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Evans v. International Paper Co.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division

February 12, 2018

Deanna Evans, Plaintiff,
v.
International Paper Company, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Kaymani D. West United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Deanna Evans (“Plaintiff” or “Evans”) filed this action in the Richland County Court of Common Pleas against her former employer, Defendant International Paper Company (“Defendant” or “IP”), alleging race discrimination, gender discrimination, unequal pay, and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. (“EPA”). Compl., ECF No. 1-1. Defendant removed the matter to this court. ECF No. 1. This matter is now before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.) for a report and recommendation (“Report”) regarding Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 64. Plaintiff filed a response to the Motion, ECF No. 71, to which Defendant filed a Reply, ECF No. 73. Having reviewed the parties' submissions and the applicable law, the undersigned recommends Defendant's Motion, ECF No. 64, be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Factual Background

         In establishing the briefing schedule for dispositive motions the court instructed the moving and nonmoving parties to set out their statements of undisputed and disputed facts in paragraph form, including detailed record citations to such facts. ECF No. 62; see Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c)(1).[1]The parties have largely complied with the court's instructions. Having reviewed the facts as set out by the parties, the court considers the following facts, which are either undisputed or taken in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, to the extent they are supported by the record.[2] To the extent practicable, the following facts are set out in paragraphs that conform to those paragraph numbers provided by the moving party.

         1. IP's Equal Employment Opportunity policy provides, “There will be no discrimination or any type of harassment because of race, ethnicity, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability, gender identity or expression, genetic information, national origin, military or veteran status, or any other classification protected by law.” ECF No. 64-2.

         2. IP has an established complaint procedure (as well as a Help Line) and Company policy prohibits retaliation for making complaints or participating in investigations thereof. ECF No. 64-3.

         3. Plaintiff, a Black female, never called the Help Line herself. Pl. Dep. 210. Plaintiff was interviewed by Human Resources (“HR”) during an “Eastover EEO Charge Investigation” based on complaints of discrimination from Plaintiff and other black employees at the Eastover Mill, including other employees' calls to the Help Line. Pl. Dep. 224-25, [3] ECF No. 71-1;[4] ECF No. 71-2 at 5-15, 21-22 (exs. from Deposition of HR employee/investigator Audrey Bright, including HR Investigator Sabrina Townsend's Oct. 2014 Findings in “Eastover EEO Charge Investigation” and Bright's Dec. 2011 Investigation Summary of complaints by employee Tommie Garrett. Both of these investigative reports indicate Plaintiff was interviewed.).

         4. IP hired Plaintiff as a Process Engineer in Vicksburg, Mississippi in May 2007 and Plaintiff began working at IP's Eastover, South Carolina Mill in November 2009 as an Engineer II. Pl. Dep. 20, 106, 140. Plaintiff's qualifications in her field include a Six Sigma green belt certification, American Society of Quality Certified Quality Auditor Certification, ISO 9001 & 14001 Lead Auditor Certification, Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering, and Master's degree in Business Administration from Gardner-Webb University. Ex. 4 to Pl. Dep., ECF No. 64-5 at 4-5; see also Dep. of Eastover Mill Manager Hai Ninh 16-20, ECF No. 71-25.

         5. For the time at issue, Paul Varadi (White male) was the CPS Business Unit Manager at Eastover Mill. Varadi Decl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 64-7. Hai Ninh (Asian male) was Mill Manager. Id. ¶ 11. Gary Nyman (White male) was the Finished Products Department's (FPD) Business Unit Manager. Id. ¶ 2.

. Months after starting as a Process Engineer at the Eastover Mill, Evans heard Matthew Vail (White male) and Rocky Mucci (White male) talking about her and saying, “We didn't want her; we were forced to take her.” Pl. Dep. 139-40. Taft Gaymon (Black male) heard Brian Cronin (White male) make similar comments. Gaymon Dep. 61-62. Gaymon understood Cronin's comment to mean Plaintiffs hire had been “a corporate decision and the mill had no say so.” Id. at 62.[5]

