United States District Court, D. Connecticut
LENWORTH A. BUNTING, Plaintiff,
KELLOGG'S CORPORATION and MICHAEL GOSS Defendants.
RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Lenworth Bunting, brought this action against his former
employer, Kellogg's Corporation
(“Kellogg's”), and Michael Goss, who was a
Distribution Center Manager at Kellogg's facility in
Newington, CT during the times relevant to this lawsuit. Mr.
Bunting asserts two causes of action against both defendants.
He first alleges discrimination on the basis of race in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (“Title
VII”). He also alleges that defendants discriminated
against him on the basis of his age, in violation of the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended, 29
U.S.C. §§ 621, et seq. (“the
Kellogg's and Goss, move for summary judgment on all of
Mr. Bunting's claims. For the reasons that follow, the
motion is GRANTED.
relevant facts are taken from defendants' Local Rule
56(a)(1) Statement and Exhibits attached to the Local Rule
56(a)1 Statement, ECF No. 36, and the plaintiff's Local
Rule 56(a)(2) Statement, ECF No. 41. See D. Conn. L.
Civ. R. 56(a).
Court notes that Plaintiff's Local Rule 56(a)(2)
statement does not contain any citations to the record and
does not comply with the requirement that any denials of
facts in a non-movant's Local Rule 56(a)(2) statement
“be followed by a specific citation to (1) the
affidavit of a witness competent to testify as to the facts
at trial and/or (2) evidence that would be admissible at
trial.” Local Rule 56(a)(3). In the absence of such
citations, the Court may “deem certain facts that are
supported by the evidence admitted.” Local Rule
56(a)(3); see Dolan v. Select Portfolio Serv., No.
03-CV-3285, 2016 WL 3512196, at *1 n. 4 (E.D.N.Y. June 22,
2016) (“Where a party either (i) admits or (ii) denies
without citing to admissible evidence facts alleged in the
opposing party's Local Rule 56.1 Statement, the Court
shall deem such facts undisputed.”); see also
Cashman v. Ricigliano, No. Civ. 3:02CV1423(MRK), 2004 WL
1920798, at *1 n.2 (D. Conn. Aug. 25, 2004) (deeming facts in
a Local Rule 56(a)(1) Statement admitted because the opposing
party did not file a Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement);
August v. Dep't of Corrections, 424 F.Supp.2d
363, 365 n.2 (D. Conn. 2006) (same); see also Vt. Teddy
Bear Co. v. 1-800 BEARGRAM Co., 373 F.3d 241, 244 (2d
Cir. 2004) (in adjudicating summary judgment, courts
“must be satisfied that the citation to evidence in the
record supports the assertion”). Accordingly, the Court
deems the facts in the Defendant's Local Rule 56(a)(1)
statement admitted, to the extent that the facts are
supported by the record.
began his employment at Kellogg's Newington Distribution
Center in 2005. Def.'s L. R. 56(a) Stmt., ECF No. 36, at
¶16. In March 2012, Kellogg's posted an opening for
a “Warehouse Manager” at the Newington
Distribution Center. Id. at ¶20. Mr. Goss was
the “Hiring Manager” for Kellogg's as it
conducted this search. Id. Kellogg's hired a
third-party recruiter, The Right Thing, to assist in filling
the position. Id.
used a three-level hiring process to select the Warehouse
Manager. First, the Right Thing posted the job, collected
applications, and screened applicants. Defs.' L. R 56(a)
Stmt. at ¶¶22-23. Then, it passed those applicants
who met the minimum qualifications to Mr. Goss. Id.
Mr. Goss screened these candidates and interviewed several of
them. Id. at ¶27. After those interviews, one
applicant was selected for the final review stage, a
“panel review” interview with Mr. Goss and two of
his associates, Regional Director Michael Demmers and
Transportation Manager Tom Veroneau. Id. at
11, 2012, Kellogg's cancelled the initial listing for the
Warehouse Manager position, because it was dissatisfied with
the candidate pool. Def.'s L. R. 56(a) Stmt. at ¶43;
see also Warehouse Manager Requisition (LOG000044),
Def. Ex. 14, ECF No. 36-14. The Right Thing reposted the job
with an offer of “relocation assistance” to
attract more candidates. Def.'s L. R. 56(a) Stmt. at
¶44; see also Warehouse Manager Requisition
(LOG000123) Def. Ex. 15, ECF No. 36-15. Mr. Bunting applied
to the original position but not to the second position.
Id. at ¶47. The Right Thing continued to
consider Mr. Bunting for the re-posted position. Morris
Decl., Def. Ex. 13, ECF No. 36-13 at ¶5. However, Mr.
Bunting was not aware of the new position or of the fact that
he remained a candidate. Pl.'s L. R. 56(a) Stmt., ECF No.
41 at ¶48.
