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MacAddino v. Inland American Retail Management, LLC

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

March 18, 2015

DANIELA MacADDINO, Plaintiff,
v.
INLAND AMERICAN RETAIL MANAGEMENT, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company; INLAND AMERICAN HOLDCO MANAGEMENT, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

JOAN H. LEFKOW, District Judge.

On October 29, 2012, plaintiff Daniela Macaddino filed suit against Inland American Retail Management, LLC (IARM), Inland American HOLDCO Management, LLC (HOLDCO), and David Solganik. (Dkt. 1 (Compl.).) Macaddino asserts claims against IARM and HOLDCO for disparate treatment on the basis of sex, sexual harassment and the creation of a hostile work environment, and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. ( Id. ) Macaddino also brought a claim against Solganik for tortious interference with business relations. ( Id. ) Pursuant to a stipulation of voluntary dismissal (dkt. 130), the court dismissed the claim against Solganik with prejudice on June 3, 2014 (dkt. 132). On August 8, 2014, IARM and HOLDCO (collectively, "defendants") moved for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 with respect to the three claims filed against them. (Dkt. 135.) For the reasons stated below, defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.[1]

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment obviates the need for a trial where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine issue of material fact exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). To determine whether any genuine fact issue exists, the court must pierce the pleadings and assess the proof as presented in depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, and affidavits that are part of the record. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In doing so, the court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007). The court may not weigh conflicting evidence or make credibility determinations. Omnicare, Inc. v. UnitedHealth Grp., Inc., 629 F.3d 697, 704 (7th Cir. 2011).

The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of proving there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). In response, the non-moving party cannot rest on bare pleadings alone but must designate specific material facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324; Insolia v. Philip Morris Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 598 (7th Cir. 2000). If a claim or defense is factually unsupported, it should be disposed of on summary judgment. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24.

BACKGROUND[2]

I. Parties

HOLDCO is a limited liability company that maintains its principal office in Oak Brook, Illinois. (Dkt. 137 ("Defs.' L.R. 56.1") ¶ 5.) HOLDCO, through its wholly owned entities, leases and manages commercial and residential properties. ( Id. ) HOLDCO is the sole member of IARM. ( Id. ¶ 4.)

IARM is a limited liability company that, like HOLDCO, maintains its principal office in Oak Brook, Illinois. ( Id. ) IARM serves as a rent payee, deals with property management issues, and acts as an agent for property owners in negotiating and executing leases. ( Id. )

Macaddino is a citizen of Illinois who prior to 2007 was employed as a Leasing Manager for an entity related to HOLDCO and IARM.[3] ( Id. ¶ 6; Compl. ¶ 11.) Macaddino was appointed Vice President of IARM in September 2007 and was employed as a Leasing Director at HOLDCO from December 2007 to August 29, 2011. (Defs.' L.R. 56.1 ¶ 6.) At her deposition, Macaddino testified that while she "was made an officer of" IARM in 2007, she "received a paycheck from... HOLDCO" throughout the course of her employment. (Dkt. 138-1 ("Macaddino Dep.") at 123: 5-6, 9-10.)

II. Other HOLDCO Employees

During Macaddino's time as Leasing Director, Thomas McGuiness served as HOLDCO's President.[4] (Defs.' L.R. 56.1 ¶ 7.) Thomas Lithgow, Teri Young, and David Solganik were three of HOLDCO's senior vice presidents.[5] ( Id. ¶¶ 7-8.) Solganik also served as Director of Leasing, and from 2007 through May 2011, Solganik was Macaddino's direct supervisor. ( Id. ¶ 8.) At the time of his hiring, Solganik had more than twenty-five years of commercial leasing experience. ( Id. )

In 2009, HOLDCO hired Doug Leeds as a Leasing Director. ( Id. ¶ 9.) Leeds was appointed an officer of IARM on October 24, 2011 (dkt. 145 ("Pl.'s L.R. 56.1") ¶ 20.) and was terminated in March 2012 (Defs.' L.R. 56.1 ¶ 9). Sandi Berg worked as Macaddino's administrative assistant from 2009 through the date of Macaddino's termination. ( Id. ¶ 10.) During Macaddino's employment, Nora O'Connor was President of Inland Human Resource Services, Inc., which provided human resources services to HOLDCO. ( Id. ¶ 40.)

III. Macaddino's Duties and Compensation

As a Leasing Director, Macaddino was responsible for finding new tenants for commercial properties that HOLDCO leased and managed. ( Id. ¶ 12.) Consequently, Macaddino needed to be an expert in her market and visit her properties often. ( Id. ) In addition, Macaddino was charged with locating brokers who were knowledgeable about the markets in which the properties were located. ( Id. ) These brokers advised Macaddino "and other HOLDCO Leasing Directors on local market conditions and identified and assessed prospective customers for leasing opportunities." ( Id. ¶ 13.)

