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Guglielmo v. Marchon Eyewear

February 15, 2006

STACY GUGLIELMO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MARCHON EYEWEAR, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Townes, U.S.D.J.

MEMORANDUM & OPINION

Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, section 194 of the Labor Law of the State of New York and under New York State Human Rights Law for discriminatory conduct she claims she suffered while in Defendant's employ. Defendant moves for summary judgment. Based upon all submissions of the parties and for the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion is granted in full, and the complaint is dismissed in its entirety.

I. Facts and Procedural History*fn1

Plaintiff Stacy Guglielmo ("Plaintiff" or "Guglielmo") was employed by defendant Marchon Eyewear, Inc., ("Defendant" or "Marchon") as a royalty administrator from September 1998 (Pincus Decl. Ex. D ("Guglielmo Tr".) at 52) until August 29, 2001. Marchon is a manufacturer and distributor of eyewear for both its own brand labels and outside designers. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 3.) Plaintiff was hired at a salary of $35,000, though, by the time she left Marchon, her salary was $41,444. (Def. Stat. 56.1 ¶ 9, 15.) Plaintiff had experience in this field prior to her employment at Marchon, and also held both a General Equivalency Degree ("GED") and an Associate's Degree in Business Administration. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 57.)

In connection with Marchon's distribution of eyewear for outside designers, it is party to licensing agreements which allow Marchon to use licensor's names (such as Donna Karan or Calvin Klein) on its products in exchange for fee, known as a royalty. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 5.) "Royalty reports" are prepared by Marchon quarterly and submitted to the licensor, detailing the fees to be paid to the licensor, and Marchon also prepares "advertising reports" for licensors, which detail the amount spent by Marchon to advertise a particular licensor's product. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶¶ 6-8.) As a member of the Royalty Administration department, Plaintiff's responsibilities at Marchon were thus intricately related to Marchon's agreements with its outside licensors. Guglielmo was primarily responsible for preparing royalty, advertising and sales reports. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 16.) Guglielmo performed sales forecasts, but not financial analysis. (Guglielmo Tr. at 99-100). As Guglielmo has no formal accounting training, Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 59, she had performed only "minimum accounting" in the past. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 62-65.) She did not prepare but did track media plans, Guglielmo Tr. at 104, did not do financial analysis, id. at 99, and didn't know how to perform basic accounting functions such as journal entries. (Guglielmo Tr. at 108; Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶¶ 16-17.) Indeed, it is undisputed that Plaintiff is not an accountant and was unaware of (and uninterested in learning) how to perform journal entries. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 18.) Upon hiring, Plaintiff was supervised by Mike Ferro. After the first few months of her employment, Michelle Curcio became her supervisor.

In July 2000, Marchon hired Richard Martin ("Martin") as its new Chief Operating Officer. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 19.) Martin was hired in furtherance of Marchon's effort to "re-engineer" the company, which process involved organizational restructuring to include a layer of staff whose function was to perform a greater, more sophisticated degree of informational analysis than that required by Marchon before. (Wenger Aff. Ex. 7 ("Gentile Tr.") at 42, 98; Gentile Aff. ¶¶ 18-20.) The position of Senior Accountant was born out of Marchon's decision to re-engineer the company and it was filled by Robert Squillace ("Squillace"). Squillace was hired on February 19, 2001. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 22.) He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting, a Master's Degree in Business Administration, and has had over 20 years of accounting and financial experience. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 68.) While Guglielmo was hired at a rate of $35,000 per year, Squillace's starting salary with Defendant was $65,000 per year, an amount he demanded of Marchon as commensurate with his prior salary as a senior financial manager at a music company. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶¶ 66-77; Squillace Aff. ¶¶ 8-10.) As of the filing date of this motion, November 2004, Squillace's salary was $70,339. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 77.)

Before Squillace was officially hired by Defendant, Plaintiff met with him to explain the responsibilities of the royalty group in general and her role within the group. (Id.; Guglielmo Tr. at 137-8.) Though it was Plaintiff's understanding at that time that Squillace would be performing the functions of her job while she was on maternity leave, id., she did not know Squillace's official title when hired. (Id. at 132.)

