United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Micah Stone, Plaintiff: Melvin L. Raymond, St. Louis, MO.
McGRAW-HILL GLOBAL EDUCATION HOLDINGS, LLC, a New York
Corporation, Defendant: Gregory I. Rasin, LEAD ATTORNEY,
PROSKAUER ROSE, LLP, New York, NY; Nathaniel M. Glasser, LEAD
ATTORNEY, PROSKAUER ROSE LLP, Washington, DC; Stephen H.
Rovak, LEAD ATTORNEY, DENTONS U.S. LLP - ST. LOUIS, St.
L. WHITE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 32). The motion is fully briefed
and ready for disposition. Upon review of
the motion and related documents, the Court finds that
summary judgment in favor of the Defendant is appropriate.
February 2007, Defendant McGraw-Hill Global Education
Holdings, LLC (" McGraw-Hill" ) hired Plaintiff
Micah Stone as a Sales Representative in Miami, Florida.
(First Amended Complaint (" FAC" ) ¶ 8, ECF
No. 15; Stone Dep. 16:15-21, ECF No. 33-4) His duties
included calling on instructors in Florida schools, visiting
their departments, finding out their needs, and ultimately
selling college textbooks and educational products to the
instructors and schools. (Stone Dep. 18:20-24; Wildes Aff.
¶ 3, ECF No. 33-6) Plaintiff's salary in 2011 was
$59,384. (Williams Aff. ¶ 3, ECF No. 33-28) Also in
2011, Plaintiff applied for a position of Learning Solutions
Consultant (" LSC" ) in various locations,
including St. Louis, Missouri. (Stone Dep. 30:3-15) Plaintiff
interviewed with Irene McGuinness, Liz Wildes, Jim Kelly, Tom
Malek, and Brian Kibby. (Stone Dep. 30:16-31:8) He had
several in-person and phone interviews throughout the
process, and eventually McGuinnes and Wildes recommended
Plaintiff for promotion to the LSC position in St. Louis.
(Stone Dep. 30:16-31:17; 35:25-36:22; Wildes Aff. ¶ 12)
Both McGuinness and Wildes were aware that Plaintiff's
race was African-American. (Wildes Aff. ¶ 13)
the in-person interview with McGuinness and Wildes, they
discussed Plaintiff's salary. (Stone Dep. 33:5-35:11)
Plaintiff believed that they had agreed, and shook, on a
starting salary of $95,000. (Stone Dep. 33:7-10) After the
interview, Plaintiff sent an email to McGuinness
incorporating this salary and accepting the job offer. (Stone
Dep. 35:4-5; Stone Aff. Ex. 2, ECF No. 40-4) However,
McGuinness told Plaintiff not to get ahead of himself because
he still had two more interviews. (Stone Dep. 35:8-11; Stone
Aff. Ex. 2) Kibby ultimately determined that $85,000 was an
appropriate starting salary, and Wildes extended an oral
offer of employment to Plaintiff, which he accepted. (Wildes
Aff. ¶ ¶ 16, 17; Stone Dep. 36:20-25; 38:1-7;
Williams Aff. Ex. A, ECF No. 33-29) White employees in LSC
positions in the Central Region had starting salaries either
less than or equal to Plaintiff's base salary of $85,000.
(Stone Dep. 40:20-41:10; Wildes Aff. ¶ ¶ 22-23, Ex.
B-D) The other two LSC employees in the region, Brad Ritter
and Bob Scanlon, received higher salaries but had prior
experience in positions similar to the LSC position at a
competing company. (Wildes Aff. ¶ ¶ 26-28)
Plaintiff protested the salary and also complained to human
resources. (Stone Dep. 37:1-23, ECF No. 40-1; Pl.'s Ex.
5, ECF No. 40-16)
began working as an LSC in the fall of 2011, when he
transitioned from Sales Representative in Miami to LSC in St.
Louis. (Stone Dep. 51:15-55:8, ECF No. 33-4) Plaintiff was
paid the higher salary during this transition period. (Stone
Dep. 51:15-22) His direct supervisor was Wildes, and
McGuinness was Plaintiff's second level supervisor.
