Morse v. Pratt & Whitney
To establish a prima facie case of unequal pay, a plaintiff must prove: 1.) she belongs to a protected class; 2.) she is qualified; 3.) she receives less pay than men who performed the same work; and 4.) an adverse employment action took place in circumstances that led to an inference of discrimination. In 1999, the defendant employer, Pratt & Whitney, hired the plaintiff sales representative, Deborah Morse, to work in tooling support services. Morse alleged that prior to 2007 she negotiated customer credit and visited customers, and that these assignments were beyond her job description. Allegedly, because she was unable to perform her job responsibilities during a 40-hour workweek, Morse requested compensation for working overtime or, alternatively, a promotion. In 2008, Morse filed an internal complaint, alleging lack of equal pay on the basis of gender. Morse alleged that she was informed that women with husbands did not need to earn as much money, because the husbands were the primary wage earners. Although Pratt & Whitney denied Morse's gender discrimination claim, it conducted a comprehensive study of employees' pay and increased Morse's pay 20 percent. Prior to that adjustment, Morse earned approximately $46,451 gross per year. A male worker who allegedly was "similarly situated" earned $60,000. Pratt & Whitney allegedly took away some of Morse's job responsibilities, after Morse filed an internal complaint and a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. Morse sued Pratt & Whitney, alleging failure to promote, gender discrimination and retaliation, in violation of Title VII. Pratt moved for summary judgment. There was a genuine issue of material fact with respect to whether Morse received less pay than "similarly situated" male workers, and the court denied Pratt's motion for summary judgment on Title VII equal pay. There also was a genuine issue with respect to whether Morse's job responsibilities were changed, and she suffered an adverse employment action, in retaliation, after she complained. Morse did not formally apply for a promotion, and the court granted Pratt's motion for summary judgment on her failure-to-promote claim. Morse's Title VII unequal pay and retaliation claims survived.