United States District Court, D. Connecticut
PELLUMB AMETI, ex rel. UNITED STATES, Plaintiff,
SIKORSKY AIRCRAFT CORP., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Vanessa L. Bryant United States District Judge.
the Court is Defendant Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation's
(“Defendant” or “Sikorsky”) summary
judgment motion of Plaintiff Pellumb Ameti's
(“Plaintiff” or “Ameti”) employment
termination case. Mr. Ameti brings claims of unlawful
discrimination and hostile work environment based on race,
national origin, and religion in violation of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16,
et seq., and the Connecticut Fair Employment
Practices Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-60(a)(1);
retaliation in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-51m;
intentional infliction of emotional distress; and common law
wrongful discharge in violation of an important public
policy. For the foregoing reasons, the motion for summary
judgment is GRANTED as to Counts I through IV, and the Court
declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Counts V
is a company that designs, manufactures, and services
helicopters for commercial, industrial, and military uses.
[Dkt. 66-24 (Def. L. R. 56(a)(1) Statement) ¶ 1; Dkt.
79-1 (Pl. L. R. 56(a)(2) Statement) ¶ 1]. The company
has policies that prohibit discrimination and harassment on
the basis of color, national origin, and religion. [Dkt.
66-24 ¶ 3; Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 3]. These policies provide a
procedure for individuals who believe they are subject to
discrimination or harassment. See [Dkt. 66-24 ¶
3; Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 3]. Specifically, the harassment policy
states, “If you have witnessed or been the victim of
harassment, you should immediately notify the Company through
one or more of the following: (1) your supervisor (unless
he/she is the alleged harasser or (2) your EEO
representative, Diversity manager or Human Resources
representative.” [Dkt. 66-24 ¶ 100; Dkt. 79-1
¶ 100]. The policy also prohibits retaliation against
anyone who reports harassment or cooperates in a harassment
investigation, and it specifies that an investigation
confirming harassment will lead to disciplinary action that
may include the employee's termination. [Dkt. 66-24
¶ 101; Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 101].
Ameti began working for Sikorsky in 2008 as an engineer in
the Blades Product Center. [Dkt. 66-24 ¶ 4; Dkt. 79-1
¶ 4]. He is from Macedonia and Albania and has a darker
complexion, which he believes suggests he is from the Middle
East. [Dkt. 80 (Opp'n Ex. S, Ameti Dep.) at 70:8-17].
year Mr. Ameti received a Performance Feedback Tool
(“PFT”), which was a retrospective assessment of
his performance during the previous year. [Dkt. 66-24 ¶
11; Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 11]. The PFT summary ratings were the
following: Unsatisfactory Performance / Improvement Required
(“U”); Progressing (“P”); Fully
Competent Performance (“FC”); and Exceptional
Performance (“EP”). [Dkt. 79-3 (Opp'n Ex.
F-S, Ex. H; Ameti PFTs) at SIK000693]. He received an overall
summary rating of FC every year from 2008 through
2012. Mr. Ameti did not receive the 2013 PFT
before he was laid off, but there is an unsigned draft that
indicates he received an overall rating of FC for the sixth
time. [Dkt. 66-24 ¶¶ 16-17; Dkt. 79-1 ¶¶
Caputo's Supervision (2008 Through First Quarter of
November 2008 through the first quarter of 2011, Mr. Ameti
was supervised by Frank Caputo. [Dkt. 66-24 ¶¶ 5-6;
Dkt. 79-1 ¶¶ 5-6].
Ameti testified that in either 2010 or 2011, Mr. Caputo came
to his desk and told him “that he saw some kind of
information somewhere about an Albanian tradition where some
of the female family members of the family where there was no
male party in the family, they were allowed to live their
life as a male so they can take care of the family, and that
was very strange and primitive thing for nation to do
that.” [Dkt. 80 at 35:15-22].
Ameti attests that he received a “below average”
raise for the year 2011. [Dkt. 79-3 ¶ 12]. He does not
indicate the value of his raise, against whom he compared his
raise, the value of an average raise, and what a raise was
based on. His affidavit reads as follows: “At this
time, Plaintiff noticed that Caputo was treating him
Jones's Supervision (First Quarter of 2011 Through
supervision ended when Mr. Caputo became the Chief Engineer
for the Blades Product Center, and at that point Mr. Ameti
was transferred to a group led by Corey Jones. [Dkt. 66-24
¶ 7; Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 7]. Mr. Ameti then began working
with another Manufacturing Engineer named Michael Tabone.
