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O'BRIEN v. J. STERLING MORTON HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT 201

September 29, 2004.

JUDY O'BRIEN, Plaintiff,
v.
J. STERLING MORTON HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT 201, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID COAR, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Judy O'Brien ("Plaintiff" or "O'Brien") brings suits against her employer, J. Sterling Morton High School District 201 ("Defendant" or "School District"), alleging sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Before this Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's one-count complaint. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED as to all claims prior to March 2, 2002. Defendant's motion for summary judgment is DENIED as to all claims after March 1, 2002.

I. 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 Wayne 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. 1992).

  II. FACTS*fn1

  O'Brien has been employed with the School District since 1994. O'Brien, who has a Master's Degree in Education, had twenty-one years of teaching experience prior to her employment with the School District. From 1994 to 2001, O'Brien served as the Assistant Director of Special Education for the School District. At the time Plaintiff was hired, the School District had a policy of paying administrators based on a formula set forth in the collective bargaining agreement negotiated with the union representing the School District's teachers. As a result, Plaintiff's salary was based at step 21, plus seven percent.*fn2 While Assistant Director of Special Education, Joe Gunty ("Gunty") was the full-time Director of Special Education.

  Prior to the commencement of the 2001-2002 school year, O'Brien was asked to take the position of Director of Special Education for the School District, and she agreed to take this position. O'Brien contends that although she was given a three percent, nominal increase in salary (which O'Brien asserts she would have received in her position as Assistant Director), she contends that she was given no increase for the promotion from Assistant Director to Director. Plaintiff asserts that Gunty, her predecessor, had been paid based on step 21 plus ten percent, while her salary only equated to step 21 plus seven percent.

  When Plaintiff became Director of Special Education, Gunty was moved from the position of Director of Special Education to a new position, Building Administrator Dean of Instruction. O'Brien contends that Gunty was given a four percent salary increase in his position, while O'Brien was given only a three percent increase in her new position. O'Brien also notes that her prior position of Assistant Director was not filled during the year she served as Director, and therefore, she contends that she had less administrative assistance than her male predecessor had. O'Brien also notes changes in salary structures that occurred when James Cuneen ("Cuneen") became Superintendent of the School District on July 1, 1999. As Superintendent, part of Cuneen's duties include setting the salaries of administrative personnel, which are recalculated every year (with the exclusion of those administrators who were hired pursuant to a long-term contractual agreement). Every year, Cuneen, along with the School Board members, went into executive session. Cuneen provided the School Board with the existing salaries for all the administrators that he believed should be renewed, and then he and the Board members talked about the ranges of increases for those salaries. When Cuneen became Superintendent, he eliminated the process of setting administrators' salaries by the step 21 process. Although he did not have a set process for establishing salaries, Cuneen did note that it was his mission to cut salaries. O'Brien contends that while Cuneen generally recommended the same percentage salary for most administrators, there were exceptions, and O'Brien contends that these exceptions were all based on Cuneen's subjective determination. O'Brien maintains that the only reason Cuneen gave for not recommending an increase in salary for her when she was promoted from Assistant Director to Director of Special Education was that his mission was to cut salaries, and he thought she was being paid enough, yet gave no reason as to why Gunty, was given a greater salary increase when he was promoted to Director of Special Education.

  In the spring of 2002, Plaintiff requested to return to the classroom for the upcoming school year. O'Brien felt that as Director of Special Education, she did not have an adequate support staff, because no one filled the Assistant Director of Special Education position that Plaintiff vacated when she became Director of Special Education. O'Brien contends that she asked Cuneen about what salary she would be given upon returning to the classroom. Plaintiff maintains that Cuneen told her he would have to ask Mrs. Kelly ("Kelly"), the President of the School Board, as she was the person responsible for all salary decisions. O'Brien contends that Cuneen did not get back to her about the salary she would be paid upon returning to the classroom. Subsequently, O'Brien met with the School Board attorney and some other administrators to discuss her salary. The attorney told her that based upon the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Teacher's Union, the most credit she would receive for experience before she began working in the Morton School District was ten years. While O'Brien disagreed with that decision, she received no further information on what her salary was going to be. O'Brien also contends that she attempted to discuss her salary with the Board, but was not allowed to appear before them. When Plaintiff expressed her concerns to Kelly, Kelly had no idea why O'Brien's salary as a teacher was set where it was. In a letter dated July 3, 2002, the District's Board of Education gave O'Brien the option to either: (1) continue to serve in the administrative position to which she had been appointed and receive a salary of $86,382; or (2) return as a classroom teacher with placement on the teachers' salary schedule at MA (Master's Degree plus 30 credit hours), step 19, with a salary of $67,783. Although O'Brien did not feel that this was the appropriate salary level, she decided to return to the classroom.

  Subsequently, with the assistance of the Teacher's Union, O'Brien filed a grievance with respect to her placement on the salary schedule. The Union, however, informed Plaintiff that it could not continue to pursue the grievance, even though they would have liked to, because O'Brien was not a teacher at the time the grievance was filed, and as a consequence, her claim was not arbitrable. After failing to receive any relief from the Teacher's Union, Plaintiff filed her claims of alleged discriminatory pay with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), via the Illinois Department of Human rights, on December 27, 2002. Plaintiff received her notice of right to sue letter on January 31, 2003, and filed her Complaint in this Court on March 6, 2003.

  III. ANALYSIS

  A. Defendant's Motion to Strike ...


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