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WILLIAMS v. R.H. DONNELLEY INC.

May 6, 2002

CHARLINA WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF,
V.
R.H. DONNELLEY INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William Conner, Senior United States District Judge.

OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Charlina Williams brings the instant action against defendant R.H. Donnelley, Corp. ("Donneley"), pursuant to Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et. seq. ("Title VII"), alleging that she was subjected to improper race and gender discrimination. Defendant now moves for summary judgment pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 56(b). For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise indicated.*fn1 Donnelley is in the business, inter alia, of publishing classified telephone directories. Plaintiff, an African-American female, was hired by defendant in May 1996 as an entry-level New Business Development Representative in Las Vegas. (Def. Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff was interviewed and recommended by Tom McCormick, defendant's Assistant Vice President and head of the Las Vegas office. (Id. ¶ 15.) Approximately eighty-five percent of plaintiffs time was spent calling companies that were not current Donnelley advertisers. (Id. ¶ 16.) The remaining fifteen percent of plaintiffs time was spent calling small existing accounts with balances that ranged from $18 to $400 per month. (Id.) Plaintiff remained in that position until January 1, 1998, when she was promoted by McCormick to Account Executive within the business development unit. (Id. ¶ 17.) Six months later, in July 1998, plaintiff was promoted a second time to the position of full Account Executive where she worked with accounts whose monthly billings ranged between $500 and $1,500. (Id. ¶ 18.) In January 1999, after only six months as a full Account Executive, plaintiff was again promoted by McCormick to the position of Sales Training Manager and was voluntarily transferred to Purchase, New York, the location of defendant's sales training department. (Id. ¶ 19, 20.) As a Sales Training Manager, plaintiffs duties included training new employees to sell telephone directory advertising. (Id. ¶ 23.) Plaintiff did not personally make any sales calls. (Id. ¶ 24.) After her transfer to New York, plaintiff maintained her residence in Las Vegas and was permitted to work one week out of every month in Las Vegas. (Id. ¶ 22.)

In October 1999, an Account Manager position opened in the Las Vegas office. (Id. ¶ 27.) Account Managers manage large, complex accounts with minimum monthly billings of $1,800. (Id. ¶ 32.) Individuals seeking promotion to Account Manager were required to have "two to three years of proven performance working with medium to large accounts." (Id. ¶ 33.) The Account Manager position was considered a "sales track" position whereas the Sales Training Manager position was considered a "management track" position. (Id. ¶ 36.)

Hoping to return to Las Vegas, on October 18, 1999, plaintiff sent an e-mail to McCormick stating that she was interested in the vacant position. (Id. ¶ 30.) Plaintiff was informed that there were several candidates interested and that she would be notified about a possible interview. (Id. ¶ 31.) On December 7, 1999, plaintiff was informed by Ilene Greenberg, defendant's General Training Manager and plaintiffs direct supervisor, that she would not be interviewed for the Account Manager position because McCormick did not believe she was qualified. (Id. ¶ 39.) On December 10, 1999, plaintiff met personally with McCormick to discuss the Account Manager position. (Id. ¶ 41.) Plaintiff was again informed that she lacked the proper qualifications. (Id. ¶ 41.) McCormick also denied plaintiffs request that he create a management position for her, citing budgetary constraints. (Id. ¶ 42.) McCormick considered three applicants, one female and two male, for the Account Manager position, each of whom had at least three years experience as an Account Executive. (Id. ¶¶ 44-47.) After consulting with Greg Wagonseller, a District Sales Manager III who also interviewed the candidates, McCormick promoted Diana Hoglan, who was the highest ranked Account Executive in the Las Vegas office, to the Account Manager position. (Id. ¶¶ 49-50.)

Plaintiff contends that in late December 1999, she again e-mailed McCormick and expressed an interest in laterally transferring to the Las Vegas office as an Account Executive. (Williams Aff. ¶ 7.) Plaintiff alleges that on January 3, 2000 she was informed that "an issue of charge backs related to one of my accounts was hindering me from returning to the Las Vegas office as an Account Executive at that point." (Id. ¶ 8.)

On or about January 10, 2000, a District Sales Manager III position became available following Wagonseller's resignation. (Def. Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 55.) The position expressly required a minimum of two years experience as a District Sales Manager II. (Id. ¶ 56.) Plaintiff was never employed as a District Sales Manager II and concedes that she was not qualified for the posted position. (Id. ¶ 57.) McCormick ultimately promoted Dwight Gardner, an African-American male and a District Sales Manager II, to the position of District Sales Manager III. (Id. ¶ 58.) The promotion was effective February 16, 2000. (Id. ¶ 59.)

On February 14, 2000, plaintiff submitted a Letter of Medical Necessity from her treating neurologist indicating that she was disabled and unable to work. (Id. ¶ 60.) Plaintiff informed defendant that she would be unable to return to work until her medical condition stabilized. (Id. ¶ 61.) Plaintiff remained unable to work until July 2000, at which point defendant offered her the choice of two Account Executive positions in the Las Vegas office. (Id. ¶ 64.)

Plaintiff voluntarily tendered her resignation on September 5, 2000. (Id. ¶ 65.) On January 5, 2001, Plaintiff filed the instant action alleging that defendant's failure to promote her to the Account Manager and District Sales Manager III positions and to create an Account Manager position in Las Vegas was the result of race and sex discrimination. At her deposition, plaintiff elaborated on her Complaint, alleging a discriminatory failure to promote her to the District Manager II position that was vacated by Gardner's departure and a failure to transfer plaintiff laterally to the Account Executive position she previously held in Las Vegas.*fn2

DISCUSSION

I. Summary Judgment Standard

Defendant moves for summary judgment pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 56. Summary judgment may 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 as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). The burden rests on the moving party to demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Ticali v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, 41 F. Supp.2d 249, 254 (E.D.N.Y. 1999). A genuine factual issue exists if there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmovant for a reasonable jury to return a verdict in his favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); Ticali, 41 F. Supp. 2d at 254. In deciding whether summary judgment is appropriate, the court resolves all ambiguities and draws all permissible factual inferences against the movant. See ...


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