Lenihan v. Boeing Co., CIV.A. H-96-1589.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
Writing for the CourtCrone
Citation994 F.Supp. 776
PartiesKaren A. LENIHAN, Plaintiff, v. THE BOEING COMPANY, Defendant.
Docket NumberNo. CIV.A. H-96-1589.,CIV.A. H-96-1589.
Decision Date14 January 1998
994 F.Supp. 776
Karen A. LENIHAN, Plaintiff,
No. CIV.A. H-96-1589.
United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division.
January 14, 1998.

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Eugene B. Wilshire, Jr, Wilshire, Scott and Dyer, Houston, TX, for Karen A Lenihan.

W. Carl Jordan, Vinson & Elkins, Houston, TX, for Boeing Company.


CRONE, United States Magistrate Judge.

Pending before the court is Defendant The Boeing Company's ("Boeing") Motion for Summary Judgment (# 35). Having reviewed the pending motion, the submissions of the parties, the pleadings, and the applicable law, this court is of the opinion that Boeing's motion for summary judgment should be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

Plaintiff Karen A. Lenihan ("Lenihan") began working for Boeing in September 1978 in Wichita, Kansas. She was terminated from the company in November 1984 for excessive absenteeism. Subsequently, she worked for Boeing Mississippi, Inc., a now defunct subsidiary of Boeing, until 1989, when it closed. She was then rehired by Boeing to work in Huntsville, Alabama, on Boeing's Space Station Freedom project for NASA. Her job involved specific tasks relating to the administration of government-owned property on the space station contract. In October 1993, Lenihan's group, the equipment management group, was transferred to Boeing's Houston, Texas, division. Lenihan alleges that she did not want to move to Houston but that Boeing requested her to relocate, assuring her that her stay in Houston would not exceed six months. When she transferred, she was the group's "lead." According to Lenihan, "[t]he lead position designates the employee with the experience, training and ability to perform all equipment management tasks and who is responsible for assigning work to her group members at their skill level and ensuring that their work is performed correctly and in a timely manner."

Until 1991, Lenihan's work experience at Boeing was in "nonexempt" positions in which she received several raises, promotions, and changes in job title involving increased responsibility. In 1990, she was made a "nonexempt lead," which entailed leading team members, attending staff meetings, and performing hands-on work with her team. After complaining to her manager, Kenneth W. Hardy ("Hardy"), Lenihan was promoted to the position of program planner, an exempt level position, on May 31, 1991. On June 11, 1994, as part of Boeing's redesign of its position descriptions, job titles, and pay grading, Lenihan's job title was changed from program planner to her current

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title, integrated program planning specialist 3 (grade 52). As a result, Lenihan received a salary increase, although her duties did not change. Since that time, Lenihan has received three other merit salary increases, resulting in her current annual salary of $44,150.

Lenihan contends that Boeing is discriminating against her because of her gender in that her salary is not commensurate with the salary of male counterparts who possess comparable skills and perform similar functions. In fact, Lenihan alleges that her "job skills, efforts, and level of responsibility are greater than that of many of her male counterparts, and yet, she is paid substantially less than them [sic]." Specifically, Lenihan alleges that Boeing employees Alfred Hicks ("Hicks"), Eugene Berry ("Berry"), Tom Rozycki ("Rozycki"), Tony Craig ("Craig"), Jerry McCormick ("McCormick"), and Ron Glover ("Glover") are paid substantially higher salaries than Lenihan despite the fact that she has substantially equal skills, duties, and responsibilities. For example, she asserts that Hicks's annual salary exceeds hers by more than $20,000. Lenihan, however, contends that her experience exceeds Hicks's by nine years, she has nineteen more tasks assigned to her, her job demands greater technical skills and responsibility than does Hicks's, and she possesses relevant accreditation, certification, and training that is superior to Hicks's. Boeing concedes that Berry, Rozycki, Craig, McCormick, and Glover, as well as Hicks, are employed in the same division as Lenihan and that they receive greater annual salaries than she.

