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Adams v. UTC Laboratories, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

April 19, 2017

Melanie Adams, Plaintiff,
UTC Laboratories, LLC, Defendant.


          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Plaintiff Melanie Adams worked at Defendant UTC Laboratories, LLC ("UTC") as a sales representative from January 2014 until her termination in October 2014. Ms. Adams claims that she was discriminated against because of her age (53) and gender, and experienced a hostile work environment, based on treatment from her supervisor, Doug Terry. Ms. Adams worked under Mr. Terry's supervision for approximately one month before her termination, which she characterizes as "abrupt" and which UTC claims was due to Ms. Adams' lack of necessary medical background and unwillingness to take the necessary steps to improve her performance. Ms. Adams asserts claims for age discrimination and harassment under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. ("ADEA"), and sexual harassment and discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(b). UTC has moved for summary judgment on all of Ms. Adams' claims, [Filing No. 52], and the motion is ripe for the Court's decision.


         Standard of Review

         A motion for summary judgment asks the Court to find that a trial is unnecessary because there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and, instead, the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). As the current version of Rule 56 makes clear, whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact by citing to particular parts of the record, including depositions, documents, or affidavits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A party can also support a fact by showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). Affidavits or declarations must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant is competent to testify on matters stated. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). Failure to properly support a fact in opposition to a movant's factual assertion can result in the movant's fact being considered undisputed, and potentially in the grant of summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court need only consider disputed facts that are material to the decision. A disputed fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Hampton v. Ford Motor Co., 561 F.3d 709, 713 (7th Cir. 2009). In other words, while there may be facts that are in dispute, summary judgment is appropriate if those facts are not outcome determinative. Harper v. Vigilant Ins. Co., 433 F.3d 521, 525 (7th Cir. 2005). Fact disputes that are irrelevant to the legal question will not be considered. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         On summary judgment, a party must show the Court what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the events. Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2003). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if no reasonable factfinder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 875 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Darst v. Interstate Brands Corp., 512 F.3d 903, 907 (7th Cir. 2008). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. O'Leary v. Accretive Health, Inc., 657 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court need only consider the cited materials, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3), and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has "repeatedly assured the district courts that they are not required to scour every inch of the record for evidence that is potentially relevant to the summary judgment motion before them, " Johnson, 325 F.3d at 898. Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Ponsetti v. GE Pension Plan, 614 F.3d 684, 691 (7th Cir. 2010).


         Statement of Facts

         The following factual background is set forth pursuant to the standards detailed above. The facts stated are not necessarily objectively true, but as the summary judgment standard requires, the undisputed facts and the disputed evidence are presented in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff as the non-moving party, drawing all reasonable inferences in her favor. See Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).[1]

         A. Initial Employment With UTC

         Ms. Adams began working for UTC[2] on January 22, 2014, as an independent contractor. [Filing No. 64-1 at 4-5.1 UTC administered a DNA testing program that allowed physicians to test a patient's genetic makeup to determine how those patients metabolized medications. [Filing No. 64-1 at 5.1 Ms. Adams was responsible for informing physicians and nurses about the program and getting physicians' offices to participate in the program. [Filing No. 64-1 at 5.] Ms. Adams would typically visit between 30 and 50 physicians' offices per week. [Filing No. 64-1 at 10.] Ms. Adams initially worked under the supervision of Brian George and Sarj Patel. [Filing No. 64- 1 at 5.] Ms. Adams claims that both Mr. George and Mr. Patel "raved" about her work ethic and success. [Filing No. 64-1 at 28-29.1

         B. Working Under the Supervision of Doug Terry

         In July 2014, Ms. Adams became a W-2 employee at UTC and began serving as a Sales Team Territory Manager. [Filing No. 64-1 at 6-7; Filing No. 64-1 at 31.] She had the same duties and responsibility as she had when working as an independent contractor. [Filing No. 64-1 at 7.] Upon becoming a W-2 employee, Ms. Adams was not given any information regarding required outcomes or sales quotas for her position. [Filing No. 64-1 at 7-9.]

