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Anglin v. Prudential Financial Inc.

October 29, 2007


On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Civil Division, Essex County, Docket No. L-7583-04.

Per curiam.


Submitted October 11, 2007

Before Judges Wefing, R. B. Coleman and Lyons.

Plaintiff Sharon Anglin (Anglin) appeals from an order granting summary judgment to defendant Prudential Investment Management, Inc. (Prudential) on plaintiff's claims of gender and race discrimination. We affirm.

The following factual and procedural history is relevant to our consideration of the issues advanced on appeal. On July 22, 1985, Anglin, an African-American female, began her employment with Prudential. By January 1999, Anglin had been promoted to Operations Analyst and reported to Joann Rich (Rich). In May 1999, Rich promoted Anglin to her final position as Accounting Associate. On August 10, 1999, Rich performed an annual review of Anglin in her new position, which included four categories in which Anglin received a less than satisfactory grade.

From May 1999 to July 2000, Anglin reported to Associate Manager Rosemary Zeppetella (Zeppetella). Prudential claimed that Zeppetella found Anglin difficult to manage, for example, demanding a vacation during "peak times of the month that she performs her core responsibilities." Prudential further claimed that when Zeppetella and her supervisor, Bob Orth (Orth), refused the vacation, Anglin complained to Human Resources (HR). On June 1, 2000, Orth sent an email to HR detailing his interactions with Anglin. In that email, Orth stated that he felt that [Anglin] deliberately requested these days off, knowing the reaction that would be received by her management team, and is now making false accusations that her management team is restricting her vacation time alone.

She currently intends not to come in the office during the weeks requested off, regardless of her management's decision, and is apparently following up with HR as well.

In late July 2000, Zeppetella performed a review on Anglin, wherein Anglin received a performance grade of "3," which is a grade that means "meets expectations."*fn2 Anglin received a "not meeting expectations" in one area, "Partnering: Collaborating for Better Results." The comment to this rating said in relative part, "More open communication between Sharon and her unit's management would help to establish more effective working relationships." Anglin believed that this comment was "deliberate and malicious and . . . would have an impact on [her] future career."

Joseph McDonald (McDonald) was promoted to vice president of the Regulatory and Investment Reporting Group in early 2000. As vice president, McDonald was responsible for the management of approximately fifty employees, including Anglin, Orth, John Drust (Drust), Zeppetella, and Raymond Falconer (Falconer). As part of his job responsibilities, McDonald met with Anglin on August 2, 2000, to discuss the review. According to McDonald's affidavit, "Anglin complained to me about her review and accused Zeppetella of being 'vicious' and 'manipulative' and further claims that Zeppetella was 'harassing' her."

When Anglin emailed Orth on October 4, 2000, concerning Zeppetella's comment, Orth was able to provide several examples substantiating it, all of which, however, were denied by Anglin. When McDonald and Anglin met again on October 9, 2000, Anglin said that the review was "a conspiracy," was inaccurate, and was inappropriate. McDonald claimed that Anglin disputed the review's language in eight out of twelve of the core competency areas, even though she had received a grade of "meets expectations" in all of them except one.

Falconer replaced Orth as Zeppetella's supervisor in early October 2000. Zeppetella then reported directly to Falconer, while Anglin continued to report to Zeppetella. Anglin told McDonald that this was "a positive" and that she was pleased with the change in her reporting structure.

On October 20, 2000, Anglin eventually signed the Zeppetella evaluation, but attached a rebuttal, which included, "Paragraph III: Communicating with my Manager is a two way proposition. For me to know that there is a miscommunication it should not be on my appraisal. I will strive to see that this situation is remedied."

