ROHLER v. ROLLS-ROYCE CORPORATION et al
ENTRY ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT - For the reasons set forth, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 41 ) is GRANTED. In addition, Defendant Rolls-Royce North America, Inc. is hereby dismissed entirely from this action. Signed by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on 3/30/2012. (JD)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
PAMELA SUE ROHLER
ROLLS-ROYCE CORPORATION and,
ROLLS-ROYCE NORTH AMERICA, INC.
Case No. 1:10-cv-0254-TWP-TAB
ENTRY ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
This matter is before the Court on Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment. This
dispute arises from Plaintiff Pamela Sue Rohler’s (“Ms. Rohler”) employment relationship with
the Defendants, Rolls-Royce Corporation (“RRC”) and Rolls-Royce North America, Inc.
(“RRNA”) (collectively, “Rolls-Royce”).
Ms. Rohler filed a four-count Complaint against
Rolls-Royce alleging claims of gender discrimination and wage discrimination in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (“Title VII”) and the Equal Pay Act (“EPA”), respectively. See
42 U.S.C. §§ 2000(e), et seq.; 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1). Additionally, Ms. Rohler alleges RollsRoyce retaliated against her for engaging in conduct protected under the Civil Rights Act and for
engaging in the protected activity of reporting the submission of fraudulent claims to the U.S.
government under the False Claims Act (“FCA”). See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3; 31 U.S.C. §§
3730(a)-(b), and (h).
For the reasons set forth below, Rolls-Royce Motion for Summary
Judgment (Dkt. 41) is GRANTED.
Ms. Rohler’s Early Employment at RRC1
For the purposes of this summary judgment motion, the following material facts are not
in dispute. Ms. Rohler, who has a Bachelors degree in accounting and a CPA Certificate from
the State of Indiana, began working for RRC in an accounting position in August 1999. In
March 2004, Ms. Rohler accepted a finance manager position with Rolls-Royce Defense
Services, which was a smaller business division of Defense North America (“DNA”).2 After
accepting her new position within the company, Ms. Rohler was supervised by Dick Gurley
(“Mr. Gurley”). Mr. Gurley, who has a degree in engineering, started working for RRC in 1974
and since that time he has held a variety of positions within the company. In August 2006, RRC
decided to reorganize its business units in an effort to operate more efficiently, including
reorganizing DNA. As a result of the reorganization, Ms. Rohler was asked to accept a new
position entitled Manager of Life Cycle Cost and Data Management. This position required an
accounting or finance degree. Moreover, Ms. Rohler’s new position required her to forecast life
cycle tables as well as supervise two lower level employees. Ms. Rohler accepted the position
and began to work as a manger within RRC in October 2006. Her supervisor was another RRC
employee, Mike Nellinger (“Mr. Nellinger”). Ms. Rohler contends that Mr. Nellinger promised
she would receive a pay increase with the new position.
Consolidation of Management Positions within RRC
During the same time period, another RRC employee, Otto Enzmann (“Mr. Enzmann”),
was similarly asked to take on a new position as Manager of Reliability and Maintainability.
Ms. Rohler has failed to set forth a Statement of Facts in Dispute Section in her response brief (Dkt. 62) in
accordance with Local Rule 56-1(b). Accordingly, under Local rule 56-1(e), the Court may accept the factual
assertions set forth in Defendants’ opening brief as existing without controversy.
Defense North America is a smaller business division with RRC.
This position required a Bachelors Degree in engineering, 10-14 years of engineering experience,
and expertise in the area of gas turbine engine service. Additionally, the Manager of Reliability
and Maintainability would be responsible for supervising Ms. Rohler.
subsequently accepted the position in October 2006 and was responsible for collecting reliability
data, which Ms. Rohler would then utilize in performing her life cycle cost work.
In the summer of 2007, Mr. Enzmann expressed an interest in leaving his managerial
position. Because Mr. Enzmann was leaving for another position, his managerial position would
become vacant. However, instead of selecting another individual to take over Mr. Enzmann’s
former responsibilities, RRC decided to consolidate Mr. Enzmann’s position with Ms. Rohler’s
position to create a senior manager position called Reliability and Maintainability Life Cycle
Cost Senior Manager (“Senior Manager”). RRC sought to consolidate these positions together
into one in an effort to create a more efficient workplace. Like Mr. Enzmann’s former position,
the newly created position required an engineering degree, 10-14 years of engineering
experience, managerial experience, and expert knowledge of gas turbine engine services.
Finally, as part of the Senior Manager’s responsibilities, the manager would become the direct
supervisor over Ms. Rohler and another RRC employee.
On September 7, 2007, Ms. Rohler was informed that Mr. Gurley was selected for the
Reliability and Maintainability Life Cycle Cost Senior Manager position. Mr. Gurley had an
engineering degree, more than 30 years of experience with RRC, including 11 years of reliability
experience, and had knowledge of gas turbine engines. After assuming his new position within
RRC in November 2007, Mr. Gurley became the direct and immediate supervisor of Ms. Rohler
and another employee. Ms. Rohler continued to hold her Manager of Life Cycle Cost and Data
Management position under Mr. Gurley and supervised two other RRC employees. Shortly
before the year ended, Ms. Rohler received a 2007-year end performance review3 from her
former supervisor, Mr. Nellinger. While Ms. Rohler’s review indicated that she had satisfied her
performance objectives as a manager, her review stated: “The Relationship between Sue and her
immediate boss (Mr. Gurley) ha[s] gotten off to a rocky start since the re-organization. She
needs to develop a more appropriate relationship with Mr. Gurley.” (Dkt. 43-1 at 15.)
