Lewis v. Zilog, Inc.

Decision Date05 September 1995
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 1:93-CV-2671-FMH.
Citation908 F. Supp. 931
PartiesJulie L. LEWIS, Plaintiff, v. ZILOG, INC., Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Georgia





Loretta Jean Mirandola, Office of Loretta Jean Mirandola, Lawrenceville, Georgia, for plaintiff.

Hunter R. Hughes, III, Lisa Bodenstein Golan, Rogers & Hardin, Atlanta, Georgia, for defendant.


HULL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Julie L. Lewis files this employment discrimination action against Defendant Zilog, Inc. for disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act and for gender discrimination under Title VII. This matter is before the Court on Defendant Zilog's Motion for Summary Judgment 37-1 on all of Plaintiff's claims, Defendant's Motion to Amend Summary Judgment Papers to Correct Proofing Errors 39-1, Defendant's Motion to Extend Plaintiff's Time to Respond to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment 39-2, Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Statement of Issues and Citations 45-1, Plaintiff's Objection to the Submission and Consideration of Defendant's Inadmissible and Improper Evidence 54-1, Defendant's Motion for Leave to Supplement Citation of Authority in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment 56-1, and Defendant's Second Motion for Leave to Supplement Citation of Authority in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment 61-1.

The Court grants the parties' respective motions for extensions and to file supplemental briefs. The Court now addresses Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.


For purposes of Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, the Court adopts the version of the facts most favorable to Plaintiff.

A. Plaintiff's Employment

In 1986, Plaintiff began working temporarily as a secretary for Defendant. In January, 1987, the position became permanent. Plaintiff performed her secretarial duties well and as a result was promoted twice in a short period. In 1992, Plaintiff's third promotion was to the position of Inside Sales Representative. In that capacity Plaintiff worked with Defendant's sales representatives and independent distributors who serviced small accounts. Among other duties, Plaintiff was required to be available to answer questions of procedure and policy to field representatives, to process orders, and to work to solve customer problems. Plaintiff was also responsible for maintaining effective communications between the regional field offices and the area manager and for keeping the area manager updated on all major activities.

From 1988 to June, 1992, Defendant's Atlanta office was staffed on a day to day basis by only Plaintiff and Brady Williams, Plaintiff's supervisor and later co-worker. Mr. Williams's strengths were not in the areas of detail and administration. Plaintiff often criticized Mr. Williams. According to Plaintiff, when Mr. Williams was Plaintiff's supervisor, Mr. Williams would leave the office to play golf and attend adult entertainment centers, and frequently not return customers' phone calls. Plaintiff reports that on one occasion when she was on sick leave, Plaintiff was called into the office to prepare some documents Mr. Williams was responsible for preparing. Plaintiff complains that Mr. Williams was not reprimanded for any of his behaviors.

In June, 1992, Defendant's Atlanta office was expanded with the addition of Bob Timms, Defendant's District Sales Manager. Ms. Lewis began reporting to Mr. Timms. In November, 1992, the office staff was increased to four with the hiring of Bob Mylacraine as Defendant's Key Account Manager for its Scientific Atlanta account.

B. Plaintiff's 1993 Performance Evaluation

Prior to 1993, Plaintiff was given numerous favorable performance evaluations. However, the office atmosphere began to deteriorate. Mr. Timms began receiving complaints regarding some of Plaintiff's behaviors. Mr. Timms states that he observed Plaintiff exhibit belligerence regarding what should have been noncontroversial day to day activities. Mr. Timms brought these concerns to the attention of David Phillips, Defendant's Regional Sales Manager, in Dallas. Other employees also had contacted Mr. Phillips. Mr. Phillips received complaints not only about Plaintiff's inability to avoid confrontation in the Atlanta office, but also complaints from Defendant's manufacturer's representatives about the amount of time Plaintiff spent engaging in unproductive activity in the office.

Plaintiff stresses that she had a track record of good performance reviews and compliments from co-workers, customers, and representatives. Plaintiff's 1992 performance evaluation showed good solid performance and did not reference the problems that appeared just two months later in the performance evaluation given Plaintiff on February 23, 1993. Accepting this as true, the evidence, nonetheless, shows the atmosphere of the office deteriorated in 1993. In January, 1993, when the serious nature and extent of the problems Plaintiff was causing were brought to the attention of Mike Furman, Defendant's National Director of Sales, Mr. Furman immediately began discussions with field management about how to handle the problem.

