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Maybin v. Hilton Grand Vacations Co., LLC

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

March 6, 2018

CARL MAYBIN, Plaintiff,
v.
HILTON GRAND VACATIONS COMPANY, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          DERRICK K. WATSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         Hilton Grand Vacations Company, LLC (“Hilton”) seeks summary judgment on Plaintiff Carl Maybin's claim that he was unlawfully terminated from his timeshare sales position due to his age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), U.S.C. § 621 et seq. After Maybin failed to meet sales quotas for several consecutive months and was subject to progressive written warnings, Hilton terminated him. Maybin, however, contends that age-based discrimination by his supervisors hindered his ability to complete sales and adequately perform his job. Because there are genuine issues of material fact with regard to the veracity of Hilton's performance-based explanations, which Hilton did not fully address, the Motion for Summary Judgment as to Count I is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Factual Background

         Maybin was hired by Hilton as a sales agent in September 2015 when he was 55 years old. Before his hiring, Maybin had a series of job interviews. He first interviewed with Derek Kanoa, Vice President of Sales, and then with Julia Montenegro, a senior member of Hilton's Human Resources department. Decl. of Carl Maybin ¶ 3, Dkt. No. 26-1. Maybin followed that by interviewing with Dave Colton, and last with Joshua Kannel, the Hawaii Director of Sales. Maybin Decl. ¶¶ 3-4. Based upon Kannel's recommendation and request, Maybin was hired on September 14, 2015. Decl. of Joshua Kannel ¶ 7, Dkt. No. 21-1.[1]

         According to Maybin, shortly after he was hired, he witnessed Kannel display overt animus towards older sales agents by making negative comments about their abilities at sales meetings. Maybin avers that Kannel “ridicule[d] [himself], Bob Bennett, Jose Henao, and Richard Green because of their ages[, ]” each one of them “sales agents in [their] late 50s.” Maybin Decl. ¶ 6. For example, Kannel said they “were too slow, can't learn, have a different way of doing things, are hard to teach new ways of sales, are too old to change, and don't have the energy necessary for sales.” Maybin Decl. ¶ 6. Kannel made such comments at sales meetings from the time that Maybin first started “and continued [making them] throughout [his] employment” with Hilton. Maybin Decl. ¶ 6.

         Although Hilton contends that Maybin was terminated because he was not performing his job adequately as measured by objective performance standards, Maybin asserts that from the inception of his employment until the beginning of February 2016, his sales were strong, and at times he “was number 2 or 3 in sales, ” compared to his peers. Maybin Decl. ¶ 7. From the end of February 2016, however, Maybin's sales numbers declined, and he attributes that decline, in part, to being “given less tours, ” and intentionally assigned fewer potential customers. Maybin Decl. ¶¶ 8-9. Kannel was responsible for creating the daily “‘roter' or list of sales people in the order that they would get tours.” Maybin Decl. ¶ 10. Those employees listed near the top of the “roter” were assigned a greater number of tours, according to Maybin, “usually 2 or 3 per day, [however, ] [i]f you were at the bottom of the list, you would get none, or 1 to 2 tours per day.” Maybin Decl. ¶ 11. In Maybin's version of events, he was “intentionally given less tours, even though he was a high producer of sales. Being given less tours resulted in less sales, [because] [i]f you don't get customers for tours, you get less sales.” Maybin Decl. ¶ 9. From the end of February 2016, Maybin claims that he “was placed toward the bottom of the ‘roter', even though [his] sales performance had been good, and [he] was meeting quotas.” Maybin Decl. ¶ 12.

         In March 2016, Maybin was assigned a new sales manager, James Tony Wilson, who treated Maybin “in a very hostile manner” from their first interaction. Maybin Decl. ¶¶ 13-14. Wilson made inappropriate comments to Maybin, “interfer[ing] with [his] sales by making sarcastic remarks about [his] clients.” Maybin Decl. ¶ 15. Maybin lost sales because Wilson “would refuse to meet with [his] customers after [Maybin] gave them a tour to talk to them about purchasing.” Maybin Decl. ¶ 15. Because “[o]nly the sales managers [such as Wilson] could do the actual sales, ” this meant that Maybin lost sales “about ten times” because of Wilson's alleged conduct. Maybin Decl. ¶ 15. Maybin asked three times to be reassigned to another sales manager, but claims that his requests were “refused.” Maybin Decl. ¶ 16.

         Maybin received his first written job performance warning in May 2016 for failure to meet Hilton's job performance standards. Hilton assesses sales agents and executives' performance under its “Minimum Performance Standards” system (“MPS”), which operates in the following manner:

Under the MPS, during the first three months of employment, Sales Executives were required to complete a total of five sales within that three month period.
Under the MPS, during the second three months of employment, Sales Executives were required to complete a total of seven sales within that second three month period.
Once a Sales Executive had passed the first six months of employment, their MPS requirements changed from being based on the number of sales made to a “Value Per Guest” (“VPG”) basis.
Under the MPS, after six months of employment, Sales Executives were required to meet a monthly VPG minimum of $2, 200 in at least one of the three following categories: (1) current month, (2) an average of the prior three month period, or (3) an average of the prior twelve month period.

Kannel Decl. ¶ 8(b)-(e) (citing Ex. 1). The consequences of failure to meet minimum performance guidelines after the three-month introductory period are as follows:

Starting in the fourth month of a Sales Executive's employment[, ] if a Sales Executive fails to meet the required MPS, they were subject to a system of progressive written warning documenting their lack of performance and failure to satisfy the MPS (“Job Performance Warning System”).
Under the Job Performance Warning System[, ] the progression is as follows: (1) written warning, (2) a second/final written warning, and (3) termination.

Kannel Decl. ¶ 12(a)-(b) (citing Ex. 1).

         According to Hilton, during the final four months of his employment, Maybin did not meet any of the standards under the MPS. That is, he failed to have a VPG of at least $2, 200 on the basis of current sales or an average of the prior three months of ...


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