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Dillard v. Tyco Integrated Security, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

April 21, 2015

GARY F. DILLARD, Plaintiff,
v.
TYCO INTEGRATED SECURITY, LLC, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM

ALETA A. TRAUGER, District Judge.

Pending before the court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the defendant, Tyco Integrated Security, LLC (Docket No. 16), to which the plaintiff has filed a Response in opposition (Docket No. 24), and the defendant has filed a Reply (Docket No. 28). For the reasons stated herein, the defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted and the plaintiff's claims will be dismissed.

BACKGROUND

I. Overview

The plaintiff, Gary Dillard, filed this employment discrimination action against his former employer, Tyco Integrated Security, LLC ("Tyco"). Tyco sells, services, and installs electronic security systems for large commercial buildings. Dillard worked in a variety of sales positions with Tyco and its predecessors between February 1990 and his termination on January 3, 2014. Dillard, who is currently 63 years old, filed this lawsuit on April 3, 2014, alleging that Tyco terminated him because of his age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. ("ADEA") and the Tennessee Human Rights Act, T.C.A. § 4-21-101 et seq. ("THRA").

II. The Motion for Summary Judgment

In support of its Motion for Summary Judgment, Tyco filed (1) a Memorandum of Law (Docket No. 17), (2) a Statement of Undisputed Facts (Docket No. 18) ("DSUF"), (3) an Appendix, attaching a variety of depositions and exhibits (Docket No. 19, Exs. 1-6), and (4) two witness declarations, including exhibits (Docket Nos. 20-21).

In support of his opposition to the motion, Dillard filed (1) a Response in Opposition (Docket No. 24), (2) a response to Tyco's DSUF (Docket No. 25), (3) a Statement of Additional Disputed Facts (Docket No. 25) ("PSAF"), and (4) a Notice of Filing attaching a variety of deposition transcripts and exhibits (Docket No. 26).

In support of its Reply, Tyco filed a Response to Dillard's PSAF (Docket No. 27), as well as an Appendix attaching interrogatories and exhibits (Docket No. 29) and the Declaration of Darryl Davis (Docket No. 30).

III. Facts Underlying the Plaintiff's Claims[1]

A. Dillard's Role at Tyco

Tyco terminated Dillard's employment on January 3, 2014. At relevant times prior to his termination, Dillard worked as a Core Commercial Resale Representative. In this role, Dillard was primarily responsible for reselling electronic security systems to new tenants who occupied buildings that had previously installed (but currently discontinued) Tyco security systems. Dillard was also responsible for "dispositioning" each of the prospects that showed up on a list of customers assigned to him in Tyco's "customer relationship management computer application, " which is known as Compass. Tyco requires its sales representatives and their managers to use the Compass system throughout the sales process, which includes tracking, dispositioning, and recording customer prospect and sales information, creating contracts and booking contracts.

The majority of Dillard's "resale prospects"- i.e., the potential customers that Tyco assigned to Dillard so that he could try to sell them Tyco's product-were listed in Compass as "discontinued leads, " nicknamed "discos." Within 24 hours of a processed "disco" form, Dillard's resale prospects would appear in Compass under the "leads" tab in the Compass system. Dillard could attempt to sell services to any disco lead that showed up on his Compass list.

Tyco set forth minimum expectations for Dillard's performance, including (1) making at least five customer proposals each week; (2) proposing at least $10, 000 per week in annual service charges ("ANSC"); (3) meeting minimum sales quotas from booked sales; (4) updating active opportunities in Compass within 24 hours after each customer visit or follow-up call; and (5) updating all proposals and pulling upcoming week forecasts from Compass by every Friday.

It is undisputed that Dillard struggled to use the Compass system to perform his job responsibilities. Until Tyco went through an organizational shift in 2012, Dillard paid an administrative assistant for several years (out of his own pocket) to access the Compass system and to make sure that his disco leads were up to date. Dillard also testified at deposition that, at some points in time, other coworkers in the office performed his work on the Compass system on his behalf.

