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CHURCHILL, v. INTERN. BUS. MACHINES

March 22, 1991

NANCY JEANNE CHURCHILL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES, INC., NATIONAL SERVICE DIVISION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wolin, District Judge.

  OPINION

Before the Court are plaintiff's motion seeking class certification of sex discrimination claims based on salary and defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's individual claims. The Court has carefully reviewed the briefs, certifications and other documents submitted by the parties and heard oral argument. For the reasons expressed in this Opinion, the Court will deny plaintiff's motion for class certification. The Court will also deny summary judgment on plaintiff's individual claims of discrimination in salary and promotion and grant summary judgment in favor of IBM on plaintiff's constructive discharge claim.

I. BACKGROUND.

A. Plaintiff's Career at IBM

Plaintiff Nancy Churchill was hired by International Business Machines, Inc. (IBM) in January, 1977 as an associate customer engineer, a position classified at IBM as an entry level (level 9)*fn1 position with an annual salary of 13,200.*fn2 At the time she was hired, Churchill had no relevant experience in technical management. Churchill claims that when she was hired, the branch manager who offered her the position told her that her salary was $4,000 less than the salaries of other customer engineers.*fn3 In June 1978, Churchill was promoted to field manager, a technical management position in the Field Engineering Division, which later became the National Service Division (NSD). Churchill was subsequently promoted to service planning manager in 1981, and to programming services operations manager, a level 59 position, in 1982. In 1985, Churchill was promoted to the position of Manager of Programming Services in IBM's National Service Division, a level 61, senior technical management position, with an annual salary of $84,000 (in 1987). This position was located at IBM's offices in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.

Churchill received fourteen salary increases during this nine and one-half year period and worked at seven IBM locations for substantial time periods. During her tenure at IBM, Churchill received extremely positive evaluations*fn4 and was considered to be an exceptional employee with potential to become an IBM executive. Cert. of Defendant's Counsel, Ex. E. Only one other employee of the 2000 hired in 1977, besides Churchill, managed to reach job level 61 by 1987. Cert. of Wych, Ex. B.

From 1984 through 1985, Churchill served as an administrative assistant to Thomas Vassiliades, a group director for service product planning. During her tenure, Churchill alleges that she observed salary data on approximately 300 technical managers supervised by Vassiliades. She noted that female technical managers were often receiving lower salaries than male technical managers with the same job level and performance ratings. Cert. of Plaintiff, ¶ 13. Churchill also claims that when she reached job level 61, six men with the same job level and performance ratings received higher salaries than hers.*fn5

B. IBM's Compensation System

IBM employs a highly individualized, merit-based system of compensation. Cert. of Defendant's Counsel, Ex. J. Four primary factors are used to establish the appropriate salary for its employees: (1) the employee's job level, based on analysis and classification of required responsibilities; (2) establishment of a salary range within each job level; (3) the employee's performance rating in her job; and (4) the assignment of a salary raise based on the first three factors and the employee's salary history.

In support of her claim that IBM discriminated against female technical managers in salary on the basis of sex, Churchill has submitted a statistical study conducted by Dr. Paula England, a professor of sociology at the University of Arizona. Cert. of Plaintiff's Expert, Ex. E. England's study, in comparing the average salaries of male and female technical managers at NSD, found a $300 average monthly pay difference for the years 1985, 1986 and 1987. England's report included a multiple regression analysis which purported to account for the effects of job level and performance rating. In response to criticism by IBM's counsel, England submitted a revised study, which also purported to account for the effect of time in job level, in addition to performance rating and job level. The revised multiple regression analysis found a disparity of $200 in the average monthly salary between male and female technical managers at NSD. Supp. Cert. of Plaintiff's Expert, Ex. A.

