Tyler v. Trustees of Purdue Univ., No. 4:08-CV-00090 JD

CourtUnited States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
Writing for the CourtJON E. DEGUILIO
Docket NumberNo. 4:08-CV-00090 JD
Decision Date18 July 2011


No. 4:08-CV-00090 JD


ENTERED: July 18, 2011


Now before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [DE 24], filed on September 30, 2010. Plaintiff responded on January 7, 2011 [DE 34], and Defendant replied on February 18, 2011 [DE 39]. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

I. Background

Christine Tyler was hired as the director of the Organizational Effectiveness Department ("OE") for Information Technology at Purdue ("ITaP") on or about April 14, 2005. [DE 27-1 at 3-4]. At the time Tyler was hired, ITaP was comprised of the following seven business areas: (1) Teaching and Learning Technologies; (2) Rosen Center for Advanced Computing; (3) Infrastructure; (4) Enterprise Applications; (5) Customer Relations; (6) Security and Privacy; and, (7) Architecture and Licensing. [DE 27-2 at ¶ 11].

Tyler's department, OE, was intended to provide support to all seven of ITaP's business units by increasing the effectiveness of ITaP and improving the overall climate within the organization. Id. at ¶ 7. As the Executive Director of OE, one of Tyler's main responsibilities

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was to implement the Job Family System, a method of establishing that appropriate compensation and employee growth opportunities existed within ITaP. [DE 36-1 at 2; DE 27-2 at ¶ 7]. OE's role in the Job Family System was to obtain information for grouping similar jobs by compiling data from private industry and other organizations. [DE 27-2 at ¶ 8]. OE was then tasked with creating salary guidelines for all positions within those created "job families." Id. at ¶ 9. Tyler's previous experience with implementation of the Job Family System was one of the main reasons she was hired as Director of OE. Id. at ¶ 10.

In January 2006, Tyler's supervisor, Vice-President and Chief Information Officer James Bottom, assigned Tyler to manage three business units that were previously managed by Deputy CIO Brett Coryell: the Communications unit, the Informatics and Media Relations unit, and the Video and Multimedia Services unit. [DE 36-2 at 3, ¶ 13]. Tyler's March 2006 performance appraisal reflects that of Bottom's direct reports, Tyler received the highest performance rating while Coryell received the lowest. Id. at 14.

In June 2006, Bottum resigned from his position and Dr. William G. McCartney was appointed Interim Vice-President and Chief Information Officer. [DE 27-2 at ¶ 17]. McCartney examined the structure and functions of ITaP and concluded that the organization needed to refocus its resources and efforts to its core mission: providing computing support for research, teaching, and administration. Id. at ¶ 18. According to McCartney, ITaP had grown too much and employed individuals who provided redundant services that other offices on Purdue's campus were capable of providing. Id. at ¶ 19. For example, McCartney determined that OE was unnecessary and did not support ITaP's core mission. Id. at ¶ 26. McCartney identified the following OE positions that he believed could be eliminated: (1) Workforce Development Manager (a staffed position); (2) Research Coordinator (a staffed position); (3) Director of

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Research Administration (a vacant position); (4) Executive Director of OE (Tyler's position); and, (5) Deputy CIO (Coryell's position). Id. at ¶ 27.

After obtaining the support of Purdue's provost and executive vice president/treasurer and consulting with Human Resource Services and legal counsel, McCartney decided to eliminate four of the positions and reorganize ITaP. Id. at ¶¶ 20, 28. McCartney devoted the money saved from the elimination of the positions to research computing, the core mission of ITaP. Id. at ¶ 28. The reorganization effectively eliminated the OE Department, including Tyler's position as its executive director. Id.

However, McCartney did not eliminate Coryell's position at this time. Instead, he demoted Coryell to the newly created position of Executive Director of Administrative Services. Given that Tyler had been laid off, Coryell reassumed responsibility for all of ITaP's divisions, including the three that had been reassigned to Tyler. Id. at ¶ 31. McCartney contends that he did not fire Coryell because Coryell also held the position of Project Manager for the OnePurdue User Support Project ("OnePurdue"). Id. at ¶ 30; [DE 27-1 at 14]. McCartney contends that he planned to eliminate the position of the Executive Director of Administrative Services completely once the OnePurdue project was finished. [DE 27-2 at ¶ 31]. Coryell ultimately accepted a position with another university and left Purdue in or around the spring of 2007. Id. at ¶ 37. Coryell's position was eliminated upon his departure. Id.

