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Naik v. Boehringer Ingelheim

June 9, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Wayne R. Andersen


This case is before the Court on the motion of defendant, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ("BIPI"), for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. Plaintiff Prakash Naik ("Naik") filed a complaint against his employer, BIPI, alleging discrimination on the basis of age and national origin, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). For the reasons stated below, the motion is granted.


Naik became acquainted with BIPI, a specialty pharmaceutical and healthcare company, while working for Ventiv, an agency that contracted Naik out to BIPI. Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (hereinafter, "DSF") ¶ 16. Naik's job under the contract was to sell BIPI's products in the Schaumburg Territory under the supervision of Brett Lundsten ("Lundsten"). Id. On January 1, 2004, Naik was hired directly by BIPI as a Professional Sales Representative ("PSR") in the Schaumburg Territory, under Lundsten's supervision. Id. at ¶ 4.

According to Naik, "everyone" on the Schaumburg team was stressed because Lundsten was hard on every member of the team and critical of each PSR's performance. Id. at ¶ 57. Naik contends that Lundsten frequently commented on his performance with reference to Naik's "30 years of experience." Pl.'s Statement of Additional Facts (hereinafter, "PSF") ¶ 16-17. Naik also claims that Lundsten once asked how old his, Naik's, wife was, and sent a birthday card with the inscription, "You're How Old?!" inside. Id. at ¶¶ 15, 18. In March 2005, Lundsten questioned Naik about his experience as a sales representative in India. Id. at ¶ 64. Naik complained in writing to Bill Somers ("Somers") regarding his difficulties with Lundsten and the alleged inappropriate comments. Id. at ¶ 19. Naik also complained about his annual review with Lundsten, which took over seven hours to finalize. DSF ¶ 66. Naik further voiced his concerns about Lundsten to Bee Smith, Regional Operations Coordinator, indicating that several people were having problems with Lunsten. PSF ¶ 21.

At a sales meeting during the first half of 2005, Somers, then Regional Manager for the Chicago region, advised all District Managers that the region was underperforming and instructed them to review their territories to identify the cause of the poor performance. DSF ¶ 17. After reviewing his territory's sales numbers, Lundsten, then District Manager for the Rockford district, found that the Schaumburg territory was not meeting its goals and decided to investigate by reviewing each individual member's call report activity. Id. at ¶¶ 18-19, 23-25. During this individual review, Lundsten noticed several anomalous entries in Naik's daily call reporting, including sales numbers that did not reflect an increase of reported sales calls, "late starts" (first sales activity beginning after Naik was expected to be in his territory), and anomalous synchronization times (Naik synchronized his computer with BIPI's network at times when he should have been in the field). Id. at ¶¶ 32-35. Lundsten further found that Naik had reported face-to-face calls with physicians on days that, according to records of the District's sales history, those physicians were not available. Id. at ¶ 34.

Lunsten showed his findings to his supervisor, Somers, and they met with Glen Englram ("Englram"), Human Resources Business Partner for the Region, to discuss their concerns. Id. at ¶ 36. Englram instructed Lundsten to contact the physicians' offices where he suspected falsified calls and verify whether the physician was in the office, seeing patients and meeting with sales representatives, on the dates in question. Id. at ¶ 37. After contacting several offices and speaking with an administrative assistant, front desk receptionist, office manager, or nurse in each office, Lundsten compiled a list of seven instances when Naik reported a face-to-face call with a physician and the office staff confirmed that the physician was not in the office. Id. at ¶¶ 38-39. Lundsten did not speak with any physician directly. Id. at 38. Lundsten admits that it is common practice and part of a PSR's job to meet with physicians outside of their office and for lunch. PSF ¶ 35. Lundsten again met with Englram and Somers to relay his findings and they decided to meet with Naik to discuss the reporting anomalies. DSF ¶ 46.

On August 2, 2005, Lundsten, Somers and Englram met with Naik to discuss the face-to-face call discrepancies. Id. at ¶ 47-48. Naik stated that he could not remember the dates in question, but that he might have information in a personal diary or record at his home which might solve the issue. Id. at ¶ 49. However, Naik did not provide any samples to the physicians at the face-to-face calls in question, and, therefore, did not have any further documentation to provide to BIPI. Id.

After the August 2nd meeting, Lundsten followed up with Naik and requested that he supply any additional information by the end of the day on August 3, 2005. Id. at ¶ 50. In response, Naik asked to be provided with a list of the specific issues discussed during the meeting. Id. at ¶ 51. Lundsten responded with five doctors and the particular dates on which he alleged Naik falsified face-to-face calls. Id. On August 4, Naik sent Lundsten an email stating that he had no further information. Id. at ¶ 52. Lundsten, Somers and Englram concluded that Naik had indeed falsified the calls in violation of company policy. Id. at ¶ 53. As a result, Somers and Englram decided to terminate Naik's employment and they, along with Lundsten, met with Naik on August 5 to inform him of the decision. Id. at ¶¶ 53-54. On October 31, 2005, BIPI hired Anthony Riper, a 26-year-old, non-Indian, to replace Naik. Id. at ¶ 56.

Between 2003 and 2005, BIPI fired two PSRs in the Chicago Region for falsifying call records and two other PSRs resigned from their employment in lieu of being fired for falsifying call reports. Id. at ¶¶ 68, 75. BIPI is not aware of any PSR in the Chicago Region who engaged in falsification of call reporting and was not fired. Id. at ¶ 80.


A. Summary Judgment Standard

A motion for summary judgment will be granted "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Further, the entry of summary judgment is proper 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 Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). When the non-moving party bears the burden of proof on a dispositive issue, that party must go beyond the pleadings and present "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Id. at 324. In determining whether there exists a genuine issue of material fact, the court must view the record and draw all inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Beard v. ...

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