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Green v. Sanford-Brown College, Inc.

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

May 7, 2014


For Margaret Green, Plaintiff: Kathleen Currie Chavez, Matthew J. Herman, Omar A Salguero, Peter Lawrence Currie, Robert M. Foote, Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O'Neil, LLC, Geneva, IL.

For Sanford-Brown College, Inc., Career Education Corporation, Defendants: Kirsten Ann Milton, LEAD ATTORNEY, Jackson Lewis P.C., Chicago, IL; Sari M. Alamuddin, LEAD ATTORNEY, Mary Ellen Vales, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP, Chicago, IL.

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Hon. Sharon Johnson Coleman.

Plaintiff, Margaret Green, filed a complaint alleging discrimination based on her pregnancy pursuant to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 197, against her prior employer, Sanford-Brown College (" Sanford-Brown" ). Sanford-Brown moves for summary judgment [36], arguing there is no genuine issue of material fact and it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. For the reasons set forth below, the Court

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grants summary judgment in favor of Sanford-Brown.


The following facts are undisputed. Sanford-Brown College hired Green as an " Admissions Representative" in November 2010. She was pregnant for the duration of her employment. Green gave birth in early July 2011 and was discharged from employment on August 10, 2011, while she was on maternity leave.

Green worked in the Admissions Department, which is responsible for the Sanford-Brown's admissions process, including recruiting and enrolling prospective students and assisting those students once they begin classes. Sanford-Brown calls prospective students " leads." Leads are generated when a prospective student responds to Sanford-Brown's internet solicitations, calls the school directly, or appears in person at the school. Leads are considered " hot" when they are first received. An Admissions Representative is required to enroll and start a certain number of students on a monthly basis, and the Representative's performance is measured by, among other factors, her success in meeting those goals.

Admissions Representatives who repeatedly fail to meet their goals are placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (" PIP" ). Sanford-Brown does not enforce its recruitment objectives during the first 90-days of employment for Admission Representatives because most will not immediately achieve their enrollment or start goals. Therefore, no Admissions Representative has been placed on a PIP for not meeting their numbers during their first 90 days of employment. November 2010 to January 2011 was the first 90-days of Green's employment with Sanford-Brown.

Green did not meet her enrollment or start goals in February, March, or April of 2011. On April 26, 2011, she was placed on a 60-day PIP. The PIP outlined specific tasks and work strategies to assist Green with achieving her enrollment and start objectives and other performance expectations. The PIP also stated, " If your performance does not improve, we will take additional actions, up to and including, terminating your employment with the company," and " This plan is not intended to provide a promise of continued employment for any specific duration. Further, if we do not observe adequate effort or commitment on your part, we may amend the timeframe and/or parameters for evaluating your progress or discontinue the plan altogether."

Even before Green was put on PIP, her supervisors were trying to help her improve her performance. She met and spoke with Scott Lesht, who was serving as the interim Director of Admissions (" Director" ) about her performance. Lesht offered suggestions for improvements and suggested that she reach out to Human Resources Business Partner, Paul Young, and Regional Vice President of Admissions, Gilbert Polanco, to discuss her performance. Green met with Polanco and he advised her about how to talk to prospective students and discussed phone scripts with her. Green also received various training sessions throughout her employment including sessions on March 29, April 13, April 26, April 29, and May 6, 2011. Green admits that despite these training sessions she was still having problems meeting her start and enrollment goals.

Green informed Sanford-Brown that she was due to give birth on July 8, 2011. She informed Sanford-Brown that she was going to take maternity leave early and that the 26th or 27th would be her last day of work. Sanford-Brown terminated Green's employment while she was on maternity leave. On August 10, 2011, Green received

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a call informing her that her employment was ...

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