         6. On June 23, 2010, Plaintiff was promoted to an Area Process Manager (APM) position. Pl. Dep. 107. Derrick Dingus (White male), a purported comparator in this litigation, had also been a candidate for that position. Id. Salary data provided indicates Plaintiff consistently earned more than Dingus. Ex. 5 to Pl. Dep., ECF No. 64-5 at 6; Decl. of Eastover Mill's HR Manager, Walt Partrich ¶ 3, ECF No. 64-9. Plaintiff maintains that Dingus has “had more opportunities” for advancement than she had. Pl. Dep. 106. In his deposition, FPD's Business Unit Manager Gary Nyman testified that he did not consider Dingus “the other potential application” for the APM position, noting Dingus had other interests and the APM position was not in his career path. Nyman Dep. 158-59, ECF No. 71-3. Plaintiff states that Dingus had a position “created for him” and that his last role at the Eastover Mill was a position that had not been posted and that he “went from a shift manager to a role similar to area process manager, and then from there he went to an overseas assignment.” Pl. Dep. 107. She noted she did not want an overseas assignment. Id.

. During Plaintiffs second maternity leave (no date specified by Plaintiff), Nyman sent an email announcing that Mark Jones was Plaintiffs replacement during the maternity leave. Virginia Gail Sims, the Administrative Assistant III who provides secretarial support to the FPD, heard Rocky Mucci talking to Mark Jones about Plaintiff and said “now we'll have a real manager in Chem. Add.”. Aff of Virginia Gail Sims, ¶ 64, ECF No. 71-8.[6]
. After returning from maternity leave in 2011, Nyman informed Plaintiff that people thought that she was not coming back to the Eastover Mill; she was told that they thought that they had “run her off.” Pl. Dep. 139-40.
. In 2012, Evans participated in some of the A-level promotions reviews of Tommie Garrett, George Koumas, Renee Belton, and Mike Hill. During the same meeting, Mark Jones (White male), a manager, made a comment that Renee Belton (Black female) acted as “if she is from a shoot em up, bang bang neighborhood.” Pl. Dep. 226. After the meeting, Emma Sebeey (Black female) and Plaintiff went to Nyman's office and informed him that they felt Mark Jones' comment was very offensive. Id. Nyman said, “yeah, ” but did not do anything about it. Id.[7] Plaintiff indicates she was excluded from A-level promotional interviews after that.

         7. Plaintiff headed major projects at Eastover Mill to achieve International Standard for Organization (“ISO”) 9001 and ISO 14001 certifications, the latter of which allowed Eastover Mill's products to be sold in Europe. Pl. Dep. 80-81, 108; Partrich Decl. ¶ 18.

. In 2012, after the ISO 9001 certification had been obtained in fewer than nine months, Plaintiff received a “meets expectations” evaluation rating. Evans told Nyman that she had ‘worked my butt off and asked what would it take to get an “exceeds.” Ex. 9, Answer to Interrogatory No. 12, ECF No. 71-9 at 31.[8] Nyman responded by telling Plaintiff she would have to be lucky. Id. Nyman also made the statement that “people should be happy they have a job.” Id.

         8. Varadi worked closely with Plaintiff as a management sponsor of these ISO projects. Varadi Decl. ¶ 2. At the time she worked on the ISO projects, Plaintiff was assigned to FPD under the supervision of Nyman. Id. Varadi indicated that Nyman thought highly of Plaintiff s capabilities and recommended her to lead these ISO initiatives “despite her relative youth.” Id.

         9. These ISO projects were significant to Plaintiffs career development, and she was recognized for those achievements. Pl. Dep. 81, 109; Varadi Decl. ¶ 2; Partrich Dep. 18-20, ECF No. 64-10. Plaintiff was the face of the projects and always presented ISO information at mill-wide meetings. Pl. Dep. 152.

. During a one-on-one meeting with Varadi in September 2013, when Evans accepted the role of Technical Quality Leader, Varadi communicated that Evans would receive a 4% raise and a lateral move to the position. Ex. 9, Answer to Interrog. No. 12. Evans asked for additional compensation and asked about the PL15 position that Partrich communicated to her. Id. In response, Varadi said that, “This is a new role and we had to post the PL low to see who all was interested.” Id. After further questions from Evans, Varadi said he was not changing the offer to Evans. Id. Varadi also communicated that he knew that Evans was looking for other opportunities within the company and that he needed a commitment. Id. At the time, a PL15 position was vacant under Varadi's supervision. Id.

