overall performance ratings of "Competent." Among individual categories, Ms. Burton received some ratings of "Needs Improvement" and one rating of "Unsatisfactory" in an evaluation of her dependability. Ms. Burton's 1989 review noted that "very little confidence can be placed in Annie to carry out her day to day activities," and that "she continues to be argumentative and questions all decisions made." (Def. Ex. 24, at 216, 217).
In January, 1990, Ms. Burton was placed on another "60-Day Action Plan" due to an excessive amount of absences and unacceptable tardiness which compromised her dependability. This decision was made by Claudia Woods, Ms. Burton's supervisor and an African-American woman. Ms. Burton successfully completed the "Action Plan" in March, 1990, and her job performance evaluation was moved from "Needs Improvement" to "Competent." Ms. Burton, however, continued to have problems with work attendance and dependability. In June, 1990, Ms. Woods and Dorothy Liggons, Ms. Burton's new manager and an African-American woman, lowered Ms. Burton's work rating to "Unsatisfactory" and placed her on a 60-day probationary period. Ms. Burton was warned that further attendance problems could result in termination. (Def. Ex. 20).
Ms. Burton satisfactorily completed her probationary period and her job performance status was returned to "Competent" in August, 1990. Ms. Burton was able to maintain this level of work throughout 1990 and received a year-end job evaluation of "Competent," including a rating of "Superior" in the quality of her work.
In November, 1991, Ms. Burton was evaluated by Ms. Woods and a new manager, Pamela Gates, an African-American woman. Ms. Burton received an overall performance rating of "Needs Improvement," and received numerous ratings of "Needs Improvement" and "Unsatisfactory" in individual evaluation categories. Again, Ms. Burton was placed on a "60-Day Action Plan" that outlined nine areas in which Ms. Burton needed to improve her job performance. In December, 1991, Ms. Burton was again placed on probation due to the poor quality of her overall work performance. Her job rating was lowered to "Unsatisfactory." Ms. Burton completed this probationary period and in February, 1992, her job rating was returned to "Competent." Ms. Burton was warned that further poor evaluations could result in termination. (Def. Ex. 10).
In December, 1992, Ms. Burton was evaluated by Sharon Host, a Caucasian woman, and Paul Warner, a Caucasian male. Ms. Burton received an overall evaluation of "Competent," with a few "Needs Improvement" ratings in individual categories. Ms. Burton's 1993 evaluation was performed by Ms. Howard and Mr. Warner. Ms. Burton received an overall performance rating of "Unsatisfactory," with ratings of "Unsatisfactory" in most individual categories. Ms. Burton was consequently placed on a 30-day probation period in December, 1993. Ms. Burton completed her probationary period after she returned from a disability leave. In November, 1994, Ms. Burton lost her job in a corporate reorganization.
Ms. Burton complains that in the 1990's she applied but was not promoted to three separate jobs: 1) underwriting trainee, 2) underwriting technician, and 3) pricing reserving analyst. Ms. Burton's "job grade" as a word processor was 20. All three of the jobs she applied for were graded at 30 or higher. According to CNA employees in the human resources department, "under normal circumstances, it is unusual, even for an employee with an excellent performance history, to successfully post for a position at CNA which will cause them to jump more than five grade levels." (Scott Aff. P 8; Samuel Aff. P 9). CNA employees were unaware of any individual who had been on probation more than one time who had successfully been promoted ten grade levels. Id. Additionally, CNA employees were unaware of any employee who had been on five or more action and probation plans who had successfully been promoted. (Warner Aff. P 11; Samuel Aff. P 12; Host Aff. P 11; Scott Aff. P 6). Ms. Burton was placed on six action and probation plans.
While Ms. Burton complains that both Ms. Host and Mr. Warner were somehow responsible for her not receiving a promotion, this is clearly not the case. The year Ms. Host and Mr. Warner evaluated Ms. Burton, she received a rating of "Competent," one of the highest ratings she garnered during her tenure at CNA. Further, as Ms. Burton's supervisor, Ms. Host's role in the promotion process was simply to forward Ms. Burton's applications to Mr. Warner, Ms. Burton's manager. Mr. Warner's role in the application process was simply to sign Ms. Burton's application and forward it to the appropriate human resources manager. Mr. Warner signed each and every application Ms. Burton filed. Neither Ms. Host nor Mr. Warner ever made decisions regarding whether Ms. Burton would interview for a position.
At CNA, the hiring manager of the department in which the sought-after-job is located ultimately decides who will be interviewed. To the knowledge of all of the CNA affiants, employees with multiple "Needs Improvement" ratings and a history of action and probation plans rarely, if ever, receive interviews for promotions or are actually promoted. (Warner Aff. P 11; Samuel Aff. P 12; Host Aff. P 11; Scott Aff. P 6).
Ms. Burton has not presented evidence that she was qualified for the promotions she sought. Her summary judgment motion simply realleges the discrimination claims in her complaint. Ms. Burton's work evaluations evince a history of poor performance at CNA. She applied for promotions to jobs ten grade levels above her own. Given Ms. Burton's work history, such a promotion would have been unprecedented at CNA. Indeed, those CNA employees who presented evidence indicated individuals who had been on five or more action and probation plans were never promoted. This evidence is uncontroverted by Ms. Burton. See Patterson v. General Motors Corp., 631 F.2d 476, 482 (7th Cir. 1980)("Mere conclusory assertions of discrimination are not sufficient to withstand a motion for summary judgment.").
For the foregoing reasons, Ms. Burton has not made out a prima facie case of discrimination under Title VII. Accordingly, her motion for summary judgment is denied and CNA's motion for summary judgment is granted.
Elaine E. Bucklo
United States District Judge
Dated: September 25, 1997