ILNews

Woman loses appeal of discrimination lawsuit against employer

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

ADVERTISEMENT