(Stone Dep. 57:22-58:2; Wildes Aff. ¶ 19)
position was a leadership position, requiring Plaintiff to
work with Sales Representatives in his territory; their
District Manager Kim Nentwig; and his direct supervisor,
Learning Solutions Manager for the Central Region Liz Wildes.
(Williams Aff. Ex. B, ECF No. 33-30; Wildes Aff. ¶
¶ 4-7) The position also required Plaintiff to lead,
coach, develop, motivate, and manage his assigned team sales.
(Williams Aff. Ex. B) Plaintiff did not feel part of
Wildes' team because she had not worked with Plaintiff in
his territory, unlike other LSCs in the Central
Region. (Stone Dep. 120:10-14; 121:19-23; Stone Aff. ¶
11, ECF No. 40-2)
January 7, 2012, while attending a national sales meeting in
Phoenix, Arizona, Wildes and McGuinness met with Plaintiff
and mentioned that he had been late to meetings. (Stone Dep.
187:20-190:20; Wildes Aff. ¶ ¶ 33-34) Prior to the
meeting, Wildes had received complaints from Sales
Representatives about Plaintiff. (Wildes Aff. ¶ 30, Ex.
H, ECF No. 3314) On January 15, 2012, Wildes sent an email to
Plaintiff recapping the January 7 meeting and listing four
job expectations, including the need to be on time for
meetings and the expectation that he work all day on campus
with his reps and have a 24 hour turnaround time on email and
phone calls to reps. (Wildes Aff. Ex. I, ECF No. 33-15)
Plaintiff contends that he had good reason for being late to
two meetings, namely he was stuck in traffic due to a snow
storm and a rep's failure to send a text in advance of
picking him up. (Stone Dep. 181:4-14; 190:14-192:5) However,
he testified that he was he was not otherwise late to
meetings. (Stone Dep. 192:6-8; Brauchie Aff. ¶ 7, ECF
January 31, 2012, Plaintiff, Wildes, and Bridgette Hannenberg
attended a conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (FAC
¶ 15B) Plaintiff alleges that he overheard Wildes tell
Hannenberg that she wished she never hired " his black
ass." (FAC ¶ 15B; Stone Dep. 99:1525) Wildes denies
making said statement. (Wildes Aff. ¶ 37)
March 8, 2012, Plaintiff received a written warning stating
that Plaintiff was not meeting expectations and that his
performance was inadequate. (FAC ¶ 17; Stone Dep.
235:1325, 245:11-14; Wildes Aff. Ex. K, ECF No. 33-17) In
particular, the warning identified four areas of concern: (1)
" problematic communications and working relationships
with key collaborators" ; (2) " punctuality and
attendance issues" ; (3) " follow-up and response
time delays" ; and (4) " organization of work
issues." (Wildes Aff. Ex. K)
written warning referenced a meeting on January 12, 2012,
where Plaintiff left a breakfast sales-strategy meeting after
Nentwig allegedly grabbed his arm by force. (Wildes Aff. Ex.
K; Stone Dep. 185:2-24) Plaintiff attributed this to her
aggression. (Stone Dep. 185:21-24) While not specifically
asked whether the action was motivated by race, Plaintiff
never testified that the act was racially motivated. (Stone
Dep. 180:17-187:19) Nentwig sent an email apology the
following day. (Pl.'s Ex. 9, ECF No. 40-20) However,
Plaintiff alleges that this, along with other actions created
a hostile work environment based on race. (FAC ¶ 15)
written warning of March 8, 2012 further noted that since the
January 12, 2012 meeting, there had been a breakdown in
communication between Plaintiff, Nentwig, and others in his
district. (Wildes Aff. Ex. K) Specifically, the warning noted
that co-workers indicated that they found it difficult to
communicate with Plaintiff because he responded in a hostile
or condescending tone, and, therefore, almost no direct
communication existed between Plaintiff and his colleagues. (
Id. ) The warning included guidance and instructions
for Plaintiff to follow for performance improvement. (
Id. ) Further, the warning advised that a failure to
improve could result ...