11, 2012, Mr. Bunting received an e-mail implying that he had
already interviewed for the position and indicating that he
would not be moving forward to a panel interview. Def.'s
L. R. 56(a) Stmt at ¶49; Goss Decl., Def.'s Ex. 11,
ECF No. 36-11 at ¶10. On June 12, 2012, one day after
receiving this e-mail, he contacted Mr. Goss to describe the
problem. Pl.'s L. R. 56(a) Stmt at p. 20, ¶7. Mr.
Goss told Mr. Bunting that the e-mail was sent in error. Goss
Decl. at ¶10. Plaintiff also mentioned the problem to
Kellogg's staffing and to Karen Morris of The Right
Thing. Def.'s L. R. 56(a) Stmt. at ¶¶53-54. Ms.
Morris corrected Mr. Bunting's log on the
“TALEO” hiring database to reflect the fact that
The Right Thing was still considering Mr. Bunting for the
job, despite the erroneous e-mail. Id. at ¶54.
See also Morris Decl. at ¶7.
Goss allegedly interviewed several candidates for the
position and passed one along to the panel review stage. Goss
Decl. at ¶7. The parties have only provided to the court
a detailed review of one of these initial interviews-Mr.
Goss's interview with Mr. Bunting on July 6, 2012.
See Bunting Interview Questions, Def.'s Ex. 9,
ECF No. 23-9. At that interview, Mr. Goss asked Mr. Bunting
eight questions and recorded his impressions of Mr.
Bunting's answers on a worksheet. See Id. Mr.
Bunting claims that this interview was “ad hoc”
and did not amount to a face-to-face interview with Mr. Goss.
See Pl.'s Mem. Opp. Mot. S. J., ECF No. 42, at
¶24; Pl.'s L. R. 56(a) Stmt. at ¶41.
Bunting's initial interview occurred after Kellogg's
conducted the only panel interview for the Warehouse Manager
position. Goss Decl. at ¶7; Linnell Interview Questions,
Def. Exh. 10, ECF 23-10 (identifying date). On July 5, 2012,
Bradley Linnell, an external candidate for the position,
completed his panel review. Id. At the panel review,
Mr. Linnell did a presentation and answered the same eight
questions that Mr. Bunting answered in his interview with Mr.
Goss. See Id. At some point in July 2012,
Kellogg's offered the Warehouse Manager position to Mr.
Linnell. Goss Decl. at ¶11.
Goss recommended Mr. Linnell for advancement to the panel
review stage, and eventually for the position, “because
he had retail experience and direct store delivery …
experience, ” had received relevant educational
training, and had worked as a Logistics Manager, onsite
Logistics Manager/LTL Transportation Manager and
Transportation Analyst. Goss Decl. at ¶8. Mr. Linnell
had a Bachelor's of Science degree in Business with a
focus on transportation and logistics and a Master's
degree in Business Administration with a focus on supply
chain management. Id. Ms. Morris of Do the Right
Thing believed that Mr. Linnell was a “dream”
candidate and a “perfect fit for the position, ”
although Mr. Goss and his colleagues at Kellogg's made
the final decision to hire Mr. Linnell. Morris Decl. at
applied for the position, Mr. Bunting had worked as a Supply
Station Systems Manager at Hartford Hospital for six years.
Bunting Resume, Def. Ex. 3, ECF 36-3. He also had
approximately six years of experience at Kellogg's.
Id. See also Pl.'s L. R. 56(a) Stmt. at
¶38. At Kellogg's, Mr. Bunting worked as a
“lead Person” or “unit leader” in the
warehouse. Pl.'s Mem. Opp. Mot. S. J. at p. 21; Bunting
Dep., Def.'s Ex. 12, ECF No. 36-12 at 48:10-19; Pl.'s
L. R. 56(a) Stmt. at ¶¶16-17. In this position, he
supervised storeroom staff, developed works schedules,
monitored daily assignments and processed payroll and
performance appraisals. Pl.'s L. R. 56(a) Stmt.at
¶38. Mr. Goss felt that Mr. Bunting “had some
supervisory experience, but it was in a hospital setting, and
not lengthy or recent.” Goss Decl. at ¶9. Mr.
Bunting had a Bachelor's of Science degree in Business
Administration and Finance, but did not have other advanced
degrees. Generally, Mr. Goss believed that Mr. Bunting's
“overall qualifications were not close to those of Mr.
Linnell” and did not recommend that Mr. Bunting
progress further in the hiring process. Id.
Goss's interview notes reflect his belief that Mr.
Bunting answered six of the eight questions
“effectively” at Bunting's July 6, 2012
interview. Bunting Interview Questions, Ex. 9, ECF No. 36-9.
He did not rate Mr. Bunting's response to the final two
questions. Id. Mr. Goss noted that Mr. Linnell
answered seven questions “effectively” and one