United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION GRANTING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [DKT. 56]
Vanessa L. Bryant United States District Judge
Mamta Dhir, a former employee of Defendant Wells Fargo Bank,
N.A. (“Wells Fargo”) brings this action for
employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
et seq., the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices
Act (“CFEPA”), Conn. Gen. Stat. §
56a-60(a)(1), the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act
(“ADAA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a), and the
Connecticut Workers' Compensation Act
(“CWCA”), Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-290a. The
Defendant has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. [Dkt. 56].
For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion is
Fargo is a nationwide, diversified financial services company
that provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and
consumer and financial banking services. [See Dkt.
58-1, Affidavit of Jeffrey Bruneau (“Bruneau
Aff.”) ¶ 3]. Plaintiff is female, was born in
India, and is Asian (Indian). [Dkt. 58-3, Deposition of Mamta
Dhir (“Dhir Dep.”) at 16, 20-21]. She moved to
the United States in 1982. Id. at 21-22. Plaintiff
became a store manager in Wells Fargo's Prospect,
Connecticut store in August 2011. [Dkt. 21 ¶ 14; Dhir
Dep. at 31, 80]. As store manager, Plaintiff was responsible
for the store's performance, operations, and employees,
and managed customer service, staffing, cash flow, sales, and
compliance with Wells Fargo policies and procedures. [Bruneau
Aff. ¶ 14; Dhir Dep. at 31-32]. Plaintiff had three
direct reports: two Personal Bankers and the Service Manager,
Joy Robertson. [Dhir Dep. at 34-35]. Tellers reported to Ms.
Dhir through Ms. Robertson. [Dhir Dep. at 35].
Policies and Procedures
Fargo maintains “Diversity and Inclusion, ”
“Affirmative Action, EEO, & Diversity, ”
anti-harassment, and “Nonretaliation” policies.
[Bruneau Aff. ¶ 5; Dkt. 58-2 (“Handbook”) at
¶ 000004]. The Handbook sets forth the following hiring
policy: “Our policy is that we do not discriminate on
the basis of race, color, gender, national origin, religion,
age, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic
information, physical or mental disability, pregnancy,
marital status, veteran status, or any other status protected
by federal, state or local law.” [Id. at
WF000029]. The Handbook also directs employees to contact
Human Resources when the employee “need[s] advice or
help in solving an issue that [he or she] ha[s] on the
job.” [Id. at WF000008]. Should the employee
have a dispute, he or she is advised to first resolve the
issue with the direct manager, or if the dispute cannot be
resolved, to then seek out the Dispute Resolution Resources
referenced in the Handbook. [Id. at WF000046].
Fargo also maintains a “Code of Ethics & Business
Conduct, ” which requires each employee to be
“consistently honest and trustworthy in everything one
does, ” and to “prepar[e] and maintain accurate
records.” [Id. at WF000014-WF000021; Dhir Dep.
at 46-49]. The code also prohibits “[f]alsification of
any company or personal information” and gaming, or the
“manipulation, misrepresentation, or both of sales or
sales reporting in an attempt to receive compensation or to
meet sales goals.” [Handbook at ¶ 000019-20; Dhir
Dep. at 46-49, 53-56]. Managers in particular are expected
“to exemplify the highest standards of ethical
behavior, ” “[t]o ensure that team members
understand that business results are never more important
than ethical conduct and compliance with applicable law and
Wells Fargo's policies, ” and “[t]o ingrain
the principles of the Code and compliance with applicable
laws, regulations, and Wells Fargo's policies into
[their] business unit's practices.” [Handbook at
¶ 000022; Dhir Dep. at 57-58, 65-66]. Defendant's
“Immediate Dismissal” policy states that (1)
violating the ethics code; (2) falsification of records,
including “[e]ntering false sales or referrals on a
sales tracking system, ” or (3) gaming, “may
result in immediate termination of employment.”
[Handbook at ¶ 000065; Dhir Dep. at 62-63].
time Plaintiff was employed, Wells Fargo ran a “Teller
Referral” program that encouraged tellers to (1)
uncover a customer's potential need for a financial
product or service and, if the customer was amendable, (2)
refer him or her to a Personal Banker to discuss the product
or service further. [Bruneau Aff. ¶¶ 6-8; Dhir Dep.
at 50-53, 68-75; Dkt. 58-4 (“Sales Quality
Manual”) at ¶ 000080].
referral resulted in a sale of a product or service, the
teller would receive credit, and managers would be evaluated
in part based on the number of credits tellers earned.
[Bruneau Aff. ¶¶ 9-10]. The program was governed by
a Sales Integrity Policy, which prohibited
“manipulations and/or misrepresentations of sales or
referrals and reporting of sales or referrals in an attempt
to receive compensation or to meet sales goals that is
inconsistent with customer needs.” [Sales Quality
Manual at ¶ 000072]. Sales integrity violations could
“result in disciplinary action, up to and including
disqualification from participation in incentive compensation
plans and termination of employment.” Id.
