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Allen v. HP Enterprise Services, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington

September 7, 2018

ASHLEY ALLEN PLAINTIFF
v.
HP ENTERPRISE SERVICES, LLC DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM O. BERTELSMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This diversity employment matter involves claims of wage-based sex discrimination brought pursuant to the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, K.R.S. § 344 et. seq. Ashley Allen (“Plaintiff”) alleges that Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services, LLC (“Defendant”) compensated Plaintiff’s male subordinates and peer managers with higher pay increases throughout the duration of her nearly twenty-year career with Defendant.

         This matter is now before the Court on defendant’s motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 33) The Court previously heard oral argument on this motion and took it under submission. (Doc. 51), and the parties submitted supplemental memoranda. (Docs. 52, 53). After further study, the Court now issues the following Memorandum Opinion and Order.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         1. Defendant’s Corporate Structure

         Defendant is a multi-national enterprise incorporated in the state of Delaware which provides information technology and solutions to a variety of corporate customers.[1] Defendant’s internal corporate structure is highly-complex creating difficulty in ascertaining where a particular employee falls within the hierarchy of a given work group. A written and visual representation of this structure follows to aid comprehension of this case’s specific facts.

         a. Job Family Group

         The job family group is the broadest grouping under which smaller job families fall within Defendant’s corporate structure. Examples include: “Services” or “Human Resources.” (Doc. 40-6, PageID# 996, 1044.)

         b. Job Family

         A job family refers to specific job divisions within a broader job family group. In this case, the applicable job family group is referred to as Information Technology Organization (“ITO”) Service Delivery.[2] (Id. at 1044.)

         c. Job Categories

         Within each job family three general job categories exist. They are:

(1) Support
(2) Professional
(3) Manager

         Employees can, and do, transition between each category throughout the duration of their employment. (Id. at 1006.)

         d. Job Category Subdivisions

         Each job category subdivides into smaller groups based on the employee’s experience, skill set, and decrease in the need for supervision. (Id. at 1011.) Within the ITO Service Delivery job family, job category subdivisions are listed as follows from least to most experienced and from top to bottom:

Support

Professional

Manager

Base

Entry

Supervisor I

Primary

Intermediate

Supervisor II

Core

Specialist

Manager I

Senior

Expert

Manager II

Advanced

Master

         e. Corporate Structure Overview (Graphic)

         (Image Omitted.)

         2. Defendant’s Compensation and Pay Increase Scheme

         Defendant is a “pay-for-performance” enterprise meaning that employees do not receive automatic cost of living or pay increases. (Id. at 994.) Rather, Defendant awards merit increases at its discretion with job performance being the central criterion for such pay increases. (Id.)

         The nature of a new employee’s hiring dictates what their base salary will be when joining Defendant. If the employee is acquired via merger, Defendant matches the employee’s prior salary. (Doc. 40-6 at 1040.) If Defendant hires an employee outside of the merger context, Defendant considers local market conditions, prior experience, and locality pay when establishing a base salary.[3] (Id. at 993.)

         a. Pay Bands

         Every employee receives a specific job title that corresponds to a job category within a particular job family. Each job title and job category has a salary grade that is broken down into five different pay bands.[4] (Id. at 1016.) Hypothetically, an employee could be coded as the following:

Specific Job Title:

Job Category:

Salary Grade:

Salary Range:

Service Manager

Manager I

M27

$90,000- 150,000

         The pay bands overlap, but fundamentally work in the following manner:

i. Pay Band I: Beginning to 20% of salary range
ii. Pay Band II: 20-40% of salary range
iii. Pay Band III: 40-60% of salary range
iv. Pay Band IV: 60-80% of salary ...

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