United States District Court, D. Maryland
JOSEPH M. MOTT, Plaintiff,
ACCENTURE, LLP, Defendant.
Paula, United States District Judge.
in this employment discrimination case is Defendant
Accenture, LLP's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No.
123), as well as Plaintiff Joseph Mott's Motion to Strike
(ECF No. 125) and Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
(ECF No. 124). Also pending are Defendant's Request for
Attorney's Fees (ECF No. 115) and Plaintiff's Motion
for Reconsideration (ECF No. 116), arising from this
Court's August 28, 2018 Order (ECF No. 114). The motions
are fully briefed, and no hearing is necessary. See
Loc. R. 105.6. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's
Motion to Strike is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part;
Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and
Motion for Reconsideration are DENIED; and Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.
Mott's Employment at Accenture
Joseph Mott (“Mott”) is an American male, born on
July 5, 1953. ECF No. 123-2 at 15. Mott was employed by
Defendant Accenture, LLP (“Accenture”), a
“global management consulting and professional services
firm, ” as an in-house counsel from December 3, 2014 to
November 20, 2016. Id. at 6; ECF No. 124-3 at 36.
Prior to joining Accenture, Mott had worked as an attorney
for over thirty-five years, including a decade of practice in
the health care regulatory field. ECF No. 124-3 at 44.
2014, Mott applied to Accenture for the position of Senior
Manager in the Global Offerings Support
(“Offerings”) team within the Compliance,
Offerings, Regulatory and Ethics (“CORE”)
division of the firm's Legal Department. ECF No. 123-2 at
6; ECF No. 123-3 at 5-6. Mott was interviewed by multiple
members of the Offerings team, including Charlotte Guillorit,
Hollis Chen, Abe Zacharia, and Louise Arsenault. ECF No.
123-3 at 5. Charlotte Guillorit, a French female born on
August 29, 1972, the head of the Offerings team who retained
ultimate staffing authority, hired Mott. ECF No. 123-2 at
170, 182, 186.
Mott first worked for Accenture, he reported directly to Abe
Zacharia, an American male born on November 19, 1960, who
managed the Health and Life Sciences team within Offerings.
ECF No. 123-3 at 43 (Zacharia Decl.). Zacharia, in turn,
reported to Guillorit. Id. Zacharia's team
included (1) Mott; (2) Hollis Chen, an American male born on
March 27, 1966; and (3) Arnaud Mottet, a French male born on
May 12, 1977. ECF No. 123-2 at 6 (Chen Decl.); ECF No. 123-3
at 56 (Mottet Dep.). For the duration of Mott's
employment, he worked remotely from Maryland.
Facts Related to Mott's Hostile Work Environment
contends that a “hostile work environment began almost
immediately” after he joined Accenture. ECF No. 124-3
at 44. In March 2015, Mott traveled to London for training
where he met his team member, Arnaud Mottet, in person for
the first time. ECF No. 123-2 at 61. Mott discussed with
Mottet “the abusive conduct that Zacharia and Chen were
engaging in every time [the team was] on a phone
conversation.” Id. With regard to Fauzia
Malik-Zaman, who was head of the Complex contracting
group and to whom Mott occasionally provided regulatory
advice, Mott also raised “that [he] was being
excluded” from phone meetings conducted by Malik-Zaman.
2015, Zacharia authored Mott's mid-year performance
review. ECF No. 123-3 at 44. Mott received the rating of
“Met Expectations” for nine of the eleven
enumerated categories and “Exceeded Expectations”
rating in the remaining two areas identified as
“Business Operator Results” and “Develops
self and others.” Id. at 49. Among Mott's
strengths, Zacharia noted Mott's experience and knowledge
in the health-care industry and added that “Mott enjoys
legal research and is able to research many topics without
outside counsel assistance.” Id. at 51.
this review, which covered Mott's first six months at
Accenture, also identified deficiencies in Mott's
performance. Under “Areas for development, ”
1. When asked questions, Joe should focus the answers on what
the person is asking and the reason they are asking the
question. There has been a tendency not to really hear the
concern or question and to go on tangents, and that then
necessitates multiple repetitions of the same question.
Answer the question before discussing tangential matters.
Make an effort to pause in a conversation and give the other
person a chance to express their question(s) and for you to
hear what they don't understand. Work on brevity when
writing emails and answering questions. Try to get to the
point quickly and avoid using abbreviations or acronyms
without first defining them. Keep in mind that if it
can't be read on one smartphone screen, it may not get
2. Stay flexible in analyses and approach. Accenture is a
large company with many internal capabilities, practices, and
policies. There are often several ways to approach compliance
or legal requirements. Accenture may not do things in the
same way that former employers or others do things but that
does not mean Accenture must change the way it approaches
compliance or legal requirements. Accenture can have a valid
approach that differs from others for many different reasons,
from the size of the organization, to cost, to history of the
development of the practices and policies, etc. To avoid
causing Accenture folks unnecessary concern, if you think
Accenture must approach something differently, first discuss
with Abe or Hollis. As Joe learns about Accenture, its
resources, and how it operates, I expect this should no
longer be an issue.