Ms. Rohler Informs RRC of Alleged Discriminatory Action
In February 2008, David Dial (“Mr. Dial”), the Director of Commercial Services for
DNA, directed Mr. Gurley to assume Ms. Rohler’s supervisory responsibilities as the Senior
Manager. Due to the economic climate, RRC was in the process of “running lean” by reducing
its report layers of management. In an effort to accomplish this goal, in February 2008, Mr. Dial
decided to collapse Ms. Rohler’s supervisory responsibility into Mr. Gurley’s position, so there
would only be one supervisor, instead of two, for a group of five employees. Ms. Rohler’s salary
level remained unchanged; however, her role within RRC changed. After February 2008, Ms.
Rohler became the Life Cycle Cost subject matter expert within the department. Under this new
role, Ms. Rohler continued to work under Mr. Gurley, and she no longer had any supervisory
On March 17, 2008, Ms. Rohler met with Human Resources Business Partner Leslie
Taylor (“Ms. Taylor”).
As part of Ms. Taylor’s responsibilities as the Human Resources
Business Partner for RRC, she responds to employee complaints and investigates allegations of
discrimination. During the meeting, Ms. Rohler complained to Ms. Taylor that Mr. Gurley was
given her job and had taken over her responsibilities. On March 18, 2008, Ms. Rohler met with
Ms. Taylor again; however, she informed Ms. Taylor that she had retained legal counsel and was
RRC conducts annual reviews of its employees’ performances within the company through an evaluation process
called Performance Development Review. See Randall v. Rolls-Royce Corp., 742 F. Supp. 2d 974, 977 (S.D. Ind.
2010) (discussing in detail RRC’s annual employee review process).
considering filing a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (“EEOC”). At this point in time, Ms. Taylor explained the EEOC process to her
and told her she would investigate her allegations of discrimination before their next follow-up
meeting on March 26, 2008. Before Ms. Taylor could meet with Ms. Rohler again after their
March 18th meeting, she received a letter from Ms. Rohler’s attorney informing RRC that she
intended to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. Subsequently, on March 28, 2008,
Ms. Rohler filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC with an attached letter from her
attorney.4 (See Dkt. 43-7.)
Ms. Rohler’s Deteriorating Working Relationship with Mr. Gurley
On March 28, 2008, Mr. Gurley contacted Ms. Rohler through email and requested that
they meet together so that he could obtain a status report from her on a particular project. During
that meeting, Ms. Rohler became very indignant when Mr. Gurley asked her for a status report.
Ms. Rohler responded to Mr. Gurley’s request by stating that there was no reason for her to give
him a progress report because “he didn’t know anything about the project.” In addition, Ms.
Rohler told Mr. Gurley that any such report was “unnecessary” because she was “competent.”
Finally, in Mr. Gurley’s affidavit, he stated that he informed Ms. Rohler that she had to “do what
he says,” as her supervisor. However, in response to this she immediately walked out of the
meeting and left the facility for the day.
After this meeting, Ms. Rohler continued to resist
directions given to her by her supervisor regarding her various projects. Specifically, on April
17, 2008, Mr. Gurley informed Ms. Rohler that the proposed timeframe for one of her projects
was too long and needed to be shortened. Ms. Rohler told him that his request was “a waste of
time” and that she “did not want to comply.” (Dkt. 43-4 at ¶ 17; Dkt. 43-3, 169:18-23.)
Plaintiff amended her charge of discrimination in September 2008 and listed the earliest date on which Defendants
allegedly treated her unlawfully as August 2007. (Dkt. 43-14.)
Throughout April 2008, Ms. Rohler continued to resist her supervisor’s directions and
orders that he gave to her through email communications between them. Specifically, on April
22, 2008, Ms. Rohler sent an email to Mr. Gurley containing a document he needed to review.
Within the email’s body, Ms. Rohler stated that the review of the particular document was
“overkill” and that she “resent[ed] being treated like a naughty toddler and monitored so
closely.” (Dkt. 43-6.) Additionally, Ms. Rohler stated that she told Mr. Gurley that she “did not
need or want his supervision.” (Dkt. 43-3, 161:13-15.)
As a result of the deteriorating work relationship between Ms. Rohler and Mr. Gurley,
Ms. Rohler met with Carrie Elkins (“Ms. Elkins”), the Senior Human Resources Business
Partner, and Mr. Gurley on June 26, 2008 to discuss her work behavior. At this meeting, Ms.
Rohler acknowledged that she would continue to refuse to give status updates on her projects.
Additionally, she stated that she did not want to give Mr. Gurley credit for her work. In July
2008, Mr. Gurley prepared Ms. Rohler’s 2008 mid-year performance review. In her review, Mr.
Gurley highlighted the problems attributable to Ms. Rohler’s attitude towards him as well as her
other team members on various projects.
Specifically, Mr. Gurley stated that Ms. Rohler
struggled with “authentic communication” throughout the year.
Specifically, he stated her
attitude was “rude and boisterous.” He further noted that “she was not going to submit either to
my supervision or to my review of her work.” (Dkt. 43-4 at 11-12.)
