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DESOIGNIES v. CREDIT LYONNAIS

September 10, 1985

NICOLE A. DeSOIGNIES, Plaintiff, against CREDIT LYONNAIS, Defendant


The opinion of the court was delivered by: KRAM

MEMORANDUM DECISION

SHIRLEY WOHL KRAM, U.S.D.J.

 This action was commenced on January 25, 1982, by the filing of a complaint alleging that plaintiff's employer, defendant Credit Lyonnais, had violated section 4(a)(1) and (a)(2) of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. ยง 623(a)(1) and (a)(2) ("ADEA") by discriminating against her with respect to her age. The case was tried by the Court on November 21 and 22, 1983. At the close of the trial defendant moved for judgment in its favor. (Tr. 284.) The Court granted defendant's motion, with its opinion to follows. (Id.) The following constitutes the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a).

 FACTS

 Credit Lyonnais is a commercial banking institution organized under the laws of France, with a branch office in New York.

 Plaintiff, a New York resident, was hired by Credit Lyonnais on or about June 11, 1974, to work in its New York office. (Tr. 6; Plaintiff's Exh. 43.) She was hired initially for the position of executive secretary. (Tr. 7.) At the time she was hired, DeSoignies was forty or forty-two year old. *fn1" (Tr. 35, 102; Plaintiff's Exh. 43.)

 In early 1975, DeSoignies was promoted to a position in the individual accounts section of the bank. (Tr. 7.) She remained in this position until December, 1977. During her first two years in this department, plaintiff received favorable reviews of her work. (Plaintiff's Exhs. 3, 4.) In 1977, however, plaintiff received unfavorable evaluations of her work. (Plaintiff's Exh. 5; Defendant's Exh. B.) Indeed, DeSoignies received below average ratings in every category on her annual review that year. (Plaintiff's Exh. 5.) The head of her department noted "[a] quick solution must be found, i.e. a transfer to a department where her capacities could be better used." (Plaintiff's Exh. 5.) DeSoignies's relationship with, or attitude toward, her co-workers and her supervisors was termed "immature." (Id.) Plaintiff felt that her overall evaluation was "incorrect and illogical." (Tr. 41.) She addressed a note for her file attempting to refute some of the criticisms levied against her by the department head. (Defendant's Exh. A.) At the trial, DeSoignies would not even admit that these evaluations had been "critical" (Tr. 40-42); she preferred to use the term "unflattering" (Tr. 41). In any event, as a result of her supervisor's dissatisfaction with her work, she was transferred to the Technical Assistance Department ("TAD") and was not awarded an annual raise. (Tr. 52; Plaintiff's Exh. 43.)

 TAD was broken down into two separate sections, the Credit Analysis Section and the Portfolio Administration Section. The Credit Analysis Section analyzed the credit-worthiness of customers and potential customers of the bank and industry studies. The Portfolio Administration Section administered the outstanding loans and loan applications of the bank and performed some credit investigations. (Tr. 178.) The head of the Portfolio Administration Section was Howard Cohen, who in turn reported to John Mazzocchi, the head of TAD. (Tr. 181.) When DeSoignies was transferred to TAD at the beginning of 1978, she was assigned to the Portfolio Administration Section. (ID.)

 DeSoignies's primary responsibility when she was assigned to TAD was coordinating the loan applications with their approvals and authorizations. (Id.) Essentially, this entailed making copies of loan applications, sending the originals to the main office in Paris after receiving branch approval, and seeing that copies of any approvals from the main office were attached to, and filed with, the branch copy of the application. (Tr. 182.)

 In May, 1978, DeSoignies's work in TAD was given an interim evaluation. (Plaintiff's Exh. 6; Tr. 183-186.) Her initial evaluation in TAD was favorable. Her supervisors indicated that she had "made a satisfactory adjustment to her new assignment" and evaluated her work, generally, as somewhat above average. (Plaintiff's Exh. 6.) Things had changed, however, by the time of her annual review, some four months later. (Tr. 187; Plaintiff's Exh. 7.) At that time her work was evaluated as average to slightly below average. (Id.) Two particular areas of difficulty were noted: work with detail and questioning the judgment of her supervisors. It appears that DeSoignies did not have a good relationship with her supervisors. Indeed, her relationship with her immediate supervisor, Howard Cohen, was so bad that she tried to deny the very existence of a supervisory relationship. (Tr. 75-76, 188-89; 211-13.)

 Ultimately, plaintiff's duties as Administrative Assistant in TAD included the following: administration of loan authorizations and control of loan maturities; liaison between Parisian and domestic lawyers; preparation of a weekly approval report; and various discrete small projects. (Tr. 8, 222-23, 227; Plaintiff's Exhs. 10, 11.)

 Two other duties of significance were performed by the Portfolio Administration Section with respect to loans. One of those duties involved making certain that all the necessary legal documentation was perfected to secure the bank's position on the loan. The other duty involved drafting and sending commitment letters to the client setting forth the terms and conditions of a loan, once approved. Initially, in 1978 and 1979, both of these functions were performed by Jacques Lanoue. (Tr. 178-80.) In July 1979, a separate position was created with the sole responsibility for commitment letters. (Tr. 180.) That position was awarded to Rosemarie Lenz, theretofore DeSoignies's successor in the individual accounts section of the bank.

 In September, 1979, the duties performed by plaintiff were redistributed, and her position eliminated. (Tr. 193, 197, 220-23.) Whereas DeSoignies had performed the administration of loan authorizations manually, now the bulk of the work on loan authorizations was computerized. (Tr. 9, 96, 193-94, 197, 219-20; Plaintiff's Exh. 53.) What little was left of plaintiff's duties was redistributed to two individuals: Jacques Lanoue, a fifty-two year old employee already in the department, and John Mazzocchi, the head of the department. *fn2" (Tr. 220-23.)

 Plaintiff was kept on at Credit Lyonnais while a suitable transfer within the branch could be effected. Initially, she was transferred to the Credit Analysis Section of TAD under the immediate supervision of Peter Crawford. (Tr. 154.) It was contemplated that this transfer into the Credit Analysis Section was to be temporary (Tr. 199, 230; Plaintiff's Exh. 52); however, if DeSoignies performed well in this area, she could have remained there (Tr. 229). In this new position, DeSoignies was first assigned to do work on spread sheets, transposing numbers from one document (such as a loan applicant's financial statements), to another. (Tr. 156.) Her supervisors were not satisfied with her work on spread sheets, noting both her poor attention to detail and her nearly indecipherable handwriting. (Tr. 157, 248-49.) Nonetheless, she was thereafter allowed to do a few credit analyses (an opportunity DeSoignies strongly desired). *fn3" (Tr. 230.) Credit analysis involves synthesizing and analyzing numbers from the spread sheets to determine the credit-worthiness of a loan applicant in order to determine whether or not to ...


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