United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, St. Joseph Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
action arises out of Plaintiff Hilaria Grigsby's
(“Grigsby”) employment with Defendant AKAL
Security, Inc. (“AKAL”). Grigsby lost her
position at AKAL after AKAL eliminated several positions in
an effort to reduce costs. Grigsby claims AKAL discriminated
against her based on her gender, race, and national origin
when it selected her position to eliminate. Grigsby also
claims she was paid less than a Caucasian male employee for
the same job. Grigsby sued AKAL for violations of Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended, 42 U.S.C. §
2000e et seq., 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and the Equal
Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d).
before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary
judgment (Doc. 40). For the reasons set forth below, the
Court GRANTS Defendant's motion.
provides security-screening services at the Kansas City
International Airport (“MCI”) through a contract
with the Transportation Security Administration
(“TSA”). Prior to AKAL, FirstLine Transportation
Security (“FirstLine”) had the contract with MCI.
is a black female of Dominican nationality. She worked for
FirstLine from November 2002 to February 2015 in various
positions. Effective February 1, 2015, she was hired by AKAL
as a Terminal Manager. Jacob Sledd (“Sledd”), a
Caucasian male, was also hired by AKAL in February 2015 as a
took over the MCI contract effective March 1, 2015. The
contract requires three essential positions be staffed at all
times: Program Manager, Deputy Program Manager, and Training
Manager. The Program Manager is the highest-ranking employee
under the MCI contract and is responsible for all operations
and management aspects of the contract. Under the MCI
contract, AKAL has two groups of employees, operations and
program management. Operations employees include various
levels of security officers who work in the airport terminals
and are responsible for passenger security screening work.
Program management employees include the Program Manager,
Deputy Program Manager, Training Manager, Terminal Managers,
and other administrative and management positions. The office
consisted of 22 people, 13 were female and at least two were
African American. Grigsby notes that she was the only black
female manager in the program management office. Creating and
filling program management positions was left to AKAL's
discretion after filling the three essential positions stated
in the MCI contract.
operations employees' salaries are billable to the MCI
contract and, in effect, are paid by the TSA because they had
been negotiated under the MCI contract. The program
management employees' salaries are billable to the MCI
contract up to the amount negotiated for under the MCI
contract. Relevant to this case, the number of program
management staff and their salaries had exceeded what had
been negotiated for under the MCI contract, which meant that
the pay for each program management employee had become an
expense to AKAL.
AKAL took over the MCI contract, Robert Ray
(“Ray”) was the Program Manager. In May 2015,
David Welliver (“Welliver”) was hired as the
Deputy Program Manager. Welliver's salary was set through
a negotiation with AKAL's president. Initially Welliver
requested $90, 000, but after a series of counter-offers, the
two decided on $87, 500 per year. The Deputy Program Manager
before Welliver, a male, earned $80, 000 in the position.
created the position Director of Airport Operations,
reporting to the Deputy Program Manager. Grigsby, who had
been working as a Terminal Manager, applied for and received
the Director of Airport Operations position. Ray offered
Grigsby $65, 000 per year for the position, and Grigsby
responded that she was “expecting more” but she
did not request a specific salary or attempt to negotiate a
higher salary. Ray told Grigsby that the position was capped
at $65, 000 per year.
January 2016, Ray left his position and Welliver was promoted
to Program Manager. The MCI contract required the Deputy
Program Manager position to be filled, and so Ray and
Welliver chose Grigsby as the interim Deputy
Program Manager. In February 2016, Grigsby applied for and
received the permanent Deputy Program Manager position.
Initially Grigsby had reservations about applying for the
position but after conversations with Ray and Welliver, she
applied. Grigsby interviewed for the position with Welliver,
Brian Beckwith (“Beckwith”), and Angela Robeson.
Welliver stated he believed Grigsby was the best qualified
person for the job and recommended her for the position.
she received the job offer from Beckwith, Welliver told
Grigsby that she should think about a salary to ask for. He
stated “You need to think about what you're going
to ask for the position should you get it, you need to
justify what you ask for the position should you get it, and
make sure you don't overprice yourself.” Plaintiff
decided to ask for $85, 000 after considering her salaries as
a Terminal Manager and the Director of Airport Operations.
She did not consult any industry publications to determine
the market rate for the position. She did not know what
Welliver had made in that position, nor the budgeted salary
range. Grigsby stated that Welliver's advice not to
“overprice herself” affected the salary she
requested because she did not want to ask for more than what
she should, however she also stated that she didn't feel
Welliver's advice was problematic or concerning.
called Grigsby to tell her she had been selected for the
Deputy Program Manager position and asked what her salary
requirements were. Grigsby asked for $85, 000 and Beckwith
accepted that offer. Grigsby earned $2, 500 less per year as
the Deputy Program Manager than Welliver had earned in that
Grigsby in the Deputy Program Manager position, the Director
of Airport Operations position was vacant. Sledd applied for
and was selected as the Director of Airport Operations,
effective April 10, 2016. Both Grigsby and Welliver
interviewed Sledd for the position and both felt he was the
most qualified person for the position. Sledd negotiated his
salary for the Director of Airport Operations position with
Welliver. Initially, Sledd asked for $75, 000, but through
negotiations his salary was set at $73, 000. Sledd's
salary was $8, 000 more than Grigsby's salary was when
she was the Director of Airport Operations.
in December 2016, Welliver began discussions with his
supervisors about cost cutting measures within his
department. While there was some focus on cost cutting in
2015, the conversations now turned to reducing payroll costs.
Welliver announced to the senior management team of the MCI