Ms. Rohler’s Email Communications with DNA Management
On August 6, 2008, Ms. Rohler sent an unsolicited email to Dennis Jarvi, the President of
DNA, explaining her views of the events at DNA, which led to the filing of her EEOC charge.
She was also very critical of Mr. Gurley and other DNA executives’ management skills, and she
made her feelings known on this issue throughout her email. In one portion of the email, Ms.
Rohler stated that she uttered the word “barf” at a customer service meeting in reaction to a
compliment being given to Mr. Gurley by a DNA executive.
On August 21, 2008, Ms. Rohler sent an email to Mr. Gurley in which she included the
following among a list of other bulleted items: “7/22/08 Canadian Air Force data taken to
Campaign Review Board. I ha[ve] not reviewed the data – and I hear that it was based on bogus
information – which is in violation of the Business Evaluation policy.” Shortly after she sent this
email, Ms. Elkins and Mr. Dial requested a meeting with Ms. Rohler to discuss her recent
behavior. On August 28, 2008, Mr. Dial wrote an internal memorandum and presented it to Ms.
Rohler that outlined her inappropriate behavior as it related to sending “inappropriate emails,”
her “unwillingness to perform properly assigned work,” and her “communication/interpersonal
skills.” (Dkt. 43-13.) Mr. Dial went on to inform Ms. Rohler that sending an email to the
President of DNA was disrespectful to Mr. Gurley and completely unacceptable. Mr. Dial
informed Ms. Rohler she needed to follow the chain of command and perform the work assigned
to her by Mr. Gurley. At the conclusion of the meeting, Ms. Rohler requested to be transferred
to a different job with RRC. Subsequently, Ms. Rohler accepted a purchasing position within
RRNA in September 2008. Additional facts are added below as needed.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that summary judgment is appropriate if “the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving
party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Hemsworth v. Quotesmith.Com, Inc., 476
F.3d 487, 489-90 (7th Cir. 2007). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court
reviews “the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw[s] all
reasonable inferences in that party’s favor.” Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir.
2009) (citation omitted). However, “[a] party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue
may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations,
that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial.” Hemsworth, 476 F.3d at 490
(citation omitted). “In much the same way that a court is not required to scour the record in
search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment, nor is it permitted to conduct a
paper trial on the merits of a claim.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001)
(citation and internal quotations omitted). “[N]either the mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute between the parties nor the existence of some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts
is sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.” Chiaramonte v. Fashion Bed Group,
Inc., 129 F.3d 391, 395 (7th Cir. 1997) (citations and internal quotations omitted).
As an initial matter, Rolls-Royce emphasizes, without dispute from Ms. Rohler that she
did not work for RRNA at any time during the period when she alleged she was discriminated
against by Rolls-Royce under Title VII, the Equal Pay Act, or the False Claims Act. See 42
U.S.C. §§ 2000(e), et seq.; 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1); 31 U.S.C. §§ 3730(a). Accordingly, Ms.
Rohler cannot set forth a viable claim against RRNA. See Randall v. Rolls-Royce Corp., 742 F.
Supp. 2d 974, 981 (S.D. Ind. 2010) (holding that the plaintiffs could not advance any viable
claims against the defendants because neither of the plaintiffs worked for the parties during the
relevant time period in the case). Therefore, Defendant Rolls-Royce North America, Inc. is
hereby dismissed entirely from this action.
Title VII Sex Discrimination Claims
Ms. Rohler brings a number of Title VII discrimination claims based on sex: she alleges
that she was discriminated against on the basis of her sex by the Rolls-Royce when they (1)
failed to provide her a promotional level salary raise in October 2006; (2) failed to promote her
to the Senior Manager position based on her sex; and (3) reassigned her supervisory
responsibilities to Mr. Gurley based on her sex. The Court will address each of these issues in
Failure to Offer a Promotional Salary Raise Claim
Before addressing Ms. Rohler’s Title VII discrimination claims, Rolls-Royce argues that
Ms. Rohler’s sex discrimination claim related to RRC’s failure to provide her with a promotional
salary raise in October 2006 fails because it is untimely. A claimant may file a charge of
discrimination with the EEOC “within a 180 day period (or in some states which share
administrative responsibilities with the EEOC, such as Indiana, a 300-day period) prior to her
filing a charge of discrimination.” Randall, 742 F. Supp. 2d at 986; see also Gaines v. White
River Envtl. P’ship, 2003 WL 1827209, at **1 (7th Cir. Apr. 4, 2003) (applying the 300 day
period in finding that plaintiff’s Title VII claims based on race and sex discrimination were
timed-barred). Here, Ms. Rohler filed her first charge of discrimination with the EEOC on
March 28, 2008. Ms. Rohler waited until 2008 to file charges stemming from RRC’s alleged
failure to offer her a raise in October 2006 when she accepted a managerial position; this is well
in excess of the 300-day limit for Title VII claims. Accordingly, the Court finds that Ms.
Rohler’s claim of sex discrimination as it relates to RRC’s failure to offer her a raise in October
2006 is untimely.
