Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n v. Mavis Disc. Tire, Inc.

Decision Date11 September 2015
Docket NumberNo. 12 Civ. 741(KPF).,12 Civ. 741(KPF).
Citation129 F.Supp.3d 90
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of New York

Jeffrey Charles Burstein, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Newark, NJ, Elizabeth Anne Grossman, James L. Lee, Kirsten Jennifer Peters, Nora Ellen Curtin, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Jadhira Virginia Rivera, MFY Legal Services, New York, NY, Gwendolyn Y. Reams, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

Greg Anthony Riolo, Jennifer Papas, Jackson Lewis LLP, White Plains, NY, Paul J. Siegel, Jackson Lewis LLP, Melville, NY, for Defendants.



Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the "EEOC"), initiated this action in January 2012, alleging that Defendants Mavis Discount Tire, Inc., d/b/a Mavis Tire Supply Corp., Mavis Tire NY, Inc., and Cole Muffler, Inc. (collectively, "Defendants" or "Mavis") engaged in a pattern or practice of sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e–17. The EEOC alleges that Defendants discriminated against the charging party, Nicole Haywood, and other similarly qualified female applicants during the 2008 to 2012 time period, in favor of hiring less qualified men for positions in their branch stores. The EEOC also alleges that Defendants failed to comply with the record-keeping requirements of Section 709(c) of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–8(c). The EEOC has now moved for summary judgment on its pattern-or-practice and record-keeping claims, and separately has moved to bifurcate the trial in this action in the event summary judgment is not granted. For the reasons set forth below, the EEOC's motion for summary judgment is denied in its entirety, and the EEOC's motion for a bifurcated trial is granted in part and denied in part.

A. Factual Background
1. Mavis's Business

Mavis is a family-owned, independent tire dealer. (Def. 56.1 ¶¶ 207, 211). In addition to tire sales, Mavis store locations also offer automotive parts and services including brakes, alignments, suspension, shocks, struts, oil changes, battery replacement, and exhaust work. (Id. at ¶ 212).

In 1987, Mavis was comprised of approximately 11 store locations; it has grown significantly since then. (Def. 56.1 ¶ 213). Most notably, in 2008, Mavis acquired approximately 50 stores from Cole Muffler, Inc. (Id. at ¶ 214).2 Today, Mavis operates more than 140 store locations in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. (Id. ).

Stephen Andre, currently the Vice President of Operations for Mavis, first joined the Company in 1987. (Def. 56.1 ¶ 213). Andre was ultimately responsible for all hires at Mavis during the relevant time period, having either made or approved every offer of employment. (Pl. 56.1 ¶ 159). But although Andre retained the final authority for hiring, he did not make Mavis's personnel decisions alone. In 2008, in response to company growth, Mavis created the position of Regional Training Manager ("RTM"). (Id. at ¶ 217). RTMs are responsible for overseeing between eight and fifteen stores that fall within their assigned regions. (Id. at ¶ 218; Pl. 56.1 Response ¶ 218). For each store within a particular region, an RTM controls the payroll, trains the store managers, ensures profitability, performs human resources functions, and recruits qualified applicants. (Id. at ¶ 219).

Every application submitted at a store location is given to the appropriate RTM for review. (Def. 56.1 ¶ 233). If the RTM determines there is a need for a particular position, the RTM determines whether to interview any of the applicants. (Id. at ¶ 235). If the decision is made to interview, the RTM checks the applicant's references and confirms that the information provided in the application is accurate. (Id. at ¶ 237). If, after conducting the interview, checking the references, and confirming the accuracy of the information set forth in the application, the RTM decides to offer the position to the applicant, the RTM makes a recommendation to Andre to hire the applicant. (Id. at ¶ 238; Andre 30(b)(6) Dep. 223).3 Based on his review of the information presented by the RTM as well as Mavis's budget, Andre decides whether to hire the applicant. (Def. 56.1 ¶ 239).4 The Mavis personnel involved in hiring testified that they do not actively seek to hire a certain group of applicants; rather, Mavis seeks to hire the most qualified applicants. (Id. at ¶ 242).

There are four available positions at each Mavis store location: (i) Store Manager; (ii) Assistant Manager; (ii) Mechanic; and (iv) Tire Installer/Alignment Technician ("Technician"). (Def. 56.1 ¶ 216).5 From 2008 to 2012, Mavis hired 80 Store Managers, 655 Mechanics, and 1,688 Technicians. None of these individuals was female. (Pl. 56.1 ¶¶ 46–51). During this same period of time, Mavis hired 288 Assistant Managers, only one of whom was female. (Id. ). After the EEOC filed its lawsuit in January 2012, Mavis hired its first female Store Manager (id. at ¶ 47), and its second female Assistant Manager (id. at ¶ 49).