See [Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 153; Dkt. 80 at 87:13-88:10].
Tabone's comments constitute the bulk of alleged
discriminatory comments. Mr. Ameti testified that Mr. Tabone
said, “This is Pellumb Ameti, and he is Muslim, ”
at least five times to other people, including to David
Caywood, Kneil Northrop, Mike Liggen, and two others.
See [Dkt. 80 at 38:2-10; Dkt. 82 (Mot. Summ. J. Ex.
S Cont'd, Ameti Dep.) at 262:22-265:15]. He also asked
Mr. Jones, “Do you know that Pellumb is Muslim?”
on another occasion. See [Dkt. 80 at 38:11-15]. Mr.
Tabone asked Mr. Ameti how many wives he had approximately
five times. [Dkt. 82 at 274:14-17]. Mr. Ameti estimates that
between two to five times Mr. Tabone told their coworker, Ms.
Joanne Pavia, “Pellumb has three wives and for a Muslim
that is normal.” Id. at 275:24-276:4]. Mr.
Ameti also testified that Mr. Tabone referred to Muslims as
terrorists between three to five times, and he believes Ms.
Pavia heard on one occasion. [Dkt. 82 at 278:21-279:7;
see Dkt. 80 at 38:11-16]. Subsequently in mid-2013,
Ms. Pavia asked Mr. Ameti if he owned a gun. [Dkt. 82 at
276:5-12]. Mr. Ameti never filed a formal complaint about Mr.
Tabone's comments. [Dkt. 66-24 ¶ 20; Dkt. 79-1
¶ 20]. Although Mr. Ameti approximated the number of
times Mr. Tabone said these remarks, he did not provide
approximate dates when they occurred.
undisputed that Mr. Tabone was not a decision-maker with
respect to Mr. Ameti's layoff. [Dkt. 66-24 ¶ 94;
Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 94]. However, Mr. Ameti describes Mr. Tabone
and Mr. Caputo as being very close friends, [Dkt. 80 at
38:3-9], and it is Mr. Ameti's opinion that Mr. Tabone
“spoke directly to Caputo about [his] Muslim religion
and background, ” [Dkt. 79-3 (Opp'n Ex. F-S, Ex. F;
Ameti Aff.) ¶ 10]. He does not profess to have heard
this alleged conversation, however. Mr. Caputo submitted a
declaration in which he stated he was not aware of Mr.
Tabone's comments about Mr. Ameti's religion while
Mr. Ameti worked for Sikorsky. [Dkt. 66-3 (Mot. Summ. J. Ex.
1, Caputo Decl.) ¶ 7].
Ameti also describes comments in which coworker, Kevin Leahy,
told Mr. Ameti, “I see you came from another country;
see how we gave you a job; we pay you.” [Dkt. 80 at
72:15-21, 89:2-90:15]. It is unclear based on the testimony
the number of times and when Mr. Leahy made these statements.
are some circumstances in which Mr. Ameti claims he did not
receive credit for his work. Mr. Ameti claims that another
coworker, Carol Perkins, got credit for four to five designs
that he created [Dkt. 82-4 at 425:13-21]. He did not complain
to anyone about this issue. Id. at 426:25-27:1. He
also complains that his name was left off a patent, but after
raising this issue with Mr. Caputo he “accepted the
error” and his name was added to the patent. [Dkt. 80
at 39:1-40:12]. He believes this example evidences Mr.
Caputo's dislike for him because he is Muslim, that
leaving him off the patent is part of a “whole pattern,
starting from the comments and different other comments,
” and that the pattern shows he “was not treated
as the rest of the engineers within the group.”
Id. Mr. Ameti did not provide a date for either
Reduction in Force (February 2014)
February 2014, Sikorsky experienced a decrease in customer
demand, which required a company-wide reduction in force.
