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Maclin v. Ameritech

April 1, 2008


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 05 C 2517-Amy J. St. Eve, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ripple, Circuit Judge.


Before RIPPLE, SYKES and TINDER, Circuit Judges.

Mildred Maclin brought this action against her employer, Ameritech, alleging discrimination on the basis of disability, race and gender.*fn1 After discovery, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The district court granted Ameritech's motion in its entirety. Ms. Maclin then appealed to this court.*fn2 For the reasons stated in this opinion, we affirm the judgment of the district court.



Ms. Maclin began working for Ameritech in 1994. By June 2001, she had been promoted to area manager, a second-level management position that has a salary and bonus potential in what Ameritech refers to as the MT market zone. In January or February of 2003, Ms. Maclin accepted a demotion in lieu of being laid off; she became a first-level manager with a salary and bonus potential in the MU market zone. At Ameritech, an employee's salary and bonus potential is determined by her pay grade, not her title. The MU market zone is one step below the MT pay grade; accordingly, it has a lower salary range and a smaller potential bonus.

In fall 2003, Ms. Maclin participated in developing what later became known as Bid Central, a new group at Ameritech. While Bid Central was being developed, it called its MU-level employees implementation engineers. Later, once the group became formalized, employees in the MU pay grade at Bid Central became known as complex bids managers. When Ms. Maclin was transferred to Bid Central, she remained a first-level manager with a salary in the MU market zone.

Bruce Gregory became Ms. Maclin's supervisor around October 2003. Gregory assigned Ms. Maclin to the team lead role in the group. On October 16, 2003, Ms. Maclin's official title at Bid Central became area manager of complex bids.*fn3 This assignment as team lead and the change in title did not change her salary or bonus potential; she remained in the MU market zone. Although Ms. Maclin was not second-level management and was not in the MT market zone when she was team lead, she did have administrative and supervisory duties that other complex bids managers in the MU market zone at Bid Central did not have.

Ms. Maclin was injured in a car accident in December 2003. She took a medical leave of absence that began on December 17, 2003, approximately two months after she became the team lead at Bid Central. On December 23, 2003, Gregory appointed Dave Gentilini, a white male, as interim team lead in Ms. Maclin's absence.*fn4 While Ms. Maclin was still on medical leave, however, Gregory decided to make Gentilini the permanent team lead. In discussions with the human resources department, he stated that he had seen performance problems with her work, including incomplete or incorrectly performed assignments and mishandled projects. He also stated that Gentilini had performed exceptionally well in the position and that, by the time Ms. Maclin returned to work, Gentilini had held the position more than twice as long as she had held it.

Gregory also changed the nature of the team lead role during Ms. Maclin's absence. During Ms. Maclin's tenure as team lead, Gregory had been working with other departments at Ameritech to establish Bid Central and had relied on the team lead to act as a focal point for the concerns of the other complex bids managers. By the time Ms. Maclin returned to full-time work in June 2004, however, Bid Central was no longer in its formative stages. The team lead role lost its administrative duties and the other bids managers began reporting directly to Gregory rather than the team lead. In the modified team lead position that Gentilini held, none of the other complex bids managers reported to him. He also never performed the administrative duties that Ms. Maclin had performed before her leave, such as approving time sheets and reimbursement forms.

Ms. Maclin was not assigned to the modified team lead role when she returned from her medical leave. About a month before she returned to full-time work, her title was changed officially to complex bids manager. The change did not affect her salary range and bonus potential; she remained in the MU salary range where she had been before her leave. She did not possess the additional supervisory and administrative responsibilities she had held before her absence, but neither did Gentilini possess those duties in the modified team lead position.

Ameritech's compensation guidelines list several factors that determine whether, and in what amount, a pay increase will be awarded and the amount of that award. One factor is the employee's current salary compared to that salary grade's target range. The guide also contains a matrix for determining the combined salary increase and bonus payment that an employee may receive. The matrix considers two factors: (1) current salary relative to that salary level's range, and (2) the employee's performance evaluation. An employee like Ms. Maclin, with a salary in the top third of her salary range who met, but did not exceed, her supervisors' expectations, may receive a combined raise and bonus not to exceed two percent of her salary. An employee like Gentilini, with a salary in the middle to lower end of the MU range who performed exceptionally well, qualifies under Ameritech's system for a larger combined raise and bonus.

In 2004, Ameritech awarded bonuses and pay raises based on the employee's performance in 2003. It awarded Ms. Maclin a 1.5% pay increase and a 1.5% lump sum bonus. Her combined pay raise and bonus exceeded the total that, according to Ameritech's compensation guidelines, she should have received for that year. Gentilini received a combined pay increase and bonus of 4% of his salary, an amount within the range prescribed by Ameritech's compensation guidelines for a person with his salary and performance review. Even after the raises were given, however, Gentilini was ...

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