Failure to Promote Claim
Next, Ms. Rohler argues that Rolls-Royce violated Title VII when they allegedly
discriminated against her by failing to promote her to the newly-created Senior Manager position
because of her sex. Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer “to fail to refuse or hire…or
otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to [her] compensation, terms,
conditions, or privileges because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national
origin.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). In challenging summary judgment under Title VII, a
plaintiff may utilize two available methods of proving discrimination: the “direct method” or the
“indirect method.” Bennett v. Roberts, 295 F.3d 687, 694 (7th Cir. 2002); see also Jordan v. City
of Gary, 396 F.3d 825, 832 (7th Cir. 2005) (“To prove discrimination via direct evidence
essentially requires an admission by the decision-maker that his actions were based on the
prohibited animus.”) (internal quotations and citation omitted).
Because Ms. Rohler does not
present any direct evidence of discrimination as it relates to her failure to promote claim in
defeating Defendants’ summary judgment motion, she must proceed under the indirect, burdenshifting method set forth in McDonnell Douglas v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). To establish a
prima facie case of discrimination under that approach, Ms. Rohler must demonstrate “that: (1)
she is a member of a protected class; (2) she is qualified for the position; (3) she was rejected for
the position sought; and (4) the position was granted to a person outside the protected class who
is similarly or less qualified than [Ms. Rohler].” Jordan, 396 F.3d at 833; see also Grayson v.
City of Chicago, 317 F.3d 745, 748 (7th Cir. 2003) (articulating the elements a plaintiff must
show under the indirect method in a failure-to-promote context).
Once the plaintiff has established a prima facie case, the burden of production shifts to
the defendant to provide a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the decision. McDonnell
Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802; Farrell v. Butler Univ., 421 F.3d 609, 613 (7th Cir. 2005). Once the
defendant satisfies its burden, the burden then shifts back to the plaintiff to demonstrate that the
defendant’s explanation was pretextual. Farrell, 421 F.3d at 613. Pretext requires more than
showing that the decision was “mistaken, ill considered or foolish…so long as [the employer]
believed those reasons, pretext has not been shown.” Jordan v. Summers, 205 F.3d 337, 343 (7th
Cir. 2000). Pretext “means a dishonest explanation, a lie rather than an oddity or an error.”
Farrell, 421 F.3d at 613 (quoting Kulumani v. Blue Cross Blue Shield Ass’n, 224 F.3d 681, 685
(7th Cir. 2010)).
Rolls-Royce argues that even though Ms. Rohler can meet the first and the third
requirements under the McDonnell Douglas burden shifting framework, she cannot meet the
second and fourth requirement and, therefore, she fails to make a prima facie case of
discrimination. The Court agrees. In order to meet the second requirement of her prima facie
case, Ms. Rohler must demonstrate that she was qualified for the position. In Ms. Taylor’s
affidavit, she stated that the newly-created Reliability and Maintainability Life Cycle Cost Senior
Manager position had a number of prerequisite qualifications, such as: 1) holding a Bachelors
Degree in engineering; 2) 10-14 years of engineering experience; 3) previous management
experience; and 4) having subject matter expertise in gas turbine engines. (Dkt. 43-1.) Here, it
is undisputed, and Ms. Rohler admits, that she does not hold an engineering degree and lacks the
required 10-14 years of engineering experience required for the new position. (See Dkt. 62 at 8.)
Moreover, Ms. Rohler’s accounting degree along with her responsibilities as the Life Cycle Cost
Manager did not sufficiently provide her with the qualifications necessary to take on the duties of
the position. As part of its duties, the Senior Manager would “take raw data regarding an engine,
perform analysis to determine how reliable [the] engine is, and identify modifications needed to
increase reliability.” (Dkt. 43-4 at 2.) Given these duties, Ms. Rohler’s educational background,
her previous work experiences, and her own admissions relating to her lack of an engineering
degree, the Court concludes that she does not have the adequate skills and technical knowledge
to become the Senior Manager and analyze the performance issues of gas turbine engines.
Accordingly, Ms. Rohler has not met the second element of her prima facie case.
Additionally, in order to meet the fourth requirement of her prima facie case, Ms. Rohler
needed to show that she was as qualified as Mr. Gurley for the position of Senior Manager. The
Seventh Circuit has held that persons who do not have the same or equivalent positions are not
similarly situated with respect to a potential promotion. Hoffman-Dombrowski v. Arlington Int’l
Racecourse, Inc., 254 F.3d 644, 651 (7th Cir. 2001). In this case, the duties and responsibilities
associated with Ms. Rohler’s Life Cycle Cost managerial position were not similar to the duties
covered by Mr. Gurley, as the Reliability and Maintainability manager. As discussed above, Mr.
Gurley’s former position required engineering knowledge as well as additional knowledge of gas
turbine engines. Mr. Gurley is an engineer who has over 30 years of gas turbine engine service
experience along with “over 11 years of experience doing reliability-related work.” (Dkt. 43-4 at
2.) Unlike Mr. Gurley’s extensive background in engineering and reliability work, Ms. Rohler
has not sufficiently demonstrated that her previous managerial experience makes her as qualified
as Mr. Gurley to take over the duties as the Senior Manager. For example, prior to RRC’s
reorganization, Ms. Rohler worked as a finance manager and after the reorganization she became
the Manager of Life Cycle Cost and Data Management. Therefore, the Court finds Ms. Rohler
has not met the fourth element of her prima facie case. Alternatively, even if Ms. Rohler were
able to establish a prima facie case, RRC’s reasons for promoting Mr. Gurley, due to his
nondiscriminatory reasons that Ms. Rohler has not shown to be pretextual.
