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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. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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