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Lawhead v. Ceridian Corp.

November 28, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Morton Denlow


Plaintiff Paul Lawhead ("Plaintiff") claims that defendant Ceridian Corporation ("Ceridian") failed to hire him because of his age, fifty-five, and he has filed an age discrimination complaint. Ceridian claims that it did not hire Plaintiff because he lacked directly related sales experience and therefore he was not the most qualified applicant for the position. Ceridian has filed a motion for summary judgment that is now before the Court. For the reasons stated herein, the Court grants Ceridian's summary judgment motion.


The following facts are undisputed or presented in the light most favorable to Plaintiff when contested.


The Ceridian Human Resources Group ("CHRG"), a division of Ceridian Corporation, sells human resources services such as a payroll and tax filing to its corporate customers. PR ¶ 4.*fn1 In January 2001, Plaintiff responded to CHRG's job posting for a Major Account Representative (MAR) position at its Rosemont, Illinois office. Id. Ceridian's MARs, the highest level of CHRG sales employees servicing the Chicago area, meet with prospective customers' human resources directors or other senior management to sell Ceridian's payroll and human resources software products. Id. at ¶ 5.

The job posting included a statement of minimum qualifications for the position: A Bachelor's Degree in business/finance/accounting or equivalent experience required, plus three to five years of directly related sales experience. Knowledge of Human Resources or Payroll required. Incumbent must possess effective oral and written communications skills, problem-solving skills, and be able to work independently in order to effectively negotiate sales. Familiarity with PCs and software required.

Pl. Ex. 4.


CHRG manager Ryan Wormley, age thirty, received Plaintiff's application for the MAR position in early 2001. PR ¶ 9. Plaintiff's resumé indicated that he had previously worked for a different division of Ceridian and also had experience selling information technology (IT) tools. Pl. Ex. 7. Based on this experience, Wormley decided to interview Plaintiff for the position. Pl. Ex. 2.

During Plaintiff's interview with Wormley in February 2001, Wormley explored Plaintiff's sales experience, which spanned more than twenty years. PR ¶¶ 10, 11. Wormley asked Plaintiff about his experience at Ceridian in 1996 and was disappointed to learn that, although Plaintiff had worked in sales, he had not sold the company's payroll or human resources products. Id. at 10.

Wormley also explored whether Plaintiff had any other experience selling payroll and human resources products. Id. at ¶ 9. Plaintiff indicated that he did not have any experience selling products strictly for the purposes of payroll or human resources. PR ¶ 12. Plaintiff did have experience selling a software package called MCBA, however, which included Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), a human resources module. Id. at 13. Plaintiff's experience selling ERP was nearly twenty years ago. Id. Plaintiff sold fewer than a dozen MCBA packages and could not remember if the packages included ERP. Id. Plaintiff's resumé reflected additional experience in IT sales and marketing dating back to 1987. Pl. Ex. 7. Plaintiff possessed a Bachelor's Degree in Religion. Lawhead Dep. at 7.

Following the first interview, Plaintiff was invited to meet with Ceridian MAR Roger Morris, age fifty. PR ¶ 17. During this meeting, Plaintiff asked Morris if he would fit in well at Ceridian. DR ¶ 14. According to Plaintiff, Morris stated that Plaintiff and he were older than most MARs in Ceridian's Rosemont office, most of whom were in their thirties. Id. Following his meeting with Plaintiff, Morris reported to Wormley that Plaintiff lacked experience selling payroll or human resources products. PR ¶ 18. Morris also told Wormley that Plaintiff would make a "good addition to the team." DR ¶ 15.


Following Plaintiff's interview with Morris, Wormley made the decision to discontinue Plaintiff's interview process. PR ¶ 19. Ceridian eventually hired David Coyner, age thirty-three, for the MAR position in June 2001. Id. at ¶ 20. Coyner possessed an MBA and three years of experience selling E-Benefits programs, a human resources product, in two previous jobs. Id. By contrast, Plaintiff possessed a Bachelor's degree in Religion and had only limited experience selling human resources or payroll software years ago. Lawhead Dep. at 7; Pl. Ex. 7.

After Ceridian failed to hire him, Plaintiff submitted a discrimination claim to the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) alleging discrimination on the basis of age and religion. Def. Ex. 7. Ceridian's statement to the IDHR listed the reasons why it did not offer the MAR position to Plaintiff:

Mr. Lawhead was not the most qualified candidate for the Major Account Representative Position. Mr. Lawhead did have sales experience selling IT tools which qualified him for an informational interview. He did not have previous sales experience selling Human Resource/Payroll/Benefits or Time and Attendance software calling on Chief Financial Officers or Vice Presidents of Human Resources. The position of Major Account Representative requires experience selling Human Resources/Payroll software or related software sales experience. [Other Ceridian MARs] were more qualified for the Major Account Representative than Mr. Lawhead.

DR ¶ 1; Pl. Ex. 2 at ¶ 3. In another statement to the IDHR, Ceridian stated that Plaintiff "was not the most qualified candidate for the position" because "he did not have previous software or technical sales experience calling on Chief Financial Officers or Vice Presidents of Human Resources." Pl. Ex. 3 at ¶ 4.

In his deposition, Wormley reiterated that Plaintiff did not have experience selling payroll and human resources software. Pl. Ex. 8 at 69. Wormley stated that Plaintiff had "plenty of experience" selling to high level executives and that a lack of such experience was not the basis for his decision not to hire Plaintiff. Wormley Dep. at 65. Rather, Plaintiff's lack of direct experience with human ...

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