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Minetola v. Commonwealth Telephone Co.

May 10, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo


Presently before the Court is Defendant Commonwealth Telephone Enterprises, Inc., t/d/b/a Commwealth Communications' ("CTE") Motion for Summary Judgment as to Counts II and III of Plaintiff's Complaint. (Doc. 18.) For the reasons set forth below, CTE's motion will be granted. The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343(a).


The facts presented in the summary judgment record, viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, are as follows. Plaintiff was born on June 25, 1955. (Def.'s Statement of Material Facts, "SMF", ¶ 1, Doc. 20 at 1.) Plaintiff was employed by Defendant Commonwealth Telephone Company ("CTC"), a subsidiary of CTE (see Def.'s Resp. ¶ 4, Doc. 32 at 1), as a sales manager, strategic accounts, from May 1, 2002 through May 30, 2003. (Id. ¶ 2.)

Effective June 1, 2003, Plaintiff was reassigned from his position with CTC as sales manager, strategic accounts, to the position of senior account executive with CTE. (Id. ¶ 3.) CTE contends that Plaintiff's reassignment was due to his poor performance and leadership skills. (Id.) Plaintiff disputes this contention (Pl.'s Resp. ¶ 3, Doc. 29 at 1-2), pointing to the facts that he achieved one hundred forty-seven percent (147%) of his revenue goal and there was no indication in his first and second quarter reviews that his position with CTC was in jeopardy. (Doc. 29-4 at 6.) Plaintiff notes that his supervisor at CTC, Elena Kilpatrick, never put him on a performance improvement plan prior to his being reassigned. (Pl.'s Counterstatement of Undisputed Facts, "SMF", ¶ 8, Doc. 29 at 5.) Conversely, Kilpatrick testified that she was dissatisfied with Plaintiff's performance, which she characterized as merely "average." (Kilpatrick Dep. 89:19-90:1, Doc. 29-3 at 4.) Kilpatrick testified that she verbally coached Plaintiff prior to his reassignment. (Pl.'s SMF ¶ 10.) Plaintiff does not dispute this testimony, but instead contends that there is no documentation of her verbal coaching of him. (Id.) Kilpatrick's testimony is supported by a February 2003 performance review which outlined areas in which Plaintiff needed to improve, namely personal and leadership development. (See Doc. 29-4 at 6.)

Plaintiff testified that his position with CTC was filled by Ed Weirich, who was thirty-two (32) years of age at the time. (Minetola Dep. 29:12-25, Aug. 30, 2006, Doc. 29-2.) This is supported in the record as Plaintiff has offered into evidence a document which shows that Weirich was promoted from strategic account executive to sales manager on June 8, 2003, only a few days after Plaintiff's reassignment. (See Doc. 29-7.)

As a result of his reassignment, Plaintiff's salary was reduced from seventy-five thousand dollars ($75,000) to sixty-five thousand dollars ($65,000). (Pl.'s SMF ¶ 13.) However, this was "substantially more" than CTE paid its other sales representatives.

(See Doc. 30-3 at 16.) Plaintiff also had the opportunity to earn more than his salary by reaching or exceeding his sales quota. (See Doc. 29-4 at 8.)

On June 18, 2003, Plaintiff's new supervisor at CTE, Steven Letts, sent Plaintiff an email requesting a forecast of the potential revenue for product sales, stating "make sure it's doable. I don't want pie in the sky data. You and the others selling the product will be held to this goal." (Pl.'s SMF ¶ 15.) Letts further stated "you have one quarter to demonstrate the value you bring to the organization. If you are not able to do this, we will have to revisit your long term involvement with [CTE]." (Id.) Plaintiff sent Letts an email forecasting the following sales revenue:

Month Amount

July 0

August 25,000 September 75,000 October 100,000 November 100,000 December 100,000 Total $400,000 (Doc. 30-3 at 16.)

Two days later, Letts emailed Plaintiff stating that Plaintiff's sales forecast was too low and told Plaintiff and another sales representative that their sales quotas would be one hundred twenty thousand dollars ($120,000) per month. (Pl.'s SMF ¶ 16.) This one hundred twenty thousand dollar ($120,000) per month sales quota was the same for every other sales representative. (Id. ¶ 24.) However, Plaintiff asserts that other sales representatives had an assigned account base of between fifty (50) and two hundred (200) accounts from which to satisfy their quotas, while he "did not receive one qualified lead from [CTE]." (Id. ¶ 24.) CTE explains that it accounted for this by relieving Plaintiff of a recurring sales quota all other sales representatives had to achieve. (Doc. 30-3 at 17.) Plaintiff does not dispute this. CTE also relieved Plaintiff of his one hundred twenty thousand dollar ($120,000) nonrecurring quota for June and July of 2003. (Id. at 14.) CTE also notes that it had a formal "lead ...

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