Griffin v. Board of Regents of Regency Universities, 84-2981

Citation795 F.2d 1281
Decision Date18 June 1986
Docket NumberNo. 84-2981,84-2981
Parties41 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 228, 41 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 36,476, 55 USLW 2067, 33 Ed. Law Rep. 1006 Brenda S. GRIFFIN and Margaret Waimon, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. BOARD OF REGENTS OF REGENCY UNIVERSITIES, a public corporation, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)

Robert J. Lenz, Bloomington, Ill., for plaintiffs-appellants.

John L. Swart, Giffin, Winning, Lindner, Newkirk, Cohen & Bodewes, P.C., Springfield, Ill., for defendants-appellees.

Before CUMMINGS, Chief Judge, CUDAHY, Circuit Judge and CAMPBELL, Senior District Judge. *

CUDAHY, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiffs, who were faculty members at Illinois State University, brought this employment discrimination claim, as individuals and as representatives of a class, against the defendants 1 under section 701 et seq. of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e et seq., the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. Sec. 206 and 42 U.S.C. Secs. 1983, 1985. 2 The district court found for the defendants on all claims. We affirm.


Faculty positions at Illinois State University (the "University" or "ISU") are divided into two categories, regular positions and temporary positions. Regular positions are ones that might lead to a grant of tenure. University departments must conduct national searches for regular faculty hiring. Regular faculty are employed under one-year contracts, renewable for up to seven years. In the sixth year a teacher on the regular faculty is notified whether or not tenure will be granted (although tenure may be awarded earlier). Tenured employees must have a doctorate, although such a degree is not required for a candidate to be hired to a regular position. If tenure is not awarded the teacher serves one additional year on a terminal contract. At ISU approximately two-thirds of the teaching positions are tenured.

Temporary faculty are also employed under one-year contracts, renewable for up to seven years. 3 Temporary faculty, however, are not eligible for tenure. One must apply for a regular position in order to be considered for it. Temporary faculty earn less money and enjoy fewer benefits than regular faculty but are not required to have a doctorate. The district court found that the responsibilities and skills of temporary and regular faculty differ. Dist.Ct.Order at 20.

Plaintiff Brenda Griffin 4 was first hired as a temporary employee in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology (the "Sociology Department") in the fall of 1974. She did not receive her doctorate until 1978. In 1976 she was demoted to part-time status; she resumed full-time work the following year. Griffin testified that Dr. Dorothy Lee, Department Chairperson, told her that a woman could not handle a family and a full-time job at the same time. Lee denied making the statement and the district court believed that Lee's testimony was more credible. Dist.Ct.Order at 11.

A regular faculty position became available in the Sociology Department for 1977-78. A national advertisement for the position listed various specialties including theory, methodology, urban sociology, industrial sociology, demography and race relations, which would be useful for the position. Griffin applied for the position, but Dr. Roy Treadway was hired. Treadway had his Ph.D., while Griffin did not at this time. Further, he had taught at Yale and Princeton, and had experience with population institutes and in applied research. Treadway possessed skills in demography and research methodology, which the Department was especially interested in because someone with these skills was needed to develop a community research center. Griffin's application indicated no expertise in these areas. Griffin claims that the position requirements were changed to correspond with Treadway's qualifications because no mention of community research was made in the position advertisement. However, Lee testified that at the time the position was advertised it was uncertain whether a community research position would be available.

In June 1978 a tenured faculty member in the Department resigned. Under University regulations, the position that was vacated reverted to temporary status. Griffin apparently claims that she should have been hired as a regular faculty member to fill what she believed was a regular position. The district court, however, held that there was no indication that a regular position was available. 5 Dist.Ct. Order at 13.

Subsequently, Griffin was notified that she would be demoted to part-time status for 1979-80. Lee testified that this was necessary in order to comply with a Department rule adopted in 1975 that restricted to three the number of years a person could serve under a temporary full-time contract. 6

In August 1979 Griffin filed a sex discrimination charge with the EEOC. Because of the constraints imposed on her with respect to discussion of the charges and because an adverse decision would require her to grant tenure to Griffin, the Department Chairperson, Lee, decided at that time not to request the creation of a new regular position. Subsequent to the filing, Lee assigned a juvenile delinquency course scheduled for 1980-81, which Griffin had previously taught, to Richard Stivers. Stivers had also previously taught the course. He had practical experience working with juvenile gangs and in juvenile court and had studied and published in the area of deviancy. Another course taught by Griffin, social stratification, was cancelled for 1980-81 after enrollment figures were calculated. Griffin was not offered a contract for 1980-81 in the Sociology Department because of the three-year rule. She was offered a part-time job in the Department of Corrections. Further, because of the pending charges, Lee did not feel she could talk with Griffin without a witness present.

In February 1980 a proposed settlement agreement was agreed to and signed by Griffin, the EEOC and an attorney for the University. The agreement was made expressly subject to the approval of the University Board. In May 1980 the Board rejected the agreement.

Griffin applied for a temporary position in the Sociology Department for 1981-82, but was not hired. She was reinstated in 1981 on a half-time basis pursuant to a preliminary injunction.

In December 1980 the district court certified the following class:

All women academic non-student temporary employees who were employed at Illinois State University at any time after March 24, 1972 and who had not left the employ of the University more than 180 days prior to the filing of the EEOC complaint on August 31, 1979; and all women who may in the future be employed in academic non-student temporary positions or who may in the future apply for regular line positions but be denied such employment.


Griffin argues that her individual Title VII claim was erroneously denied because the evidence showed that she was performing the same work as regular male faculty members. As the district court held, the dual classification system, under which employees are classified as either temporary or regular, is illegal only if women are not treated the same as men. Dist.Ct. Order at 20, 26. Further, the district court held that the failure to hire Griffin for a regular position was not discriminatory because better candidates were available for the positions for which she applied. Dist.Ct. Order at 10-13. Griffin does not now contest this finding. The district court also declined to review the University's decisions to classify some positions as temporary and others as regular. Dist.Ct. Order at 13. We agree with the court below that under Title VII the University has not discriminated against Griffin.

Title VII forbids an employer:

(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or

(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e-2(a).

In a Title VII claim, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving a prima facie case of sex discrimination. The plaintiff must establish: 1) that she is a member of a protected class; 2) that the employer was seeking applicants for a job and that she qualified for and applied for the job; 3) that, despite her qualifications, she was rejected; and 4) that after rejecting the plaintiff the position remained open and the employer continued to seek applicants with plaintiff's qualifications. See McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 1824, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973). Once the plaintiff has established a prima facie case, the defendant has the burden of offering a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for rejecting her. Id. After the employer articulates such a nondiscriminatory reason, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the employer's reason was pretextual or discriminatory in its application. Texas Department of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 253, 101 S.Ct. 1089, 1093, 67 L.Ed.2d 207 (1981); McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 804, 93 S.Ct. at 1825.

Plaintiffs argue that defendants' system of dual classification was illegal because women classified as temporary faculty performed the same work as men classified as regular faculty, but received fewer benefits and less pay. We agree with the district court that the dual classification system at ISU is not illegal, however, when women are not treated differently from similarly situated men. Further, the district court found that temporary and regular faculty have different...

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