Woman loses appeal of discrimination lawsuit against employer

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court that a pharmaceutical company did not discriminate against a sales representative based on her age or retaliate against her for filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Julia Hutt worked as a sales rep for Solvay Pharmaceuticals since 2001. In 2008, she was issued a performance improvement plan and placed on informal warning status by supervisors Brian Lozen and Jeff Westfall based on uncompleted administrative tasks. Hutt was issued another PIP in 2008 and also warned two more times that year based on her performance. Because of her employment status, she was not eligible for any bonuses.

In 2009, she filed her complaint with the EEOC. She was taken off of final warning status in April 2010, retroactive to December 2009. Based on her status, she was ineligible for incentive pay and bonuses for seven consecutive quarters.

The District Court ruled in favor of Solvay, now known as AbbVie Products LLC, finding Hutt failed to identify a similarly situated comparator to show discrimination and retaliation. And because she was ineligible for bonus payments while on warning status, she has no cause of action under the Indiana Wage Payment Statute as she had alleged. Hutt was 54 at the time the court granted summary judgment for her employer.

Hutt only stated a claim for discrimination under the direct method, and the 7th Circuit found that her claim fails because it lacks both direct and circumstantial evidence. She provided no evidence that Westfall, Lozen or any other employee admitted to discriminating against her based on her age. They also found there was no evidence, as Hutt claimed, that the treatment of her and another employee, who was 59 and also put on warning status and later fired, had anything to do with their ages.

Her retaliation claim fails because she doesn’t assert a causal connection between the filing of the EEOC charge and Solvay’s adverse employment actions. She was already on formal warning status at the time her EEOC charge was filed.

“Her chosen legal theory – retaliation – calls for evidence of adverse employment actions linked to a protected activity, not just evidence of problematic hostility,” Judge John Tinder wrote.

Hutt also failed to develop her bad-faith argument regarding her Wage Payment Statute claim and cannot now raise it for the first time on appeal, the court held in Julia Hutt v. AbbVie Products LLC, 13-1481.


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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues