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Law Review

2946 words - 12 pages

251 F.3d 1210 (8th Cir. 2001)
No. 00-2623
Submitted: March 16, 2001
Filed: May 30, 2001
Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota.[Copyrighted Material Omitted][Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Before Murphy, Lay, and Bye, Circuit Judges.
Lay, Circuit Judge
Marilyn Simmons worked as an administrator for the New Public School District No. Eight (the District). She brought suit against the District alleging gender discrimination for (1) unequal pay, and (2) the non-renewal of her contract. The ...view middle of the document...

" Second, Simmons alleged she was paid less then men in similar positions. She relied on evidence that a male contemporary received larger percentage raises than she received, and evidence that the males hired to replace her a year after she left made significantly more money.2
The district court dismissed Simmons' claim in its entirety. The court first ruled that her claims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata by reason of the settlement in the state case. The court went further and dismissed Simmons' gender discrimination claims on the merits, holding that there was not sufficient evidence to support her claims. We reverse.
II. Discussion
A. Res Judicata
Res judicata precludes the re-litigation of a claim on grounds that were raised or might have been raised in a prior action. See Klipsch, Inc. v. WWR Technology, Inc., 127 F.3d 729, 733 (8th Cir. 1997). While normally Simmons' EEOC complaint would be barred by the settlement in her first lawsuit, it is clear that the explicit reservation of her right to bring her EEOC claims allows this suit. See Rugby Milling Co. v. Logosz, 261 N.W.2d 662, 664 (N.D. 1977); RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF JUDGMENTS 26(1)(a) (allowing a second action when the parties to the first action "have agreed in terms or in effect that the plaintiff may split his claim, or the defendant has acquiesced therein."). We therefore hold that the issues raised by Simmons in her EEOC complaint survive the preclusive effect of the prior settlement.
B. Gender Discrimination
1. Non-Renewal
We next turn to the question of whether there was sufficient evidence to allow a trial on Simmons' gender discrimination claims. We review a district court's grant of summary judgment de novo, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to Simmons. See Moore v. Payless Shoe Source, Inc., 139 F.3d 1210, 1211 (8th Cir. 1998). To make a prima facie case of discrimination under Title VII, Simmons must show (1) she is a member of a protected class; (2) she is qualified to receive the benefit in question; (3) she was denied that benefit; and (4) there exists some evidence that gives rise to an inference of gender discrimination. See Kindred v. Northome/Industrial School Dist. No. 363, 154 F.3d 801, 803 (8th Cir. 1998). On appeal, the defendant argues that no evidence giving rise to an inference of gender discrimination exists. Simmons argues that Harstad's comments provide sufficient evidence of gender discrimination to allow the case to go to trial. We agree. It appears to us that Harstad's statements provide direct evidence3 of gender discrimination, which "meet[s] the fourth prong's minimal requirements of some evidence allowing for an inference of improper motivation." Landon v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 72 F.3d 620, 624 (8th Cir. 1995).
The District relies upon a line of cases that hold that an inference of gender discrimination is not supported by "stray remarks in the workplace," "statements by nondecisionmakers," or...

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