Inc. v. Stone Creek
Mechanical, Inc. et al., 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26638 at *3 (W.D.
Wis. Jun. 6, 2002), citing Grantham v. Challenge-Cook Bros.,
Inc. et al., 420 F.2d 1182, 1184 (7th Cir. 1969). In
deciding whether the asserting party has made the necessary
showing, the court resolves all disputes concerning relevant
facts in favor of the party asserting proper venue. Sagmel,
Inc., 1993 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4355 at *7.
Title VII has its own venue provision,
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3). Section 5(f)(3) is the exclusive venue provision
for all Title VII discrimination actions, taking priority over
the venue provisions of other discrimination actions that are
pled. Gwin v. Reynolds & Reynolds Co., 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
9520 at *2 (N.D.Ill. Jun. 25, 2001). Venue is proper under Title
VII  in any judicial district in which the unlawful employment
practice is alleged to have been committed,  in the judicial
district in which the employment records relevant to such
practice are maintained and administered, or  in the judicial
district in which the aggrieved person would have worked but for
the alleged unlawful employment practice but, if defendant is not
found in any such district,  in the district where defendant
has its principal office. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5 (f)(3); Gwin,
2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9520 at *3. A plaintiff need satisfy only
one of the Title VII venue provisions for the court to exercise
Fred Wynne, an African-American, was hired by Woodward in
August 1999 as a Continuous Improvement Leader working in
Zeeland, Michigan. Wynne's responsibilities were later expanded
to include Woodward's Winnebago County facility. After a company
reorganization in 2002, Wynne assumed responsibilities as Acting
Manager for the Global Continuous Improvement Group, where
approximately 55% of his work focused on the Rockford facility
and employees. The work he did included interaction with Rockford
employees via his physical presence at the Rockford facility.
Despite performing his duties in an exemplary manner, in July
2003 the Global Continuous Improvement Manager position was
posted on the Woodward company-wide intranet. The job posting
specified Rockford, Illinois as the location of the position. The
open position request, job posting, job applications, written job
offer, correspondence and other documentation relating to filling
the Global Continuous Improvement Manager position are maintained
in Rockford. Wynne applied for the position when a co-worker
brought it to his attention, but he did not receive it; the
position was given to an allegedly far less qualified white
employee that Wynne had to transition into the job. Wynne was
given the hiring justification that the white employee had more
confidence than Wynne, although Wynne maintains his record and
performance history demonstrate otherwise. Following the
appointment of the new Global Continuous Improvement Manager,
Wynne's job duties were redefined in a manner which he alleges
constitutes a demotion. For example, Wynne no longer supervises
otheremployees and reports to the employee promoted over him in
Wynne asserts this judicial district is the one in which
employment records relevant to Woodward's practice are maintained
and administered. As indicated by their production in this case,
the open position request, job posting, job applications, job
offer, and other employment records that document the Global
Continuous Improvement Manager position are maintained and
administered in Rockford although Wynne's personnel records are
not. The majority of the relevant records are maintained and
administered in this jurisdiction and Woodward is headquartered
in Rockford. Because Wynne has satisfied at least one prong
enumerated in Gwin, he has established venue pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3) and no basis exists for granting
defendant's motion. Woodward's reliance on Washington v. Gen.
Elec. Corp., 686 F. Supp. 361, 363 (D.D.C. 1988), is misplaced.
The case is not binding on this court and there are other cases
to the contrary. See de Rojas v. Trans State Airlines, 2001
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23860 at *6-7 (D.N.J. Nov. 19, 2001).
Although Wynne also alleges venue is proper because he would
have worked in this district but for Woodward's discriminatory
conduct and because this district is the one in which the alleged
unlawful employment practice was committed, these arguments need
not be addressed because Wynne has satisfied a prong of the Title
VII venue provisions. Woodward's motion to dismiss or transfer
the claims of Fred Wynne based on improper venue is denied.
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