O'Donnell v. Caine Weiner Co., LLC, No. 18-1826 (7th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
O’Donnell learned that her employer paid her less than her male peers and raised the issue with company officials, stating that she was going to file an EEOC complaint. O’Donnell shared a desk with her supervisor. She discovered performance evaluations of her male colleagues, which, she believed, confirmed that men were paid more for substantially the same work. She made copies and prepared to submit them to the EEOC. After learning that O’Donnell took other employees’ performance reports without authorization, the company suspended and ultimately terminated her. O’Donnell filed suit, alleging sex-based wage discrimination under the Equal Pay Act (29 U.S.C. 206(d)); sex discrimination under Title VII (42 U.S.C. 2000); Retaliation under Title VII; and Retaliation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. 215(a)(3)). The district court administered instructions based on the Seventh Circuit's Model Instructions. The jury returned a verdict for the employer. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting O’Donnell’s claims that the jury instructions and the verdict forms incorrectly instructed the jury on the law and were confusing to the jury; that the court improperly allowed the company to assert an affirmative defense based on her previous salary amounts without raising that defense in its answer; and that the court erred by excluding expert testimony on damages from a forensic economist.