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Gill v. Genpact, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

November 13, 2017

JOHN GILL, Plaintiff,
GENPACT, LLC, Defendant.


          Leonie M. Brinkema United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff John Gill ("Gill" or "plaintiff) has sued his former employer, defendant Genpact, LLC ("Genpact" or "defendant"), on theories of breach of contract (Count 1), quantum meruit (Count 2), violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") (Counts 3-5), and violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") (Counts 6-7). The crux of Gill's allegations is that after he was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in December 2015, Genpact placed him on a Performance Improvement Plan ("PIP"), leading to his eventual termination; failed to reasonably accommodate his disability; and failed to award him the full bonus he was due for 2015. Before the Court is defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. No. 33]. For the reasons stated in open court, and more fully developed in this Memorandum Opinion, defendant's motion will be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The parties do not dispute that on June 19, 2014, by a letter, Genpact offered Gill the position of "Vice President-Finance Transformation." Def. Mem. [Dkt. No. 34] Ex. 10 ("Offer Letter"). Gill signed the letter the same day, id, and began working at Genpact shortly thereafter. Gill was hired as the second "Band 1 Vice President" in the CFO Consulting Group. PI. Opp. [Dkt. No. 37] Ex. 18 ("Gill Aff.") ¶ 13. This group, which had started in late 2013, was created to "change the focus of Genpact" from being an "operator" to being a "full service provider." Id. Genpact's original focus involved helping companies move in-house finance and accounting jobs to cheaper locations like India, the Philippines, and Eastern Europe. Id. ¶ 11. Around 2013, an outside consulting firm suggested to Genpact that it should also offer CFO consulting services to encourage its clients to engage with it as a full-service shop rather than as a one-time outsourcing consultant. Id. Based on this recommendation, Genpact created the CFO consulting group. When Gill was hired, he was put in charge of the Finance & Accounting ("F&A") consulting horizontal for the Business & Financial Services and Capital Markets ("BFS") verticals. Def. Mem. Ex. 10' Ghosh Decl.¶14.[1]

         As a consulting Vice President, Gill had three primary job responsibilities. First, he had to work with sales teams to develop business (i.e., he had to get companies interested in hiring Genpact's consulting services, often, it seems, as part of larger deals in which they would also hire Genpact's outsourcing or other services). Second, he had to develop "thought leadership"- white papers or presentations that Genpact could use to "provide [its] customers with a differentiated point of view with different types of solutions and ideas." Third, he had to develop and manage consulting teams once the group had booked contracts. Id. ¶ 15.

         By the end of 2014, some friction between Gill and Ghosh had begun to show in their communications and feedback. In an email exchange in December 2014, Ghosh admonished Gill for not working well with the sales team and separately criticized him for not "own[ing]" or "even tracking" specific revenue and cost figures. See Def. Mem. Ex. 14. Although Ghosh rated Gill as meeting expectations with respect to each goal in his 2014 year-end review, the written comments also showed that Ghosh had been receiving negative feedback about Gill and had some frustrations of his own. See Def. Mem. Ex. 15. For example, Ghosh wrote that Gill's first half-year "started with the right intent and focus" but that "2015 will be the year to show results" and that there was "feedback from customer and account teams about him being too generic and not taking a discussion and topic to its logical depth." Id. at 3-4. In addition, although Ghosh praised Gill's "energy and focus, " he observed that Gill "needs to become a thought leader in some dimension of finance transformation" and Gill "needs to ensure he drives any topic to its required depth and conclusion." Id. at 5. Overall, Ghosh gave Gill a 3.0 ("Medium") potential rating and an HV70 performance rating. Nevertheless, Gill was awarded a $142, 188 bonus in March 2015 for his work in 2014. Gill Aff. ¶ 10.

         Issues with Gill's performance worsened through the first half of 2015. In April, after Gill had complained to Ghosh about an employee having a one-on-one meeting with the CFO of Wells Fargo rather than including Gill in the meeting, Ghosh sent Gill an email in which he said that the "feedback about not seeing enough value through your involvement or superfluous involvement in deals and client discussions" has only "intensified" since the year-end review. Def. Mem. Ex. 17. The email went on to state: "This kind of impression feeds into a virtuous or vicious loop of confidence of people one works with. Right now you are in the vicious loop .... I don't believe I would do justice if I soft peddle this. I don't know of any magic formula other than two facts - (a) heads down real focused contribution in your core area and very positive and inclusive communication in all client opportunities where the internal team back progressively At Genpact, employees were rated as being in the top 20%, middle 70%, or bottom 10% of employees. The "HV70" rating indicates that Gill was in the middle 70%. and results flow and (b) people have been there before and I have seen turnarounds I think you will have to believe in the feedback and decide it's worth your while to try and do something different." Id. [3]