         10. In October 2013, Plaintiff was promoted to the new position of Technical Quality Leader (“TQL”), which meant she was responsible for the interface between FPD and the customer to ensure that the products consistently conformed to the customer's specifications. Pl. Dep. 68, 113, Varadi Decl. ¶ 3. Plaintiff worked with Varadi to create the job description for that position; she noted that “in some ways” the job requirements of that position had been written to match her skill set. Pl. Dep. 98, 219-20. Plaintiff had no doubt in her mind she would get that job, nor did she believe there was any doubt in Varadi's mind that she would receive that position. Id. at 219-20.

         11. Varadi selected Plaintiff for the TQL position, and she began reporting to him at that point. Varadi Decl. ¶ 3. He selected Plaintiff because he had seen her performance on the ISO certifications, they had worked closely together on the ISO 9001 project, and Varadi wanted to work with Plaintiff. Varadi Decl. ¶ 4, Pl. Dep. 97-98. Varadi was aware of Plaintiff s race and sex when he selected her for the position and when he worked with Plaintiff to create the job description. Varadi Decl. ¶ 4, Pl. Dep. 98-99.

         12. While working under Varadi, IP's CEO awarded Plaintiff the prestigious Chairman's Coin award and a Key Driver Award. Pl. 99, 233; Ninh Dep. 19-20, ECF No. 32; Nyman Dep. 80; Varadi Decl. ¶ 5. Varadi sponsored Plaintiff for these awards and worked to ensure that management at Eastover Mill support her as well. Varadi Decl. ¶ 5. Varadi was proud of Plaintiff for obtaining these awards so early in her career; he noted it had taken him 33 years with IP to earn the Chairman's Coin award. Id. Varadi noted it was very rare for IP employees to receive these rewards at all. Id. Plaintiff noted Varadi had told her he was excited and proud to be supervising someone who received the coin, particularly at such an early stage in her career; she had no reason to believe Varadi was being insincere. Pl. Dep. 123-25.

         13. On January 10, 2014, Plaintiff acknowledged receiving her Contribution Summary Assessment or “CSA” (annual performance evaluation) prepared for 2013 by Varadi. Ex. 6 to Pl. Dep., ECF No. 64-5. Plaintiffs Overall Rating was “Results Exceeded Commitment.” Id. at 11.[9] Plaintiff acknowledged that only a small percentage of Eastover Mill employees receive an “exceeds” rating. Pl. Dep. 154.

         14. On July 22, 2014, Varadi emailed Plaintiff thanking her for her efforts in an ISO meeting and telling her that she did a good job. Ex. 7 to Pl. Dep., ECF No. 64-5 at 13.

         15. On August 20, 2014, Varadi emailed Plaintiff telling her that she did “[g]reat work” and asking her to pass his thanks along to the rest of the team. Ex. 9 to Pl. Dep., ECF No. 64-5 at 14.

. In October 2014, Defendant's corporate office sent Sabrina Townsend (“Townsend”) (Black female) an HR Manager from Virginia to the Eastover Mill to conduct an investigation due to discrimination complaints originating from the FPD. HR employee Audrey Bright Dep. 40, ECF No. 71-12; Partrich Dep. 29-33, ECF No. 71-24. Townsend and Bright interviewed about ten employees, including Plaintiff, at the Eastover Mill. Plaintiff told Townsend about the “uninclusion” she experienced from Nyman and how he did not engage with her and give her leadership roles as he did White male employees. Pl. Dep. 224-25. Plaintiff noted Nyman did not use racial slurs, but noted he had been in the room when his manager said that certain Black employees “act like they're from a shoot ‘em up bang bang neighborhood.” Pl. Dep. 226. Plaintiff also told Townsend that Nyman avoided talking to Black employees, avoids promoting them, and that his actions show that he is racist. Id. at 223.

         16. On November 7, 2014, Plaintiff emailed Nyman thanking him for his comments that day and for supporting the team. Ex. 10 to Pl. Dep., ECF No. 64-5 at 16.

         17. On January 22, 2015, Plaintiff emailed the “Sumter Team” to summarize the Eastover Mill's action plan. Ex. 13 to Pl. Dep., ECF No. 64-5 at 22. Varadi responded to Plaintiff, copying Ninh, on January 23, 2015, “Deanna, good followup and characterization of the issue. Thanks.” Id.

