Beard v. Whitley County REMC

Decision Date19 March 1987
Docket NumberCiv. No. F 86-102.
Citation656 F. Supp. 1461
PartiesElaine K. BEARD, et al., Plaintiffs, v. WHITLEY COUNTY REMC, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Indiana


David B. Keller, Baker & Daniels & Shoaff, Ernest M. Beal, Jr., Parrish, Knight & Beal, Fort Wayne, Ind., for plaintiffs.

Wayne O. Adams, III & David J. Carr, Bingham, Summers, Welsh & Spilman, Indianapolis, Ind., John S. Bloom, Bloom, Bloom & Fleck, Columbia City, Ind., Leonard E. Eilbacher, Hunt, Suedhoff, Borror & Eilbacher, Fort Wayne, Ind., for defendant.


WILLIAM C. LEE, District Judge.

This is a discrimination case brought under § 703(a)(1) and (2) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1), (2) (1982). The plaintiffs are female employees of the Whitley County REMC (defendant). The plaintiffs allege that the defendant discriminated against them because of their sex and they assert claims based both on disparate treatment and disparate impact. Defendant has filed a motion for summary judgment attacking both theories of recovery. The motion is fully briefed. Oral arguments were heard on February 11, 1987. For the following reasons, defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted.

I. Summary Judgment Standards

Summary judgment is proper "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R. Civ.P. 56(c). Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery, against a party "who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and in which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, ___ U.S. ___, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552-53, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The standard for granting summary judgment mirrors the directed verdict standard under Rule 50(a), which requires the court to grant a directed verdict where there can be but one reasonable conclusion. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., ___ U.S. ___, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmoving party's position is not sufficient to successfully oppose summary judgment; "there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff." Id. at 2512; Valentine v. Joliet Tp. High School Dist. No. 204, 802 F.2d 981, 986 (7th Cir.1986).

Initially, Rule 56 requires the moving party to inform the court of the basis for the motion, and to identify those portions of the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admission on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 106 S.Ct. at 2553. The non-moving party may oppose the motion with any of the evidentiary materials listed in Rule 56(c), but reliance on the pleadings alone is not sufficient to withstand summary judgment. Posey v. Skyline Corp., 702 F.2d 102, 105 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 960, 104 S.Ct. 392, 78 L.Ed.2d 336 (1983). In ruling on a summary judgment motion the court accepts as true the non-moving party's evidence, draws all legitimate inferences in favor of the non-moving party, and does not weigh the evidence or the credibility of witnesses. Anderson, 106 S.Ct. at 2511.

Substantive law determines which facts are material; that is, which facts might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Id. at 2510. Irrelevant or unnecessary facts do not preclude summary judgment even when they are in dispute. Id. The issue of fact must be genuine. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), (e). To establish a genuine issue of fact the non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). The non-moving party must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. A summary judgment determination is essentially an inquiry as to "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson, 106 S.Ct. at 2512.

When intentional discrimination is at issue, as it is in the disparate treatment portion of this case, this court approaches the application of these principles with special caution. Powers v. Dole, 782 F.2d 689, 694 (7th Cir.1986). Summary judgment is infrequently an appropriate resolution. McKenzie v. Sawyer, 684 F.2d 62, 67 (D.C. Cir.1982). The factual issues in discrimination cases, including the issues of discriminatory intent which are often proven by circumstantial evidence, cannot often be resolved on summary judgment. Powers, 782 F.2d at 694. However, even when such issues as motive or intent are at stake, summary judgment is proper "where the plaintiff presents no indications of motive and intent supportive of his position." Id.; Munson v. Friske, 754 F.2d 683, 690 (7th Cir.1985). Accepting the plaintiffs' evidence and drawing all legitimate inferences in their favor, the court now turns to the facts.

II. Factual Background
A. The Parties

The plaintiffs are office and clerical employees of the defendant. The plaintiffs have "clerical and secretarial-related duties." The defendant has two other occupational groups: trades and crafts employees and salaried employees. The trades and craft employees generally perform outside jobs and include groundmen and linemen. The salaried employees include management and supervisory employees and employees with high levels of responsibility.

