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BROWN v. PACKAGING CORP. OF AMERICA

December 16, 1993

LINDA BROWN
v.
PACKAGING CORPORATION OF AMERICA, INC.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN T. NIXON

 Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 3), to which Plaintiff has filed a Response in opposition (Doc. No. 6). Defendant has filed a Reply to Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and Further Motion to Dismiss on Basis of Statute of Limitations: (Doc. No. 11). In accordance with the reasoning set forth below, the Court hereby denies Defendant's Motion.

 I. BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff Linda Brown, a former secretary to the plant manager at Defendant Packaging Corporation of America, Inc. ["PCA"], filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) et seq., Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for unlawful employment discrimination and constructive discharge. (Compl., Doc. No. 1.)

 Ms. Brown alleges unlawful sex discrimination by PCA on the grounds that due to her gender PCA did not consider her for, nor promote her to, the position of plant supervisor even though she applied and was qualified for the position. (Doc. No. 1, at 6.) As a result of PCA's unlawful discrimination, Ms. Brown alleges that a less-qualified male was chosen to be plant supervisor. (Id.)

 Ms. Brown further alleges unlawful constructive discharge by PCA on the basis that Ms. Brown's working conditions became so intolerable that she felt compelled to resign. (Doc. No. 1., at 7.) Specifically, Ms. Brown claims that she was unable to advance further in the company due to her sex; had been denied a salary upgrade which she had been advised she was entitled to and would receive; and was not timely paid for vacation days which she did not take or holiday time during which she worked. (Id.)

 Ms. Brown seeks compensatory and punitive damages, costs, and attorney's fees. (Doc. No. 1., at 8-9.)

 The facts giving rise to this lawsuit are as follows: Ms. Brown began working at PCA as secretary to plant manager Martin Rusnaczyk in October, 1988. (Doc. No. 1, at 2.) As secretary to Mr. Rusnaczyk, Ms. Brown alleges that she performed numerous tasks beyond the normal parameters of her position, including dispatching drivers, preparing invoices and billings, receiving and logging all receivables, ordering trucks, preparing and logging time cards, paying customers, relieving the individual responsible for weighing incoming paper, answering two phone lines, and any other office work as required. (Doc. No. 1, at 2; Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s Mot. Dismiss, Doc. No. 6, at 1-2.) Moreover, she states that in her position as Mr. Rusnaczyk's secretary she was overworked and taken advantage of. (Doc. No. 1, at 3; Doc. No. 6, at 2.)

 In the Fall of 1991, Ms. Brown learned that a new position as plant supervisor had become available. (Doc. No. 1, at 3.) Ms. Brown then approached her supervisor, Mr. Rusnaczyk, to express interest in and inquire about applying for the position. (Id.) Ms. Brown states that Mr. Rusnaczyk laughed at her and responded, "You are a woman, and a woman cannot handle the supervisor's position." (Id.) Moreover, Mr. Rusnaczyk informed her that an applicant for the supervisor position was required to possess a college degree. (Id. at 4.) Ms. Brown alleges, however, that since she assumed that Mr. Rusnaczyk was obligated to submit her name as application for the position to corporate headquarters, Ms. Brown made no further application. (Id.)

 In January, 1992, PCA hired Craig Jemson, a male, as plant supervisor. (Doc. No. 1, at 4; Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Doc., "Inquiry To Be Filed In 60-Day File," Attach., Doc. No. 5.) Mr. Jemson had previously worked for PCA as an accountant. (Doc. No. 1, at 4.) Although Mr. Jemson had been with PCA for six months longer than Ms. Brown, Ms. Brown alleges that Mr. Jemson had no prior experience in the management, supervision, day-to-day operation, quality, or control of such a plant, and thus that Ms. Brown had to teach him how to do his job. (Id.)

 On April 21, 1993, Ms. Brown had a meeting with Thomas Cihlar, a corporate general manager of PCA. (Doc. No. 1, at 5.) Ms. Brown claims that during the meeting she discovered for the first time that she had been discriminated against by Mr. Rusnaczyk. (Id.) Specifically, Ms. Brown alleges that Mr. Cihlar informed her that she had not been considered for the plant supervisor position because Mr. Cihlar had not been informed that she was interested. (Id.) Ms. Brown states that she also discovered at the meeting with Mr. Cihlar that Mr. Rusnaczyk had misled her about the educational requirements for the plant supervisor position. (Id.) Moreover, Ms. Brown states that Mr. Cihlar advised her that she would have been considered for the job if Mr. Rusnaczyk had informed Mr. Cihlar that she was interested in it. (Id.) Ms. Brown claims that she was unaware of any discrimination against her prior to the meeting with Mr. Cihlar on April 21, 1993. (Id.)

 On April 23, 1993, Ms. Brown quit her job at PCA. (Ex. A, Def.'s Reply Pl.'s Resp. Mot. Dismiss, Doc. No. 11.) On April 28, 1993, Ms. Brown reported to the Nashville Area Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ["EEOC"] that she had been sexually discriminated against by PCA. (Doc. No. 1, at 5; EEOC Doc., "Inquiry," Attach., Doc. No. 5.) At that time, Ms. Brown completed an intake questionnaire and was interviewed by EEOC investigator Annie Hodge. (Id.; Aff. Pahmeyer, Doc. No. 5, at 1.) Ms. Hodge recorded notes from that interview on an EEOC document "Inquiry To Be Filed In 60-Day File." (Attach., Doc. No. 5.) During the interview, Ms. Hodge advised Ms. Brown that Ms. Brown's complaint was untimely. (Id.) As well, Ms. Hodge indicated that, although Ms. Brown had a right to file, Ms. Brown's former employer could challenge the alleged wrongdoing for being untimely and the EEOC could dismiss the charges. (Id.) Ms. Brown states that she understood Ms. Hodge's comments to mean that the EEOC was refusing to accept her claim, and Ms. Brown took no further steps to pursue her charges at the EEOC. (Doc. No. 1, at 5; Aft. Brown, Doc. No. 7, at 3.)

 On July 28, 1993, Ms. Brown initiated the present lawsuit in federal court. (Doc. No. 1.)

 On August 30, 1993, Ms. Brown returned to the EEOC to request that she be issued a Notice of Right to Sue letter. (Aff. Brown, Doc. No. 7, at 3.) Ms. Brown states that EEOC employee Lilli Fletcher advised Ms. Brown that Ms. Brown should have her attorney submit a written request to the EEOC for the Notice. (Id.) Ms. Brown's attorney submitted the request on August 31, 1993 (Ex. A, Attach. Aff. Brown, Doc. No. 7) and Ms. Brown received a Notice of Right to Sue letter from the EEOC on ...


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