Reassignment Discrimination Claim
Next, Ms. Rohler alleges that Rolls-Royce discriminated against her in violation of Title
VII when they reassigned her supervisory duties to Mr. Gurley as the Senior Manager in
February 2008. Defendants contend that Ms. Rohler’s discrimination claim on this issue also
fails like her other Title VII claims because she cannot establish her prima facie case. As
discussed previously, in order for Ms. Rohler to establish a prima facie case for discrimination,
she must demonstrate “that: (1) she is a member of a protected class; (2) she was performing her
job to her employer’s legitimate expectations; (3) that in spite of her meeting the legitimate
expectations of her employer, she suffered an adverse employment action; and (4) that she was
treated less favorably than similarly situated male employees.” Markel v. Bd. of Regents Univ. of
Wis. Sys., 276 F.3d 906, 911 (7th Cir. 2002).
While Ms. Rohler can meet the first and second elements of the test, the issue that
remains is whether a change in her duties and responsibilities in February 2008 by RRC amounts
to an adverse employment action. An adverse employment action in most situations involves
economic injuries such as dismissal, suspension, failure to promote, or diminution in pay. See
Burlington Indus., Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742, 761-62 (1998) (“A tangible employment action
in most cases inflicts direct economic harm.”); Markel, 276 F.3d at 911. In addition, “[w]hile
adverse employment actions extend beyond readily quantifiable losses, not everything that
makes an employee unhappy is an actionable adverse action.” Smart v. Ball State Univ., 89 F.3d
437, 441 (7th Cir. 1996).
Importantly, in this case, while Ms. Rohler’s supervisory responsibilities were shifted to
Mr. Gurley after the creation of the new manager position at RRC, her salary continued to
remain the same. In addition, it is clearly apparent that Ms. Rohler was dissatisfied with her new
role within the company as evidence by her confrontational meetings with her direct supervisor.
Immediately, after the position changes went into effect, Ms. Rohler was adamant in her refusal
to give Mr. Gurley progress reports on her projects, telling him that it was a “waste of time” and
that she “did not want or need his supervision.” As discussed above, the fact that Ms. Rohler
was unhappy with her new position and the shift in her supervisory duties does not automatically
constitute an adverse employment action. If this were the case, it would lead to countless
discrimination lawsuits against employers by employees upset over trivial changes related to
their employment status. See Williams v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 85 F.3d 270, 274 (7th Cir.
1996) (“Otherwise every trivial personnel action that an irritable, chip-on-the-shoulder employee
did not like would form the basis of a discrimination suit.”).
The reasoning applied by the Seventh Circuit in Place v. Abbott Labs., 215 F.3d 803 (7th
Cir. 2000), clarifying what constitutes an adverse employment action with respect to a loss of
supervisory duties is applicable here. In Abbott Labs, the plaintiff was transferred to another
position within the company after she reported being sexually harassed by her one-time
supervisor, with whom she had engaged in an affair the previous year. Id. at 806. As a result of
the transfer, plaintiff retained the same title, pay, and benefits, but she lost her supervisory
responsibilities. Id. Viewing her transfer as a demotion, the plaintiff sued her company claiming
it retaliated against her in violation of Title VII. Id. In holding that the plaintiff’s transfer
resulting in the loss of her supervisory duties did not constitute a materially adverse action, the
Seventh Circuit stated:
Place’s beef is that she moved from an interesting job she liked that involved
overseeing several other people to a boring job she didn’t like and that lacked any
supervisory duties….Being moved from one job to the another…does not meet
the [adverse action] test. There was no guarantee that Place would remain forever
in the job she held before the transfer. Researching, creating, preparing for mass
production pharmaceutical products is a dynamic business that involves regularly
shifting people from one job to another, as one project is completed and another is
begun. Her most viable complaint is that she had diminished responsibilities….
Place did not have supervisory responsibilities in her new job, but some grade 15
positions at Abbott involve supervisory duties and others do not. Supervising
other workers in one capacity did not mean that person would always have
supervisory duties thereafter.
Id. at 810.
Like in Abbott Labs, the reassignment of Ms. Rohler’s supervisory duties to Mr. Gurley,
does not by itself, constitute a materially adverse action.
Because of RRC’s attempts to
constantly reorganize the company in order to make it more efficient, Ms. Rohler should have
been aware, like the plaintiff in Abbott Labs, that there was no guarantee that she would retain
her current supervisory duties. Moreover, RRC did not reduce Ms. Rohler’s benefits or her
salary as a result of the change in her positions with the company. See Stutler v. Ill. Dept. of
Corr., 263 F.3d 698, 702-03 (7th Cir. 2001) (holding that “a lateral transfer without a loss in
benefits does not constitute an adverse employment action.”). Therefore, the Court finds that
Ms. Rohler cannot demonstrate the she suffered an adverse employment action with respect to
her reassignment discrimination claim. Because Ms. Rohler cannot establish her prima facie
case and has not set forth sufficient evidence to challenge Rolls-Royces’ nondiscriminatory
reasons for changing her position, Ms. Rohler has not met her burden under McDonnell Douglas.
Accordingly, the Court finds that Ms. Rohler has not set forth a genuine issue of material facts
for which a finder of fact may reasonably infer that she was discriminated against based on her
sex; therefore, Rolls-Royces is entitled to summary judgment.