         Shortly after this email, Ghosh sent a separate email to Thukral and Scott McConnell, the head of the sales team, about reorganizing the F&A consulting team. See Def. Mem. Ex. 18. Ghosh proposed moving Greg Derderian ("Derderian"), who was Gill's peer in the insurance group, above Gill. In the email, Ghosh stated: "It's very clear from both of you that you don't have confidence in John gill [sic] on being the BFS lead for F&A consulting and have a better sense on confidence in Greg Derderian. In my view too, he's the better bet to lead whole of BFSI as per my plans.... [M]ake Greg the overall head [and h]ave John report to him and let [Greg] drive the overall BFSI agenda." Id. In addition, Ghosh noted in the email that he had already provided feedback to Gill about his shortcomings but added that he wanted to ensure that Gill had "a direct session of feedback from [Thukral and McConnell] before [they] announce[d] the change." Id. Thukral replied to Ghosh's email agreeing with the change and saying: "[T]his is the right thing to do for the company, I have heard not good feedback [about Gill] from [a high-level Genpact employee] as well in Europe, plus negative client feedback that has been shared."[4]McConnell followed up by providing Gill with feedback mostly focused on his need to improve how he collaborated with the other (non-CFO Consulting) teams and to provide "[m]ore specific value propositions" to clients. Def. Mem. Ex. 21.

         After Gill received this feedback, Genpact announced the organizational realignment that placed Derderian between Gill and Ghosh. One of Derderian's responsibilities as Gill's new supervisor was to complete Gill's 2015 mid-year review, which he did in September 2015. Although Derderian gave Gill ratings of "meets expectations" in every category, shortly after completing this review, Derderian was approached by Lee Kroll, a "practice lead" in F&A services who regularly worked with Gill. Kroll told Derderian that Gill was not an effective teammate. See Def. Mem. 7, Ex. 25. Based on this complaint, [5] Derderian contacted a variety of individuals with whom Gill worked to ask for feedback about his performance. From these individuals, Derderian received mixed comments that skewed negative. For example, McConnell told Derderian that a "subset of the BFS sales team will no longer engage with" Gill; that Gill is like a "hammer looking for a nail" in that he does not provide client-specific ideas; that Gill "does not utilize the coaching provided" and "comes across as non-responsive to a client ask or need"; that Gill needs "to increase his collaboration to have a chance of succeeding with Genpact"; that Gill did not "position thought leadership for Genpact"; that the sales team "[e]xpect[s] more from" Gill; and that Gill has had "[m]inimal success in the US, " has "a difficult time demonstrating value, " and is "not the guy you want to bring to meet a CFO." Def. Mem. Ex. 30. The same types of concerns were echoed by other co-workers, see Def. Mem. Exs. 31-36, and some co-workers expressed more significant personal frustration with Gill's performance. Kroll, for example, said that the sales team perceived Gill as "arrogant and condescending, " that Gill was "allergic to work, " and that Gill "[c]onstantly ask[s] for things to be moved to accommodate his schedule [but] then 50% of [the] time either 1) shows up late or 2) not at all." Def. Mem. Ex. 32.

         Although some of the co-workers also provided positive feedback, it is uncontested that Derderian was sufficiently concerned about the feedback on the whole that he contacted Annie Kurian ("Kurian"), one of Genpact's HR professionals, to discuss putting Gill on a PIP. Although the exact timeline of their conversations is unclear, see Def. Mem. Ex. 11 ("Kurian Dep.") 28:21-30:1, what is clear is that on December 17, 2015, Derderian emailed the substantively complete[6] PIP to Kurian, Def. Mem. Exs. 37-38. In his deposition, Derderian testified that he planned to give Gill the now-completed PIP at a December 21 meeting, Derderian Dep. 142:9-: 16; however, Gill canceled the meeting, explaining that he had scheduled a doctor's appointment that he needed to attend. Def. Mem. Ex. 46.

         At his doctor's visit on December 21, Gill was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and told by his doctor that he should take some time off over the holidays. Id.; Def. Mem. Ex. 52. The next day, Gill informed Derderian and HR personnel that he would need to take a couple weeks off. Def. Mem. Exs. 46, 50. Derderian notified Kurian of the situation.[7] Jeff Comerford ("Comerford"), a Senior Manager in HR, told Gill to contact Genpact's leave management vendor for information on the appropriate processes for short-term medical leave. Def. Mem. Exs. 47, 50. On January 11, 2016, Genpact notified Gill that he had been approved for FMLA leave for the duration of his absence and would receive short-term disability benefits for that time period. The same day, Gill informed Comerford that he had received the appropriate clearance from his doctor and would be returning to work. Def. Mem. Ex. 55.