[Dkt. 66-24 ¶ 63; Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 63]. This reduction
in force aimed to address economic issues, an EBIT gap, and
structural issues; it sought to retain the best talent while
realigning the business. [Dkt. 66-24 ¶ 64; Dkt. 79-1
¶ 64]. In order to evaluate who would be laid off,
managers were asked to rate and rank salaried employees
according to an Employee Assessment Matrix (“Assessment
Matrix”) for which they received a training. [Dkt.
66-24 ¶ 66; Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 66; Dkt. 66-14 (Mot. Summ.
J. Ex. 12, Sealed)]. According to the Assessor Training and
Employee Assessment Guidelines (“Assessment
Guidelines”), an assessment was to be prospective so as
to determine “the ability of the employee to perform
under current and projected business conditions.” [Dkt.
66-24 ¶¶ 67-68; Dkt. 79-1 ¶¶ 67-68].
These assessments were to be measured on five factors: (1)
Achieve Results (1-10); Criticality of Skills (1-10);
Qualifications (1-5); Business Orientation (1-5); and
Interpersonal Skills (1-5). [Dkt. 66-24 ¶ 70; Dkt. 79-1
¶ 70]. Each employee was to be assessed in comparison
with other employees who held the same position and labor
grade. [Dkt. 66-24 ¶ 72; Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 72]. The
Assessment Guidelines also indicated the process was not
intended to rely on past performance evaluations such as the
PFTs, which were “retrospective looking and used
primarily as development tools and as one of the criteria
used to distribute merit increases and other forms of
compensation.” [Dkt. 66-24 ¶ 74; Dkt. 79-1 ¶
Caputo used the Assessment Guidelines factors to assess 55
employees in the Blades Product Center, including Mr. Ameti.
[Dkt. 66-24 ¶ 77; Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 77]. He testified
that he was knowledgeable about the group and relied on
assessments he previously received. [Dkt. 66-24 ¶¶
79-80; Dkt. 79-1 ¶¶ 79-80]. In addition, he spoke
with Mr. Jones about Mr. Ameti and the other people in Mr.
Jones's group. [Dkt. 66-24 ¶ 81; Dkt. 79-1 ¶
81]. Mr. Jones recalls that he told Mr. Caputo, “[P]art
of the issues with Pellumb was that as an ME you need to
spend time on the shop floor, you need to own the process.
You need to get involved, and Pellumb as a designer, in my
opinion, at this time was that, you know, he wanted to do
more Catia work. He was more of a desk person, which is not
conducive to ME work.” [Dkt. 66-6 (Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 4,
Jones Dep.) at 90:3-11]. Mr. Caputo testified that he felt
Mr. Ameti's design engineering skills were lacking, [Dkt.
66-5 (Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 3, Caputo Dep.) at 93:8-23], and that
Mr. Ameti made mistakes and relied on coworkers to correct
them, id. at 136:16-23. Out of all 55 employees
assessed by Mr. Caputo, Mr. Ameti and another engineer named
Marco Salazar received the lowest scores. [Dkt. 66-24 ¶
88; Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 88].
Ambrose, Vice President of Aircraft Design &
Manufacturing Engineering, and Alan Walling, Blades Product
Center General Manager, thereafter evaluated the assessments.
[Dkt. 66-24 ¶ 78; Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 78]. The exact time
frame during which the assessment and reviews were made is
murky. On an unspecified date, Mr. Ambrose reviewed Mr.
Ameti's assessment and thereafter changed some of the
scores. [Dkt. 66-24 ¶ 91; Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 91]. Mr.
Caputo believes that Mr. Ambrose would have changed the
scores based on input from Mr. Caputo, although he does not
remember “the conversations for the exact number and
there results.” [Dkt. 79-2 at 194:8-15]. Mr. Ameti
ultimately received a total credit of 19 points: 6 for
Achieve Results, 4 for Criticality of Skills, 3 for
Qualifications, 3 for Business Orientation, and 3 for
Interpersonal Skills. [Dkt. 66-24 ¶ 83; Dkt. 79-1 ¶
Mr. Ambrose scheduled a telecom for February 7, 2014 to
review the “EAP rankings.” See
[Dkt. 89 (Opp'n Sealed Exhibits) at 38]. Mr. Ambrose
elected to lay off Mr. Ameti and emailed human resources
about his decision on February 11, 2014. [Dkt. 66-24
¶ 92; Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 92; Dkt. 89 at 36]. Mr. Ambrose
did not know Mr. Ameti's religion, color, or national
origin while Mr. Ameti worked for Sikorsky. [Dkt. 66-24
¶ 93; Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 93].
