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Vannessa Luu v. Hewlett-Packard Company

December 20, 2012

VANNESSA LUU, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HEWLETT-PACKARD COMPANY, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Edward J. Davila United States District Court

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [Re: Docket No. 46]

In this employment-related action brought by Plaintiff Vannessa Luu ("Plaintiff" or "Luu"),

18 presently before the Court is Defendant Hewlett-Packard Company's ("Defendant" or "HP") 19

Motion for Summary Judgment. See Docket Item No. 46. Having fully reviewed the parties' papers 20 and after hearing oral arguments, the Court will grant Defendant's motion in its entirety. 21 22

I.Background

On or around May 2006, Defendant began to employ Plaintiff as a Contracts Manager in

Defendant's Intellectual Property Licensing Group. First Am. Compl. ¶¶ 33--34, Docket Item No. 25

12. Later that year and into 2007 Plaintiff asserts that she engaged in an investigation of corporate 26 misconduct including violations of financial reporting requirements, internal accounting practices, 27 28 various state and federal laws, and policies against workplace discrimination. Plaintiff prepared a 2 report to that effect. See id. ¶¶ 38--41 & Ex. 4. 3

¶ 25. In or around October 2007, Plaintiff met with Perry to request that her job be re-graded to a 6 higher rating, which would result in an increase in her pay compensation. Evidence in Supp. of 7

From the time of her hiring, Plaintiff reported to Michael Pierantozzi until he left HP in

February 2007. Id. ¶¶ 48. By the fall of 2007 Molly Perry ("Perry") was Plaintiff's supervisor. Id. 5

Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 9, Dep. of Erik Flint, at 99:14--22. Perry declined Plaintiff's request 8 to make changes in her job code. Id. at 99:21--25. For the rest of 2007 and into 2008, Perry and 9 other of Plaintiff's colleagues began to observe various deficiencies in Plaintiff's job performance. 10

See Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. 3--5 (citing specific instances which Defendant characterizes as 11 performance deficiencies including, but not limited to, Plaintiff's failures to meet with supervisors to discuss changes in her job performance and demeanor, errors in her work product, and unhelpful 13 attitude during transition periods). 14

On or around July 2008, HP's Internal Audit group began to evaluate the Intellectual Property Licensing Group as a follow-up to a 2006 Internal Audit Report which took notice of 16 various areas of inefficiencies within the group. Evidence in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 17

9, Dep. of Molly Brass, at 72:25--73:4. The 2008 Internal Audit evaluation produced a report which 18 identified various deficiencies with the Intellectual Property Licensing Group, several of which fell 19 directly within Plaintiff's operational responsibilities. See Evidence in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. for 20

In or around August 2008 the Intellectual Property Licensing Group merged with the 22 pre-existing Intellectual Property Group. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. 5. As a result of this change 23

Perry remained Director of Operations for the combined group and oversaw a total of forty-one 24 employees while Plaintiff began formally reporting to a new direct supervisor, Dilip Phadke 25

("Phadke"). Evidence in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 20, Dep. of Dilip Phadke, at 25--27; 26 id. Ex. 13, Dep. of Molly Perry, at 27. Perry asserts that she did not inform Phadke of Plaintiff's 27 performance shortcomings upon the transition. Perry Dep., at 151:1--14. Phadke has stated that he 28 had observed similar performance shortcomings as Plaintiff's previous supervisors and colleagues 2 had observed. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. 5--6 (describing Phadke's observations in that regard). 3

Based on Phadke's evaluation of her performance, Plaintiff's performance review for the 2008 4 fiscal year was "below expectations." Phadke Dep., at 83. (For the 2007 fiscal year, Plaintiff's 5 performance review was "met expectations." Perry Dep., at 62.) 6

7 informed Perry that she would need to reduce the Group's headcount by about ten percent, which 8 would be equal to four employees, as part of a Workforce Reduction Plan. Decl. of Molly Perry in 9

In October 2008, the vice president supervising the combined Intellectual Property Group

Supp. of Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ¶ 16. On November 3, 2008, Perry submitted the rankings of the 10 employees within the Group; Plaintiff was near the bottom of the employee rankings. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. 10 (citing evidence supporting this notion including depositions, emails, and the performance review form). As such, Plaintiff was one of the four names recommended for 13 separation as part of the Workforce Reduction. Id. 14

15 with her separation to go into effect in February 2009; Phadke confirmed this notification in an 16 email to Perry with a time-stamp of 11:25 a.m. Decl. of Dilip Phadke in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. for 17 Plaintiff). Hours after receiving this notification, Plaintiff filed a complaint with HP's Ethics and 19 Compliance Office by sending an email with the time-stamp of 1:27 p.m. to Sharon Clack; this 20 complaint did not ...


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