ECF No. 123-3 at 51, 93-94.
next received his annual review in November or December of
2015, which largely echoed his mid-year review. Zacharia
recommended a “Consistent With Peer Group” rating
and reiterated that Mott could “work on being briefer
in his emails and answers to questions, and be more focused
on answering the questions asked of him before digressing to
related topics and information.” Id. at 51.
was not alone in identifying difficulties with Mott's
communication style. Mott's teammate, Chen, “found
Mott hard to work with because he had trouble focusing. Mott
would identify issues and then digress off topic.” ECF
NO. 123-2 at 7. Zaman-Malik similarly “found it very
difficult to keep Mott focused on calls as he quickly would
move from one topic to another.” ECF No. 123-3 at 110.
Zaman-Malik added that “Mott's advice was not
concise, he would go off on tangents, he was long-winded and
he would provide no clear or direct answer to questions
Mott Requests a Transfer
continued to confide in Mottet regarding the difficulties he
was having with the team. On May 5, 2015, Mott wrote a
lengthy email to Mottet recounting a series of events within
his team in which he also mentions that he may “have to
ask [Guillorit] about a transfer” within the Legal
Department. ECF No. 123-3 at 65. Mott's email centered on
his conflicts with Zacharia, Chen, and Fauzia Malik-Zaman.
Mott noted in particular a conference call where Malik-Zaman,
evidently frustrated with Mott, asked Mott to drop the call.
Id. at 66. Mott described to Mottet that Chen was
“uber OCD” and that he (Mott) had
“rebuke[d]” and “chastise[d]” Chen
for certain behavior. Id. at 65-66. Mott concluded
that Zacharia and Chen's “collective inability to
recognize their managerial and collegial shortcomings makes
it increasingly obvious that this won't work for
me.” Id. at 67.
10, 2015, Mottet informed Mott that Mottet had “an
informal discussion with [Guillorit]” regarding
“the integration problem that exists” on
Mott's team. ECF No. 124-3 at 157. Mottet wrote that Mott
was “facing the same problem I faced with Hollis [Chen]
3 years ago” and encouraged Mott to share with
Guillorit his “feelings about . . . [his] lack of
2, 2015, Mott sent Guillorit an email asking for her
“approval and support regarding a potential transfer to
a different position.” ECF No. 124-3 at 160. Mott took
issue with his mid-year performance review from Zacharia and
provided several “example[s] illustrating the
challenge[s]” he was having. Id. Guillorit
responded that she would “like to set up some
time” to have a “follow on discussion as we may
have other position [sic] in the Offering team.”
Id. at 159. Guillorit added that “everyone in
Legal is absolutely free to apply to any existing open
position . . . even if I think it would be a much better fit
to stay in Offerings.” Id. Mott replied,
“one of my many flaws is an unfailing sense of loyalty
(no matter how misguided) . . . so of course I will continue
to work for you in Offerings.” Id.
apparent frustration with his team continued after his
exchange with Guillorit. In September 2015, Mott sent another
email to Mottet, detailing his recent falling out with
Zacharia and Chen. ECF No. 123-3 at 71. Mott concluded, and
shared with Mottet, “the ineptitude” of his
colleagues, and that he (Mott) had “far greater legal
and management skills than both [Zacharia and Chen]
combined.” Id. Mott further characterized his
interaction with his colleagues as a “farce”
which “exemplifies the poor management training and
management selection process within ACN.” Id.
Mott Applies for Other Positions with Accenture
October 2015, Mott applied to transfer to Accenture's
litigation department. ECF No. 123-3 at 136; ECF No. 123-4 at
2-9. The announced “Preferred Qualification” for
this position was prior experience as a “[p]artner at
[a] law firm.” ECF No. 123-4 at 7. The posting also
stated that, “Employees are expected to be in their
current position for a minimum of 12 months before applying
to a new position.” Id. Over 300 candidates
applied for the position, and Mott was not selected for an
interview. Id. at 12; ECF No. 123-3 at 158.
Accenture ultimately hired a female candidate “from an
external law firm with relevant and recent litigation
experience” to fill the position. ECF No. 123-3 at 154.
fall of 2015, Mott also applied for a Team Lead position
within Offerings. ECF No. 123-2 at 37; ECF No. 123-4 at 27.
As part of reorganizing the department, Guillorit announced a
position for Legal Director, Offerings and Services,
Regulatory Compliance, H&PS Resources. ECF No. 123-4 at
15. The position required knowledge and experience related to
three enumerated subjects: (1) healthcare regulatory; (2)
public service; and (3) resources. ECF No. 123-3 at 151-52.
Both Chen and Mott applied for the position, among others.