         Gill's return to work on January 11 reactivated the PIP process.[8] On January 15, Derderian sent Gill the PIP that he had substantively completed the previous month. Def. Mem. Ex. 57; id Ex. 58 ("PIP"). The PIP identified eight goals for Gill to meet by March 31, 2016, including booking at least $5 million in consulting contracts that led to at least $3.5 million in consulting revenue, realizing personal billable utilization of 40%, providing specific thought leadership documents, completing sales team one-on-one updates, completing performance plans and goals for his subordinates, demonstrating follow-up with sales team members, adjusting his style to be more collaborative, and participating in at least 8 account planning sessions. Def. Mem. Ex. 58. The next week, on January 19, Gill responded to the PIP with his own comments, in which he acknowledged the adverse feedback in the PIP but questioned whether he could meet the various quantitative goals. Def. Mem. Ex. 60 ("I accept the report of the adverse feedback, and I am very concerned with the nature of the feedback, and want to do everything that I can to correct this, and return to a status of a highly valued employee and leader.... I am concerned; however [sic] the targets have been set not to return me to success, but so far above even the highest performers of my peer group. I am not sure that I will be totally successful....").

         Gill did not make significant progress toward the PIP's quantitative goals, and by February, he began asking around Genpact for information about how he would be paid in the event of his departure. For example, on February 2, he emailed Comerford to inquire about how his accrued leave would be paid out if he left Genpact at the end of March. Def. Mem. Ex. 62. On February 29, he mentioned to a coworker that he was looking for other jobs and inquired about when bonuses for 2015 would be distributed. Def. Mem. Ex. 61.

         Also in February, Gill sent a memorandum to Kurian and Derderian, in which he complained that the PIP was unfair and retaliatory because it was issued in retaliation for his FMLA leave/disability, was designed for him to fail and force his termination by including unrealistic goals, and did not align with his previous evaluations and feedback. Def. Mem. Ex. 63.[9] Gill also wrote, "I anticipate needing reasonable accommodations should this PIP remain in place." Id. at 1. Kurian investigated Gill's allegations. Three weeks later, she sent Gill a letter, in which she explained that her investigation concluded that the PIP was neither retaliatory nor unfair and in which she responded to some of Gill's more tangential points about alleged unfair treatment. Def. Mem. Exs. 65, 66.

         On March 8, 2016, Genpact informed Gill that he would receive a bonus of $139, 500 for 2015. Def. Mem. Ex. 67. That figure represented approximately 62% of his target bonus. Id. Genpact's bonuses are calculated according to a scorecard, on which different goals are given percentage weights and individuals are evaluated according to how they meet each goal. Although Gill was given full or more than full credit in some areas (booking contracts and Total F&A Consulting Revenue), he was given only half credit in other areas. Def. Mem. Ex. 69. In particular, he was given half credit for the revenue generated by the F&A consulting group in the BFS verticals (because he was demoted halfway through the year), for his thought leadership production (because he made some progress on thought leadership but did not complete the expected materials), and for his people management (because his "team ramp-up was slower than expected" and his mentoring had received "mixed feedback, " although his attrition goal of less than 35% had been met).[10] Gill responded to this calculation in an email to Kurian and Derderian, in which he explained that he thought he should have been given full credit for his group's revenue and his people management.[11] Def. Mem. Ex. 68.

         In early March, it became evident that Gill was not going to meet the requirements of the PIP. For example, Derderian told Gill on March 11 that he had "probably not [made] enough progress as of that date" and that, if Derderian had to rate Gill on that day, he would "have to say [Gill] ha[d] failed, or at least that [Gill] ha[d] not shown solid progress enough for [Derderian] to make a case to keep [him]." Def. Mem. Ex. 71.

         A week before the end date of his PIP, Gill emailed Kurian and Derderian to request accommodations under the ADA. Def. Mem. Ex. 72. Kurian responded by sending Gill the standard Genpact accommodation form and asking him to have his treating health provider fill out the form and return it to Kurian. Def. Mem. Ex. 73. Gill returned a letter signed by his health care provider that stated that Gill could perform all of his job duties but identified 11 "areas" for discussion about accommodations. Def. Mem. Ex. 77. These included:

• An opportunity to exercise and stretch during the workday, either in the morning or afternoon
• A change in economically [sic] chairs to better support the back
• In-home video conferencing facilities to improve John's ability to see and hear people ...

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