United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division
DARROW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are Defendant Caterpillar, Inc.'s
(“Caterpillar”) motions for summary judgment, ECF
Nos. 47, 51. Also before the Court are Caterpillar's
motion for leave to file under seal exhibits to the first
motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 44; and Rangarajan's
motions for leave to file exhibits to his responses under
seal, ECF Nos. 62, 68. For the following reasons, the motions
for summary judgment are GRANTED, and Rangarajan's case
DISMISSED. The motions for leave to file are GRANTED.
is “an American corporation that designs, develops,
engineers, manufactures, markets and sells machinery,
engines, financial products and insurance to customers via a
worldwide dealer network.” Caterpillar Inc., Wikipedia,
(visited Mar. 19, 2017). Rangarajan was born in India, but
has lived in the United States since 1991, and is an American
citizen. Caterpillar hired him in 1996, and he has worked for
Caterpillar ever since.
Product Development and Global Technology division
(“PD>”) performs engineering services for
Caterpillar customers. It operates in North America, India,
and China. Caterpillar ranks positions according to salary
grade (“SG”). Schlicksup v. Caterpillar,
Inc., No. 09-CV-1208, 2010 WL 2774480, at *1 (C.D. Ill.
July 13, 2010). On September 1, 2007, Rangarajan became an
Engineering Manager-1, an SG 26 position, in PD>. He
held this position until he was promoted to an Engineering
Manager-2, an SG 27 position, on January 1, 2016.
Rangarajan's immediate supervisor from January 1, 2013 to
April 30, 2015 was Ajay Shankar, also of Indian descent.
Shankar was a Director of PD>, of whom there were four
others: David Damerell, who was white; Brian Sun, Jim Blass,
and Lou Balmer. Shankar, Damerell and Sun headed up divisions
of PD> aimed at the Indian, North American, and Chinese
markets respectively, although Rangarajan maintains that
Shankar's division actually served a much larger market
than the other two, and that it was composed primarily of
United States companies.
Business Engagement Organization and the Global BE
October 2011, Rangarajan started working on a “Six
Sigma” project sponsored by Shankar and Damerell.
The purpose of this project was to make a proposal for
setting up a “business engagement organization”
that would offer all of the services currently offered by
PD> in individual markets to a global market. The
project leader was Lavanya Ajesh. The other members of the
project team besides Rangarajan were Sandy Hoskins and
Valerie Wiest, both of whom are white. In April 2012, the
project team duly recommended that Caterpillar create the
global business engagement organization, and, among other
details, recommended that the organization be run by a
“Global BE Manager, ” who would be an SG 27
Engineering Manager-2. This person would be responsible for
marketing to all markets the Caterpillar engineering services
that had previously been marketed by PD> to the Indian,
North American, and Chinese markets.
working on the Six Sigma project, Rangarajan felt that
Hoskins and Wiest were hostile toward him and the employees
who reported to him. This hostility was manifested at least
by Hoskins telling Rangarajan in a 2012 meeting that
“none of you guys may have a job, ” and that
Caterpillar would determine whether or not the creation of
the global business engagement organization made
Rangarajan's India team, and Rangarajan himself,
redundant. Rangarajan also believed that Hoskins was hostile
toward him based on race because at a meeting in 2010,
Hoskins referred to the India engineering team as a
“job shop.” He believed that Wiest was hostile
toward him because in 2011, an engineer working for Wiest had
sent her a note stating that Rangarajan made his (the
engineer's) life difficult by marketing to customers who
were also the engineer's customers. Wiest had supported
the engineer, over Rangarajan's objection.
2011 or early 2012, Rangarajan ate dinner with Shankar and
Ajesh. During dinner, he told Shankar that he wanted to be
considered for the Global BE Manager position that, per the
Six Sigma project team's recommendation, was going to be
created. Shankar told him he would be “a very strong
candidate for that, ” and told him that “we will
follow the Caterpillar process. We will find three strong
candidates, and we will go from there.” Rangarajan Dep.
101, Mot. Summ. J. ECF No. 47 Ex. 1, ECF No. 47-3. Then, on
April 17, 2012, Rangarajan met with Damerell to prepare for a
meeting with the PD> Vice President, at which latter
meeting Rangarjan was going to present the Six Sigma project
team's recommendation for creating a new global business
engagement organization. During the first meeting, Damerell
told Rangarajan that “we are looking to elevate you to
the global business engagement manager position.”