“unearned referral” occurs when a teller is given
credit for a referral that did not result from uncovering a
customer's potential need for a product or service.
[Bruneau Aff. ¶ 11; Dhir Dep. at 50-53; Sales Quality
Manual at ¶ 000080]. For instance, if a teller obtains a
credit for a sale when the teller had no contact with the
customer, this credit would be “unearned, ” and
the behavior would be considered impermissible
“gaming.” Id. Other types of
“inappropriate” sales behavior described in the
Sales Quality Manual included: (1) “[s]ubmitting a
referral after directing a customer who came into the store
with the intent to purchase a product or service, even if
other products or services are discussed before the customer
is directed to the banker”; (2) “[b]ankers
supplying tellers with customer information to input as a
referral when the teller did not have any contact with the
customer”; (3) “[r]esubmitting a referral without
having an additional sales conversation and without regaining
consent from the customer”; (4) “[r]eceiving
referral credit for yourself or any other store personnel
(e.g., a teller cannot refer another teller to a banker for
referral credit)”; (5) “[a] teller submitting a
referral after translating for a customer or banker without
uncovering a need for a product or service”; and (6)
“[e]ntering teller referrals for customers at a
Wells Fargo at Work offsite event.” [Sales
Quality Manual at ¶ 000080].
compensation as Store Manager included a “quarterly
incentive compensation opportunity, ” which was based,
in part, on teller contributions. [Bruneau Aff. ¶ 19;
Dhir Dep. at 49-52, 76; Dkt. 58-7 (“Compensation
Plan”) at DWF000608]. Plaintiff was also eligible for a
“coach's bonus” of 15 percent of store team
members' incentive compensation payments, which was also
based on teller credits. [Bruneau Aff. ¶ 19; Dhir Dep.
at 76-78; Compensation Plan at DWF000608].
around August 12, 2013, Plaintiff tripped while at work,
injuring her shoulder, neck, knees, and right ankle. [Dkt. 21
at ¶ 16; Dhir Dep. at 134-36]. Plaintiff reported her
injury to Wells Fargo the next day, and took a day and a half
off to seek medical treatment. [Dkt 21 ¶ 17; Dhir Dep.
at 137-38]. Thereafter, Wells Fargo permitted the Plaintiff
to go to physical therapy appointments two to three days a
week during her workday. [Dhir Dep. at 139-40]. Wells Fargo
also accommodated Plaintiff's lifting restrictions. [Dhir
Dep at 143-44]. Plaintiff attended therapy through September
and October 2013, and Defendants claim that she complained to
Mr. Bruneau that her doctors “were forcing [her] to
start therapy again, ” to which Plaintiff claims Mr.
Bruneau responded, “they want you to continue so they
can make money.” [Dkt. 21 ¶ 22; Dhir Dep. at 142].
Plaintiff also claims that Mr. Bruneau and Area President
Kent McClun asked her how long she would require treatment.
[Dkt. 21 ¶ 21; Dhir Dep. at 262-64].
mid-2013, a teller complained to Wells Fargo that the
Plaintiff had discriminated against him because of his
religion. [Bruneau Aff. ¶ 20; Dhir Dep. at 146-53; Kent
Aff. ¶ 3]. Employee relations investigated this claim,
but determined that the Plaintiff had not discriminated
against him. [Bruneau Aff. ¶ 21; Dhir Dep. at 146-62;
Kent Aff. ¶ 4]. During the course of the investigation,
however, Plaintiff's subordinates described her behavior
as “threatening, condescending, horrifying, and
degrading.” [Bruneau Aff. ¶¶ 22-23; Dhir Dep.
at 152-54; Dkt. 58-10]. Wells Fargo found these claims
credible, and concluded that Plaintiff's “poor
judgment and unprofessional behavior” violated its
Professionalism and Code of Ethics and Business Conduct
policies. [Bruneau Aff. ¶¶ 22-23; Dhir Dep. at
152-54; Dkt. 58-10]. Plaintiff was given an “Informal
Warning” based on these findings.
the course of the investigation into the religious
discrimination claim, tellers told Employee Relations that
the store had been submitting unearned referrals. [Kent Aff.
¶ 5; Bruneau Aff. ¶ 24; Dhir Dep. at 149-50].
Plaintiff separately informed Wells Fargo District Manager
Jeffrey Bruneau that her subordinates were submitting
unearned referrals. [Dkt. 21 ¶¶ 24, 26-27; Dhir
Dep. at 162-63]. Mr. Bruneau asked Plaintiff to let him
handle the matter because if Plaintiff formally reported the
unearned referrals, the report might be perceived as
retaliation for ...