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Austin v. West Liberty Foods

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

June 21, 2019

RENITA AUSTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
WEST LIBERTY FOODS and ECOWIZE NORTH AMERICA, LLC, Defendants.

          RENITA AUSTIN Stephen R. Meinertzhagen Court Appointed Attorney

          PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

          Hon. John Z. Lee Judge

         Plaintiff Renita Austin, by and through her undersigned, Court-appointed counsel, Stephen R. Meinertzhagen of Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, P.C., moves this Court for entry of a default judgment against Defendant Ecowize North America, LLC (“Ecowize”). In support of this Motion, the Plaintiff states as follows:

         1. Plaintiff brought a Complaint against her former employer, Defendant Ecowize, alleging employment discrimination in the form of her harassment and ultimate termination on the basis of her race (African American) and gender (female), in violation of Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

         2. On July 18, 2018, this Court entered an Order of Default as to Ecowize as a result of its failure to appear in this case following service of process. (Dkt. 33.)

         Back Pay

         3. Plaintiff is entitled to an award of back pay against Ecowize. An award of back pay is presumptively proper for a violation of the civil rights law. David v. Caterpillar, Inc., 324 F.3d 851, 865 (7th Cir. 2003).

         4. Plaintiff had an annual salary of $68, 000 when Ecowize wrongfully terminated her on January 23, 2017. She expected her pay to increase approximately 3% per year while employed at Ecowize. (See Affidavit of Renita Austin, attached hereto as Ex. A, para. 8.)

         5. After diligently seeking comparable employment, in March 2017 she was hired by the Anthem Companies, LLC (“Anthem”), but her pay was less than it had been at Ecowize - $23, 435.23 in 2017 and $33, 761.67 in 2018. Based on her hourly wage of $18.14 per hour at 40 hours per week, for 2019 she expects to have earned $18, 865.60 through June 30, the estimated date of judgment in this case. (Austin Aff., paras. 10-16.)

         6. Plaintiff calculates back pay as follows:

Period

Expected Pay at Ecowize

Actual Pay at Anthem

Back Pay

1/23-12/31/2017

$63, 715.07[1]

$23, 435.23

$40, 279.84

2018

$70, 040.00

$33, 761.67

$36, 278.33

1/1-6/30/2019

$36, 070.60

$18, 865.60 (projected)[2]

$17, 205.00

Total

$93, 763.17

         7. Plaintiff respectfully requests the Court enter judgment against Ecowize and award her back pay of $93, 763.17.

         Prejudgment Interest

         8. Prejudgment interest on back pay is presumptively available. Shott v. Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Med. Ctr., 338 F.3d 736, 745 (7th Cir. 2003). When calculating prejudgment interest, courts should use the prime rate. Fritcher v. Health Care Serv. Corp., 301 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2002). The average monthly prime rate for the period January 2017 through May 2019[3] is 4.67%. See Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System, Data Download Program, https://www.federalreserve.gov/datadownload/Choose.aspx?rel=H15 (last visited June 12, 2019), print-out attached hereto as Ex. B. Because Ecowize's civil rights violations occurred no later than ...


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