The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert W. Sweet, U.S.D.J.
Defendants Conde Nast Publications Inc. ("Conde Nast"),
Alexandra Golinkin ("Golinkin"), Julie Krumholz ("Krumholz"), and
Wendy Cohen ("Cohen") have moved pursuant to Rule 56 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for summary judgment to dismiss
the complaint of plaintiff Aminah Ricks ("Ricks") alleging racial
discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as
amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII") and
42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("Section 1981"). For the reasons set forth
below, the motion is granted.
Ricks, an African-American, was employed by Conde Nast as an
Account Manager for Allure Magazine from July 14, 1997 until
October 14, 1997.
Conde Nast is a corporation that maintains offices in New York
City and is engaged in the business of publishing magazines,
including Allure Magazine.
Golinkin was the publisher of Allure Magazine from May 1993
through October 1998.
Krumholz was employed by Allure Magazine from on or about March
1997 through April 1998, during which period she was responsible
for the advertising positioning and layout of the magazine.
Cohen was the national sales director for Conde Nast in the New
York office and was responsible for managing account managers in
the five regional sales offices from April through October 1997.
Ricks commenced this action asserting claims for race
discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation under
Title VII and Section 1981 on October 22, 1998, having previously
filed a charge of discrimination by the defendants with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on September 26, 1997.
Ricks' complaint alleges that her termination was motivated by
race discrimination; that she was subjected to racial harassment
that created a hostile work environment; and that she was
terminated as retaliation for protesting her employer's
discriminatory practices. All of these claims are brought
pursuant to both Title VII and Section 1981.
The parties engaged in comprehensive discovery, exchanged
hundreds of pages of documents and deposed six witnesses. The
instant motion was heard and marked fully submitted on January
The facts set forth below are taken from the parties' Rule 56.1
statements, affidavits, and exhibits. What follows is gleaned
from these submissions, with any factual inferences drawn in
In 1996, Ricks submitted an application to the Conde Nast Human
Resources Department for an account manager position. In May
1997, Sandra Stock ("Stock"), Human Resources Manager for Conde
Nast, contacted Ricks concerning a vacant account manager
position at Allure Magazine. At the time Stock contacted her,
Ricks was working as an account manager at Heart & Soul Magazine,
published by Rodale Press.
Account managers are responsible for selling advertising pages
in the magazine to advertisers or advertising agencies. Among
other duties, account managers must articulate the editorial
mission of the magazine to clients and potential clients and
persuade them to place advertising in the magazine through
letters, promotional materials, phone calls, and meetings.
Following Ricks' interview with Krumholz, the Allure
advertising director at that time, Nada Stirrat ("Stirrat"),
called Ricks for a meeting and requested that she prepare a mock
sales presentation. Following her interview with Stirrat, Ricks
interviewed with Golinkin in or about June 1997. Ricks was
subsequently offered the position of account manager, which she
Ricks' compensation package did not include a commission.
According to Stock, Ricks was not entitled to a commission
because she had been hired in the second half of the year. Eric
Wirth ("Wirth"), a white male, was hired under the title of
Beauty Advertising Director on July 22, 1997, and was given
certain "guaranteed  supplementary" compensation which some
documents refer to as a commission.
During the period of Ricks employment at Allure, she was the
only African-American account manager.
Ricks began work as an Allure Magazine account manager on July
14, 1997. She reported to Stirrat, as well as Krumholz and
Golinkin. Stirrat left Allure in or about late July 1997. Ricks
then began reporting to Cohen, who had recently joined the New
York office, as well as to Krumholz and Golinkin.
Ricks was told she would receive training for her position.
Ricks was provided with a calendar of sales calls so that she
could accompany other account managers to observe how they
carried out their work. She went on approximately three calls.
Ricks was also provided with sample letters and presentations.
Ricks was not given a job description.
When Ricks began her employment she was given a binder of
account information that had been compiled by her predecessor.
Ricks began to work on updating the information on the accounts.
She had not completed this task when she was terminated.
In or about August 1997, Ricks made a sales call, accompanied
by Krumholz, to the Advil advertising agency, to try to convince
them to use print advertising even though Advil had abandoned
print advertising several years earlier. Krumholz disagreed with
this strategy. Allure developed a plan to generate additional
advertising sales for its October issue by offering potential
advertisers a merchandising premium incentive. Ricks prepared a
letter offering multiple premiums to a single account, although
the letter was not sent.
On or about July 28, 1997, Krumholz called Ricks a "bug" that
was going to get "squashed," and further told her that she was
"wearing out the carpet" in Golinkin's office.
Ricks met on a weekly basis with Krumholz and Cohen regarding
her accounts. In August 1997, Krumholz and Cohen asked Ricks to
prepare specific reports and summaries regarding her accounts.
Cohen told her that she should expect to make some mistakes and
that it would take about six months to become really seasoned. In
August 1997, Krumholz told Ricks that Golinkin was going to "rip
[Ricks] a new a — hole".
On or about August 26, 1997, Cohen and Krumholz met with Ricks
and told her that her performance was unsatisfactory, including
her ability to articulate the magazine to clients or potential
clients, her failure to keep accurate information in her account
book, and her arranging of unproductive meetings. They directed
her to prepare a "working agreement" outlining what she planned
to accomplish within six weeks, and told her that if she failed
to accomplish the plan outlined in the working agreement that she
would be terminated within six weeks. The "working agreement" was
a concept that had ...