While the office and clerical jobs have been held predominantly by females, the trades and craft jobs have been held predominantly by males. However, plaintiff Diane Gawthrop was in the trades and crafts group until July 20, 1984, when she transferred to the office and clerical group. Gawthrop voluntarily transferred so that she could be on the day shift. (Deposition of Gawthrop, pp. 6, 30). Besides Gawthrop, Lana Mayleat, LuAnne Ziegler, and Terry Blair Skinner worked in the trades and crafts group. (Deposition of Beard, pp. 39-40; Deposition of Puckett, p. 34; Deposition of Kiess, p. 14). In the same way that females have held jobs in the trades and craft group, Gregg Kiess, defendant's manager of administrative services, held an office and clerical position from August, 1978 through January 1, 1979. (Deposition of Kiess, p. 8). Barry Hively was also employed in the office and clerical group. (Deposition of Stocker, p. 119). Presently, all the office and clerical employees are females. Thus, while the jobs in the trades and crafts group and office and clerical group have been held predominantly by males and females, respectively, they have not been so held exclusively.

The trades and crafts group has not been restricted to men. The defendant has not discouraged the plaintiffs from seeking trades and crafts jobs. (Deposition of Raypole, pp. 19-20; Deposition of Rosenberger, pp. 20-21; Deposition of Targarrt, pp. 23-28; Deposition of Dalton, pp. 5, 16; Deposition of Gawthrop, pp. 7, 13, 22; Deposition of Gregory, pp. 26-28; Deposition of Kelly, p. 14; Deposition of Puckett, pp. 27, 30, 35). Most of the plaintiffs have no interest in trades and crafts jobs. (Deposition of Dalton, pp. 15, 16; Deposition of Gregory, p. 26; Deposition of Kelly, p. 14; Deposition of Puckett, pp. 27, 30, 35; Deposition of Raypole, pp. 19, 34-36; Deposition of Rosenberger, pp. 20-27; Deposition of Targarrt, p. 28).

Some of the plaintiffs, however, have sought to be a part of the trades and craft group. Plaintiff Marian Gregory was not allowed to have her job in the office and clerical group reclassified to the trades and craft group. (Deposition of Gregory, pp. 23-25). Plaintiff Diane Gawthrop voluntarily left the trades and crafts group and then tried to have her job reclassified as a trades and crafts job.1 (Deposition of Gawthrop, pp. 26-28). Elaine Beard worked as a switchboard operator in the trades and crafts area until the switchboard itself was moved to the office and clerical area. After moving the switchboard to the office and clerical area Beard was included in the office and clerical group.

B. Differences Between the Office and Clerical Group and the Trades and Craft Group

As noted above, employees in the office and clerical group have predominantly been females, while employees in the trades and crafts group have predominantly been males. The defendant, however, has not restricted the trades and crafts group to men or discouraged any of the plaintiffs from seeking jobs in the trades and crafts group. Besides the make-up of the two groups there are other differences between the groups.

Trades and crafts jobs have traditionally been higher paying than officer and clerical jobs. The jobs, however, are not similar.2 (Deposition of Beard, pp. 48-49; Deposition of Gawthrop, p. 30; Deposition of Kelly, p. 18; Deposition of Targarrt, p. 28). Many trades and crafts jobs require employees to work outside in close proximity to high voltage power lines and other safety hazards. The linemen positions require a four year apprenticeship. (Deposition of Phil Fry, pp. 5-7). Office and clerical employees work indoors, face no safety hazards, and are not required to go through an apprenticeship. (Deposition of Beard, p. 49; Deposition of Puckett, pp. 35-36). While the jobs are dissimilar in these respects, not all of the jobs are entirely dissimilar. The night dispatcher's job, a trades and craft job, for example, has some similarity to the day dispatcher's job, an office and clerical job. (Deposition of Stocker, pp. 111-114). Nevertheless, nearly all of the office and clerical jobs are entirely dissimilar from...

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