         18. On January 30, 2015, Plaintiff acknowledged receiving her 2014 Final CSA prepared by Varadi. Ex. 12 to Pl. Dep., ECF No. 64-5 at 17-21. This was the last CSA Plaintiff received while employed at IP. Plaintiffs overall rating was, “Results Met Commitment.” Id. at 20. Plaintiff noted Varadi had told her that employees did not receive back-to-back “exceeds” performance ratings and that he would characterize her 2014 overall rating as a “high meets” rating. Pl. Dep. 172-73. Plaintiff noted the 2014 rating was lower than what she had received for 2013, but acknowledged the “results met commitment” rating was “still a good rating.” Id. at 154, 172-73. Varadi indicated Plaintiff had continued to perform at a high level in 2014 and that he considered whether to give her a second “exceeds” rating, although he did not do so given the “limited amount of such ratings managers are allowed to give[.]” Varadi Decl. ¶ 7.

         19. When asked in deposition about the 2014 Final CSA, Plaintiff indicated she had not taken exception to the “results met” rating, but that she did take exception to certain comments within that CSA. Pl. Dep. 154-55. In particular, Plaintiff took exception to this comment by Varadi: “Deanna needs to continue to develop her interfacing and technical skills to be viewed as a reliable and troubleshooting resource by the FP team. This year has been a transition year, and hopefully she can build further upon these skills in the coming year. On the positive side, the envelope business performance has had a good trend, and Deanna has helped define key improvement opportunities.” ECF No. 64-5 at 19, see Pl. Dep. 154-55. When asked generally about whether she took issue with her CSAs since 2007, she indicated she agreed with the ratings but noted her disagreement with the above statement from the 2014 CSA. Pl. Dep. 40-41, ECF No. 64-4.

         20. More particularly, Plaintiff stated the following when asked in deposition about her objection to the above comment:

A: . . . Reading the sentence, there were no data points to support reason why I'm not considered, one, technical, and also reliable and a troubleshooting resource, And the perception again is in here, the theme, finished products team.
Q. Are you aware where Mr. Varadi had given similar feedback to Mr. Cummings at the time that he began working alongside Ed Smith in the department?
A. I know he had some struggles.
Q. But are you aware of whether Mr. Varadi made similar comments for Mr. Cummings at the time that he was getting started in that role?
A. No.
Q. Are you aware of whether he has indicated similar comments to Anthony Seamon on his CSA's?
A. No.

Pl. Dep. 155-56.

. Varadi noted in his declaration that he understood Plaintiff “took exception to some issues in her review and felt they were not warranted.” Varadi Decl. ¶ 10. He notes Plaintiffs testimony that she was unaware of whether Varadi had made similar comments on other employees' CSAs, see Def. Mem. 5-6, and declares that he has made similar comments on the CSAs of white male employees, including Roy Cummings and Anthony Seamon, Varadi Decl. ¶ 10 (providing examples of such similar comments). Plaintiff notes that the CSAs of her white male comparators are not in the record. Pl. Mem. 2.
. In an email dated January 21, 2015, Plaintiff noted her concerns about the comment in her 2014 CSA about “being a reliable technical resource for the FP team.” Jan. 21, 2015 email, ECF No. 71-14. Plaintiff stated, “I am viewing this as negative vs. opportunity based on no specific examples. It seems more like a personal attack versus constructive feedback. I have demonstrated excellent people skills along with strong technical skills and the ability to work with people in all levels of the organization. I have a hard time digesting making deposits or building trust in an environment not accepting. This seems like a no win scenario. Let's discuss tomorrow or Friday if your schedule allows. Thanks for listening.” Id. Varadi responded the following morning that he would be happy to meet with Plaintiff and noted he viewed it “as an opportunity. You are viewed as a valuable resource and are just looking for opportunities to continue to leverage your skills and insights.” Id.

