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William R. Klinefelter v. the Honorable Ray Lahood

November 20, 2011

WILLIAM R. KLINEFELTER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE HONORABLE RAY LAHOOD, SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, (FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION), DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny Chief Judge United States District Court

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

In this action Plaintiff William R. Klinefelter brings suit against Defendant, the Honorable Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation, Department of Transportation (Federal Aviation Administration), claiming violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII"), and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1) ("Equal Pay Act"). Plaintiff's claims arise out of a pay disparity between Plaintiff and a female co-worker. Presently before this Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.*fn1 Also before this Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Count I of the Complaint for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction and to Withdraw

In opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgm ent, Plaintiff filed a Statem ent of Material Facts as to which there exists a Genuine Issue to be Tried Pursuant to L. Civ. R. 56.1(b); a Response to Defendant's Statement of Facts Pursuant to L. Civ. R. 56.1(b); and a Mem orandum of Law. (Docket Nos. 28 - 33.)

Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment as to Plaintiff's Equal Pay Act Claim.*fn2 For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's motions are granted.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

Plaintiff is a male employee of the Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA"). (Plaintiff William R. Klinefelter's Response to Defendant's Statement of Facts Pursuant to L. Civ. R. 56.1(b) ("Stmt."), Docket No. 32, ¶ 1.) Prior to starting work at the FAA, Plaintiff was employed by the United States Air Force ("USAF") from June 1987 to August 2001. (Id. ¶¶ 3, 4.) While with the USAF, Plaintiff worked as an Electronic Integrated Systems Mechanic. (Id. ¶ 5.)

At some point during that employment, Plaintiff applied for a position with the FAA as an Airway Transportation Systems Specialist at the Buffalo International Airport. (Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Pl.'s Opp'n"), Docket No. 33, 3.) Plaintiff was offered this position on August 1, 2001 by the FAA Human Resources Division at an annual salary of $44,668. (Stmt. ¶ 27.) Plaintiff accepted this position on August 6, 2001, and began his employment on August 12, 2001. (Stmt. ¶¶ 28, 29.)

Plaintiff's starting salary was based on FAA Manager Nancy Holston's application of the "New Hire Salary Decision Tool." (Pl.'s Opp'n 3.) This tool consists of a document containing a list of considerations in setting a new employee's salary, including criticality of skills, degree of difficult in filling openings, experience, skills, current pay level, and other salary offers. (Stmt. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff's starting salary of $41,500 plus locality pay, put him in "Pay Band G." (Plaintiff William R. Klinefelter's Statement of Material Facts as to which there Exists a Genuine Issue to be Tried Pursuant to L. Civ. R. 56.1(b), Docket No. 28, ¶ 2.) Employees in Pay Band G receive annual salaries between $35,100 and $54,300. (Pl.'s Opp'n 3.)

Plaintiff claims not to have been satisfied with his salary, but nevertheless accepted the position. (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff completed his initial training approximately ten months after starting his employment, and received "Journey Level Status." (Stmt. ¶ 44.) Along with his new status, Plaintiff was upgraded to H Band pay level. (Id. ¶ 49.)

Plaintiff first became aware that a female Airway Transportation System Specialist at the Buffalo International Airport, Ms. Maureen Murphy, was receiving a salary higher than his in March 2006. Murphy had begun her career with the FAA approximately 13 years prior to Plaintiff on September 27, 1987, when she was hired as a secretary. (Id. ¶¶ 61, 62, 72.) Murphy became a purchasing agent with the FAA in March 1990, and thereafter became an Electronics Technician on April 21, 1999. (Id. ¶ 63.) Murphy was promoted to Electronic Technician in 1993, and was then repeatedly promoted until 1996 when she became an Airway Transportation Systems Specialist. (Id. ¶¶ 64, 65, 66, 69.) Currently, Murphy's salary is $98,362 per year, while Plaintiff's salary is $75,817.

As a result of this pay disparity, Plaintiff now seeks back pay, front pay, liquidated damages, compensatory damages for mental anguish and humiliation, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees.

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff commenced this action on March 31, 2009 by filing a complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York. Defendant filed an Answer on July 20, 2009 and the case was referred to Jeremiah J. McCarthy, United States Magistrate Judge, for pre-trial non-dispositive matters. Following discovery, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on September 1, 2010. Thereafter, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction and to Withdraw Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment as to Plaintiff's Equal Pay Act Claim on February 18, 2011. After various extensions, briefing on these motions concluded on May 11, 2011, at which time this Court took these matters under advisement without oral argument.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment ...


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