In the meantime, on January 8, 1993, after a confrontation with John Wynn, one of Defendant's California sales managers, Plaintiff took a three week paid medical leave of absence. Plaintiff requested this medical leave of absence for "illness." In support of her request, Plaintiff submitted a note, dated January 12, 1993, from Dr. Cox, her family physician. The note stated: "Please excuse Julie from work until 2-1-93. She may return to work on that date with limited overtime only!" Baumwell deposition, Exh. 6.

In February, 1993, Mr. Furman asked Mr. Timms to write a memo about the problems Plaintiff caused. Mr. Timms drafted a memo, dated February 17, 1993, which detailed the problems Plaintiff caused, as follows:

GA office problems:
* Julie incessantly berates other Zilog employees and reps to everyone
* Constant complaints about her work
* Always brings sexual innuendo into conversations
* Rebellious—resists any form of direction
* Her manner attempts to intimidate & threaten with something she may "have on you"—always appears to be building a case
* Poor communication skills—no listening, just telling
* Constantly interrupts co-workers on low priority issues
* Major attitude and mood swings

Furman deposition, Exh. 41. Based on the content of the memo and input from field representatives and employees, Mr. Furman advised Plaintiff in writing about the extent of the problems she was causing, and made it clear that Plaintiff must improve her conduct.

Defendant's policy provides that a performance improvement plan, known as a "PIP," may be given when an employee's performance is unsatisfactory, as follows:

When an employee's performance to the reasonable objectives and expectations of the position is or becomes an unsatisfactory, an employee may receive an "extraordinary review." Such a review is a "mini-MBO" in which the supervisor says to the employee, in writing, "your performance is unsatisfactory. Here are the things I expect you to accomplish/correct in the next thirty (30) or sixty (60) days in order to retain your position. If you do not accomplish/correct these things, you will no longer be employed in this position....
Because the extraordinary MBO is a step toward a termination, the document must be pre-reviewed with the supervisor's management, the Director or Manager of Human Resources and, if possible, the Corporate Legal Department, before the discussion with the employee.
At the end of the stated time period, the supervisor documents in writing on the MBO the accomplishment/corrections. If performance and behavior are substantially improved, the employee resumes a regular MBO cycle. If not, the supervisor so informs the employee, after consultation with management, Human Resources and the Legal Department, and after a termination Plan "for performance" is approved.

Zilog Procedure Manual, 60-27, Performance Evaluations—Indirect Labor Employees, Baumwell deposition, Exh. 23. Pursuant to Defendant's policy, Mr. Furman drafted a performance evaluation for Plaintiff which contained a performance improvement plan.

Mr. Furman decided that he would give Plaintiff the performance evaluation in person to insure that there was no misunderstanding by Plaintiff and to make it easier for Plaintiff to continue to have a productive relationship with her supervisors, Mr. Phillips and Mr. Timms. Mr. Furman flew to Atlanta and gave Plaintiff her performance evaluation on February 23, 1993, in the presence of Mr. Phillips and Mr. Timms.

The written performance evaluation that Mr. Furman reviewed with Plaintiff states that Plaintiff needed to improve her performance in two major areas, namely her efficiency and her work relationship with others. On the efficiency issue, the evaluation noted that Plaintiff was extremely talkative on the telephone and excessively mixed business with pleasure. As a result, calls that should have taken five minutes lasted twenty. It was also noted that Plaintiff needed to prioritize better—to recognize the relative importance of the issues she was raising and, whenever possible, to solve a problem with one phone call instead of three. It was suggested that Plaintiff could reduce her work hours if she were more efficient.

The second problem noted in Plaintiff's performance evaluation was her relations with others. The evaluation states that Plaintiff's moods varied. On some days Plaintiff would be easy to work with and on the others, "co-workers have to walk on eggshells so as not to set off her wrath." Lewis deposition, Exh. 9. It was also suggested that Plaintiff improve her relationship with Mr. Williams.

Plaintiff's performance evaluation also noted that Plaintiff had to work on her relationships...

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