September 20, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Central Division. No. 13-CV-3062 -
Richard Mills, Judge.
Manion and Kanne, Circuit Judges, and Miller, District Judge.
Lauderdale alleges she was paid substantially less than her
male colleague despite taking on twice the responsibility.
The Equal Pay Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
prohibit state employers from paying an employee less based
on her sex. However, the record indicates that the pay
discrepancy in this case was not based on sex. Therefore, the
district court's grant of summary judgment for the
defendants-appellees is affirmed.
Lauderdale served as acting superintendent for the Illinois
School for the Deaf ("ISD") from 2006 to 2007 and
as superintendent from 2007 to 2010. During her last year as
superintendent, she was paid a base salary of $83, 856 plus a
5% bilingual pay bonus, for a total of $88, 048. Reggie
Clinton was superintendent for the School for the Visually
Impaired ("ISVI") from 1998 to 2003 and again from
2008 to 2010. When Clinton returned to ISVI in 2008, he
received a 1.9% salary increase from his most recent salary
at the Arcola School District. He was paid, at the end of his
tenure at ISVI, $121, 116 per year.
2010, Clinton resigned. The Illinois Department of Human
Services, which oversees ISD and ISVI, decided to create one
combined superintendent role to cover both schools. The
Department offered Lauderdale the role. Lauderdale wanted to
be paid as much or more than Clinton had been paid; the
Department counteroffered. Communications indicate that some
Department employees believed Lauderdale was entitled to a
large pay raise because she was taking on two roles. However,
the same communications reveal budget constraints and a
concern that the Department of Central Management Services
would not authorize a 30% pay increase for a public employee.
Eventually, Lauderdale accepted a salary of $106, 500, which
was less than what Clinton was paid as superintendent of
ISVI, but a 21% increase from Lauderdale's salary as
superintendent of ISD.
filed a lawsuit alleging sex discrimination based on the
difference between what she was paid and what Clinton had
been paid. Specifically, she alleged a violation of the Equal
Pay Act by the Department, and she alleged claims of sex
discrimination by the Department and several individuals
under Title VII and § 1983. Upon a review of the
evidence, the district court concluded no reasonable juror
could find the pay discrepancy was a product of sex
discrimination. The court found that the discrepancy instead
resulted from budget concerns and from the application of the
Illinois Pay Plan. Furthermore, Lauderdale did not provide
sufficient evidence for a jury to find these explanations
were pretextual. Thus, the district court granted summary
judgment in favor of the defendants on all counts.
review the district court's grant of summary judgment
de novo and in doing so construe all facts in the
light most favorable to Marybeth Lauderdale, the non-moving
party. Hooper v. Proctor Health Care Inc., 804 F.3d
846, 849 (7th Cir. 2015). Summary judgment is appropriate
when there is no genuine issue of material fact and the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "[T]he ultimate question ... is
'whether a reasonable jury could find prohibited
discrimination.'" Hooper, 804 F.3d at 853
(quoting Bass v. Joliet Pub. Sch. Dist. No. 86, 746
F.3d 835, 840 (7th Cir. 2014)).
a plaintiff's burden of proof is different for Equal Pay
Act claims than it is for Title VII and § 1983 claims,
we review Lauderdale's Equal Pay Act claim first, then
address her claims brought under Title VII and § 1983.
Equal Pay Act
claims that the Department violated the Equal Pay Act when it
paid her less than it paid Reggie Clinton. The Equal Pay Act
prohibits an employer from discriminating between employees
on the basis of sex. 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1). To establish
a prima facie cause of action under the Act, an employee must
demonstrate "a difference in pay for 'equal work on
jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort,
and responsibility, and which are performed under similar
working conditions.'" King v. Acosta Sales &
Mktg., Inc.,678 F.3d 470, 474 (7th Cir. 2012) (quoting
29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1)). If this requirement is
satisfied, the burden of proof shifts to the employer to
prove some neutral factor that explains the discrepancy in
salary. Corning Glass Works v. Brennan, 417 U.S.
188, 196 (1974). The Act provides four affirmative defenses
by which the employer can claim the discrepancy is not
discriminatory: "where ... payment is ...