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Metty v. Motorola

October 10, 2006

THERESA M. METTY, PLAINTIFF
v.
MOTOROLA, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable David H. Coar

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before this Court is a motion for summary judgment filed by Motorola, Inc. ("Defendant") against Theresa M. Metty ("Plaintiff") pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is DENIED in part and GRANTED in part.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was hired in November of 2000 as Corporate Vice President and Director of PCS Worldwide Supply Chain for Motorola, Inc. Her direct supervisor at that time was Mike Zafirovski ("Zafirovski"). Over the next several years, Plaintiff was granted yearly raises and bonuses, received consistently positive reviews from her direct supervisor, and in March of 2004 was promoted to Chief Procurement Officer, thereby incorporated into the Senior Leadership Team ("SLT"). During this time, there were few significant problems indicating tension, or in Defendant's words, "noise," surrounding Plaintiff; there were several instances of negative non- supervisory comments,*fn1 and ethics complaints that were nonetheless resolved.*fn2 Plaintiff did meet with Marshall Goldsmith ("Goldsmith"), an executive coach who was also working with Motorola employees Ron Garriques and Tim Cawley. In January of 2004, Plaintiff's training stopped, though accounts vary as to who terminated the work and what motivation lay behind the fact that Goldsmith did not demand payment for services rendered. In any event, Goldsmith's final communications with the Plaintiff seemed to indicate that she had made significant progress but that some issues hadn't been addressed, including her ability to delegate and set priorities.*fn3

Starting in July of 2004, work was performed on Project Olympics ("the Project"), which was intended to restructure many aspects of Motorola and, in particular, centralize the company's supply chain functions. Plaintiff's and Defendant's accounts of this project and Metty's involvement in it vary. Defendant maintains that Plaintiff consistently failed to meet the demands of her role in the Project, by failing to attend meetings, prepare updates in a timely fashion, or support the scope and vision of the project. Plaintiff, on the other hand, maintains that the project from the outset was structured to require only limited involvement from her. Over the course of 2004, the Project team met, drew up plans, provided updates, and eventually introduced the fruits of its labors to a meeting of the SLT in November of 2004 ("2004 T3 Meeting"). Once again, accounts of this meeting vary, with Defendant claiming that Plaintiff failed to present required materials and instead presented independent research of her own, while Plaintiff maintains that she met all demands that were placed upon her.

In Fall of 2004, Zafirovski agreed to leave after Ed Zander ("Zander") became CEO. Zander began a company-wide restructuring in December of that year that incorporated the Project's recommendations. A variety of changes resulted, including the introduction of a new position of acting Global Supply Chain Leader ("GSCL"), later to become a permanent position. This new position was considered to be above Plaintiff in the Motorola hierarchy. Plaintiff expressed interest in this position but was not offered it. Instead Mike Fenger ("Fenger"), a 37-year old male whom Plaintiff claims was significantly less-experienced, became acting GSCL and by January 2005 had become Plaintiff's supervisor. At this point, Plaintiff was informed that she would no longer be responsible for indirect procurement, and would no longer be a member of the SLT. Plaintiff was offered the option of taking a severance package at this time but declined. During the month of January, Plaintiff also made clear that she was interested in the permanent GSCL but was told she was not being considered.

Leading up to Plaintiff's discharge in April of 2005, Defendant maintains that the SLT's trust in Plaintiff continued to deteriorate. According to Motorola's account, which was largely corroborated by members of the human resources department and SLT executives, a great deal of noise had been heard from Plaintiff's co-workers about her personality and work style, and the growing consensus among members of upper management was that she was too focused on traveling and micro-managing, didn't accomplish the macro-level restructuring they sought, failed to engage the Project Olympics process, and generally took credit for others' work. This alleged decline in the SLT's perception of Plaintiff's capabilities culminated in the T1 meeting at the end of February and beginning of March, 2005 ("2005 T1 Meeting"). Meeting attendees engaged in a new Talent Review poll by which the best and worst high-level employees would be ranked.*fn4 At this meeting, the SLT determined that Tony Mampilly (Mampilly") would be invited to take the direct procurement position then held by Plaintiff. Though there is a great deal of disagreement between the parties regarding the trustworthiness of this process, in any event Plaintiff, along with one other elected officer, was given the worst possible score.*fn5

In light of the results of the 2005 T1 Meeting Talent Review, in March of 2005 Fenger informed Plaintiff that she would no longer be employed in her current position and should meet with Arlis McLean ("McLean") to discuss options for the future. Mclean offered her the opportunity to seek out other employment within the company, but the human resources department and Plaintiff were unable to come to a mutually satisfactory position to which she could apply. At this point, there were extended negotiations over a potential severance package that would be given to the Plaintiff at her departure, with much acrimony focused on the fact that Plaintiff would not be allowed to maintain employment until her stock options would vest, approximately two years later. As a last ditch effort, Plaintiff mentioned that she was considering filing a discrimination complaint with the EEOC, but this failed to restart negotiations.