Id. at 77. Rangarajan expressed his interest in the
position, and said that he was well qualified, in part
because the job was similar to the one that he currently did
in Shankar's division of PD>. Damerell said
“that's fine.” Id. In May or June
2012, Rangarajan spoke with Shankar on the telephone and
asked when Caterpillar would hire the new manager. Shankar
said that they were still working on it, and Rangarajan once
again expressed his interest in the position. At some point,
Rangarajan also asked Sun about when the position was going
to be filled, and Sun said that Shankar and others were
working on it.
Hiring at Caterpillar
fills some of its open management positions, including the
one relevant here, by a “Priority Candidate Placement
Process” (“PCPP”). The PCPP puts priority
on “current support or management Caterpillar employees
who do not have or are at risk of not having a job due to
reduction in force or position elimination . . . .”
Haig Decl. 2, Mot. Summ. J. ECF No. 47 Ex. U, ECF No. 47-22.
It also puts priority on “[f]ull time support or
management employees who may be in need of a position that
better matches his/her skill set.” PCPP, Resp. Mot.
Summ. J. ECF No. 64 Ex. E 5, ECF No. 63. Candidates for the
PCPP must have satisfactory or higher performance ratings.
Id.; Haig Decl. 2.
PCPP works by requiring hiring managers to consider minimally
qualified candidates from the pool of PCPP candidates before
they consider other candidates within Caterpillar.
Id. If a PCPP candidate meets the minimum
qualifications for a position, the hiring manager
must hire the PCPP candidate for the position.
Id. If no PCPP candidate meets the minimum
qualifications for the position, then, Caterpillar asserts,
the position is posted internally for other candidates within
Caterpillar to apply for. Id. Rangarajan asserts,
without citing to the record beyond his own deposition
testimony and affidavit, that SG 26 positions and higher were
not posted internally until February 2015, and that PD>
positions were filled via another process if they were not
first filled by PCPP candidates.
Global BE Manager is Hired
was in charge of making the ultimate decision about who
should be hired for the Global BE manager position. In 2012,
Caterpillar's human resources organization told Damerell
to consider Greg Ferkol, who is white, for the Global BE
manager position. This was because Ferkol was an
international service employee (“ISE”) who was
returning to the United States after working overseas.
Caterpillar claims that, pursuant to a letter of
understanding between the PD> division and ISEs within
PD>, PD> must consider an ISE for any open
positions within the division when the ISE's
international assignment ends. Damerell reviewed Ferkol's
personnel documents and decided to interview him, but after
interviewing him in July 2012, along with Sun and Shankar,
decided that he would not be a good fit for the position and
declined to hire him.
January 2013, Damerell authorized a job requisition for the
Global BE manager position. As a result, a job description of
the position was prepared. This description stated that the
Global BE manager should have at a minimum: a bachelor's
degree, ten years of experience at Caterpillar, effective
verbal and written communication skills, the ability to
negotiate and arrive at “sound enterprise decisions,
” strong interpersonal skills, “being a self
starter, ” the ability to work beyond organizational
boundaries, the ability to grow and lead a diverse team, and
a high level of business acumen. Hoskins Decl. Ex. A, Mot.
Summ. J. ECF No. 47 Ex. T, ECF No. 49. Pursuant to the PCPP,
Caterpillar did not at this time advertise the job
internally. Caterpillar's human resources organization
identified three PCPP candidates for the position: James
Witte, Wade Samson, Chad Heltemes, all of whom are white.
asked Hoskins to review these candidates to see if they met
the minimum requirements for the Global BE manager. Hoskins
reviewed the résumés of Witte and Heltemes, and
all three of the applicants' employee datasheets. Hoskins
also spoke with Heltemes's supervisor, Frank McCracken,
who told her that he would not be a good fit for the Global
BE manager position because he did not have strong sales and
marketing skills. Hoskins also spoke to Samson's
supervisor, Rebecca Downing, who told her that Samson did not
have the requisite skills for the position. Finally, Hoskins
spoke with Witte's supervisor, Brian Yoder, who told her
that Witte was good at working with others, and could bring
disagreeing groups of employees together. Hoskins also spoke
to two of Witte's other supervisors, who told her that
Witte had a “solid background, ” was good with
people and at negotiating, and would be a good fit for the
position. Hoskins Decl. 2. Hoskins determined that Witte was
the only qualified candidate, and relayed all of this
information to Damerell.