Equal Pay Act Claims
Next, Ms. Rohler alleges that Rolls-Royce discriminated against her in violation of the
Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) when she alleges she was paid less as a Manager of Life Cycle Cost and
Data Management than her male counterpart, Mr. Gurley, as the Senior Manager. Rolls-Royce
argues that Ms. Rohler’s Equal Pay Act claim fails as a matter of law. The Court agrees.
The EPA prohibits employers from discrimination against employees on the basis of sex
“for equal work on jobs the performance of which require equal skill, effort, and responsibility,
and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made
pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by
quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex.”
29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1). To establish a prima facie case of wage discrimination under the EPA,
Ms. Rohler must show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that: (1) higher wages were paid to a
male employee; (2) for equal work requiring substantially similar skill, effort and
responsibilities; and (3) the work was performed under similar working conditions. Warren v.
Solo Cup Co., 516 F.3d 627, 629 (7th Cir. 2008) (internal quotations and citations omitted).
Additionally, no proof of discriminatory intent is required. Id.
As an initial matter, Rolls-Royce contends that Ms. Rohler’s EPA claim fails as a matter
of law because she cannot meet the first two requirements of her prima facie case for wage
discrimination. First, Rolls-Royce asserts that based on Ms. Rohler’s admissions in this case she
has no personal knowledge regarding whether Mr. Gurley was paid a higher wage than she was
when he became the Senior Manager in February 2008.5 In support of its argument, RRC cites
Ms. Rohler’s deposition testimony given in response to questions regarding the nature of Mr.
Ms. Rohler stated in her declaration that in 2007 and 2008 she was making approximately $87,000.00 annually.
Gurley’s salary in 2008. When asked by defense counsel about whether she knew what Mr.
Gurley’s salary was in January 2008, she replied, “I can only guess what I knew it was in late
2007, which was $157,440.” (Dkt. 43-2 at 127: 7-10.) She further agreed with defense counsel
that she had no personal knowledge of what Mr. Gurley’s salary was in 2008. (Id. at 127:11-14.)
Finally, when asked how she was able to calculate Mr. Gurley’s salary in 2007, before he
accepted the Senior Manager position, she stated, “I figured it out…[o]n the pay transferred from
the department he was in to the department he came to.” (Id. at 127:15-128:2.) Based on these
statements, Ms. Rohler’s knowledge of Mr. Gurley’s salary in 2008 rests on speculation that is
unsupported by admissible evidence. The Seventh Circuit has ruled that “such unsupported
speculation is insufficient to overcome a motion for summary judgment.” Truhlar v. U.S. Postal
Serv., 600 F.3d 888, 893 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Argyropoulos v. City of Alton, 539 F.3d 724, 737
(7th Cir. 2008)). Regardless of whether Ms. Rohler has set forth sufficient facts to establish the
first element of her prima facie case, her EPA claim still fails because she cannot meet the
Under the second element, as articulated in Warren, the plaintiff must show that the
disparity in wage based on sex was “for equal work requiring substantially similar skill, effort
and responsibilities.” See Warren, 516 F.3d at 629. As previously discussed, the position of
Manager of Life Cycle Cost and Data Management and the position of Reliability and
Maintainability Life Cycle Cost Senior Manager are not equivalent because the latter requires an
engineering degree. While both positions involve tasks related to statistical analysis, the Senior
Manager position involves the analysis of gas turbine engines to identify the necessary
modifications needed to increase reliability. (See Dkt. 43-4 at 2.) This type of job duty requires
an individual with an engineering degree and years of engineering experience, specifically with
gas turbine engines. (See Dkt. 43-1 at 3.) On the other hand, the Life Cycle Cost position that
Ms. Rohler accepted in 2006 does not require an engineering degree, but an accounting degree.
(Id.) Moreover, Ms. Rohler conceded in her deposition that the skills utilized by her and Mr.
Gurley to perform each of their respective positions with RRC in 2008 were “separate and
distinct.” (Dkt. 43-3 at 140:15-17.) The Seventh Circuit articulated that “the proper domain of
the Equal Pay Act consists of standardized jobs in which a man is paid significantly more than a
woman (or anything more, if the jobs are truly identical) and there are no skill differences.”
Sims-Fingers v. City of Indianapolis, 493 F.3d 768, 771-72 (7th Cir. 2007). Here, the managerial
jobs at issue were not the same given their vastly different educational and work experience
requirements. More importantly, these differences were also apparent to Ms. Rohler because she
conceded during her deposition that the skills attributable to Mr. Gurley and herself were
“separate and distinct.” Therefore, the Court finds that Ms. Rohler’s EPA claim fails as a matter
of law, and Rolls-Royce is entitled to summary judgment on this issue.
Title VII Retaliation Claims
Ms. Rohler also alleges that Rolls-Royce retaliated against her in violation of Title VII
after she complained to RRC’s human resource department and after she filed a charge of
discrimination with the EEOC in March 2008. Specifically, she contends that Rolls-Royce
reassigned her supervisory duties to Mr. Gurley in retaliation for complaining of discrimination
to RRC. She further alleges that she was placed on a “termination list” after she informed RollsRoyce that she intended to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. The Court will
address each of Ms. Rohler’s retaliation claims in turn.6
Ms. Rohler also alleged that David Dial, the Director of Customer Services for RRC’s Defense North America,
began to closely monitor her work progress beginning in March 2008 in retaliation for filing a charge of
discrimination with the EEOC. However, the Court will not analyze this claim in detail because it was abandoned
by Ms. Rohler when she failed to present arguments to the Court on this issue in response to Defendants’ summary
Reassignment Retaliation Claim
Rolls-Royce argues that Ms. Rohler’s retaliation claim based on the reassignment of her
supervisory duties fails for a number of reasons. They contend that there is no basis for Ms.
