Citation759 F. Supp. 1089
Decision Date16 April 1991
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 87-4024.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of New Jersey


Phyllis Gelman, New York City, and Nadine Taub, Women's Rights Litigation Clinic, Rutgers Law School, Newark, N.J., for plaintiff.

Edward Zunz, Jr., Robert Gilson, Laura Lokker, Roberta Samuels, Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti, Morristown, N.J., for defendant.


WOLIN, District Judge.

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.

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)1 position with an annual salary of 13,200.2 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.3 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 evaluations4 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.5

In addition, Churchill asserts that she should have been promoted to the executive level in mid-1987. Churchill's name appeared on executive resource tables, used to identify candidates for promotion to an executive position, for three executive positions that were filled by men in 1987. Promotions to the executive level at NSD are usually given to employees holding level 62 or level 61 jobs, the highest senior management levels. In 1987, there were 61 employees in level 61 and other employees at level 62. Cert. of Wych, Ex. C. The overwhelming majority (54 out of 61) of employees at level 61 in 1987, were hired by IBM during the period from 1955 through 1970.6 On the average, it takes an employee at least 16 years with IBM to reach the executive level,7 and executives comprise 0.05% of all IBM-U.S. employees. Cert. of Grieve, ¶ 3.

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.8 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.

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...

To continue reading

Request your trial
14 cases
  • Bermingham v. Sony Corp. of America, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of New Jersey
    • March 19, 1993
    ...Company of America, 679 F.Supp. 495 (W.D.Pa.), aff'd, 856 F.2d 184 (3d Cir.1988), and Churchill v. International Business Machines, Inc., Nat. Service Div., 759 F.Supp. 1089, 1106 (D.N.J.1991), because they involved motions for summary judgment. In addition, Bermingham argues Churchill is i......
  • Miranda v. B & B Cash Grocery Store, Inc., s. 91-3295
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
    • October 28, 1992
    ...under EPA not tantamount to finding of intentional discrimination under Title VII); Churchill v. International Business Machines, Inc., Nat. Service Div., 759 F.Supp. 1089, 1096-97 (D.N.J.1991) (Title VII claim for sex-based wage discrimination to be decided according to traditional Title V......
  • Mullenix v. Forsyth Dental Infirmary for Children
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Massachusetts
    • November 13, 1996
    ...imposes a form of strict liability because discriminatory intent is not an element of liability. Churchill v. International Business Machines, Inc., 759 F.Supp. 1089, 1096-1097 (D.N.J.1991). The specific methodology of establishing a violation of the EPA as described supra need not be repea......
  • Bradley v. U.S.
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • September 10, 2001
    ...the existence of an element essential to his case, and on which he will bear the burden of proof at trial." Churchill v. IBM, Inc., 759 F.Supp. 1089, 1094 (D.N.J.1991)(citing Celotex 477 U.S. at 322, 106 S.Ct. B. Bivens Claims (Counts One-Four) In Bivens, the Supreme Court created a cause o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Pay discrimination claims after Ledbetter.
    • United States
    • Defense Counsel Journal Vol. 75 No. 4, October 2008
    • October 1, 2008
    ...contention that the plaintiff had left out several important variables"); Churchill v. International Business Machines, Inc., Nat., 759 F. Supp. 1089, 1099 (D.N.J. 1991) (plaintiff's regression analysis of current pay, albeit incomplete, is sufficient to defeat employer's motion for summary......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT