United States District Court, D. Connecticut
LAURIE W. BOCZAR, Plaintiff,
THE ANTHEM COMPANIES, INC. Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION GRANTING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [DKT. 30]
Vanessa L. Bryant United States District Judge
Laurie W. Boczar (“Boczar” or
“Plaintiff”) brings this employment
discrimination action against her former employer, The Anthem
Companies, Inc. (“Anthem” or
“Defendant”), formerly known as Wellpoint, Inc.
Her complaint raises claims for age and gender discrimination
in violation of the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act
(“CFEPA”), Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-60 et
seq. Plaintiff initially filed this action in
Connecticut state court, and the case was removed to this
Court on June 1, 2015 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
1332. Defendant now moves for summary judgment on all claims.
For the reasons stated below, the Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment is GRANTED.
following undisputed facts are drawn primarily from the
Defendant's 56(a)1 Statement.
is a woman who previously worked for Anthem as Web Creative
Director. [Dkt. 26, Rule 56(a)(1) Statement of
Facts, ¶ 3]. Boczar was hired in March 2009, and at all
relevant times, Boczar was over the age of 40 years old when
she worked for Anthem. [Dkt. 1, Ex. A, Complaint, ¶ 3;
Dkt. 12, Answer, at p. 1; Dkt. 26, ¶ 3]. Boczar's
employment was terminated on October 1, 2013, when she was 51
years old. [Dkt. 26, ¶¶ 8, 77.] Anthem is a
corporation transacting business in Connecticut with a
principal place of business in Indiana. [Dkt. 1, ¶ 2;
Dkt. 12, at pp. 1-2]. Anthem provides health benefits as an
independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield
Association to members across the country. [Dkt. 26, ¶
Anthem, Boczar was part of the User Design Experience
(“UXD”) team, which was responsible for the
information architecture and visual design associated with
Anthem's web and mobile assets. [Id. ¶ 10;
Dkt. 26, Ex. 4, Tollis Decl. ¶ 3]. She was the highest
ranking person on the UXD team with a level of E14 and
therefore would have received a higher salary than any of her
peers at a lower level (E13 or below). [Dkt. 26, ¶ 11].
Giulia Tollis (“Tollis”), Boczar's manager in
2012, stated that she held Boczar to a “higher standard
for her performance, gave her additional responsibilities,
and expected her to be a thought leader for her peers when it
came to creative design and strategy.” [Dkt. 26, Ex. 4,
¶ 4]. One of Boczar's responsibilities was to
maintain Anthem's Style Guide, an internal guide used by
the Web Design team and other internal groups to make sure
the Anthem brand looked and felt consistent in all
publications. [Dkt. 26, ¶ 13]. As Boczar's
supervisor, Tollis had concerns regarding her performance,
because she struggled to meet deadlines, failed to
effectively communicate her deadlines and workload, and spent
time on junior tasks as opposed to senior thought leader
roles. [Id. ¶ 14]. On October 17, 2012, Tollis
provided critical feedback to Boczar and followed-up with an
email that same day expressing her disappointment in
Boczar's performance. [Id. ¶¶ 15-16].
Specifically, Tollis stated, “As we discussed, I have
concerns whether this is the right role for you based on
these observations. You expressed a desire to be focused on
more Senior level tasks - icons, style guide, etc. To do that
effectively, it's important that you understand the
expectations of your role and that you improve and sustain
your performance.” [Dkt. 26, Ex. 5, Email (Oct. 17,
2012), at p. 2].
the critical feedback, Boczar continued to miss deadlines. On
December 6, 2012, Tollis sent Boczar another email
documenting her failure to meet status report deadlines from
October 3, October 11, October 24, and December 5, as well as
her failure to submit any report at all on November 14. [Dkt.
26, Ex. 6]. Tollis concluded, “As we've discussed
in the past, I expect that all deadlines are met, unless
otherwise discussed and agreed upon in advance of the miss.
It's important that you understand the expectations of
your role and that you improve and sustain your performance
moving forward.” [Id.] This warning prompted
no change in Plaintiff's performance, as she failed to
submit another status report, prompting Tollis to remind
Boczar on January 10, 2013, that another missing report may
result in a written warning. [Dkt. 26, ¶ 23].
February 2013 Tim Brown (“Brown”) was hired to
manage the UXD team, reporting to Tollis. [Id.
¶ 24]. Boczar's complaint alleges “[w]ithin a
very short period from Mr. Brown's hiring, Plaintiff went
from a consistently and highly successful employee who was
rewarded a[s] such in each of her four years with [Anthem] to
an employee who ‘consistently fails to meet
expectations' with respect to any of Mr. Brown's
stated criteria in the PIP.” [Dkt. 1, Ex. A,
¶ 18]. Boczar described Brown's management style as
“overbearing nitpickiness” and that he was
“trying to set [her] up.” [Dkt. 26, Ex. 3, Boczar
Dep., 36:17, 114:4-5]. In her deposition testimony, the
Plaintiff challenges the Defendant's assertion that she
missed deadlines, testifying, “I might have had a
misspelling, I might have had an overall date on it that, you
know, was not the correct date even though he receives it on
the correct day.” [Id. at 114:20-23].
April 2013 Plaintiff received her 2012 annual performance
appraisal. [Dkt. 26, ¶ 26]. Tollis rated Boczar a 3.18
out of 5, an average rating at Anthem, but compared to her
peers Boczar it was “the lowest rated member of the UXD
team.” [Dkt. 26, Ex. 4, ¶ 24]. The performance
review specifically stated,
• “[A]n area of improvement is more broadly
communicating & educating to her peers and interested
parties the changes that have been made.” [Dkt. 26, Ex.
7, 2012 Performance Coaching, at p. 5].
• “Would like to see Laurie bring more to the
table with her designs in rendering visual designs that are
more interesting and where she is pushing the bounds of her
work.” [Id. at p. 6].
• “Areas of opportunity for Laurie would be with
her verbal communication and presence in meetings. Laurie is
of a quiet nature. She tends to be reserved and holds back
from responding in meetings. Due to our highly virtual
environment, this is perceived as a lack of participation by
project teams. Additionally, Laurie needs to become her own
voice in the team. I'd like to see Laurie take a more
active, vocal role. Communicating her thoughts an opinions to
help drive change.” [Id. at pp. 7-8].
• “Additionally, Laurie will need to work on
communicating her workload to leadership and where she stands
with projects. At times, it has been difficult to gauge where
or what she's really got for deliverables.”
[Id. at p. 10].
concedes that “there were a couple of things that could
have slipped through that were fixed ultimately, ” and
justifies them because “[i]t is human to err.”
[Dkt. 26, Ex. 3, 77:22-78:7]. As a result of the performance
review, Boczar received “one ...