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Leanne Renee Kidd v. Mando America Corporation

April 10, 2012

LEANNE RENEE KIDD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MANDO AMERICA CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: W. Harold Albritton Senior United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

This case is before the court on a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant, Mando America Corporation ("MAC"), on January 27, 2012 (Doc. # 44). The Plaintiff, Leanne Renee Kidd ("Kidd"), filed a Complaint alleging the following: Count One -- hostile work environment, Count Two -- Title VII gender discrimination, Count Three -- racial discrimination and harassment under Title VII and § 1981, Count Four -- national origin discrimination, Count Five -- retaliation, Count Six -- negligent or wanton hiring, training, supervision, and retention, and Count Seven -- intentional infliction of emotional distress on October 15, 2010 (Doc. # 1). Kidd filed a Response to MAC's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 54) on February 28, 2012, and MAC filed a Reply to Kidd's Response (Doc. # 55) on March 6, 2012.

The court has federal question subject matter jurisdiction over the federal claims and supplemental jurisdiction over the state law negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

For the reasons to be discussed, the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is due to be GRANTED.

II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Summary judgment is proper "if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

The party asking for summary judgment "always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion," relying on submissions "which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Id. at 323. Once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party must "go beyond the pleadings" and show that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324.

Both the party "asserting that a fact cannot be," and a party asserting that a fact is genuinely disputed, must support their assertions by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record," or by "showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A), (B). Acceptable materials under Rule 56(c)(1)(A) include "depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials."

To avoid summary judgment, the nonmoving party "must do more than show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). On the other hand, the evidence of the non-movant must be believed and all justifiable inferences must be drawn in its favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).

After the nonmoving party has responded to the motion for summary judgment, the court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a).

III. FACTS

The following is an account of the relevant facts with all justifiable inferences drawn in favor of Kidd*fn1

MAC is located in Opelika, Alabama, and produces products for different automotive manufacturers. MAC's main customers are General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford in Detriot, Michigan; Hyundai Motors Manufacturing in Montgomery, Alabama; and Kia Motors Manufacturing in West Point, Georgia.

Leanne Kidd is a Caucasian female from the United States who has a Bachelors Degree with a double major in accounting and management. Kidd was working on a Masters in Public Accounting degree in 2009, which she completed in 2010. Kidd worked in the accounting department of MAC from January 2008 until September 2010 when she resigned. When Kidd was hired, Tim Anderson was Assistant Accounting Manager, B.J. Cheong was the Accounting Manager, Henry Lee was Chief Financial Officer for MAC, and Tae Kwak was President of MAC. Cheong, Lee, and Kwak are Korean males. MAC terminated Anderson in March 2008 for performance reasons.

Upon Anderson's termination, Kidd believed that she adopted Anderson's entire set of job duties. According to Kwak's undisputed testimony, Anderson's position included Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Tax, Financing, all the reporting responsibilities, and closing responsibilities. Kidd admits that she never handled Accounts Receivable but rather Accounts Payable, wires, and the general ledger. Some employees of MAC did believe that Kidd was assisting in managing the accounting department, but Kidd explained that MAC does not take job titles very seriously. After performing some of Anderson's duties for awhile, Kidd complained in July 2008 that she deserved a promotion and raise. Since she believed that she was performing the entirety of Anderson's job duties, she thought that she deserved his title.

Cheong recognized that Kidd had taken on more responsibilities since Anderson's departure, and he told her that MAC would promote her after she had been with the company for a year. Kidd does not claim that he promised her the position of Assistant Accounting Manager. After her one year anniversary, despite still maintaining her increased work load, Kidd was not given a promotion or raise; however, Kidd was already the highest paid accountant in the department. Kidd also believes that there were no complaints about her job performance, but Kidd's citation to the record to support this claim, Doc. # 49-1, comes from the deposition of the Senior Human Resources Manager at MAC, Jerry Rolison, who explained that he could not remember if Kidd had any complaints against her. Id. at 191:21-192:16.

In 2009, a few months after Kidd's one-year anniversary, MAC began to search for a new Assistant Accounting Manager to fill the void left by Anderson. Kwak and Lee conducted a silent search as to this position, and it was their intent to groom the new Assistant Accounting Manager into the new Accounting Manager. MAC had no women in management positions and few management positions were filled by non-Koreans. Kidd testified that the ultimately successful candidate, B.W. Seo, was the only Korean interviewed and that he was selected through a different channel than anyone else, but Kidd never explains what that channel was. Kwak's undisputed testimony is that MAC was facing financial auditing challenges, so MAC was interested in finding someone with that specialty to take over the Assistant Accounting Manager role at MAC. Kwak testified that because MAC was searching for an individual with auditing experience, Lee sought a recommendation from MAC's external auditing company as to an individual with both management and auditing experience. That company recommended Seo. Kidd testified that MAC never posted the Assistant Accounting Position internally or externally, and she received no notice from MAC that it was trying to fill this position. Kidd testified that she would have applied for the position if she had known about it.

