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Boston v. U.S. Steel

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 28, 2015

CARLA F. BOSTON, Plaintiff,
U.S. STEEL, Defendant.


DAVID R. HERNDON, District Judge.


Now before the Court is the defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support (Doc. 17). Plaintiff has filed a response to the motion (Doc. 21). Defendant has filed a reply (Doc. 24). Plaintiff alleges that she was retaliated against for filing an EEOC Charge of Discrimination on October 26, 2010. Count I of plaintiff's complaint seeks relief for retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000 et seq., and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. §621 et seq. Count II of plaintiff's complaint asserts a common law claim for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress ("IIED").

Defendant seeks summary judgment on both counts. The Court, having reviewed the parties briefing and relevant exhibits, DENIES defendant's motion for summary judgment.


A. Initial 18 Years of Employment

Plaintiff was hired by National Steel Corporation in January 1991 as a secretary in the Engineering Department. Plaintiff continued in the employ of defendant U.S. Steel at Granite City Works following the sale of National Steel Corporation to defendant U.S. Steel in 2003.

Plaintiff worked in the Engineering Department until she was laid off in December 2008 - a total of 18 years. During this 18 year period, the plaintiff performed engineering requests for vendors, ordered supplies, ensured that computers, printers, and fax machines were running properly, maintained vendor catalogs, and obtained computer clearance for contractors. Additionally, plaintiff utilized defendant's computer system to maintain notes of meetings and various Excel spreadsheets, track attendance, rectify claimed vendor hours, and place daily orders including orders for maintenance of engineering facilities. In performing her work responsibilities, the plaintiff utilized the following computer systems/programs: T.I.M.E.S., Excel, Word, and Matrix. Finally, the plaintiff completed training in both Excel and Matrix.

The record indicates that during her initial 18 years of employment, the plaintiff was a capable, competent, and skilled employee ( see e.g., Doc. 21-8; Doc. 21-3).

B. BOF/October 2010 Adverse Employment Action

After being laid off in December of 2008, the plaintiff remained on layoff status until she bid on a clerical position in the BOF Department. The plaintiff, who was 61-years-old at the time, began working in the BOF Department in September 2010. By October 2010, the plaintiff had been disqualified from the BOF position ("BOF/October 2010 Adverse Employment Action").

The defendant contends the plaintiff could not perform the job requirements. The plaintiff contends she was terminated because the defendant wanted to replace her with a younger male employee. The plaintiff presents evidence relating to comments that were made about her age, a desire to hire a younger male employee, and inadequate or sham training practices during her short tenure in the BOF Department. Upon being terminated, the plaintiff was replaced with a younger male employee.

C. October 2010 EEOC Discrimination Charge - Alleging age and sex discrimination arising from the BOF/October 2010 Adverse Employment Action

On October 26, 2010, [1] the plaintiff filed an EEOC charge alleging she was disqualified from the BOF Position because of her age and sex ("October 2010 EEOC Discrimination Charge")(Doc. 24-1). A Notice of Suit Rights was issued on December 28, 2011 (Doc. 24-2). The plaintiff did not file a lawsuit against defendant based on the conduct alleged in the October 2010 EEOC Charge within the proscribed 90-day filing period.

D. Intervening Employment at a Different Company - The Wood River Refinery

After being disqualified from the BOF Position, the plaintiff was hired by Talascend as a computer data entry employee for Bechtel Engineering at the Conoco Philips expansion of its refinery operation at Wood River. This position required the use of sophisticated computer programs. The plaintiff has presented evidence that her employer was happy with her performance and that she performed her employment duties successfully. The plaintiff left this position in order to bid for another position with the defendant - the Pass Control Position (discussed below).

E. Pass Control/May 2011 Adverse Employment Action

The plaintiff left her position at the Wood River Refinery to bid on a position in the defendant's Pass Control Department. The plaintiff was awarded the position and began working in the Pass Control Department on April 11, 2011. The plaintiff was disqualified from the Pass Control Position on May 4, 2011 ("Pass Control/May 2011 Adverse Employment Action").

The defendant contends the plaintiff was disqualified from the Pass Control Position when she failed to demonstrate an ability to fulfill the requirements of the job. The plaintiff's alleged inadequacies were documented. However, the plaintiff testified that prior to beginning work in the Pass Control Department, she was told she was going to be disqualified because of her EEOC Charge (Doc. 21-12 pp. 13-14) ( see also Doc. 21-7 p. 2, plaintiff's former co-worker was told the defendant intended to disqualify the plaintiff from the Pass Control Position prior to her start date). The plaintiff has also presented evidence indicating the defendant intentionally created an environment that would guarantee the plaintiff was disqualified from the Pass Control Position. For instance, deposition testimony and affidavits indicate employees were told not to train the plaintiff and/or were instructed not to give the plaintiff access to necessary computer programs ( see e.g., Doc. 21-7; Doc. 21-17 (admitting the plaintiff was not given access to 2 of 3 computer systems necessary to her job performance). As an additional example, there is evidence the plaintiff was asked to complete various tasks she never received ...

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