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Bray v. Marriott Hotels

April 11, 1997

BERYL BRAY,

APPELLANT

v.

MARRIOTT HOTELS A/K/A MARRIOTT CORP. A/K/A/ MARRIOTT HOTEL CORP., MARRIOTT HOTELS AND RESORTS, INC., JOHN DOE # 1-5 AND XYZ CORP. # 1-5



ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY Civil Action No. 94-979

Before: ALITO, MCKEE, Circuit Judges, and GREEN, District Judge. *fn1

MCKEE, Circuit Judge.

Argued: October 1, 1996 Filed: April 11, 1997

OPINION OF THE COURT

Beryl Bray appeals from the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Marriott Hotel Corporation. Bray filed suit in the district court for the District of New Jersey alleging race discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), as amended, 42 U.S.C.A. Section(s) 2000e to 2000e-17 (1981 & Supp. 1994) and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("NJLAD"), N.J.S.A. 10:5-12(d). For the reasons that follow, we will reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I.

Bray, an African-American female, was hired as a room attendant at the New York Marquis Marriott in 1985. App. at 99a. Within eight months, she was promoted to Assistant Housekeeping Manager, and, two years later, she was promoted to Housekeeping Manager at the Park Ridge Marriott in New Jersey. App. at 100a-02a. In early 1993, Park Ridge initiated a "posting" for the position of Director of Services. "Posting" is the process by which employees within Marriott who are qualified for an available position within the company make known their desire to be considered for that position. Any associate who satisfies the minimum requirements for the job has the opportunity to have his or her name submitted or "posted" for the available position. An associate cannot post for a job if he or she is not qualified for that position.

Bray posted for the position of Director of Services which had been vacated by her former supervisor, Richard Lesser. App. at 109a-10a. Between seven and nine other candidates also posted for that position. App. at 225a. In his deposition, Leo Nemetz, the General Manager at the Park Ridge Marriott Hotel, explained that he conferred with George Joosten, the Director of Operations, and Robert Steussy, the Director of Human Resources, as to the qualifications of the various candidates. *fn2 App. at 227a-28a.

Nemetz testified that he initially ranked the candidates by their PAF scores, *fn3 but all of the criteria set forth in Marriott's Center Management System Career Planning Guidelines Policy for the Career Planning Process ("MCMS") were considered in deciding which one candidate would be interviewed. The MCMS sets forth the following considerations to be employed in ranking candidates for a position:

EXPERIENCE

* Compare each candidates relevant work experience both preand post-Marriott.

* What experience level does the position require?

PAF RATING

* Does one candidate have a higher PAF rating than another?

* Evaluate the candidate's MDA [Management Development Assessment] or SDA [Supervisor Development Assessment] (if available) along with the skill requirements of the position.

TRAINING AND EDUCATION

* Does the position require extensive or specialized training (e.g., culinary, revenue management, information systems)?

* Does the candidate have the necessary training and education?

RELOCATION

* Cost of Relocation for each candidate in relation to budget

* Input of Regional Team or senior management, i.e., Regional or Senior Vice President if house move is involved.

SALARY

* Comparison of candidate's salary in relation to the hotel's, staff department or support operation's budget.

* Importance of position salary budget vs. candidate's salary.

App. at 43a. Nemetz further stated in his deposition that all three individuals who participated in the meeting unanimously agreed that Therese Riehle, who is White and had been working at a different Marriott hotel, would be interviewed as the top candidate. App. at 231a-32a. Riehle was hired effective April 10, 1993. App. at 50a. According to Nemetz, the principal reason for promoting Riehle was that she had the highest PAF rating, app. at 230a, 235a, but he insisted that all of the factors in the MCMS were considered.

Riehle had begun working for Marriott in May 1988 as a co-op student. App. at 69a. In 1989, she accepted a position as an Assistant Housekeeping Manager at the New York Marquis Marriott and, in 1991, she became the Assistant Director of Services there. App. at 74a. Riehle's Associate Profile *fn4 reflects that she possessed an occupational grade level of 45 (indicating she supervised managers), had a degree in Restaurant and Hotel Management, app. at 68a, and had received two "Manager of the Month" awards while at the Marquis, app. at 76a-77a. Riehle was interviewed for the promotion, and, during that interview, Nemetz learned that she had experience overseeing renovations (called "re-dos") which the Park Ridge was soon scheduled to undergo. App. at 236a. Riehle had also attended over forty training sessions. *fn5 App. at 52a-53a.

Bray had PAF ratings of "2" in each of the three years reported in her Associate Profile (1990, 1991, and 1992). App. at 54a. Since Bray was at a smaller hotel than Riehle, Bray only supervised associates and accordingly she was assigned a lower occupational grade level than Riehle, "43." App. at 55a. Bray had attended thirteen training sessions over her eight-year period with Marriott, and her college degree was in English and History. App. at 54a, 56a.

Bray did not receive the promotion. Instead, Riehle was offered the position. Bray claimed that she had been denied the promotion to Director of Services because she was Black and then filed this suit against Marriott under Title VII. Following discovery, the district court granted summary judgment against Bray and in favor of Marriott, and this appeal followed.

Discussion

II.

We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section(s) 1291 to review the final order of the district court, which exercised jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. Section(s) 2000e et seq. and supplemental jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section(s) 1367(a).

On review of a district court's grant of summary judgment, we apply the same test the district court should have applied initially. Sempier v. Johnson & Higgins, 45 F.3d 724, 727 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 115 S. Ct. 2611 (1995). Summary judgment is appropriate only when the admissible evidence fails to demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). When the nonmoving party bears the burden of persuasion at trial, the moving party may meet its burden on summary judgment by showing that the nonmoving party's evidence is insufficient to carry that burden. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The nonmoving party creates a genuine issue of material fact if he or she provides sufficient evidence to allow a reasonable jury to find for him or her at trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In reviewing the record, the court must give the nonmoving party the benefit of all reasonable inferences. Sempier, 45 F.3d at 727; Colgan v. Fisher Scientific Co., 935 F.2d 1407, 1413 (3d Cir. 1991).

III.

In a case of failure to promote under Title VII, the plaintiff must carry the initial burden of establishing a prima facie case of unlawful discrimination. Thus, the plaintiff must establish that he or she

(1) belongs to a protected category;

(2) applied for and was qualified for a job in an available position;

(3) was rejected;

(4) and, after the rejection, the position remained open and the employer continued to seek applications from persons of plaintiff's qualifications for the position.

McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973). *fn6

If the plaintiff fulfills these elements, the burden of production then shifts to the defendant to "'articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the employee's rejection.'" Fuentes v. Perskie, 32 F.3d 759, 763 (3d Cir. 1994) (quoting McDonnell Douglas Corp., 411 U.S. at 802); see also Sheridan v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 100 F.3d 1061 (3d Cir. 1996)(en banc).

The employer must then come forth with evidence, which, if taken as true, demonstrates that there was a nondiscriminatory reason for the decision not to promote the plaintiff. See id. at 1066. This reason need not be proven to be the reason the plaintiff failed to receive the promotion because the burden of proving the actual discrimination lies at all times with the plaintiff. If the employer satisfies its burden of production, then the plaintiff must produce evidence from which a reasonable factfinder could conclude either that the defendant's proffered justifications are not worthy of credence or that the true reason for the employer's act was discrimination. The plaintiff must:

demonstrate such weaknesses, implausibilities, inconsistencies, incoherencies, or contradictions in the employer's proffered legitimate reasons for its action that a reasonable factfinder could rationally find them "unworthy of credence" and hence infer "that the ...


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