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Maisonet v. Duraco

November 23, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr.


Before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss [22] pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) Count I of Plaintiffs' first amended complaint [19], which alleges sex-based employment discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion to dismiss [22] is denied.

I. Background*fn1

On August 10, 1989, Plaintiff Jacqueline Maisonet was hired by Defendant Duraco, Inc. as a production scheduler. From 1989 until 2005, Maisonet reported to Duraco's then-production manager, Mark Healey. In February 2005, Healey was promoted to a different position, and Maisonet assumed the duties formerly associated with Healey's role as production manager. Maisonet did not, however, assume the title of production manager, nor did she receive any of the benefits associated with that position, including salary, 401(k) contributions, and bonuses.

Duraco was acquired by Filtrona, PLC in May 2007. Maisonet alleges that both before and after the acquisition, she repeatedly brought to management's attention that she had assumed all of her predecessor's former duties without the correlative compensation. She also met twice with Duraco's president, Brett York, and vice-president of manufacturing, Carl Johnson, regarding the disparity between her job duties and compensation and her predecessor's. During the first meeting, York and Johnson refused to address the disparity, and York stated that the fact that Healey was overpaid did not mean that Maisonet was underpaid. During the second meeting, Maisonet told York and Johnson that she believed there was a "huge difference" between her salary and the salaries of her male peers. York and Johnson responded that it would be devastating to those male peers to receive Maisonet's salary and that the male peers' salary could not justify raising Maisonet's or giving her a bonus. Maisonet's complaints were never met with a promotion, and her titles, duties, and compensation remained the same with the exception of a "nominal raise." Shortly after Duraco's acquisition, management advised her to be patient until the new executive team had a chance to review her position.

Maisonet further alleges that both before and after Duraco's acquisition, the work environment at the company was hostile to women. There were no women in management in the production side of the company, which Maisonet describes as a "boys' club." The former vice-president of finance, Michael Koenig, told Maisonet that, "[i]t's called 'management' for a reason. There are no women in management, only men[,] * * * especially here at Duraco." [19, at ¶ 14 (ellipsis in original)]. Male employees allegedly subjected and continue to subject Maisonet and other female employees to demeaning and offensive remarks as well as to sexually suggestive language.

Maisonet filed a charge of sex discrimination and retaliation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The EEOC issued Maisonet a Notice of Right-to-Sue on July 11, 2009, and Maisonet timely filed the instant suit on October 8, 2009.*fn2

II. Legal Standard on a Rule 12(b)(1) Motion

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction; "they have only the power that is authorized by Article III of the Constitution and the statutes enacted by Congress pursuant thereto." Transit Express, Inc. v. Ettinger, 246 F.3d 1018, 1023 (7th Cir. 2001). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, "[t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."

The burden of establishing that a district court has proper jurisdiction of an action lies with the plaintiff. Transit Express, 246 F.3d at 1023. A defendant arguing that the plaintiff has not met this burden with respect to an action (or a claim) may move for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1) on the ground that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). In evaluating a motion brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Long v. Shorebank Dev. Corp., 182 F.3d 548, 554 (7th Cir. 1999).

III. Analysis

Maisonet's first amended complaint [19] asserts two counts against Duraco. Count I of the complaint alleges that Duraco discriminated against Maisonet because of her sex by (1) refusing to give her a management title for performing the same management duties as her male predecessor (who had a management title), and (2) subjecting her to unequal terms and conditions of employment. As a result, Maisonet contends, she lost pay, benefits, promotions, and promotional opportunities in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. Count II of the complaint alleges that Duraco violated the Equal Pay Act, 28 U.S.C. § 209(d), by paying Maisonet less than her male predecessor for the same type of work.

Duraco has moved to dismiss [22] Count I of the complaint on the ground that Maisonet's failure-to-promote claim is beyond the scope of her underlying EEOC charge.*fn3

Duraco contends that the EEOC charge does not allege that Maisonet was denied promotions or promotional opportunities because of her sex, nor does it reference any job openings or other facts that would convey the impression that Maisonet sought a promotion and was passed over because of her sex. Duraco argues that because those allegations were not before the EEOC, Maisonet has not exhausted her administrative remedies with respect to the failure-to-promote claim. As a ...

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