The opinion of the court was delivered by: Clarkson S. Fisher, District Judge.
Before this court is a motion for summary judgment by
defendant, American Telephone and Telegraph Company, Inc. ("AT &
T"), against plaintiff, Joan C. Gorham. Gorham brought suit
against AT & T alleging age, race and sex discrimination claims
under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1966; the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et.
seq. ("ADEA"), and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination,
N.J.S.A. 10:5-12 ("NJLAD"). AT & T claims that Gorham has no
cause of action under § 1981 and that she has failed to meet her
prima facie case under the ADEA and the NJLAD. For the following
reasons, defendant's motion for summary judgment will be granted.
Plaintiff is a black female over the age of 40. She was hired
by AT & T in 1963 as a Clerk and worked her way up to District
Manager in 1978. In November of 1985, plaintiff began reporting
to Richard Dennis, Director of EEO/Affirmative Action at AT & T.
Dennis assigned plaintiff to the project of interviewing
high-level officers and managers of AT & T to ascertain the
degree of EEO/AA awareness in the corporation. This assignment
entailed conducting the interviews, organizing the comments,
summarizing the results and making recommendations. The project
came to be known as "New Initiatives for a Changing AT & T" ("New
Initiative study"). In addition to plaintiff, there were three
other employees primarily assigned to this project.
The New Initiative study was warmly received and Dennis praised
the work of all the employees involved, including plaintiff.
Dennis Dep. at 23; Exhs. 1, 2 and 3. He gave her a Superior
appraisal, a rating between Outstanding and Good. Gorham Dep.
4/10/90 at 129-30.
After the completion of the study, in March, 1987, Dennis
assigned plaintiff to Bernard Daleske, Division Manager, EEO/AA,
advising that the company needed her in that position to
effectuate certain of the New Initiative study's recommendations.
Gorham Dep. 1/16/90 at 118-19. While under Daleske, plaintiff was
placed in charge of ten subordinates of the first and second
management levels. Three months later, in June, 1987, Daleske
received a note that had been left earlier that day under his
office door from the subordinates of Joan Gorham complaining
her style and management.*fn1 Daleske Dep. at 19-20. At a
meeting Daleske organized to discuss the problems, he was handed
yet another and more extensive memorandum containing complaints
about plaintiff. This was signed by nine of plaintiff's ten
subordinates. Exh. 5; Daleske Dep. at 22-4. Of the signers, one
was black and one was Hispanic, seven were female, and four were
in the age-protected category. Gorham Dep. 1/16/90 at 39-42;
4/10/90 at 27-28. Part of the text of that letter is as follows:
We are asking that you evaluate the situation with
the skill you have nurtured as a manager. We are
asking that Joan be repositioned in an environment
which will be beneficial to her, but one that
excludes a staff of subordinates.
AT & T claims that Daleske met with plaintiff and presented the
June 24 memo to her, and that she denied that it accurately
portrayed the situation. Daleske Dep. at 26-7; Exh. 5, p. 1.
On September 3, 1987, plaintiff's subordinates left another
note with the Director, Richard Dennis. This note implored Dennis
to become involved personally by moving plaintiff out of the
organization and stated that employees were leaving the group
because of plaintiff. Exh. 6. AT & T claims that Dennis met soon
after with Daleske to consider using an outside consultant to
assist in resolving the problem. Plaintiff contends she initiated
the idea of a consultant and that AT & T denied her the use of
same while providing another with a consultant. AT & T claims the
plaintiff's subordinates, fearing retaliation by plaintiff,
decided they did not want to meet with her and a consultant, and
instead some chose to leave the group. Daleske Dep. at 37-39.
Daleske recounted the situation, including discussions with
plaintiff's subordinates and their stated reasons for not
choosing to meet with the consultant, in Exhibit 7.
Although plaintiff disputes it, her annual evaluation for 1987,
completed by Daleske and approved by Dennis, confirmed the
difficulty with her subordinates. Exh. 8. For example: "Aspects
of Ms. Gorham's management style served as a source of conflict
between her and members of her organization. This fact accounts
for her reduced level of involvement in various areas of
responsibility." By this time four of plaintiff's subordinates
had already abandoned the group.
In November 1987 the company reorganized the entire Human
Resources organization. Dennis moved to another directorate, and
Miss Doreen Yochum was appointed to the newly-created position of
Director of Quality in Career Systems within the Human Resources
organization. Yochum Dep. at 9. Her responsibilities included the
EEO and Affirmative Action work and the development of a Quality
Plan for Career Planning and Development Services. Plaintiff
requested and obtained a meeting with Yochum, and in February
1988 plaintiff was assigned to a District Manager position
reporting to Yochum despite advice from Dennis to Yochum that
Gorham was not promotable. Yochum Dep. at 46-48. Plaintiff's new
responsibilities required her to work with various other parts of
the Human Resources Organization.
Later that same month, February 1988, Yochum received
complaints about plaintiff from various individuals in the
organization, including a two-page letter from Jeannette
Galvanek, detailing the negative feedback about plaintiff. Id.
at 59-63, Exh. 9. She stated that plaintiff's work efforts were
disorganized and poorly prepared, displayed a lack of inner
personnel skills and reflected an inflated view of her own
effectiveness and an overall poor judgment. Yochum advised
plaintiff that employees had lodged complaints about her work
performance. Gorham Dep. 1/24/90 at 16567;
Yochum Dep. at 61, 63. In fact, Yochum's superior, William F.
Buehler, Group Vice President of Human Resources, stated at
deposition that a group of managers in Human Resources met with
him and complained bitterly about plaintiff's management style
and supervisory traits. Buehler Dep. at 19-21.
In March 1988, Yochum placed the Division Manager, Lex
McCusker, in charge of giving direct assignments to plaintiff
because Yochum felt that plaintiff needed hands-on supervision
and assignments that were more measurable in nature. Yochum Dep.
at 33, 35-36. McCusker assigned plaintiff three tasks from March
to early July 1988. He estimated that the time required to
perform the three tasks was a total of six days; and he recounted
at deposition that plaintiff had not accomplished even one in six
weeks. Exh. 10.
On June 21, 1988, McCusker sent a memorandum to plaintiff
regarding her Quality Newsletter and Quality Library assignments
he had given her. Exh. 12. This document criticized plaintiff's
performance in several important areas. For example, she had
failed to speak with other company employees, as McCusker had
previously directed her to do. Plaintiff contends that McCusker
never told her she was to report to McCusker and that they were
peers. Gorham Aff. at Para. 14. AT & T contends that she conceded
that McCusker, a Division Manager, was higher in the AT & T
echelon than she and that Director Yochum had instructed her to
perform Quality-related tasks which McCusker assigned to her and
that she was obligated to perform those assignments.
On July 5, 1988, Yochum met with plaintiff. Daleske attended
the first half of the meeting to discuss plaintiff's 1987
appraisal. McCusker attended the second half to discuss
plaintiff's performance in 1988. Gorham Dep. 1/24/90 at 126-27.
Yochum documented the meeting in a detailed memorandum to the
file, as did Daleske and ...