had earned a BS in Manufacturing Engineering and a MS in
Manufacturing Systems from the University of Wisconsin,
Madison. Caterpillar had hired him in 1988. Over the years,
he had worked for Caterpillar as a manufacturing systems
engineer, facilities engineer, field sales representative,
customer account manager, project lead for a hydraulic
systems project, quality manager, and supervisor of an
enterprise cost reduction team. He had been placed in the
PCPP pool because in January 2013, roughly contemporaneously
with the job requisition for Global BE manager, Caterpillar
eliminated his position.
February 2013, Wiest, Hoskins, and Randy Huber, another
Caterpillar employee, interviewed Witte for another job
internal to Caterpillar for which he was eligible via PCPP, a
Virtual Manufacturing Engineering Manager. Wiest testified at
her deposition that she “declined on him as a fit for
the role because he didn't have the skill set for that
particular job, ” by which she meant, “[h]e did
not have the experience in engineering and in manufacturing
that were necessary for the role.” Wiest Dep. 31, Mot.
Summ. J. ECF No. 47 Ex. Q, ECF No. 47-18. Witte described the
interview this way: the interviewers “said, You've
done very well in the interview. We believe we have - and you
would be very well qualified for this position, but we have
another position which we think you'll also be qualified
at. That was the global business engagement manager
position.” Witte Dep. 22, Mot. Summ. J. ECF No. 47 Ex.
R, ECF No. 47-19. Two days later, Witte met with Hoskins to
talk about the Global BE manager position, and Hoskins told
Witte that if he was interested, she would arrange an
interview. Two days later Witte told Hoskins that he was
interested in the position, and Damerell, Shankar, and Sun
interviewed him for the position shortly thereafter. After
the interview, Damerell decided to hire Witte for the Global
BE manager position. Shankar and Sun concurred in the
decision, and Witte filled the position on March 1, 2013.
Complains and Caterpillar Investigates
January 13, 2013, Kamakshy Velayudhan, a Human Resources
Manager, had told Rangarajan that “boss . . . [had]
decided that this [Global BE manager] position must be filled
by a local U.S. native.” Rangarajan Dep. 128. Shankar,
who was Velayudhan's superior, testified that he did not
remember making such a statement, but that had he said it, he
would have meant that the position should be filled by
someone based in the United States, because most of
Caterpillar's customer base is there. Shankar Dep. 49-50,
Mot. Summ. J. ECF No. 47 Ex. M, ECF No. 47-14.
April 17, 2013, Rangarajan met with Shankar at Shankar's
office in Chennai, India. Rangarajan asked Shankar why
Rangarajan had not been given the opportunity to interview
for the Global BE manager position. Shankar told Rangarajan
“you need cream with your coffee, ” and to
“just keep doing your job.” Rangarajan Dep.
155-56. On April 22, 2013, Rangarajan sent an email to
Shankar stating that Damerell had abused his position in
PD> to deny Rangarajan advancement opportunities, and
threatening litigation. Rangarjan Dep. 195-96. On July 18,
2013, Rangarajan sent another email to Shankar, complaining
of more or less the same thing, and adding that Damerell and
a few managers of his had also blocked Rangarjan's
efforts to get other jobs within Caterpillar. Rangarajan Dep.
206-07. He also alleged that Damerell's organization did
not reflect the diversity of inclusion that would be expected
of a company such as PD>. Id. at 212. He also
complained that two other employees who did work similar to
him had SG 27 positions, while he still had an SG 26
position. Id. at 217.
