Crain v. McDonough, No. 22-1714 (7th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Crain, a Black woman, became the Chief of the Environmental Management Service at the VA Center in July 2014, subject to a year-long supervisory probationary period, with a GS-12 pay grade. Before Crain applied, she was told that if she successfully completed her probationary period, the Center would try to get the position’s pay grade increased to the GS-13 level. After Crain assumed the position, her supervisor added responsibilities to the role in an effort to justify a higher pay grade and asked Scaife, an HR classification specialist, to upgrade the role. Scaife concluded that she was unable to “justify anything higher than a GS-12.” Crain alleges that six White service chiefs’ pay grades were elevated to GS-13 or GS-14. During Crain’s tenure as Chief of EMS, several performance and behavior-related concerns arose.
In June 2015, Crain was notified that she had failed to satisfactorily complete her supervisory probationary period and was being reassigned to a different role with the same salary. The memo identified multiple “performance-based deficiencies” as the basis for the decision. Months before her reassignment, Crain had initiated an EEOC complaint. After her reassignment, Crain sued under Title VII. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the VA, rejecting Crain’s claims of disparate pay based on her race and that she was removed as Chief of EMS in retaliation for filing an EEOC complaint.