On January 9, 2007, McCartney notified Tyler of the decision to eliminate her position. [DE 27-2 at ¶ 32; DE 36-1 at 13]. Tyler received a written letter from McCartney on Purdue letterhead, stating that her position would be eliminated and she would be placed on layoff status effective 31 days later, on February 9, 2007. Also on January 9, the Workforce Development Manager and Research Coordinator were informed that their positions were eliminated. [DE 27-2

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at ¶ 35].

McCartney states that there were additional reductions in workforce within ITaP in July 2007. Id. at ¶ 36. On August 6, 2007, five additional positions within ITaP's Teaching and Learning Technologies unit were eliminated. Id. at ¶ 38. McCartney states that he eliminated these five additional positions, which focused on outreach and conferences, because he had identified them as redundant and non-supportive of ITaP's core mission. Id.

On January 29, 2007, Tyler filed a grievance pursuant to Purdue policy. [DE 27-3 at 3; DE 36-1 at 39]. Tyler alleged that the University employed an RIF improperly in several respects. Of note to this case, she alleged that her position was simply renamed and given to Coryell, which she claimed was in violation of University RIF policy. [DE 27-3 at 3; DE 36-1 at 40]. After receiving evidence from the parties involved and conducting a hearing on February 8, 2007, Purdue's vice provost for academic affairs, Christine Ladisch, concluded that McCartney used appropriate judgment in applying the University's RIF Policy and in eliminating Tyler's position as Executive Director of OE. [DE 27-3 at 3-4].

On February 16, 2007, Tyler submitted a written complaint and initiated a step two grievance procedure on the same grounds as her step one grievance. Id.; [DE 36-1 at 41]. A grievance review committee was selected, a hearing was held, Ladisch's decision in the step one grievance was affirmed. [DE 27-3 at 3]. The committee found that "work performance should only be considered in a reduction in workforce decision if the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) of staff are equal." [DE 36-2 at 33]. The committee determined that "the KSAs of Ms. Tyler and Mr. Coryell were not equal, and the Mr. Coryell clearly possessed the requisite KSAs for the Executive Director, Administrative Services position." Id.; see also [DE 27-1 at 46] ("Consideration must be based on objective, job-related standards, which may include

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differences in knowledge, skills, abilities, and documented work performance."). The committee concluded that "McCartney used appropriate judgment and had properly applied the University's RIF policy when he eliminated Tyler's position as Executive Director of OE." [DE 27-3 at 4]. After receiving the committee's findings and recommendations, Purdue's president issued a final decision concurring with the committee's findings and upholding the decision in the step one grievance. Id. at 3.

On May 8, 2007, Tyler filed a complaint with Purdue University, alleging harassment and discrimination on the bases of sex and age, and retaliation. [DE 27-4 at 13]. Tyler claimed that the RIF was improperly used, and sought reinstatement and back pay. Id. After engaging in an investigation conducted pursuant to university policy, Purdue's vice president for human relations found against Tyler on all of her claims. [DE 27-4 at 4, 19-20].

On July 5, 2007, Tyler filed a Notice of Charge of Discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging discrimination on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, discrimination on the basis of age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and retaliation for raising issues of equal pay and fair labor standards compliance. Id. at 4.

On November 20, 2008, Tyler filed this action. [DE 1]. Her complaint alleges discrimination on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, retaliation in violation of both Title VII and the Equal Pay Act, discrimination on the basis of age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, breach of contract, and promissory estoppel. Id. Purdue filed its motion for summary judgment on September 30, 2010. [DE 24].

II. Summary Judgment Standard

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), summary judgment is appropriate "if

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the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). "In other words, the record must reveal that no reasonable...

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