         In September 2014, Doug Terry - Senior District Manager for UTC responsible for overseeing Sales Representatives in North Carolina, Indiana, and Southern Illinois - became Ms. Adams' supervisor. [Filing No. 64-1 at 13; Filing No. 64-2 at 5-7.] Mr. Terry supervised two sales representatives in North Carolina, three sales representatives in Indiana, and two sales representatives in Illinois. [Filing No. 64-2 at 5-7.] In Indiana, Mr. Terry supervised Ms. Adams, Tony Dal Santo, and Michelle Miller. [Filing No. 64-2 at 13-14.] Mr. Terry did not speak with Ms. Adams' prior supervisors, look at her prior performance evaluations, or have any knowledge regarding the training she had received during her time at UTC. [Filing No. 64-2 at 11-12.]

         Ms. Adams and Mr. Terry primarily communicated via email correspondence and text messages. [Filing No. 64-1 at 13.] The first time that they met in person was on September 18, 2014 at a restaurant in Indianapolis. [Filing No. 64-1 at 13.] During the meeting, Mr. Terry told Ms. Adams that she could buy a computer for herself for the field, but to remember not to save any of her naked pictures on the computer. [Filing No. 64-1 at 13.] Mr. Terry did not provide Ms. Adams with any information regarding sales quotas during that meeting. [Filing No. 64-2 at 15-16.] Mr. Terry, Ms. Adams, Ms. Miller, and Mr. Dal Santo met the following day, and Mr. Terry again mentioned that they could purchase computers, but that they should not save any naked pictures. [Filing No. 64-1 at 14.] Ms. Adams did not complain about either of these meetings until the day she was terminated. [Filing No. 52-4 at 15.]

         On September 25, 2014, UTC provided Ms. Adams with a PowerPoint presentation relating to the product she was selling, and Ms. Adams felt that she knew the product well through self-teaching and with the assistance of her former supervisors. [Filing No. 64-1 at 12.] On October 13, 2014, Mr. Terry sent Ms. Adams an email that provided her with a sales quota in writing for the first time. [Filing No. 64-2 at 18; Filing No. 64-2 at 37.] The sales quota was similar for each of the three Indiana sales representatives, and Mr. Terry never discussed with Ms. Adams what the repercussions might be if she failed to meet the sales quota. [Filing No. 64-2 at 19-22.]

         Ms. Adams and Mr. Terry met in person again at an Indianapolis restaurant on October 16, 2014 and during their meeting Mr. Terry screamed at Ms. Adams, belittled her, "kind of flung" the PowerPoint presentation at her, and said "show me that you have memorized this." [Filing No. 64-1 at 15.1 When Ms. Adams responded that she had not memorized the PowerPoint presentation, Mr. Terry cursed at her and told her that she was "never going to become anything." [Filing No. 64-1 at 15.1 Ms. Adams was frightened during the meeting, and left devastated and in tears. [Filing No. 64-1 at 15.1 She did not report Mr. Terry's behavior, though, because he was her new boss and "if I went right away and started complaining about him, how did that look on me, you know, why couldn't I handle him, why couldn't I handle the situation. So I really was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt and trying to overcome a challenging situation." [Filing No. 64-1 at 15.] After this meeting, Mr. Terry expressed concern to Dr. Chris Graf, a UTC General Manager, regarding Ms. Adams' clinical knowledge. [Filing No. 64-2 at 21.]