Rohler’s first retaliation claim when her reassignment of duties came before the filing of her
EEOC charge. Alternatively, they argue that her retaliation claim is without merit because she
has not presented sufficient evidence establishing that she had engaged in a protected activity
prior to her EEOC filing in March 2008. Therefore, they argue they should be entitled to
summary judgment on this issue. The Court agrees.
Title VII prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for engaging in
conduct that is protected under the Act. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a). A plaintiff may bring a
retaliation claim using either the “direct” or “indirect method.” Maine v. Potter, 394 F.3d 977,
Under the “direct method,” the plaintiff must set forth “evidence of (1) a statutorily
protected activity; (2) a materially adverse action taken by the employer; and (3) a causal
connection between the two.” Leonard v. Eastern Ill. Univ., 606 F.3d 428, 431 (7th Cir. 2010).
The indirect method also requires the first two elements of the direct method, “but instead of
providing a direct causal link, the plaintiff must show that he was performing his job
satisfactorily and that he was treated less favorably than a similarly situated employee who did
not complain of discrimination.” Id. (citing Stephens v. Erickson, 569 F.3d 779, 786-87 (7th Cir.
Ms. Rohler’s retaliation claim relating to the reassignment of her supervisory duties is
doomed from the start because she has not presented any evidence suggesting that Rolls-Royce
was aware that she was engaged in a protected activity prior to the alleged retaliatory
judgment motion. See Palmer v. Marion Cnty., 327 F.3d 588, 597-98 (7th Cir. 2003) (deemed plaintiff’s claim
abandoned after he failed to raise it in his district court brief in opposition to summary judgment).
reassignment. “An employee can honestly believe she is the object of discrimination, … if she
never mentions it, a claim of retaliation is not implicated, for an employer cannot retaliate when
it is unaware of any complaints.” Miller v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co., 203 F.3d 997, 1007-08
(7th Cir. 2000); see also Gates v. Caterpillar, Inc., 513 F.3d 680, 687 (7th Cir. 2008). In support
of her claim, Ms. Rohler stated in her briefing to the Court that she “complained to Elkins in
Human Resources that she was not being [paid] equally to her male counterpart, Reliability
Manager.” (Dkt. 62 at 3.) Additionally, she states in her briefing that she told “Dial in
December 2007 that the raise she had been promised was not going to occur and she was paid
enough when she complained about the pay disparity with Gurley.” (Id.) However, none of the
alleged material facts mentioned above by Ms. Rohler are supported or even suggested in the
Ms. Rohler attempts to point to her answers to interrogatories to support these
statements, but her answers do not support these alleged statements. (See Dkt. 62-4 at 7, 10.)
Moreover, both Mr. Dial and Ms. Elkins stated in their declarations to the Court that Ms. Rohler
never informed them of any situation in which she felt she was being discriminated against based
on her sex by RRC prior to March 2008. (Dkt. 43-5 at 2; Dkt. 43-11 at 1.) The Seventh Circuit
has articulated that “self-serving affidavits without factual support in the record will not defeat a
motion for summary judgment.” United States v. Torres, 142 F.3d 962, 968 (7th Cir. 1998).
Like in Torres, these statements made by the Plaintiffs were self-serving and unsupported by the
Accordingly, the Court finds that Ms. Rohler’s retaliation claim based on her
reassignment fails as a matter of law; therefore, Rolls-Royce is entitled to summary judgment on
Termination List Claim
Ms. Rohler alleges that Rolls-Royce retaliated against her in violation of Title VII by
placing her on a termination list.
Specifically, Ms. Rohler alleges that an IT department
employee informed her that she was placed on the “termination list” when he came to her office
to inspect her computer in March 2008. (Dkt. 43-3 at 149:6-14.) Rolls-Royce argues that this
claim is meritless for a number of reasons. First, Rolls-Royce contends that it is based on
inadmissible hearsay, and therefore cannot be considered by the Court during summary
judgment. Additionally, Rolls-Royce contends Ms. Rohler cannot survive summary judgment on
this issue because she cannot demonstrate that she suffered an adverse employment action by
being placed on such a list or show that she was placed on the list because she engaged in a
The Court does not need to reach the issue of whether the alleged statement constitutes
inadmissible hearsay because Ms. Rohler’s retaliation claim fails on other grounds. Taking the
statement as a whole and in the light most favorable to Ms. Rohler, the alleged statement made
by the IT employee amounts to an unfulfilled threat because Ms. Rohler admits that she was
never terminated. On the issue of unfulfilled threats, the Seventh Circuit stated that “[a]n
unfulfilled threat, which results in no material harm, is not materially adverse.”
Aramark Bus. Servs., Inc., 336 F.3d 520, 531 (7th Cir. 2003). Because Ms. Rohler cannot
demonstrate that she suffered a materially adverse employment action, the Court need not
analyze in detail the remaining elements under either the “direct” or “indirect” method.