19, 2013, Rangarajan sent an email to PD> Vice
President Gwenne Henricks complaining about minority staffing
issues at PD>. The email alleged that minorities who
conformed to managers' views of how things should work
had advancement opportunities, while those who did not
conform, like Rangarajan, did not; that the leadership was
not diverse, that Hoskins had made the “job shop”
comment, and that Rangarajan had not been promoted to the
Global BE manager position because of his nonconforming
views. Henricks forwarded this email to Human Resources
Manager Suzanne Kisby, who investigated the complaints. As
part of her investigation, Kisby interviewed Damerell,
Shankar, and Hoskins. Damerell told Kisby that he had hired
Witte because he was a PCPP candidate who met the minimum
qualifications. Kisby met with Rangarajan on January 22,
2014, and told him that she had determined that Witte was
properly promoted to the Global BE manager position.
and Rangarajan's First Lawsuit
August 9, 2013, Damerell told Witte that Witte was not
meeting expectations, and that Damerell thought the poor
performance was the results of a skills mismatch with the
position, which Caterpillar had now decided to eliminate.
Witte was placed back in the PCPP pool, and ultimately, on
October 30, 2013, hired back within Caterpillar at an SG 24
position.Witte Dep. 45-46.
November 13, 2013, Rangarjan filed a charge of discrimination
with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission
(“EEOC”), alleging race and national origin
discrimination by Caterpillar for not promoting him to the
Global BE manager position. He also alleged that Caterpillar
had retaliated against him for complaining by removing him
from an organization chart and harassing him. On February 24,
2014, the EEOC declined to investigate further and issued a
right to sue letter. Compl. Ex. 2, ECF No. 1-2. Rangarajan
filed the instant lawsuit on April 24, 2014, alleging
discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000e-17 (“Title
VII”), Counts I-II, and under 42 U.S.C. § 1981,
Count III, specifically for Caterpillar's failure to
promote him to the Global BE manager position on account of
his race (Asian) and national origin (Indian).
was not the end of it, however. When Caterpillar reorganized
PD> in January 2014, all of the teams that had reported
to Damerell and some of the teams that had reported to Sun
began reporting to Shankar. Since Rangarajan worked for
Shankar, this meant that Rangarjan was now responsible for
engineering services performed in India, the United States,
first quarter of 2014, Henricks asked the human resources
organization to do “a thorough review” of the
employees who reported to a PD> director. The review was
undertaken because the employment structure in PD> had
recently changed, as described above. Cignetti Dep. 32, Mot.
Summ. J. ECF No. 51 Ex. S, ECF No. 51-20. It was specifically
a review of salary grades. Cignetti Decl. 1, Mot. Summ. J.
ECF No. 51 Ex. BB, ECF No. 51-29. Human Resources Manager
Stacey Cignetti, who is white, was the coordinator for this
project. She asked each employee whose salary was being
reviewed to submit a description of his or her job duties.
She sent out job description templates that included each
employee's current job description, and the job
descriptions for one salary grade above and below for
purposes of comparison. Cignetti Decl. 2. The template
contained a space for the employee to describe his or her
actual job responsibilities. Cignetti asked all the employees
not to modify the template and to fill out only the space
provided on the template. Cignetti Dep. 15.
filled out and sent back his template. He also sent a
separate email to Cignetti claiming that three other
employees who had had jobs similar to his in the past had
held SG 27 positions. Cignetti reviewed Rangarajan's
template, Cignetti Dep. 12, by comparing Rangarajan's
description of his job duties to the duties of SG 25, 26, and
27 engineering manager positions, in order to determine if
his then-SG 26 Engineering Manager-1 position was consistent
with his actual job duties. Based on her review, Cignetti
determined that Rangarajan's job responsibilities
appropriately matched the SG 26 Engineering Manager-1
position that he held. Cignetti subsequently met with other
job evaluators and with Shankar to review her findings.
Shankar asked that they be send to Mary Crain, a Senior
Corporate Job Evaluator, for final review. Crain concurred
with Cignetti in her evaluation of Rangarajan's job
responsibilities. Cignetti then gave her recommendations to
Henricks and each Director, including Shankar. Henricks and
Shankar approved Cignetti's recommendation to keep
Ragnarajan at an SG 26.
part of the salary review, six other employees who worked for
Shankar were reviewed: Hoskins, an SG 28, and white; Wiest,
an SG 28, and white; Nilesh Shah, an SG 24 and Asian; John
Norlin, an SG 26 and white; Asokan Manivelu, an SG 26 and
Asian; Ramalingham Venkatesan, an SG 26 and Asian. Shah,
Norlin, and Manivelu were ...