United States District Court, E.D. New York
the Plaintiff: RICOTTA & MARKS, P.C. By: Matthew Ian
Marks, Esq. Thomas Ricotta, Esq.
the Defendant: OGLETREE DEAKINGS NASH SMOAK & STEWART,
P.C. By: Allison Elizabeth Ianni, Esq. Leah S. Freed, Esq.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
R. HURLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Donna Culleton (“plaintiff” or
“Culleton”) commenced this action against
defendant Honeywell International, Inc.
(“Honeywell” or “defendant”)
asserting claims of sex-based and age-based discrimination
and retaliatory employment practices in violation of 42
U.S.C. § 2000(e) (“Title VII”), the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
(“ADEA”), and New York's Human Rights Law
(“NYHRL”), Executive Law § 296. Presently
before the Court is defendant's motion for summary
judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56
(“Rule 56”). For the reasons set forth below, the
defendant's motion is granted.
following facts are drawn from the parties' Local Rule
56.1 Statements and are undisputed unless otherwise noted.
began working for Honeywell in 2006 as a Manager of Strategic
Sourcing. Honeywell invents and manufactures technologies to
address global issues such as safety, security, and energy.
In her role, she supervised a team of approximately eight
managers tasked with procuring the proper amount of parts and
material inventory for Honeywell Security Group products.
2008 and 2012, Culleton reported to Honeywell's Vice
President of Global Sourcing Robert Simpson
(“Simpson”). In her 2010 performance review,
Simpson noted that plaintiff needed to “initiate
change” and delegate her day-to-day tactical work to
her team so that she could focus her time on high-level
managerial initiatives. In a July 2011 review, Simpson noted
that plaintiff was a “dedicated, conscientious, driven,
resource for [Simpson] and the business, ” but
reiterated that plaintiff needed to delegate more effectively
to her team and focus her time on managerial and business
initiatives. (Def.'s R. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 10.) In early
2012, plaintiff received another performance review where
Simpson rated her a “five” out of nine, five
meaning “at standards.” (Id. ¶ 12.)
The review praised plaintiff's product knowledge, but
noted that she needed to focus on “bringing her team to
the next level” by “embracing . . . and
identifying necessary changes to methods.”
(Id. ¶ 13.)
January 30, 2012, Honeywell hired Thom Jones
(“Jones”) to manage global inventory procurement.
Upon his hire, Jones became plaintiff's direct supervisor
and remained as such until plaintiff resigned in November of
2014. In August of 2012, Jones issued plaintiff's
mid-year performance review, noting that plaintiff spent too
much time executing tasks and not enough time managing her
January of 2013, plaintiff complained to Human Resources
Director Sue Berdel (“Berdel”) that she felt she
was being harassed by Jones, that she felt like a
“battered housewife, ” and that Jones was
condescending and dismissive in their work-related
interactions. Plaintiff also explained to Berdel that she
felt Jones favored men over women because he omitted her from
conversations with a male employee on plaintiff's team
and because of the tone in which he communicated to Culleton
and several of her female team members.
investigated plaintiff's complaints by interviewing
plaintiff, Jones, Jeannine Lane (“Lane”), the
General Counsel of Honeywell, and another female employee who
directly reported to Jones. As part of the investigation,
Honeywell also arranged meetings where Culleton could voice
her concerns to higher management, including Vice President
of Supply Chain, Neal Speranzo (“Speranzo”).
Ultimately, Berdel and Speranzo concluded that Jones did not
demonstrate any inappropriate conduct or criticism based on
plaintiff's gender. Honeywell also concluded, however,
that Jones could benefit from leadership and communications
counseling. Berdel informed plaintiff of the results of the
several weeks after Jones received leadership and
communications coaching from his supervisor, plaintiff
noticed an improvement in their working relationship.
However, on March 6, 2013, Jones issued plaintiff's 2012
annual performance review and rated her a “five,
” meaning “at standards.” The review noted
that plaintiff performed well in developing relationships
with other departments and had strong product knowledge, but
noted that she was resistant to new department procedures. On
July 22, 2013, Jones issued Culleton's 2013 mid- year
performance review, which provided that plaintiff performed
personal tasks very well, but reemphasized the need of her
team to embrace changes. Then, on March 6, 2014, Jones issued
Culleton's 2013 annual performance review. Jones again
rated plaintiff a “five.” Jones praised
plaintiff's understanding of customer needs, among other
things, but also stated that she resisted direction from
management and was not promoting teamwork.
early 2014, plaintiff applied for a promotion to Category
Manager in Honeywell's Building Solutions business line.
This was the only position she applied for while reporting to
Jones. Plaintiff interviewed for the position, but according
to defendant, subsequently, on or around September 18, 2014,
Honeywell canceled the position due to budgetary constraints.
Plaintiff, however, claims that the position was filled
internally, though she does not recall how or from whom she
learned that information.
March 24, 2014, plaintiff complained to Berdel that she felt
her 2013 performance review contained misrepresentations of
her performance. On April 9, 2014, she met with Berdel to
discuss her concerns about her review and Jones's
management. Honeywell then proceeded to investigate
plaintiff's complaints. Plaintiff claims, however, that
the investigation was deficient in that Honeywell did not
talk to any of plaintiff's staff or outside suppliers.
Ultimately, Honeywell concluded that Jones's assessment
of plaintiff's performance was appropriate, and Berdel
met with plaintiff to inform her that the investigation did
not support her allegations of bias.
4, 2014, Jones sent an email to Berdel requesting guidance on
how to address ongoing deficiencies in plaintiff's
performance. On June 13, 2014, plaintiff sent an email to
Berdel and Honeywell Associate General Counsel Josh Foster
complaining that she was having a difficult time with Jones
and that he was “[s]ending numerous emails falsely
accusing [her] of [unspecified] things.” (Def.'s R.
56.1 Stmt. ¶ 92.) Berdel promptly responded to
plaintiff's email requesting that she and plaintiff meet
to discuss her complaints and requested that plaintiff send
her the alleged emails. After several requests from
Honeywell's Human Resources, plaintiff sent Berdel one
email where Jones scolded her for going against his ...