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Farzan v. Vanguard Group, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

January 10, 2014


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Juan R. Sánchez, J.

Plaintiff Raymond Farzan brings this employment discrimination action against his former employer, Defendant The Vanguard Group, Inc. (Vanguard), alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), 43 Pa. Stat. Ann. § § 951-963, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § § 621-634. Farzan alleges he was subjected to a hostile work environment and unlawfully terminated because of his sex, race, religion, national origin, and age, and in retaliation for threatening to file a complaint if anything happened to his position.[1] On November 4, 2013, Vanguard moved for summary judgment on all counts of Farzan's Complaint. Because there are no genuine disputes as to any material facts and because Vanguard is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, Vanguard's motion for summary judgment will be granted.


In the fall of 2011, Joseph Corcoran, a Vanguard employee, received approval from the company's Project Management Office to engage an outside contractor to fill the position of a " senior" business systems analyst (BSA) to be staffed on certain temporary projects run by Corcoran. Vanguard then contacted LiquidHub, Inc., an information technology consulting company, to fill the position.[2] LiquidHub referred Farzan to Vanguard as a potential

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candidate, and after a series of interviews at Vanguard, including an in person interview with Corcoran, Corcoran selected him for the assignment. Farzan was then hired by LiquidHub as a temporary employee staffed on the Vanguard project.[3]

Farzan began working as a senior BSA at Vanguard on January 3, 2012, with Corcoran as his immediate supervisor. According to Farzan, the primary role of a BSA is to collect the requirements of certain business users using the template and methodologies offered at the company and to translate those requirements into another document using a template provided by the company. A senior BSA should be able to perform all the responsibilities of the position with minimal supervision. See Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. N (November 21, 2011, email from LiquidHub to Farzan explaining responsibilities were to be completed under " minimal direction" and " minimal supervision" ). These responsibilities included, among other things, " lead[ing] requirements gathering sessions . . . for multiple projects independently." Id. Farzan was assigned to two projects, the SSTLM project and the AWD project, and was the only Iranian in each group.

During the approximately four months Farzan was employed as a BSA at Vanguard, he received direction and feedback from various individuals, including, among others, Corcoran, Kathy Richter, a business manager associated with the SSTLM project, and Monique Peay, a fellow BSA who also served as Farzan's mentor. Richter, Peay, and others at Vanguard also provided feedback to Corcoran regarding Farzan's performance. By late March 2012, Corcoran became concerned with Farzan's performance and had notified LiquidHub of his concerns. In response, Jeffery Fountaine, a LiquidHub client manager, paired Farzan with another LiquidHub employee with BSA experience at Vanguard to serve as an additional mentor, but Vanguard remained dissatisfied with Farzan's work.

One of Corcoran's central concerns regarding Farzan's performance was his failure to effectively lead the project meetings, which is an expectation and job requirement of a senior level BSA. Others echoed and reinforced this concern, including Richter, who often took the lead during project meetings even though the responsibility for doing so lay with Farzan. See Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. R (April 3, 2012, email from Peay to Corcoran summarizing her concerns regarding Farzan's performance); see also Corcoran Dep. 28 (explaining Richter's frustration tat Farzan was not leading the meetings). While Farzan contends that Richter insisted on doing his job, Corcoran advised him in mid-March that he should be " very aggressive" in dealing with Richter's team and encouraged Farzan to take the lead. Farzan Aff. ¶ ¶ 58, 67. Peay also agreed that Farzan was not running the meetings as he should, and she informed both Farzan and Corcoran of this concern. Id. ¶ 64.

Those familiar with Farzan's work raised other issues aside from his failure to lead the project meetings. Peay informed Corcoran that, in general, she did not feel Farzan was operating at a senior BSA level. In addition to a lack of leadership, Peay found Farzan's work product was often inaccurate and incomplete, and he did not appear to have adequately planned and prepared for meetings. Richter also provided negative feedback about Farzan to Corcoran, finding Farzan's work execution

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substandard, highlighting his failure to effectively document and follow up on action items at meetings. George Gray, a manager of the AWD project, told Corcoran that Farzan had missed meetings and was not keeping the schedule for the overall project. Andy Harper, another Vanguard employee, reported that since Farzan's involvement on the projects, there was " no ...

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