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Leong v. SAP America, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

October 3, 2012

Alice LEONG, Plaintiff,
SAP AMERICA, INC., SAP AG, and Angelika Dammann, Defendants.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Robert Anthony Destefano, Robert A. Destefano and Associates, P.C., Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff.

Nina G. Stillman, Charis A. Runnels, Morgan Lewis Bockius, Chicago, IL, for Defendants.


JOHN J. THARP, JR., District Judge.

Plaintiff Alice Leong filed suit against her former employer, SAP America, Inc., its parent company SAP AG (collectively " SAP" ), and Angelika Dammann, SAP's former Chief Human Resources Officer, alleging, among other things, that the defendants discriminated against her on the basis of gender and wrongfully terminated her employment, thereby violating several federal and state statutes. Defendant Dammann moves to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction. For the reasons stated below, the motion is denied.


Defendant Dammann is a German citizen. Cmplt ¶ 7. From July 2010 to August 2011 she served as the Chief Human Resources Officer of SAP AG, a German corporation with its principal office located in Walldorf, Germany, and SAP America, Inc., a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Pennsylvania. Id. In her capacity as Chief Human Resources Officer of SAP, Dammann worked out of SAP's corporate headquarters in Germany, but she served as the head of human resources for all of SAP's employees worldwide, including those like Leong who were located in Illinois. Cmplt. ¶ 15. She never traveled to Illinois while employed by SAP. Dammann Decl. (Dkt. 23-1) ¶ 7. She has set foot in Illinois only one time, several years ago, when her flight was unexpectedly diverted to O'Hare International Airport. Dammann Decl. (Dkt. 23-1) ¶ 7.

Leong, who served as SAP's Head of Global Diversity, alleges that she and other female employees were undercompensated in violation of the Equal Pay Act and other statutes during her tenure at SAP. In 2006 SAP promoted Leong to Vice President, but she alleges that she was paid less than the male employees at her level. Cmplt. ¶¶ 54-56. SAP later promoted Leong to Global Vice President in January 2010, but she alleges that her pay grade was not properly increased to account for her promotion. Id. ¶ 42. In July 2010, Dammann became Leong's direct supervisor. The parties agree that in the fall of 2010 Leong complained to Dammann about SAP's failure to increase her

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pay grade, and that after an investigation, Dammann affirmed the company's prior refusal to increase Leong's pay grade. Dammann Decl. (Dkt. 23-1) ¶ 13; Dkt. 41 at 5.

In November 2010, Roger Bellis took over as Leong's direct supervisor. Dammann Decl. (Dkt. 23-1) ¶ 11. In early 2011, Bellis needed to provide a performance review for Leong. Cmplt. ¶ 64. Because he had served as her supervisor for only a few months, he asked Dammann to provide feedback regarding Leong's performance, which Dammann did. Id. ¶ 70; Dammann Decl. (Dkt. 23-1) ¶ 12. Dammann recommended that Bellis give Leong SAP's lowest possible rating: " does not fully meet expectations." Cmplt. ¶ 71. After receiving Dammann's recommendation, Bellis gave Leong a performance review with SAP's second-lowest rating, that she " partially met expectations" for 2010. Id. ¶ 64. Because of her poor performance review, SAP gave Leong a bonus for 2010 substantially lower than any bonus it had previously given in her tenure as Head of Global Diversity. Dkt. 41 at 5-6.

After receiving the negative performance review, on February 18, 2011, Leong contacted Dammann and asked for a transition package " to facilitate [her] re-entry into the job market and help [her] land on [her] feet." Dkt. 41-11 at 2; Leong Dep. (Dkt. 57-1) at 164-65. On March 16, 2011, Leong participated on a conference call with Dammann, Bellis, and another SAP employee named Laura Thiel to discuss her performance review and her future at SAP. Cmplt. ¶ 85; Dammann Decl. (Dkt. 23-1) ¶ 14; Leong Dep. (Dkt. 57-1) at 189-90. During the call, Bellis and Thiel offered Leong a severance package. Leong Dep. (Dkt. 57-1) at 194. Leong alleges that after that conference call, Thiel contacted her and terminated her employment. Cmplt. ¶ 85. Reading Leong's claims broadly and drawing every reasonable inference in her favor,[1] she conceivably alleges that Dammann made, or participated in, the decision to fire her. Dkt. 41 at 5; Cmplt. ¶ 133. Dammann, however, refuted that ...

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