         21. After Varadi gave Plaintiff her “meets” review on her 2014 Final CSA in January 2015, Plaintiff met with Eastover Mill Manager Ninh on January 28, 2015. Pl. Dep. 168-70, 207-08; Ninh Dep. 47, ECF No. 64-6; Ninh Dep. 50-57, ECF No. 71-25.[10] Ninh's notes from that meeting, stated verbatim, follow:

1) Deanna stated: the working environment has become uncomfortable & offensive. For example:
-FPMPM- Comment: “your hair cut made you look older & unprofessional.”
-Not allow enough facetime with customers/Memphis visits
-Does not feel being included or part of the team because FP people do not respond to her requests or emails -Roy gets more attention to her - F.P. usually go to Roy instead of her on issues.
-Can't work in the environment that not being accepted -I am not shutdown yet like Emma!!
-Need communicate daily on Roles & Responsibilities to everyone, especially to F.D.
-I [Ninh] told her [Plaintiff] I will talk to HR & then supervision & get back to her!!

         Ninh Notes from 1-28-15 Meeting, ECF No. 71-4.

. As to the comment about her hair, Plaintiff told Ninh that Varadi specifically made a comment about her changed hairstyle, which Plaintiff had changed to a natural Afro style. Ninh Dep. 32; see Pl. Dep. 206-08. In her deposition, Plaintiff noted she had told Ninh about the hairstyle comments, made both by Varadi and Johnny Barfield. Pl. Dep. 206-08. Plaintiff indicated that she had been told her hair was unprofessional. Pl. Dep. 207. Barfield told Plaintiff that her new nickname was “Angela Davis.” Pl. Dep. 207. When Plaintiff asked Barfield who Angela Davis was, Barfield indicated she was a “civil rights activist that was known for Black Panther. She was a female with an afro.” Pl. Dep. 208 (relaying Barfield's comments).
. Although testimony provided to the court does not indicate when Barfield made those comments, both the Complaint and Plaintiffs discovery responses indicate the encounter took place on February 16, 2015. Compl. ¶ 66; ECF No. 71-9 at 11. In responding to interrogatories, Plaintiff noted that this encounter with Barfield took place on February 16, 2015. ECF No. 71-9 at 11. Plaintiff told Varadi about the “Angela Davis” comment. Id.

         22. Ninh spoke with Varadi about the various issues raised by Plaintiff, and Varadi and Plaintiff met. Pl. Dep. 170, Ninh Dep. 37-38.

         Varadi's notes of his follow-up meeting with Plaintiff are part of the record but are largely illegible. ECF No. 64-7 at 14. In his declaration, Varadi indicates how he responded to Plaintiffs concerns. See generally Varadi Decl ¶¶ 10-11.[11]

. Plaintiff had several discussions with Varadi in follow-up to her 2014 CSA. See Jan. 21, 2015 email, ECF No. 71-14 (Plaintiffs expressing concerns to Varadi). Plaintiff noted she advised Varadi his instruction to build rapport with FPD was difficult because FPD managers were unwilling to work with her. See id; see generally Answer to Interrog. No. 2; Pl. Dep. 165-72. Plaintiff cried and reiterated concerns about the discriminatory treatment she received. See Pl. Dep. 83.

         23. Plaintiff disputes whether her 2014 “meets” rating on her 2014 Final CSA affected her recognition as a “high performer” candidate, her being highly regarded by Eastover Mill management, and the Mill management's belief that she was ready for advancement to a role with greater responsibility.

         24. As of February 2, 2015, Plaintiff was contemplating resigning from her employment with IP and she had already interviewed with two other companies, Invista and Caraustar. She was also considering other positions within IP. Pl. Dep. 38-40. Plaintiff noted she was not contemplating litigation at that time. Id. at 39.

         25. In response to Plaintiffs February 4, 2015 email to several individuals at IP about a scheduled audit for the ISO 9001 recertification, Varadi, copying Ninh and Nyman, told Plaintiff “well done” and “thanks for your effort.” Ex. 14 to Pl. Dep., ECF No. 64-5 at 25.

         26. Ninh testified that Plaintiff had been considered one of Eastover's “high performers” since he had been at that mill and that, as of early 2015, he considered Plaintiff one of two “high performer” employees at Eastover Mill. Ninh Dep. 19-30, 36-37, 40.

         27. Plaintiff testified that she had been informed that IP identified her early as a potential leader. Pl. Dep. 104. Ninh and Varadi indicated Plaintiff was on a “move list” as an employee that Eastover Mill management had identified as ready for promotion within the Company to a position of higher responsibility. Ninh Dep. 36-37, 45-46; Varadi Decl. ¶ 12. Both Varadi and Ninh indicated they had worked with Plaintiff and with other managers at Eastover Mill to target summer 2015 as the time to move Plaintiff into a new role. Ninh Dep. 36-37, 45-46; Varadi Decl. ¶ 12. Partrich (HR) indicated Plaintiff was being put onto a “move” list in 2015, which identified her as someone to be promoted within 12 months. He indicated she had not been on that list before she resigned. Partrich Dep. 98-100, ECF No. 64-10.