2. Unsuccessful Female Applicants
a. Nicole Haywood

Nicole Haywood unsuccessfully applied on multiple occasions to work at Mavis. (Pl. 56.1 ¶ 112; Def. 56.1 Response ¶ 112). At the time of her initial application in 2008, Haywood had approximately 15 years of experience working at Sears Automotive as a customer service representative; for approximately nine of those years, she performed managerial duties, including scheduling technicians, delegating their work, handling customer complaints, and receiving shipments. (Pl. 56.1 ¶¶ 113–14). In 2008, Mavis hired three male Sears Automotive employees. (See id. at ¶¶ 115–22). Significantly, all three had been trained by Haywood while at Sears Automotive. (See Haywood Dep. 33, 81, 132–33). After she learned of these hires, Haywood attempted to renew her application to Mavis at various stores and through various channels. (See Pl. 56.1 ¶¶ 116–22).

Eventually, Haywood was interviewed by Andre for 15 to 30 minutes. (Pl. 56.1 ¶ ¶ 123–24; Def. 56.1 Response ¶ 124). According to Andre, the interview went poorly. (See generally Andre Dep. 73–76). He testified that Haywood arrived 15 minutes late for the interview; displayed a poor attitude; and disparaged her then-current employer. (Def. 56.1 Response ¶ 124). Following the interview, Andre contacted Jim Dubois, a Store Manager for Mavis who had previously supervised Haywood at Sears Automotive, to ask whether Dubois would recommend offering Haywood a position with Mavis. (Id. ). Based on both his observations during the interview and Dubois's comments, Andre decided not to extend an offer of employment to Haywood. (Id. ).

b. Krystal Murnane

Krystal Murnane, who at the time of her 2009 application to Mavis had approximately six years' experience performing basic maintenance on cars, was told by Mavis employees at its Bayshore, New York location that she would not be hired by Mavis because she was a woman. (See Murnane Dep. 79 (testifying that a Mavis employee said: "[D]on't get your hopes up, you're a chic[k]. These guys are old school."); id. at 80 (testifying that a Mavis employee told her, "a girl can't do a guy's job"); id. ("[T]he manager [at Mavis] told me that all the guys would stare at me.")). Murnane applied to work at Mavis on three or four occasions between 2009 and 2010. (Pl. 56.1 ¶ 132). Mavis did not hire here and, indeed, never contacted her. (Id. ).

c. Pyper Braly

Pyper Braly, a tire technician with two years' experience changing tires in a pit crew during NASCAR races and another nine months' experience as a mechanic, applied to work at Mavis's Huntington Station, New York store, but when she handed in her application, the male manager who took the application was rude and dismissive. (Pl. 56.1 ¶ 125). Mavis never called Braly in for an interview and did not hire Braly. (Id. at ¶ 126).

d. Amber Luby

Amber Luby, who had worked for roughly six months as a tire technician with Goodyear, applied to work for Mavis at the East Greenbush, New York store in October 2009. (Pl. 56.1 ¶ 127). When Luby returned to Mavis to follow up on her initial application, she was told that Mavis did not have a record of her application. (Id. at ¶ 128). She completed a second application, but never heard back from Mavis and was not hired. (Id. ). In the summer of 2012, Luby applied a third time to Mavis, but again was not hired. (Id. at ¶ 130).

e. Julie Griffin

Julie Griffin worked as a Head Service Advisor at a Honda dealership for four years when she first applied to work at Mavis. (Pl. 56.1 ¶ 133). She was interviewed by a Mavis Store Manager, who told her that he wanted to hire her, but needed approval from his RTM. (Id. at ¶ 134). Griffin eventually learned that the RTM decided to hire the Store Manager's friend for the position. (Def. 56.1 Response ¶ 135).

f. Ashley Jackson

Ashley Jackson, who, at the time of her application to Mavis had 17 months of automotive experience, applied twice to work for Mavis. (Pl. 56.1 ¶ 136). Jackson called Mavis after each of her two job applications to follow up on her applications. She testified that she was "brushed off," and told that Mavis was not hiring. (See id. at ¶ 137; Def. 56.1 Response ¶ 137).

g. Barbara Evans

Barbara Evans, who at the time of her application to Mavis had managed a repair shop for over six years, submitted an online application to work at Mavis. (Pl. 56.1 ¶ 139). Evans contacted Mavis to follow up on her online application and was told that if she submitted an application online, Mavis would have received it. Although she provided Mavis with her contact information, she never heard anything back either confirming receipt of her application or advising her about its status. (Id. at ¶ 140).

h. May Menawi

May Menawi applied for employment with Mavis in 2008 to be an...

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