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Makowski v. SmithAmundsen LLC

662 F.3d 818 (2011)

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Makowski v. SmithAmundsen LLC

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

662 F.3d 818 (2011)

Facts

Laura Makowski (plaintiff) was SmithAmundsen LLC’s (defendant) marketing director for three years, and she always received annual salary increases and quarterly discretionary merit bonuses. In late November 2007, Makowski went on maternity leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In January 2008, SmithAmundsen’s all-male executive committee decided to terminate Makowski. Glen Amundsen, Makowski’s direct supervisor, told SmithAmundsen’s chief operating officer, Michael DeLargy, that people liked working with Sarah Goddard more than Makowski and that Goddard would better lead the department. DeLargy wrote in an email to SmithAmundsen’s human-resources director, Molly O’Gara, that Makowski did not fit into SmithAmundsen’s culture and directed O’Gara to discuss firing Makowski with outside counsel. In February 2008, Amundsen and DeLargy terminated Makowski while she was still on leave, stating that her position was eliminated as part of an organizational restructuring. The same day, O’Gara fired SmithAmundsen’s male information-technology (IT) director. Makowski retrieved her belongings later that day, and O’Gara met her in SmithAmundsen’s elevator lobby. O’Gara allegedly explained that Makowski was terminated because she was pregnant and took medical leave and advised Makowski to consult with an attorney because SmithAmundsen had similarly discriminated against other employees. O’Gara also said that the company initially planned to terminate the IT director for poor performance, but outside counsel advised characterizing both Makowski’s and the IT director’s terminations as organizational restructuring. O’Gara later denied making these statements. The day after Makowski’s termination, Goddard resigned and accepted a position elsewhere, and two days later, SmithAmundsen advertised a “business development and marketing manager” position. Several months later, the firm rehired Goddard for that position. Makowski sued SmithAmundsen under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the FMLA. The district court granted SmithAmundsen’s summary-judgement motion, finding that O’Gara’s statements were inadmissible hearsay and that Makowski failed to prove her pregnancy-discrimination and medical-leave retaliation claims. Makowski appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Young, J.)

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