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BEAMON v. HEWITT ASSOCIATES

LINDA L. BEAMON, Plaintiff,
v.
HEWITT ASSOCIATES, LLC, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARTIN ASHMAN, Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Linda L. Beamon filed a one-count employment discrimination complaint against Defendant, Hewitt Associates, LLC ("Hewitt"), alleging retaliation under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) (Title VII). Hewitt has moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.*fn1 For the following reasons, Hewitt's motion is granted.

  I. Background

  A. The Parties

  Plaintiff was employed by Hewitt from August 2000 to November 2001 as a customer service associate ("CSA"). As a CSA, Plaintiff administered health and retirement benefit plans to Hewitt's clients. Initially, Plaintiff worked on a client team serving Morgan Stanley, but because that team was phased out, Plaintiff transferred to a client team serving Xerox Corporation in February 2001. Plaintiff was trained to use the policies and procedures specific to Morgan Stanley and later to Xerox.

  B. Plaintiff's Supervision Under Steve Bryant

  When Plaintiff transferred to the Xerox client service team she remained under the supervision of Sarah Raines through April 2001, and in May 2001 Steve Bryant became her supervisor. While under Mr. Bryant's supervision, Plaintiff was rated on a monthly basis by a coach who would monitor her calls. Her scores were based on (1) the accuracy of the information she provided to the caller, and (2) the manner in which she communicated with the caller, a performance factor referred to as "MAGIC," which stands for "Making A Good Impression on the Customer." MAGIC skills entail greeting a caller appropriately, using a caller's name throughout the call, and thanking the caller at the end.

  Hewitt's supervisors are expected to review their associates once a month to discuss their performance. Mr. Bryant met with Plaintiff in May 2001 and told Plaintiff that her MAGIC and accuracy scores were unsatisfactory and that she needed to improve her scores immediately. (Bryant Decl. ¶ 18.) However, Plaintiff responded that she had never been given formal training in MAGIC skills at the time of this review and her former supervisor, Ms. Raines, had informed Mr. Bryant of this fact. (Beamon Dep. at 36-37, 42-44.)

  Mr. Bryant did not meet with Plaintiff in June 2001, stating that they could not meet because Plaintiff was on vacation during the scheduled meeting. (Bryant Decl. ¶ 19.) Mr. Bryant did meet with other Xerox employees on a monthly basis. (Pl.'s Am. Resp. to Local R. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 18.) In July and August of 2001, Plaintiff met with Mr. Bryant for their monthly performance meetings. In July 2001 Mr. Bryant informed Plaintiff her MAGIC scores were very low, though her accuracy scores were improving. (Bryant Decl. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff had still not yet been properly trained on MAGIC skills. At their August 2001 meeting, Mr. Bryant informed Plaintiff that she was still performing at a below satisfactory level. (Bryant Decl. ¶ 21.) Mr. Bryant then claims he arranged for additional coaching to help Plaintiff improve. (Id.) However, Plaintiff did not receive a coach until October 2001 when she was placed on the performance improvement plan. (Beamon Dep. at 46.) Mr. Bryant did not meet with Plaintiff during the month of September 2001.

  C. Performance Improvement Plan

  On October 16, 2001, Plaintiff was placed on a sixty-day performance improvement plan because she was still having problems with her MAGIC skills. Plaintiff reminded Mr. Bryant she had not received a coach pursuant to their August 2001 meeting and a coach was assigned to provide additional training and information regarding how she could improve her phone calls. The coach sat with Plaintiff approximately one hour a week, listened to her calls and provided immediate review. Plaintiff now also met once a week with Mr. Bryant so that he could closely monitor her performance and improvement rate.

  D. Security Policies

  At a Xerox team meeting in August 2001, months before Plaintiff fielded a similar call, Mr. Bryant informed the team that an employee had transferred funds without verifying a caller's password and that this mistake had cost Hewitt's client, Xerox, a lot of money. (Beamon Dep. at 113.) At this meeting Mr. Bryant stated that if these mistakes continued to occur, people would get written up and it would be held against them on their reviews. (Id.)

  On October 17, 2001, Brian Doyle, one of Hewitt's senior executives, sent an email to all associates, including Plaintiff, which emphasized the importance of maintaining security of the confidential information of their clients' employees. This email stated that all associates were to follow the current security procedures and if an associate did not know what the procedures were, he was to contact his manager.

  In Plaintiff's case, the security policy to which she was subject was the Xerox Security Policy dated October 1, 2001, which requires Xerox participants to provide their Social Security number and passwords (PIN) in order to access confidential information or to process transactions on the internet or through IVR, the automated voice-response system. (Bryant Decl. ¶ 16.) This security policy, although drafted by Xerox, was distributed to Hewitt's employees on Hewitt letterhead. (Beamon Dep. Ex. 3.)

  At her deposition, Plaintiff confirmed her knowledge of the information contained in the October 1, 2001 Xerox Security Policy. Plaintiff explained that Xerox's security policy required a participant to manually enter his Social Security number and PIN on his telephone keypad before he could speak with a Hewitt CSA regarding specific information about his account. If the caller did not have his Social Security number and PIN, a CSA could only provide general information. A CSA was immediately aware of whether a Xerox employee had manually entered his PIN before the call was routed to the CSA because when the CSA pulled up the caller's information on her computer screen, the screen would appear white if the caller had already entered his PIN into the phone system. ...


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