B. Dillard Receives Performance Reviews

1. Tyco's System for Disciplinary Review Related to Poor Performance

Tyco has several stages of written disciplinary review for employees who fail to meet their performance goals. The first stage appears to be a "Coaching for Improvement" form ("CIF"), which describes the standard performance expectations, the team member's current performance, and an action plan for improving performance, including actions to be taken by the team member and his manager. The second and more severe disciplinary stage is a Performance Improvement Plan ("PIP"), which describes the employee's performance deficiencies, defines the improvements needed, and identifies an action plan for improvement. It appears that, even after an employee is placed on a PIP, Tyco may also issue "written warnings" related to the employee's failure to improve or meet the objectives of the PIP's action plan.

2. Dillard's Performance History Prior to 2012

It appears to be undisputed that, throughout his employment with Tyco (and its affiliates), Dillard went through various periods of poor performance and that Tyco disciplined him for that poor performance. There is evidence in the record that, between 2008 and 2010, Dillard received multiple written warnings related to his failure to meet his sales quotas, including multiple CIFs and a PIP in 2009. It further appears to be undisputed that Dillard's performance improved at some point following the 2009 PIP and, therefore, Tyco did not take further disciplinary action against him at that time. The plaintiff's age discrimination claims are tied to disciplinary actions taken against him beginning in January 2013, which are described in detail below.

3. First Coaching for Improvement Form

In October 2012, Darryl Davis became Dillard's sales manager. On January 18, 2013, Davis gave Dillard a written CIF ("First CIF"). According to the First CIF, Dillard was averaging 0.4 proposals instead of five proposals per week for the first quarter of the 2013 fiscal year. Dillard was also averaging $524 in ANSC (rather than the expected $10, 000), and he worked at only 55.47% of his sales quota for the first quarter and 28.9% of his quota for December 2012.

The First CIF instructed that Dillard was expected to take actions to improve his performance, including "clean[ing] up Compass leads and focusing attention on Non-Payment Cancellations." (Docket No. 19, Ex. 1 at 32.) The First CIF further stated that Dillard should "[a]lways use Compass generated lead to create resale opportunity." ( Id. )

4. Second Coaching for Improvement Form

On March 19, 2013, Dillard received a second CIF form ("Second CIF"). The Second CIF noted that Dillard was continuing to fail to meet minimum expectations for proposals, proposed ANSC, and sales quotas. ( Id. at 33.) The Second CIF reiterated the same objectives as the First CIF.

5. Performance Improvement Plan

On August 6, 2013, Tyco placed Dillard on a PIP ( Id. at 34.) At the time of his PIP, Dillard was meeting only 33% of his sales quota in July and 54.5 % of his sales quota year-to-date. He had generated only 4 proposals in July (despite a weekly expectation of five proposals) and had only achieved $4, 828 of his expected $10, 000 in proposed ANSC. The PIP form, signed by Davis and Dillard, states that the reasons for this discipline included (1) Dillard's failure to meet the minimum expectations for proposals, proposed ANSC, and sale quotas; and (2) his failure to properly disposition disco and pending disco leads in Compass. The PIP form further states in a section titled "Define Improvement Needed" that Dillard must improve to a minimum of 80% of his monthly quota, attain a minimum weekly proposal target of 5 proposals and $10, 000 in ANSC, and properly follow up and disposition all Compass leads in a timely manner. ( Id. )

The "Action Plan" set out three objectives for Dillard to perform daily: "(1) creat[ing] proposals for resale opportunities before presenting contracts to customers; (2) review[ing] all disco and pending disco leads in compass [ sic ] daily; and (3) review[ing] training material on Compass's Sharepoint site for navigating Compass and creating opportunities and estimates." ( Id. ) The PIP form further stated in capital, bold letters that a "failure to maintain sustained, consistent, satisfactory performance or failure to adhere to the terms and conditions of this performance ...


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