HOLDCO Leasing Directors earned a base salary plus bonuses based on the number of properties leased and the square footage of those properties. ( Id. ¶ 14.) In an affidavit, Lithgow stated that as of July 1, 2009, "the maximum bonus per calendar year for Leasing Directors... was equal to 100% of their base salary." (Dkt. 138-6 ¶ 6.) According to Lithgow, however, that cap was not enforced with respect to Macaddino or any other Leasing Director at HOLDCO. ( Id. ) Indeed, Macaddino's bonuses were consistently higher than her base salary. ( See Defs.' L.R. 56.1 ¶¶ 31, 33-34.) Moreover, Macaddino was the highest-paid Leasing Director at HOLDCO during the entirety of her employment. ( Id. ¶ 30.) In 2010, Macaddino's last full year of employment, Macaddino's compensation was the second highest among all HOLDCO employees. ( Id. )

IV. Lease Approval

During his deposition, Lithgow testified that in 2009 or 2010 HOLDCO implemented a formal procedure for deal approval.[6] (Dkt. 138-2 at 65.) Pursuant to this procedure, leases that met certain specifications set by the Asset Management Department were automatically approved without further review. (Defs.' L.R. 56.1 ¶ 18.) Leases that did not meet the specifications, however, required additional documentation and review by a Deal Committee composed of Asset Management and HOLDCO executives. ( Id. ¶¶ 17, 19.) Leasing Directors participated in Deal Committee discussions and advocated for approval of their deals. ( Id. ¶ 19.) Macaddino attests that leases she "negotiated had to be approved by management, sometimes by [her] supervisors, and sometimes by committees" during her employment. (Dkt. 144-1 ¶ 8.) With the exception of 2011, Macaddino had more leases approved than any other HOLDCO Leasing Director. (Defs.' L.R. 56.1 ¶ 25.)

V. HOLDCO's Harassment and Discrimination Policies

In late 2009, HOLDCO introduced a new employee handbook. ( Id. ¶ 38.) The handbook included company policies on discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace and provided procedures for reporting complaints. ( Id. ) In September 2010, HOLDCO held a meeting with all supervisory personnel and reminded the individuals in attendance of HOLDCO's "zero tolerance" for sexual harassment. ( Id. ) Employees discussed examples of sexual harassment and received information detailing the manner in which incidents of sexual harassment were reported and investigated. ( Id. ) Macaddino received an invitation to this meeting and was familiar with HOLDCO's discrimination and harassment policies. ( Id. ¶ 39.)

VI. Macaddino's Complaints of Disparate Treatment and Harassment

Macaddino alleges that throughout her employment with IARM and HOLDCO, she experienced harassment and discrimination in the workplace. In 2005 or 2006, and again in 2007 or 2008, McGuinness asked Macaddino if she had ever participated in a wet t-shirt contest. ( Id. ¶ 41.) Prior to 2010, a corporate executive made jokes about mini-skirts and hiring "hot girls" and, in 2009, Leeds stated that one of the worst insults you can receive is "that you negotiate like a girl." ( Id. ) Macaddino complained to Lithgow in 2009 and informed him that Solganik interacted with her in an inappropriate manner by slamming doors and throwing leases on the floor. ( Id. ¶ 42.) According to Macaddino, Solganik did not behave in this manner with Leeds or any other male employees. ( Id. ) Macaddino also told Lithgow that Solganik had made inappropriate comments such as discussing an affair between other HOLDCO employees, asking Macaddino if she would sleep with someone in exchange for $1 million, and making negative comments about the Commercial Real Estate Women organization. ( Id. ¶ 43.) As a result of Macaddino's complaints, Lithgow gave Solganik a verbal warning. ( Id. )

In addition to the conduct Macaddino reported to Lithgow, Solganik made additional comments to Macaddino prior to 2011. In 2010, Solganik asked Macaddino what types of sex toys she enjoyed, and in 2007 and 2009, Solganik commented that women are "a nuisance" because "you train them, they get married, and then they get pregnant and leave." ( Id. ¶ 44.) In 2008 or 2009, Solganik bragged about "getting women" on Craigslist and, from 2007 to 2010, Solganik gossiped with his subordinates about his boss' extramarital affair with a female co-worker. ( Id. ) From 2007 to 2010, Solganik joked about fathering his former administrative assistant's child, and in 2008 or 2009, Solganik, with Lithgow's assistance, planned a department meeting at a Hooters restaurant. ( Id. ) Further, in 2009 or 2010, Solganik commented that women have the upper hand in business deals because they can use their sexuality to convince men to do anything. ( Id. )

Macaddino also alleges that on several occasions, Solganik treated her with less respect than her male co-workers. For example, in 2009, Solganik stated to a male HOLDCO employee, "Why are you making copies? Are you going to put on a skirt and mascara now, to completely turn into an admin? Don't you know that's why we have the girls?" ( Id. ¶ 45.) Then, ...


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