Lenihan contends that Boeing officials in Huntsville recognized this gender-based disparity in salary and promised to rectify the situation. Specifically, Lenihan's former supervisor allegedly announced at a meeting that there was extra money which would be used for salary increases scheduled for November 1995 "to try to get the women in line with the men." Also, Hardy purportedly advised Lenihan that she would receive double raises or substantial increases to "catch her up with the guys." Nevertheless, despite three merit increases, Lenihan alleges that her salary is not commensurate with that of her male coworkers. Lenihan maintains that this constitutes a breach of a contract that Boeing made with her to "fast track" her raises and get her salary "in line with the men."

Lenihan also alleges that Boeing has committed sex-based discrimination against her in its award of paid overtime hours and promotions. Specifically, Lenihan asserts that Boeing permits Hicks to work more overtime than she. As to promotions, Lenihan contends that as early as 1989, Billy Hughes ("Hughes"), the business manager for the space station program at Huntsville, promised Lenihan a supervisory position. In May 1991, Hughes again allegedly promised Lenihan that she would be promoted to a supervisory position within a year. She maintains that, while she worked in Huntsville, she followed the procedures established by Boeing to obtain a management position. Specifically, she attended Boeing's pre-management and management courses in Wichita, Kansas, and notified her supervisor, Hardy, of her desire to be considered for management positions. Despite this, she contends that she was never notified of the existence of a supervisory position until it had been filled by Jim Svetz ("Svetz") around September 1991. Lenihan alleges that this violated Boeing's policies as enunciated in a July 1990 memorandum entitled "Selection for Management Positions." She does not, however, explain the manner in which this promotion violated Boeing's policies.

The position awarded to Svetz entailed the supervision of Lenihan's group, the property management group, and Lenihan asserts that she was qualified for the position. Contradicting her other statements that she was not aware of the position until it was awarded, Lenihan asserts that she informed Hardy of her interest in the position assigned to Svetz. After learning that Svetz had been selected for the position, Lenihan met with Evangeline T. MacCrone ("MacCrone") — Boeing's employee services supervisor in Huntsville — on October 1, 1991, to complain about Svetz's selection despite her excellent qualifications for a management position. Lenihan also alleges that, when she subsequently complained

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to Ken Miller ("Miller") about Svetz's selection, Miller advised Lenihan that her lack of a college education and communication skills precluded her from being considered for the position. Lenihan asserts that this policy is contrary to a Boeing policy that "four years experience at Boeing is credited as the equivalent of a college degree." Ultimately, Svetz did not assume the position; it was filled by Earl Garner ("Garner") through a lateral transfer. Lenihan also asserts that she was more qualified for the position than Garner.

Lenihan further complains that she was not promoted to a manufacturing supervisory position in Huntsville, which Rozycki obtained in 1993 or 1994.1 She stated in her deposition, however, that she does not know what duties or expertise this position entails, and she is unsure whether she is qualified for the position. Boeing points out that, during the time candidates were being considered for the position, Lenihan was working for Boeing in Houston and that she did not apply for the position. Therefore, according to Boeing, "as a matter of consistently applied, neutral business practices," Lenihan was not considered for the position. Moreover, Boeing asserts that Rozycki was more qualified than Lenihan for this position. Rozycki's experience includes eight years of exempt level experience at Boeing, preceded by a twenty-two year career in the United States Navy that entailed extensive management level experience. In contrast, Lenihan had five years of nonexempt experience in manufacturing and less than four years experience at an exempt level.

Lenihan also complains that she was discriminated against when she was not considered or promoted to the "PP & C" or "total planner" position in Huntsville that Berry obtained in 1994 or 1995.2 She admits that Berry is "very well-qualified" for the position, but asserts that she is equally qualified for the position. She has not alleged, however, that she applied for this position or that her qualifications are superior to those of Berry. As with the position awarded Rozycki, Boeing contends that Lenihan was not considered for this position because she was working in Houston. Further, the company maintains that Berry's nine years of exempt level experience at Boeing made him more qualified for the position than Lenihan.

As further evidence of alleged sexual discrimination in promotions, Lenihan notes that in her seventeen-year tenure with Boeing she has served with only one female supervisor or manager. Testimony from other employees corroborates this paucity of females in management positions. Lenihan admits, however, that, in 1996, Boeing's Tom Dailey ("Dailey"), urged her to apply for two management positions in Huntsville. Lenihan sent a resume to him, but the...

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