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Drum v. Leeson Electric Corp.

May 15, 2009

TAMMY DRUM, APPELLANT,
v.
LEESON ELECTRIC CORPORATION; REGAL-BELOIT ELECTRIC MOTORS, INC., APPELLEES.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Benton, Circuit Judge.

Submitted: December 12, 2008

Before MELLOY and BENTON, Circuit Judges, and MAGNUSON,*fn1 District Judge.

Tammy Drum sued Leeson Electric Corporation for sex discrimination in violation of the Equal Pay Act, Title VII, and the Missouri Human Rights Act. The district court granted summary judgment to Leeson. Drum appeals. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, this court reverses and remands.

I.

Drum began working for Leeson's predecessor in 1990. In 1999, she was promoted to Human Resources Manager (HRM). In 2005, her HRM salary was $41,548. She was promoted to another position with a salary of $45,600. Her male HRM replacement, Thomas C. Crosier, was hired from outside the company at an annual salary of $62,500.

II.

This court reviews a district court's grant of summary judgment de novo. Davenport v. University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, 553 F.3d 1110, 1112 (8th Cir. 2009). A moving party is entitled to summary judgment when the evidence, viewed in the light most favorably to the nonmoving party, establishes that no genuine issue of material facts exists, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. King v. Hardesty, 517 F.3d 1049, 1056 (8th Cir. 2008).

A.

Since Drum's allegations relate solely to unequal pay for equal work, her Title VII claim is governed by the standards of the Equal Pay Act (EPA), 29 U.S.C. § 206(d). See Taylor v. White, 321 F.3d 710, 715 (8th Cir. 2003). In order to establish a prima-facie case under the EPA, an employee must prove an employer paid different wages to men and women performing equal work. Brown v. Fred's, Inc., 494 F.3d 736, 740 (8th Cir. 2007). The burden of proof then shifts to the employer to prove a statutory affirmative defense. Taylor, 321 F.3d at 715. Those defenses are: (1) a seniority system; (2) a merit system; (3) a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (4) a differential based on any other factor other than sex.

29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1). "Under the EPA, a defendant cannot escape liability merely by articulating a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for the employment action.

Rather, the defendant must prove that the pay differential was based on a factor other than sex." Simpson v. Merchants & Planters Bank, 441 F.3d 572, 579 (8th Cir. 2006).

It is undisputed that there is a pay differential between Crosier's salary and Drum's. His approximated the market rate while hers was well below it. Because they performed equal work, the burden of proof shifts to Leeson, which claims that the differential was based on a factor other than sex.

Leeson fails to identify the factor other than sex. The district court interpreted the factor as: "Leeson hired Crosier because he was the most qualified candidate and Crosier required an annual salary of $62,500." This defense is insufficient as a matter of law. Justifying Crosier's salary ...


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