Plaintiff executed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on April 14, 2004. In it, she alleged sex, age, and other discrimination that took place between December of 2004 and April of 2005. Included in the two-page attachment was a description of the above circumstances, along with additional detail regarding her requests to find out the reason for the adverse employment decisions. Plaintiff claims that these inquiries were met with the response that the SLT no longer supported her due to "noise" from her fellow employees. On July 19, 2005, Plaintiff filed this complaint against Defendant for discrimination and retaliation under Title VII, factually based on Motorola's actions including its promotion of other employees, reduction of Plaintiff's work responsibilities, and the fact and terms of her discharge.

STANDARDS

A party seeking summary judgment has the burden of showing, through "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any," that there are no genuine issues of material fact that would prevent judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). On a motion for summary judgment, courts "must construe all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable and justifiable inferences in favor of that party." Allen v. Cedar Real Estate Group, LLP, 236 F.3d 374, 380 (7th Cir. 2001).

Even so, the nonmoving party may not rest upon mere allegations in the pleadings or upon conclusory statements in affidavits; rather, he must go beyond the pleadings and support his contentions with proper documentary evidence. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). To successfully oppose the motion for summary judgment, the non-movant must do more than raise a "metaphysical doubt" as to the material facts, see Wolf v. Northwest Ind. Symphony Soc'y, 250 F.3d 1136, 1141 (7th Cir. 2001) (citation and quotation omitted), and instead must present definite, competent evidence to rebut the motion, see Albiero v. City of Kankakee, 246 F.3d 927, 932 (7th Cir. 2001); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must decide, based on admissible evidence, whether any material dispute of fact exists that requires a trial. Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 1994).

Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment against a party "who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and in which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. A non-moving party who bears the burden of proof on a specific issue must demonstrate by specific factual allegations that there is a genuine issue of material fact in dispute. McMillian v. Svetanoff, 878 F.2d 186, 188 (7th Cir. 1989). This evidence provided by the non-movant must be sufficient to enable a reasonable jury to find in his or her favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). "[A] complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.

In ruling on summary judgment in a case of discrimination in the workplace, "the court should review all of the evidence in the record." Reeves, 530 U.S. at 150. In general, a lower court should not substitute its reasoning for that of the fact finder by dividing up the evidence to determine credibility, and will instead leave it to the ultimate fact finder to determine whether the cumulative evidence is sufficient to prove intent to discriminate. See generally, id.

ANALYSIS

There are two ways for a plaintiff to prove a case of discrimination under Title VII -- the direct method and the indirect method. The plaintiff proves a case under the direct method by putting forth enough evidence, whether direct or circumstantial, to raise a genuine issue concerning the employer's motivation in carrying out the challenged employment action. See e.g., Troupe v. May Dep't Stores Co., 20 F.3d 734, 736 (7th Cir. 1994). Plaintiff does not argue that she has offered sufficient direct evidence that the adverse employment actions taken against her resulted from discrimination on the basis of sex. Instead, she relies on the second method; the indirect, burden-shifting method first set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802-03 (1973).

Under the burden-shifting method, the plaintiff bears the initial burden of producing evidence to sustain a prima facie case. Johnson v. Zema Sys. Corp., 170 F.3d 734, 742 (7th Cir. 1999). Once the plaintiff establishes the prima facie case, the burden then shifts to the employer to produce evidence of a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the employment action. Id.If the employer offers a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason, the burden then shifts back to the plaintiff to present evidence that the employer's proffered reason is pretextual. Id. The ultimate burden of persuasion rests with the plaintiff to show impermissible motive or intent. Id. Employees lose if the company honestly believed in the nondiscriminatory reasons it offered, even if the reasons are foolish, trivial, or even baseless. Hartley v. WI Bell Inc., 124 F.3d 887 (7th Cir. 1997).

Title VII prohibits an employer from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e-2(a)(1). In order to survive a motion for summary judgment against Plaintiff's claim of sex discrimination under Title VII, she must be able to establish a prima facie case of sex discrimination. Plaintiff must therefore show: (1) she is a member of a protected class; (2) she was meeting the employer's legitimate expectations; (3) she suffered an adverse employment action; and (4) other similarly-situated employees who were not members of the class were treated more favorably. Rozskowiak v. Village of ...


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