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Home / Opinion / 09-1496 Leitgen v. Franciscan Skemp Healthcare, Inc.

09-1496 Leitgen v. Franciscan Skemp Healthcare, Inc.


Where an employer was dissatisfied with an employee’s interpersonal skills for years before she complained of gender disparity in pay, and the pay dispute had also been ongoing for years, the employee’s termination was not retaliation.

“Leitgen responds that her complaints were ongoing up until September 2006, and therefore a large time gap does not separate her protected conduct from her discharge. But this response misses the point. Because she had been complaining to hospital executives about the pay system for years, she must offer a valid reason why her conversation with Tiggelaar would suddenly trigger retaliation. She proposes one reason: It was the first time she raised her concern to anyone outside the department. But this assertion is incorrect. Leitgen testified that, with the help of the then-chair of the department, she raised these concerns with the compensation committee (who are people outside the department) sometime before she herself became chair in 1999. Even though these extra-departmental complaints occurred before Sandy came to the Hospital, Leitgen admitted that both Sandy and Holmay-the executives who recommended her termination-knew of her concerns about the compensation system years before the Hospital forced her to resign. A claim of retaliation based on suspicious timing depends on what the relevant decision-makers knew and when, see Salas v. Wis. Dep’t of Corr., 493 F.3d 913, 925 (7th Cir. 2007); Tomanovich v. City of Indianapolis, 457 F.3d 656, 668 (7th Cir. 2006), and here the evidence shows that the relevant decision-makers knew of Leitgen’s belief that the compensation system was discriminatory long before they decided to terminate her.”

09-1496 Leitgen v. Franciscan Skemp Healthcare, Inc.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, Crabb, J., Rovner, J.

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