Kidd testified that MAC usually posts vacancy announcements when it is looking to fill positions, but Kwak and Lee deviated from this normal procedure and instead had the human resources department collect resumes of potential applicants for the Assistant Accounting Manager position. Scott Wren from the human resources department conducted telephone interviews with these potential applicants. Seo's resume was not one of the ones collected by the human resources department, but was instead recommended by the external auditing company. Accordingly, Seo was not interviewed by Wren. Instead, Kwak and Lee, who are the relevant decision makers at MAC for this position, interviewed Seo. Seo's first interview with the company was via telephone with Kwak and was conducted in English. Ultimately, Seo was selected to fill the vacant Assistant Accounting Manager spot and was hired by MAC in September 2009. Kidd testified that some time after MAC had decided to hire Seo, it placed an ad in the newspaper for a different, non-existent position, and Rolison testified that the other position that was placed in the newspaper, for a "controller," was done to fulfill visa purposes for Seo.

Seo is a male who was born in Korea, and his job prior to taking the position at MAC was in Australia for Sun Microsystems. Seo has a Bachelor's Degree in accounting, and started, but did not finish, an MBA degree. Kidd's assessment of Seo's work experience is that he did not have the broad base of accounting experience she believed was necessary for the job, and that Seo had only been an auditor. Her testimony goes on further to explain that she only saw a one page resume for Seo. However, during her deposition, she was presented with Seo's actual six page resume which had other job listings on it that clearly demonstrate that Seo's previous work experience included more than simply auditing work. Kidd does testify and Seo's resume demonstrates that Seo never held the title of Assistant Accounting Manager at any other company. It is also undisputed that Kidd did not have a say in what the job requirements were for the Assistant Accounting Manager position. Instead, Kwak and Lee had the responsibility to determine the qualifications for the Assistant Accounting Manager. The key requirements established by Kwak and Lee were that the individual have a broad accounting background and auditing experience, which was particularly important given the current financial situation at MAC. Kwak and Lee made no requirement that the Assistant Accounting Manager be able to speak Korean.

Immediately after Seo was hired, Kidd went to Rolison to ask why she was not considered for the job, and Kidd testified that Rolison told her that MAC refused to even consider an American candidate. Kidd also testified that someone in the human resources department had told her that no American would ever be in management at MAC. Kidd testified that Rolison told her that he thought Seo was not qualified for the Assistant Accounting Manager position, but her citation to Rolison's deposition for this fact asserts nothing of the sort. In fact, her citation, Doc. # 49-1 at 8:5-7, is to a statement by Rolison that he is the most senior person in the human resources department. Despite this erroneous citation, it is clear that Kidd testified that Rolison told her that Seo was unqualified. It is undisputed that neither Rolison nor any other human resources department employee had the power to hire the Assistant Accounting Manager. Moreover, Kidd believes that Seo misrepresented his background to MAC when he interviewed with MAC because his resume does not explicitly state management experience even though he told MAC management that he had been assistant manager for at least two prior companies. Kidd admits that these may just be typographical errors, but if these were just typographical errors, then his lack of clarity in resume writing supports her claim that he was not qualified for the Assistant Accounting Manager job.

Four days after starting at MAC, Seo asked for Kidd's resume, and, according to Kidd, degraded her, belittled her, and essentially told her that she was stupid. Kidd also testified that her resume was the only one collected, but Seo's testimony as well as Wren's testimony make it clear that Seo requested resumes for every member of the accounting department, even if he did not tell Kidd that he was doing so at that time.

Kidd filed many complaints about how she was being treated by Seo and Cheong. She filed the following complaints: in September 2009 she complained about Cheong's policy on sick days; on October 1, 2009, she complained about being asked for her resume and being talked down to, which she believes was due to her not being a Korean man; on January 26, 2010, she complained about the demeaning comments made by Seo about her and the other women in accounting; on February 16, 2010, she complained about Seo and Cheong flagrantly showing favoritism towards the Koreans while reprimanding the non-Koreans; on February 18, 2010, she complained about how she had been made to feel like a horrible employee over the prior 5 months; on February 19, 2010, Kidd filed an EEOC charge; and on August 4, 2010, she complained about a lack of respect and her constant fear that she was going to be fired by Seo. Kidd filed her ...


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