Mr. Ameti and 17 other engineers from the Blades Product
Centers were laid off. [Dkt. 66-24 ¶ 89; Dkt. 79-1
¶ 89]. Mr. Ambrose submitted a declaration indicating
Sikorsky eliminated a total of 250 positions. [Dkt. 66-24
¶ 90; Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 90; Dkt. 66-18 (Mot. Summ. J. Ex.
16, Ambrose Decl.) ¶ 7]. He also averred that Sikorsky
did not hire a replacement for Mr. Ameti and his remaining
colleagues assumed his responsibilities. [Dkt. 66-24
¶¶ 95-96; Dkt. 79-1 ¶¶ 95-96; Dkt. 66-3
Ameti filed a charge of discrimination with the CHRO on May
27, 2014. [Dkt. 66-24 ¶ 98; Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 98]. Mr.
Ameti testified that “the only difference”
between the other engineers and him was his skin color.
See [Dkt. 80 at 70:18-20]. Prior to this, he did not
file a complaint while he was at Sikorsky. [Dkt. 66-24 ¶
102; Dkt. 79-1 ¶ 102]. His reasoning is that he
previously filed a complaint with human resources in 2002 or
2003 regarding his boss's treatment, and he was
subsequently laid off. See [Dkt. 80 at 80:1-82:12].
judgment should be granted “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the burden of
proving that no genuine factual disputes exist. See
Vivenzio v. City of Syracuse, 611 F.3d 98, 106 (2d Cir.
2010). “In determining whether that burden has been
met, the court is required to resolve all ambiguities and
credit all factual inferences that could be drawn in favor of
the party against whom summary judgment is sought.”
Id. (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Matsushita Electric
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587
(1986)). This means that “although the court should
review the record as a whole, it must disregard all evidence
favorable to the moving party that the jury is not required
to believe.” Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods.,
Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 151 (2000); see Welch-Rubin v.
Sandals Corp., No. 3:03-cv-00481, 2004 WL 2472280, at *4
(D. Conn. Oct. 20, 2004) (“At the summary judgment
stage of the proceeding, [the moving party is] required to
present admissible evidence in support of their allegations;
allegations alone, without evidence to back them up, are not
sufficient.”) (citing Gottlieb, 84 F.3d at
518); Martinez v. Conn. State Library, 817 F.Supp.2d
28, 37 (D. Conn. 2011). Put another way, “[i]f there is
any evidence in the record that could reasonably support a
jury's verdict for the nonmoving party, summary judgment
must be denied.” Am. Home Assurance Co. v. Hapag
Lloyd Container Linie, GmbH, 446 F.3d 313, 315-16 (2d
Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
who opposes summary judgment “cannot defeat the motion
by relying on the allegations in his pleading, or on
conclusory statements, or on mere assertions that affidavits
supporting the motion are not credible.” Gottlieb
v. Cnty of Orange, 84 F.3d 511, 518 (2d Cir. 1996).
Where there is no evidence upon which a jury could properly
proceed to find a verdict for the party producing it and upon
whom the onus of proof is imposed, such as where the evidence
offered consists of conclusory assertions without further
support in the record, summary judgment may lie. Fincher
v. Depository Trust & Clearing Corp., 604 F.3d 712,
726-27 (2d Cir. 2010).
Counts I and III: Employment Discrimination
VII prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race,
color, religion, and national origin. 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-2(a)(1). CFEPA similarly proscribes employment
discrimination based on race, national origin, and religious
creed. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-60(b)(1). The statutes
employ slightly different language but are read
coextensively. State v. Comm'n on Human Rights and
Opportunities,211 Conn. 464, 470 (1989); see Kaytor
v. Elec. Boat Corp., 609 F.3d 537, 556 (2d Cir. 2010)
(“The analysis of discrimination and retaliation claims
under CFEPA is the same as under Title VII”).
The claims are evaluated under the three-part,