Between February 19, 2001, and April 27, 2001, the date on which Plaintiff began her maternity leave, Plaintiff trained Squillace on preparation of royalty and advertising reports.*fn2 (Guglielmo Tr. at 148, 150.) Plaintiff claims the two also completed sales reports together. (Id. at 149.) Plaintiff also trained Squillace on an advertising program called the "AS400" (which involved providing him with project codes), oriented him to the ways Marchon generated reports, and instructed him on what was necessary to receive timely royalty payments. (Id. at 161-166.) Plaintiff admitted in her deposition that Squillace was already aware of how to do some of these tasks or would have been able to figure many of them out by referencing the various licensing agreements. (Id. at 162-164, 166-169.)

Dispute as to Squillace's Job Description

Squillace estimates that 30-35% of his time at Marchon is spent performing analyses related to sales forecasts. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶29; Squillace Aff. ¶ 21.) These forecasts determine the percentage of sales of a particular licensor's product that Marchon must pay in royalties or spend in advertising. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶¶ 23-28; Squillace Aff. ¶¶ 17-21.) Miscalculated sales projections can significantly affect Marchon's profit margins. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 23-28; Squillace Aff. ¶¶ 17-21.) It is undisputed that Guglielmo did not perform the type of financial analysis necessary to create these sales forecasts. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 30; Squillace ¶ 22.) Additionally, Squillace participates in the preparation of "media plans" (which Plaintiff admits that she did not prepare), the decision of whether to change royalty rates, and reconciliation of accounts across different billing systems. He is involved with external audits, provides reports to management regarding the performance of Marchon's distributors, and provides financial analysis of technology licenses in preparation for meetings. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 31, 37, 39-44, 46-48.) Overall, the list of Squillace's undisputed job responsibilities that are in excess of Plaintiff's duties at Marchon is significant.

On the other hand, the Court finds Plaintiff's submissions on this motion troublesome, at best, and wholly disingenuous, at worst. In addition to the procedural deficiencies in Plaintiff's submissions are the many inconsistent allegations contained therein. As stated earlier, Plaintiff's 56.1 Statement, dated January 13, 2005, does not comply with the Local Rules and leaves the Court with no guidance in determining the bases -- if any -- for her objections to Defendant's Statement. See, supra, n.1. Alongside this insufficient 56.1 Statement is Plaintiff's Affidavit, also dated January 13, 2005, and her deposition testimony, both of which, at times, contradict both each other and the blanket and conclusory denials made in Plaintiff's 56.1 Statement, making Plaintiff's procedural shortcomings even more egregious.

For example, in paragraph 41 of Defendant's 56.1 Statement, it is alleged that Squillace performed certain tasks related to external audits. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 41.) Plaintiff's counterstatement "denies that he performed such duties while plaintiff was employed by Marchon." (Pl. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 41.) However, Plaintiff admitted in her deposition that she does not know the full scope of Squillace's duties either prior to or during her maternity leave. (Guglielmo Tr. at 176, 183.) Therefore, the Court cannot credit any of Plaintiff's attempts to dispute any duties performed by Squillace either before, during, or after her leave. See also Pincus Decl. Ex. A ("Guglielmo Aff.") ¶ 7 (denying Squillace determined royalty rates); Pl. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 28 (denying Squillace was responsible for recommending sales forecasts); Pl. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 37 (denying Squillace participated in review interpretation and analysis of licensing agreements and proposed royalty rates); Pl. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 39 (denying Squillace was responsible for performing reconciliations).

Defendant states that Squillace participated in the preparation of media plans. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 31.) Plaintiff's 56.1 Statement denied this, without any support in the record, stating only that Plaintiff "denies that [Squillace] performed such duties while plaintiff was employed by Marchon." Again, Plaintiff's admission that she could not speak to the scope of Squillace's duties precludes her denial that he performed this task. Additionally, and more troubling, Plaintiff stated in her deposition that she did not prepare media plans, admitted in her 56.1 Statement that she did not prepare media plans, denied in her 56.1 Statement that Squillace prepared media plans, stated in her affidavit that she trained Squillace on the preparation of media plans, and submitted an affidavit from Michelle Curcio, one of her former supervisors at Marchon, stating that Plaintiff did prepare media plans. Compare Guglielmo Aff. at ¶ 6, Guglielmo Tr. at 104, and Pincus Decl. Ex. B ("Curcio Aff.") at ¶ 7 with Pl. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 36.

