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Bowbin v. Bulkmatic Transport

November 13, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge


Plaintiff Jacqueline L. Bowbin brought the present three-count Complaint against her former employer, Defendant Bulkmatic Transport, Inc., alleging gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Bowbin also alleges violations of the Federal Equal Pay Act , 29 U.S.C. § 206(d) -- which is part of the Fair Labor Standards Act -- and the Illinois Equal Pay Act, 820 ILCS 112/1 et seq. Before the Court is Bulkmatic's Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). For the following reasons, the Court grants Bulkmatic's summary judgment motion in its entirety.


I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1 Statements

When determining summary judgment motions, the Court derives the background facts from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 statements. Local Rule 56.1 assists the Court by "organizing the evidence, identifying undisputed facts, and demonstrating precisely how each side propose[s] to prove a disputed fact with admissible evidence." Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000). A litigant's failure to respond to a Local Rule 56.1 statement results in the Court admitting the uncontroverted statement as true. Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 608 (7th Cir. 2006). Because Bowbin failed to respond to Bulkmatic's Rule 56.1 Statement of Facts, the Court admits Bulkmatic's Statement of Facts as true.

II. Relevant Facts

A. Parties

Bulkmatic is a bulk transportation company that transports dry bulk foods and plastics.

(R. 27-1, Def.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 3.) In November 2000, Bowbin began working for Bulkmatic as a Terminal Leader at Bulkmatic's Argo Summit, Illinois facility. (Id. ¶ 4.) As Terminal Leader, Bowbin was responsible for supervising the dispatcher, billing supervisors, and drivers, as well as reviewing revenue reports. (Id.) Bowbin worked as a Terminal Leader for about a year, and then, per her agreement with Bulkmatic at the time of her hire, Bowbin moved into a sales representative role in February 2002. (Id. ¶ 5.)

B. Job Responsibilities for Bulkmatic's Sales Representatives

Bowbin and all of the other sales representatives reported to Larry Smith, Senior Vice President of Sales. (Id. ¶ 6.) The responsibilities for sales representatives at Bulkmatic were divided by product type. (Id. ¶ 8.) Bowbin worked on edible accounts and was responsible for sales of bulk transportation of sweeteners and sugar products. (Id.) In her sales position, Bowbin was responsible for bringing in new business, maintaining existing business, negotiating rates as directed by her supervisors, responding to customer service issues, and helping the operations group develop customer solutions. (Id. ¶ 6.) In May 2005, the Vice President of Sales -- Edibles, Cornelius Parks, resigned and Bowbin assumed about eleven of his flour accounts. (Id. ¶ 8.) A few months later, Bowbin assumed five more of Parks' flour accounts. (Id.)

C. Bulkmatic's Other Business Areas

Besides food-grade transportation, Bulkmatic transports bulk plastic by truck. (Id. ¶ 12.) To transport plastics, the Bulkmatic sales representative must understand plastics and related transportation issues. (Id.) Bulkmatic is also engaged in the international transportation of plastics and minerals via container. (Id. ¶ 14.) Shipping by container requires a special bulk container delivery system using a chassis, rather than Bulkmatic's typical truck shipment. (Id.) To effect international sales, it is necessary for the representative to travel abroad several times a year and understand international shipping rules, tariffs, and the appropriate international shipping ports with regard to their capabilities for accepting certain vessels. (Id.) Bulkmatic also operates rail-truck transfer sites, which requires a background and understanding in the federal rules and regulations under the Federal Railroad Administrative Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (Id. ¶¶ 16, 17.)

D. Bowbin's Salary & Salary Increases

As with all sales representatives, Larry Smith determined Bowbin's salary that Bulkmatic's President ultimately approved. (Id. ¶ 20.) In determining compensation levels, Smith considered many factors, including experience in the industry and in a sales capacity, current compensation, the market rate for similar positions, compensation of other employees in similar positions, level of responsibility, the applicant's level of skill, the amount of travel required, interaction with internal employees and external customers and venders, and educational background. (Id. ¶ 21.)

Bowbin began her employment as a Terminal Leader with an annual salary of $59.000. (Id. ¶ 22.) Bowbin testified that at that time, the $59,000 base salary was the highest salary she had ever earned. (Id. ¶ 23.) After Bowbin transferred into sales in August 2002, her annual salary increased to $70,000. (Id. ¶ 24.) In February 2004, Bowbin received a raise to approximately $78,000 annually. (Id. ¶ 25.) In December 2004, Bowbin received another raise to approximately $81,000 a year. (Id. ¶ 26.) On May 30, 2005, Bowbin received a raise to $87,464 per year, which was her base salary until she resigned in August 2006. (Id. ¶ 27.)

At the time Bowbin received her $6,000 raise in 2005, Bowbin testified that Larry Smith informed her that "next year between your bonus and your salary, you should be into six figures easy." (Id. ¶ 28.) According to Bowbin, however, she did not ask Smith for any further details. (Id.) In May 2006, Bowbin asked Smith if it were "safe" to say that there would be no raises or bonuses for any sales representatives in 2006, to which Smith confirmed. (Id. ¶ 29.) In August 2006, Bowbin resigned from her position at Bulkmatic to work for one of Bulkmatic's competitors. (Id. ¶¶ ...

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