Mead v. Fairpoint Communications, Inc.
ORDER denying without prejudice to revisiting the matter at trial when the evidentiary record is better developed 37 defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. So Ordered by Judge Steven J. McAuliffe.(lat)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
Case No. 15-cv-310-SM
Opinion No. 2017 DNH 204
Fairpoint Communications, Inc.,
O R D E R
Defendant moves for summary judgment on plaintiff’s
constructive discharge claim, arguing at length that the
evidence of record does not give rise to a triable issue of
Defendant’s main point is that, although plaintiff’s
eroding responsibilities eventually landed her in the
significantly less favorable position of Senior Vice President
for External Relations and High Speed Internet Development
(limited to Maine), because her organizational title and pay
level remained unchanged, defendant should be entitled to
judgment as a matter of law on her constructive discharge
First, the record plainly discloses that numerous material
facts are genuinely disputed, precluding summary judgment.
Second, it cannot be said, as a matter of law, that what
plaintiff supportably describes as a continuous erosion of her
authority, responsibilities, and professional standing in the
company, to the point that she was finally assigned a job that,
apparently, fell at a “director” level, and was paid at a grade
some five levels below her grade after she left it, would not
cause a reasonable person in her position to perceive the
changed working conditions as so “onerous, abusive, or
unpleasant that a reasonable person in the employee’s position
would have felt compelled to resign.”
EEOC v. Kohl’s Dept.
Stores, Inc., 774 F.3d 127, 134 (1st Cir. 2014).
The facts pled, taken in the light most favorable to
plaintiff, the party opposing summary disposition, would suffice
to support a jury’s determination that plaintiff’s last
reassignment was nothing less than the final substantive
demotion to a position that paled in comparison to her former
position of authority and responsibility over corporate
operations in several states, and, although her title and pay
were preserved, was nevertheless a demotion that a reasonable
person of plaintiff’s seniority, capability, high corporate
rank, and professional stature in the telecommunications
industry would find to be unacceptable, humiliating, not
tolerable, and professionally demeaning - one meant to force her
While defendant offers a number of facially plausible, and
perhaps credible, non-discriminatory business reasons to explain
plaintiff’s seemingly deteriorating executive career (including
that it was not deteriorating), given the facts pled and
construing the disputed facts in plaintiff’s favor, a jury could
find those proffered explanations to be mere pretextual cover
for gender discrimination.
Because multiple genuine disputes about material facts
exist, and essentially for the reason given in plaintiff’s
memorandum in opposition, defendant’s motion for summary
judgment (document no. 37) is denied, albeit without prejudice
to revisiting the matter at trial when the evidentiary record is
Steven J. McAuliffe
United States District Judge
September 22, 2017
Brooke L. L. Shilo, Esq.
Lauren S. Irwin, Esq.
Heather M. Burns, Esq.
Martha Van Oot, Esq.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?