Additionally, Plaintiff denied knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to paragraph 54 of Defendant's 56.1 Statement, which reads as follows:

As a result of a medical condition, Mr. Squillace was required to take a six-week leave of absence while employed by Marchon. During that time, a senior manager, Joseph Podbielak, Senior Director of Financial Design and Brands, assumed the majority of my [sic] responsibilities. (Def. 56.1 stat. ¶ 54 (quoting Squillace Aff. ¶ 34); Pl. 56.1 stat. ¶ 54 (denying knowledge of same).) However, in her affidavit, Plaintiff states that the preparation of advertising and media plans "[l]ike Mr. Squillace states...was performed 'in conjunction with the brand manager,'" quoting the very same information about which she claimed to have no knowledge. (Guglielmo Aff. ¶ 6 (quoting Squillace Aff. ¶ 34) (emphasis added).

Another example of Plaintiff denying then admitting knowledge of a particular fact involves the dispute over who performed what tasks in the creation of sales forecasts. See Squillace Aff. ¶ 20 (Squillace responsible for recommending sales forecasts); Def. 56.1 stat. ¶ 28 (same); Pl. 56.1 stat. ¶ 28 (denying that Squillace did same while Plaintiff was employed by Marchon); Pl. Aff. ¶5 ("Just as Mr. Squillace described in his affidavit (¶ 20), my job required me to...work[] closely with the brand managers in forecasting sales data.") (emphasis added). Needless to say, the inconsistencies in Plaintiff's submissions are staggering.

Where Plaintiff's rendition of her or Squillace's job duties are internally consistent, they still fail to controvert Defendant's rendition with admissible evidence. For example, Defendant claims Squillace performs a variety of tasks, referred to as "Special Projects," that were outside the scope of Plaintiff's duties. (Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 46-49.) Plaintiff's 56.1 Statement "denies knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of so much of [these paragraphs] as alleges Mr. Squillace's current duties." (Pl. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 46-48.) Here, Plaintiff admits her inability to speak to Squillace's current duties, but cannot dispute that they were being performed by him when she worked there. Plaintiff's response, instead, was to state in her affidavit that she, too, performed "special projects," using the same term as Defendant but describing different duties than those Squillace alleged to have performed, and not purporting to establish that Guglielmo participated in Squillace's "Special Projects." Therefore, Plaintiff's "special projects" are a separate set of duties that do not appear to be related to those listed in Defendant's "Special Projects," and, interestingly, do not appear in the record prior to her affidavit. See also Def. 56.1 Stat. ¶ 50 (alleging Squillace attended meetings with senior management to present media plans and answer questions about sales forecasts); Pl. 56.1 stat. ¶ 50 (denying knowledge of same); Guglielmo Aff. ¶ 12 (claiming, without citation to the record, that plaintiff attended meetings with management but giving no indication of duties at meeting).

Further tainting Plaintiff's allegations is the affidavit submitted on her behalf by Michelle Curcio, who was employed by Defendant from September 1998 until May 2001, and who supervised Plaintiff from September 1998 until January 2001. See Curcio Aff. In it, Curcio claims that Plaintiff performed the same job functions of Squillace, but does so largely by parroting the language of Squillace's affidavit. See, e.g., Squillace Aff. ¶ 15 ("I regularly provide financial analysis to assist the Brand Managers in generating sales forecasts."); Curcio Aff. ¶ 6 ("A large part of Ms. Guglielmo's job was assisting brand managers in generating sales forecasts."); see also Squillace Aff. ¶ 29 ("[B]etween audits, I ensure that all processes and procedures are sufficient to meet/exceed audit standards."); Curcio Aff. ¶ 11 ("Guglielmo ensured that all processes and procedures were sufficient to meet audit standards.").

Curcio also claims that Defendant did not create a new position of senior accountant for Squillace because she held the position of senior accountant from September 1998 until May 2001. Curcio Aff. ¶¶ 2-4. However, Curcio, who is a plaintiff in a separate action against Defendant in this district, Curcio v. Marchon Eyewear, Inc., 02-CV-4291 (E.D.N.Y. 2004) (Platt, J.), identified in that action that her positions at Marchon were "Supervisor of Financial Reporting," followed by "Manager of Financial Reporting," not senior accountant. Curcio v. Marchon, 02-CV-4291, docket at 1. Curcio's affidavit adds even more confusion in identifying Plaintiff's theory of the case.

In sum, it is clear that Plaintiff failed to properly controvert those statements establishing Squillace's job ...


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