. Plaintiff “disputes” these statements in that she notes that she “repeatedly expressed an interest in obtaining another position.” Pl. Mem. 4. Plaintiff notes that in 2014 she had applied for two Manufacturing Managers positions for Box Plants and was declined for both positions, Pl. Mem. 4 (citing 2014 Job Applications printout, ECF No. 71-5 at 2). Further, Plaintiff notes that when her employment with IP ended, “another position was not available to [her] ” Pl. Mem. 4.

         28. Pursuant to discussions with Varadi, on February 17, 2015 Plaintiff completed a Career Development Worksheet (“CDW”), which Varadi approved. Ex. 4 to Pl. Dep., ECF No. No. 64-5 at 4-5; Varadi Decl. ¶ 13. Varadi commented that Plaintiff had transitioned well into her new role, that Plaintiff was successful in helping IP achieve ISO certification, that she had solid people and organizational skills, and that she had a passion to succeed and excellent management potential. ECF No. 64-5 at 4. Varadi further commented that Plaintiff was ready to be challenged with a new assignment after the third quarter. Id. Varadi and Ninh indicated that the CDW is available throughout the Company, and Eastover management used the CDW to facilitate Plaintiffs movement to a position of higher responsibility. Varadi Decl. ¶ 13; Ninh Dep. 36-37.

         29. Plaintiff noted that Varadi and others inside and outside Eastover had congratulated her several times on her performance on both ISO certification projects and that Varadi thanked her and told her she had done a good job when deserved. Pl. Dep. 88-89, 145.

         30. On March 10, 2015, Plaintiff submitted her Notice of Resignation to Varadi, Walt Partrich (HR Manager, White male), and Ninh. Ex. 3 to Pl. Dep., ECF No. 64-5 at 3; Pl. Dep. 61-62; Ninh Dep. 36-37; Partrich Decl. ¶ 4. Plaintiffs letter was addressed to Varadi and stated in full as follows:

I am writing to submit my resignation from the position of Technical Quality Leader at International Paper effective March 24, 2015. It was not easy to make the decision to leave after seven years. Although my time with International Paper has been, on the whole, satisfying and productive; it also had its challenges.
I would like to thank you for the great experience you have provided me and I believe I have fulfilled my duties to the best of my ability. One of the highlights of my career was implementing the quality and environmental management system that resulted in ISO 9001 & 14001 certification.
If there is anything I can do to make this transition easier for the company over the next two weeks, please let me know and I'd be more than happy to assist! This includes assisting in recruiting and training my replacement.
Thank you again for the opportunity to work with International Paper. I wish you and the staff all the best with your future endeavors!

ECF No. 64-5 at 3.

         31. Plaintiff testified that Varadi acted “stunned [but] not ill mannered” toward her when she tendered her resignation. Pl. Dep. 198. She noted that he did not try to stop her from resigning and that “through all of these behaviors and events, it wasn't a shocker” to her and “should not have been to him.” Id. Ninh indicated Plaintiffs resignation was a “big shocker for all of us ” Ninh Dep. 46. Partrich characterized the resignation as a “surprise.” Partrich Decl. ¶ 4.

         32. On March 11, 2015, Plaintiff emailed Partrich and Ninh requesting an exit interview. Ninh replied, “I am not ready to accept the reality. Are you sure nothing I can do or help? IP is a huge company and I am sure we can accommodate your needs. You are very talented and well regard[ed].” Ex. 17 to Pl. Dep., ECF No. 64-5 at 27. Plaintiff acknowledged that this email indicates Ninh did not want her to leave IP. Pl. Dep. 195.

         33. Plaintiff testified that neither Nyman nor Varadi ever stated that they wanted her to leave IP. Pl. Dep. 87. Plaintiff indicated that, by his behavior, Varadi made her believe he wanted her to leave. Id. Plaintiff noted she received nice communications from employees who were saddened by ...


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