Falconer stated that he reorganized the reporting structure for the period from January 2001 to December 2001 to alleviate issues between Anglin and Zeppetella by having Anglin report directly to him. In February 2001, Anglin applied for a senior analyst position in another group and met with David Collier (Collier), manager of that group. Collier requested a copy of Anglin's current resume and a signed copy of her last full year performance review. Anglin provided a 1998-1999 review. Anglin stated that she intended on sending the most recent one the next day. Collier, however, called Falconer and asked if there was a more recent review of Anglin's performance. Falconer replied that there was, but claimed that there was no additional substantive conversation with Collier. Collier then asked Anglin for the most recent review and Anglin sent him a copy of the review Zeppetella conducted, including Anglin's appended comments. After interviewing Anglin, Collier decided not to hire Anglin based on "several different reasons, one of which concerned [Anglin's] failure to originally send [Collier] her most recent review, and none of which had anything to do with Falconer."

Anglin alleged that Falconer began approaching her in the spring of 2001, approximately March or April, indicating that he wanted to "have sex" with her. Anglin claims that "[h]e specifically . . . said: I want to go to your house to have sex with you." The next incident occurred around July 2001. Falconer allegedly asked Anglin to reconsider allowing him to come to Anglin's house because "he's a good guy." The third incident took place about four weeks later. Anglin alleged that Falconer attempted to make Anglin feel guilty for not having sex with her and invited her to his New Year's party. The last incident was in September 2001. Anglin did not remember the specifics of any of these conversations and did not remember if anybody witnessed them.

While this harassment was allegedly occurring, Anglin interviewed with Bethany Abraham (Abraham) for a position as an Associate Analyst in another department. On July 18, 2001, Abraham informed Anglin that the reason she was not selected for the position was due to Anglin's performance review that "mentioned that there was room for improvement for communications between yourself and your unit's management. [These] skills would be vital for this position."

On February 19, 2002, Falconer rated Anglin a "3," "Meets Expectations," on her 2001 calendar year performance review.

Falconer stated that Anglin's "performance over the past year has been satisfactory."

Falconer changed the reporting structure again and, beginning in February 2002, Anglin began reporting directly to Drust, who reported to Falconer. According to McDonald, Anglin expressed disappointment at this change.

On May 31, 2002, McDonald and Falconer met for a regular status meeting, at which the topic of whether to promote Anglin was raised. Falconer stated that Drust, who had been supervising Anglin for approximately three months, thought that "Anglin was doing well and that she might be on track for a promotion to Team Lead." McDonald stated that although Anglin was "meeting expectation," she was not "exceeding expectations" and had several developmental areas. In his affidavit, McDonald asserted:

I make the decisions regarding whether to promote an employee within my Department. I do not typically give consideration to the promotion of an employee unless he/she has received an overall performance evaluation grade of 4 which equates to "Performance Exceeding Expectations" (i.e., defined as "this employee consistently meets and frequently exceeds performance expectations while demonstrating a high level of proficiency in many of the competencies requires in his or her job"). (A grade of 5 is the highest grade and equates to "Performance Greatly Exceeding Expectations").

In McDonald's view, "based on [Anglin's] performance appraisals, several developmental areas and her fairly recent insubordinate treatment of her supervisors, Anglin was not ready for a promotion."

Anglin, however, disputed that McDonald was the decision maker. She claimed that Drust told her that Falconer would be the person to make the promotion decision. She alleged that Drust told her that Falconer said, without any justification, not to promote Anglin. Anglin further alleged that Drust said that he would speak directly to McDonald on Anglin's behalf if Falconer did not agree with the promotion.

On July 31, 2002, Anglin filed a charge against Falconer with the Human Resources Department (HR) claiming that Falconer had sexually harassed Anglin when he was supervising her. Annie Wong-Degnan (Degnan) met with Anglin on July 31, 2002, to discuss Anglin's claim of sexual harassment and retaliation.

After meeting with Anglin for three hours on August 22, 2002, Elaine LoCassio (LoCassio) began an investigation into Anglin's allegations. As a result of the investigation, LoCassio prepared an interoffice memorandum dated December 20, 2002, summarizing her investigation ...

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