         On October 28, 2014, Ms. Adams picked Mr. Terry up from the Indianapolis International Airport and they drove together to Evansville. [Filing No. 64-1 at 15.] Ms. Adams had provided Mr. Terry with an agenda for his visit, and he told her that the agenda was "BS, " and began "drilling" her on her product knowledge and harassing her. [Filing No. 64-1 at 15-16.] Mr. Terry's harassment reached a point where Ms. Adams told him it was interfering with her ability to drive safely. [Filing No. 64-1 at 16.] By the time they arrived at their first appointment at a physicians' office, Ms. Adams was shaking. [Filing No. 64-1 at 16.] During several of their visits to physicians' offices on October 28, 2014, Mr. Terry and Ms. Adams were not able to see the physicians and so Mr. Terry would leave a brochure and ask the receptionist or office manager to leave a sticky note on the brochure stating that UTC was involved with a clinical trial for Medicare and that there were incentives available for physicians. [Filing No. 64-1 at 16.] Mr. Terry informed Ms. Adams that having the receptionist or office manager write a sticky note was a way to avoid getting in trouble for mentioning clinical trials with Medicare or financial incentives. [Filing No. 64-1 at 16.] Ms. Adams informed Mr. Terry that she was uncomfortable with this practice, but Mr. Terry told her that as long as they did not write the sticky notes themselves, they would not get caught. [Filing No. 64-1 at 16.] Ms. Adams believed that this conduct amounted to an illegal kickback, yet Mr. Terry continued to engage in this conduct throughout the day at different physicians' offices. [Filing No. 64-1 at 16-18.] Mr. Terry told Ms. Adams in a threatening manner that she would never be successful if she did not engage in this practice. [Filing No. 64-1 at 18.] When she told Mr. Terry that this was not the way she does business, he became irritated and upset. [Filing No. 64-1 at 19.1

         Also on October 28, 2014, Mr. Terry told Ms. Adams to approach two younger females at a physicians' office in Clinton, Indiana and to ask for their business cards for him. [Filing No. 64-1 at 19.1 When Ms. Adams asked Mr. Terry why he wanted the business cards, he stated "[b]ecause they are good looking, they are young, and maybe I could hire them." [Filing No. 64-1 at 19.] He also stated "[t]hat's what I miss about the pharmaceutical business so terribly, is all the good looking girls I used to be able to be around and interact with, " and "I sure miss seeing those hot pharmaceutical reps." [Filing No. 64-1 at 19-20.]

         On the evening of October 28, 2014, Ms. Adams and Mr. Terry went to dinner together. [Filing No. 64-1 at 20.] During dinner, Mr. Terry discussed the hiring of young sales representatives and how he loves young representatives because "they won't backtalk me, they won't tell me to be quiet.... I can yell at them.... I love this about these young people." [Filing No. 64-1 at20.] Mr. Terry continued to reference both young, attractive female sales representatives and young male sales representatives, then asked a young, attractive waitress for her name and phone number in case she wanted to meet with him about some potential job openings. [Filing No. 64-1 at 20-21.] During the dinner, Mr. Terry was egotistical, demeaning toward Ms. Adams, angry, yelling, and belligerent. [Filing No. 64-1 at 20.]

         The following morning, at their first meeting of the day at a physicians' office, Mr. Terry started yelling at Ms. Adams and said "[g]et up here and you start writing down exactly the answers to the questions I'm giving you." [Filing No. 64-1 at 21-22.] He then said "[i]f you don't have your S-H-I-T together, then when Dr. Graf comes in next week to work with you he's going to fire you.. ..You're not doing everything I tell you to do." [Filing No. 64-1 at 22.] Mr. Terry continued to scream at Ms. Adams, and Ms. Adams began crying. [Filing No. 64-1 at 22.] After the meeting at the physicians' office, Ms. Adams and Mr. Terry went to a coffee shop where Mr. Terry continued to yell at Ms. Adams. [Filing No. 64-1 at 22.] Mr. Terry then asked Ms. Adams to take him to the Evansville Airport and said "[w]e're not going to spend any more time together." [Filing No. 64-1 at 22.1

         The next day, on October 30, 2014, Mr. Terry informed Ms. Adams during a telephone conversation that she was being terminated because "it is not going to work out." [Filing No. 64-1 at 25-26.]

         C. Ms. Adams' Complaints About Mr. Terry

         Prior to being terminated, Ms. Adams had voiced her concerns during telephone conversations with her former supervisor, Mr. George, that Mr. Terry was "a yeller and a screamer, " was "hard to work for, " and did not return her phone calls. [Filing No. 64-1 at 23-24.] She also voiced her concerns to Mr. George and Mr. Patel after she was terminated. [Filing No. 64-1 at 24.] On the day of her termination, Ms. Adams wrote and sent a lengthy letter to Kevin McAndrew, Vice President of Human Resources at UTC, describing Mr. Terry's behavior and stating "I am very disappointed and extremely upset about this experience. I am reaching out to you for assistance." [Filing ...

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