Accordingly, the Court finds that the Rolls-Royce is entitled to summary judgment on this issue.
False Claims Act
Lastly, Ms. Rohler alleges that Rolls-Royce retaliated against her in violation of the
False Claims Act (“FCA”). Specifically, she alleges that after she sent a letter to the Finance
Director of DNA complaining about false information being created for a combat aircraft that
would be sold to Canada, she received a negative performance review in July 2008.
Furthermore, she alleges that after she sent an email to Mr. Gurley informing him of “Canadian
Air Force data” that was “based on bogus information” being sent to the Canadian government,
she received a written warning in August 2008. In short, Ms. Rohler contends that she is being
retaliated against as a whistleblower under the FCA. The Court disagrees.
The FCA was enacted to enhance the federal government’s ability to recover losses
sustained by fraudulent activity perpetrated against it. S. REP. NO. 99-345, at 1-2 (1986),
reprinted in 1986 U.S.C.C.A.N. 5266, 5266-67. Specifically, to combat fraud, the FCA imposes
civil liability on a party who “knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent
claim for payment or approval” or “knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false
record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim” paid by the government. 31 U.S.C. §
3729(a)(1) and (2). The FCA further protects employees from being demoted, suspended,
threatened, harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against who have filed or might file a
qui tam action alleging their employer defrauded the U.S. government. 31 U.S.C. §§ 3730(b)
and (h). In order to prevail on her retaliation claims, Ms. Rohler must demonstrate that: (1) her
actions were taken “in furtherance of” a FCA enforcement action and were therefore protected
by statute; (2) that RRC had knowledge that she was engaged in this protected activity; and (3)
their terminations were motivated – at least in part – by the protected conduct. Brandon v.
Anesthesia & Pain Mgmt. Assocs., Ltd., 277 F.3d 936, 944 (7th Cir. 2002).
In this case, Ms. Rohler has failed to satisfy all of the elements necessary for prevailing
on her FCA retaliation claim. First, Ms. Rohler’s FCA retaliation claim fails because she cannot
demonstrate that she was engaged in a protected activity. The Seventh Circuit articulated that
the standard in determining if an employee’s actions are protected under the FCA is whether: the
employee in good faith believes, and a reasonable employee in the same or similar circumstances
might believe, that the employer is committing fraud against the government. Fanslow v.
Chicago Mfg. Ctr., Inc., 384 F.3d 469, 479-80 (7th Cir. 2004). Ms. Rohler’s basis for her FCA
claim relates to a conversation in a cafeteria in July 2008 about aircraft data, in which she
allegedly overheard Mr. Gurley say “I don’t care.
Just make it up.” in response to one
employee’s question. Based on this tenuous fact pattern, a reasonable employee would not
conclude that RRC was attempting to defraud the U.S. government. Ms. Rohler concedes that
she cannot remember the substance of the question that elicited Mr. Gurley’s alleged response.
More importantly, she stated she was “not certain” if any “false data” was presented to the U.S.
government. See U.S. ex rel. Grant v. Thorek Hosp., 2008 WL 1883454, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 25,
2008) (finding that plaintiff failed to plead sufficient facts suggesting she was engaged in a
protected activity when she had no knowledge of any false claim being submitted to the
government). For the same reasons noted above, the Court finds that Ms. Rohler’s email to Mr.
Gurley would not lead a reasonable employee to conclude that RRC was defrauding the U.S.
government. Accordingly, Ms. Rohler has failed to meet the first element of her FCA retaliation
Second, Ms. Rohler cannot show that either of her missives put RRC on notice of the
possibility of a qui tam action. For example, Ms. Rohler’s email to Mr. Gurley relating to the
“Canadian Air Force” data did not allude to any information prepared in an effort to defraud the
U.S. government—a requirement for filing an FCA claim. The email merely stated it was a
violation of the “Business Evaluation policy.” This email would not send sufficient notice to
RRC that Ms. Rohler was engaged in a protected activity, given that part of her job duties is “to
not allow speculative data to go into [cost] forecast[s].” (Dkt. 43-3 at 255:14-16.)7 Thus, the
Court finds that Ms. Rohler has failed to demonstrate that Rolls-Royce was on notice that she
was engaged in a protected activity. Because Ms. Rohler cannot show that Rolls-Royce was on
notice that she was engaged in any protected activity, she cannot establish that her negative
performance review was motivated in any way by her actions.8 Accordingly, the Court finds that
Rolls-Royce is entitled to summary judgment on this issue.
For the reasons set forth above, Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 41) is
GRANTED. In addition, Defendant Rolls-Royce North America, Inc. is hereby dismissed
entirely from this action.
Hon. Tanya Walton Pratt, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
The Court is unable to analyze whether the Ms. Rohler’s letter to the Finance Director would have placed RRC on
notice of a possibility of a qui tam action because Plaintiff stated in response to a discovery request by Defendants
that they no longer posses such a document. (Dkt. 63 at 29-30.)
The Court concludes that Ms. Rohler’s negative performance review and written warning was a result of her
history of inappropriate behavior directed at her supervisor, Mr. Gurley as well as her inappropriate emails to
management of DNA.
Michael C. Kendall
KENDALL LAW OFFICE
James F. Ehrenberg, Jr.
BARNES & THORNBURG LLP
Robert Anthony Prather
BARNES & THORNBURG LLP
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