C. Reorganization of Plaintiff's Position

In May 1987, a new manager, John Gorman, was appointed to supervise Churchill's position. Soon after assuming his new position, Gorman reorganized Churchill's unit and eliminated Churchill's job. The reorganization took place while Churchill was on a two-week vacation. When Churchill returned from her vacation, one of her co-workers informed her that her position had been eliminated. Gorman offered Churchill a temporary staff management position at level 60. He also invited her to apply for level 62 positions as Director of Service Support at IBM locations in Boston and Philadelphia. Cert. of Defendant's Counsel, Ex. G and Ex. N.

On July 10, 1987, Churchill wrote to K.V. Cassani, a senior executive, claiming that she had been unfairly removed from her level 61 management position to a level 60 staff management position. Cert. of Defendant's Counsel, Ex. G. Churchill also reported that she had not been considered for several executive positions and that other less qualified individuals had received those jobs. Churchill expressed her feelings that she had suffered gender discrimination and requested an "Open Door" grievance investigation.*fn8 The "Open Door" investigation of Churchill's grievance produced a report, dated August 6, 1987, concluding that most of her concerns were not valid. Cert. of Defendant's Counsel, Ex. I. The IBM investigator also met with Churchill to discuss the report. In July, 1987 Churchill requested a one-year's leave of absence to allow her to take a trip around the world. Cert. of Defendant's Counsel, Ex. J. IBM did not act on Churchill's request. On August 10, 1987, Churchill resigned from IBM.

D. Claims in this Lawsuit

On August 19, 1987, Churchill filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), claiming the IBM had discriminated against her and other female employees. On October 2, 1987 Churchill filed this action against IBM, alleging violation of the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206. In April 1988, following the EEOC's investigation of her complaint, Churchill received a right to sue letter from the EEOC. She amended her complaint and added claims alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., on her own behalf and on behalf of all female technical managers in IBM's National Service Division (NSD) on or after August 1985.

Churchill's individual claims involve charges that IBM discriminated against her in salary and in promotions and that she was constructively discharged from her job. Churchill's claims on behalf of the class of female technical managers in NSD charge that IBM discriminated against the class in establishing individual salaries. Five potential class members have filed affidavits, using fictitious names due to fear of retaliation by IBM, claiming that IBM discriminated against them with regard to salary. Churchill seeks backpay, including financial fringe benefits, and injunctive relief barring sex discrimination with respect to female technical managers at NSD.

After three years of numerous discovery disputes and other delays, the Court ordered Churchill to file her motion for certification of this action as a class action pursuant to Federal Rule 23 by November 5, 1990. Churchill filed this motion and defendant IBM has opposed class certification and moved for summary judgment on plaintiff's individual claims pursuant to Federal Rule 56.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standard for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The party moving for summary judgment has the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact, and once the moving party has sustained this burden, the opposing party must introduce specific evidence showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Williams v. Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 464 (3d Cir. 1989).

A genuine issue is not established unless the evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party, would allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict for that party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510-11, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Radich v. Goode, 886 F.2d 1391, 1395 (3d Cir. 1989). If the evidence is merely colorable or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50, 106 S.Ct. at 2510-11; Radich, 886 F.2d at 1395. Whether a fact is material is determined by substantive law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. at 2510; United States v. 225 Cartons, 871 F.2d 409, 419 (3d Cir. 1989).

Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to his case, and on which he will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322, 106 S.Ct. at 2552; Appelmans v. City of Philadelphia, 826 F.2d 214, 216 (3d Cir. 1987). Rule 56(e) requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and by affidavits, depositions, interrogatory answers, and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24, 106 S.Ct. at 2552-53; Cooley v. Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, 830 F.2d 469, 474 (3d Cir. 1987).

B.  Salary Discrimination Claims under Title VII and EPA

In this case, Churchill has brought individual claims under both Title VII and the Equal Pay Act. Churchill seeks certification of a class-action under Title VII for sex discrimination in salary on behalf of all female technical managers at NSD.*fn9 IBM claims that it is entitled to summary judgment on Churchill's individual claims that IBM engaged in sex-based salary discrimination in violation of Title VII and the Equal Pay Act. The Court will first discuss defendant's summary judgment ...


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