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Mercer v. PHH Corp.

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division

December 3, 2014

VINCENT T. MERCER, Plaintiff,
v.
PHH CORPORATION, Defendant

For Vincent T Mercer, Plaintiff: Daniel Lewis Cox, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Cox Law Center, LLC, Of Counsel, Michael E. Marr, Esq., Baltimore, MD. Michael E Marr, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Office of Michael Marr, Baltimore, MD.

For PHH Corporation, Defendant: J Eric Paltell, Joseph Garrett Wozniak, Kollman and Saucier PA, Timonium, MD.

Page 728

MEMORANDUM OPINION

William D. Quarles, Jr., United States District Judge.

Vincent T. Mercer, an African-American, sued PHH Corporation for discriminatory termination under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2, and retaliatory termination under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3. Pending is PHH's motion for summary judgment. No hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011). For the following reasons, the motion will be granted.

Page 729

I. Background[1]

PHH Arval (" PHH" ) is a wholly owned subsidiary of PHH Corporation and " one of the leading commercial fleet management companies in North America." ECF No. 19-3 at ¶ 2 (hereinafter " Ennis Aff." ). PHH " provides outsourced vehicle fleet management solutions to corporate clients." Id. PHH employees work in call centers that assist drivers, repair shops, and suppliers who are having problems with a corporate client's vehicles. See ECF No. 19-7 at ¶ ¶ 2-4 (hereinafter " Bolin Aff." ).

A. Contract with Budget and the BTR Call Center

In January 2005, PHH entered into a contract with Avis-Budget Rent-A-Car Corp. Id. Under the contract, PHH would provide 24/7 roadside service for Budget Truck Rental (" BTR" ) throughout the year. Id. The contract had a number of different metrics (i.e., measures of PHH's performance), including call abandon rate and max wait time. See ECF No. 19-11 at 1 (Investigation Report by Ellen Quinn-Hamlin). " One of the most important" metrics was the Average Speed of Answer (" ASA" ), which measured the time it took a PHH call center agent to answer a phone call. See id.; Bolin Aff. at ¶ 6. PHH agreed to keep the ASA to 120 seconds. Bolin Aff. at ¶ 6.

Before 2005, PHH had a single call center for all of its contracts -- the Vehicle Maintenance Assistance (" VMA" ) call center. See ECF No. 19-1 at 10-11; ECF No. 19-13 at 17:19, 26:17-28:4 (hereinafter " Mackin Dep." ) To fulfill their contract commitments, PHH created an additional BTR call center. Id. When a caller contacted the BTR call center, he was routed to an automated system to identify himself as a driver, vendor, or BTR employee. Bolin Aff. at ¶ 4. Based on the caller's response, the call was routed to one of three extensions or " skills." [2] Id. About 80% of the incoming calls were from BTR drivers having trouble with their trucks. ECF No.19-6 at 42:3-13 (hereinafter " Mercer Dep." ). When the caller was waiting for a PHH agent to answer his call after routing, the call was said to be " in the queue." Id. at ¶ 6.

After the call was in the queue, a PHH agent was supposed to answer the call within two minutes and address the caller's problem. Bolin Aff. at ¶ 4-6. The agent was generally meant to handle a call on her own. See id.; Mercer Dep. 43:14-46:22, 100:14-101:22. The call was only transferred to another PHH employee if the problem was particularly technical or complex, the caller was unhappy, or authorization was required. See id.; ECF No. 19-12 at 20:4-12 (hereinafter " Nehmsmann Dep." ). Skill 427 was an internal extension " reserved for calls requiring more advanced and complex driver and vehicle needs." Bolin Aff. at ¶ 4. " Before

Page 730

transferring a call to [S]kill 427, an agent was required to engage the caller and try to resolve the ...


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