ECF No. 123-4 at 25. Guillorit interviewed Mott for the
position on November 17, 2015. ECF No. 123-4 at 33. In her
contemporaneous notes, Guillorit documented that Mott still
needed “to learn about Accenture organisation [sic],
processes, methodology and approaches, ” and that he
was “[too] focused on the scope of the existing role
rather than the scope of his new role.” Id. at
34. Guillorit also noted that Mott had a “[h]ard time .
. . listen[ing] and responding to questions” and
determined Mott was “not ready to take on this
role.” Id.at 34-35. Guillorit instead selected
Catherine Walter for the Team Lead role. ECF No. 123-3 at
applied for a second litigation position in April 2016.
See ECF No. 123-3 at 139- 46. “Partner at [a]
law firm, ” as with the prior litigation attorney
posting, was listed as a preferred qualification and the
position's primary location was listed as Chicago.
Id. at 139, 143. Over 100 candidates applied, and
Accenture hired an external candidate who was a female
attorney at a law firm. Id. at 157, 163-64.
Mott's Interaction with Michael Cammarota
apparent recognition that his employment at Accenture was off
to a rocky start, Mott sought the assistance of Michael
Cammarota, an attorney in the Legal Department senior to
Guillorit. ECF No. 123-2 at 94 (Mott Dep.) (“[G]iven
the dynamic . . . I needed to seek help from somebody higher
in the food chain.”). Id. During their first
phone call in January 2016, Cammarota, in Mott's
characterization, made ageist comments. Id. at
94-99. Mott more particularly recalls Cammarota asking Mott,
“what are you doing here” and commenting that
Mott did not “appear to want to be general
counsel.” Id. at 94. Mott also
recalls Cammarota, who is “well into his 50s, ”
commenting that they were “both on the back nines of
our career.” Id. at 94, 95.
Offerings Team Reorganization
spring of 2016, Accenture restructured the Offerings team,
reconfiguring the previous six teams under Guillorit's
supervision into five teams. See ECF No. 123-3 at 3;
ECF No. 123-4 at 41. Of the five Team Leads Guillorit
selected, three were men, three were Americans, all were over
the age of forty, and two were over the age of fifty. ECF No.
132-2 at 221. Mott's Health team was dissolved and
absorbed into the newly named Health & Public Services,
Resources, and Regulatory Compliance team. ECF No. 123-4 at
41; ECF No. 123-2 at 232. Walter, as the Team Lead of Health
& Public Services, Resources, now supervised Mott and
Chen. Mott's previous supervisor, Zacharia, no longer
belonged to the team. ECF No. 123-4 at 42.
had also been Mott's Career Counselor within the
organization. Before the new teams were finalized, Mott had
repeatedly asked Guillorit by email in late 2015 and early
2016 to provide him a Career Counselor other than Zacharia.
ECF No. 123-4 at 37-38. On March 23, 2016, Guillorit informed
Mott that she was “finalizing the org chart, ”
and would assign him a new Counselor in the coming weeks.
Id. at 37. Guillorit also told Mott that his
“role . . . can evolve in terms of area of
expertise.” Id. On March 25, 2016, Walter
confirmed with Mott that she would serve as his new Career
Counselor in addition to her role as Team Lead. Id.
of the reorganization, Walter proposed that Mott assume
responsibility for the newly defined area of “Defense
& Public Safety and Regulatory Compliance.”
See ECF No. 123-4 at 42. Walter testified that
because Mott had expressed his dissatisfaction with the
dynamic on the Health team, she believed Mott “was in a
good position to start something new.” Id. at
68. However, shortly after Mott agreed to this new
assignment, Walter encountered difficulty in getting Mott to
complete tasks. Mott, for example, refused to take the steps
necessary to formalize Walter's role as his Career
Counselor, despite having asked Guillorit for her to assign
him a new Career Counselor. Accenture's online system
requires the counselee to designate a new Career Counselor.
ECF No. 123-4 at 66. Mott delayed making the change in the
system because he “had reservations about whether the
current assignment (or more aptly the changing assignment is
a good fit for me.” Id. at 128. As a result,
Walter could not access Mott's performance reviews.
Id. at 67.
April 2016, Guillorit and Walter grew “concern[ed]
about Mr. Mott's willingness and/or ability to implement
changes.” ECF No. 123-2 at 207. They sought advice from
Beth Phelan, Human Resources lead, regarding potential next
steps. Id. This consultation was based in part on
Mott's now questioning the very changes in his career
counselor and job duties to which he had previously agreed.
Id. at 207-08.
early June 2016, Guillorit requested that Phelan provide
severance accrual figures for Mott in the event that
Accenture terminated him. ECF No. 123-2 at 189. Guillorit
acknowledged that “given the lack of progresses and/or
inability to make things - changes with Joe” that his
termination was a possibility. Id. at 190.
“Things were not progressing at all. So yeah, I was
concerned about [terminating Mott] while continuing to try to
improve things.” Id. at 190.
separately asked Phelan for guidance on June 30, 2016. During
his hour-long call with Phelan, Mott recalls raising
“the subject [of discrimination] . . . and
discuss[ing]” the topic “extensively.” ECF
No. 123-2 at 105. Phelan's contemporaneous notes of this
conversation make no mention of discussing Mott's
concerns regarding discrimination. ECF No. 123-4 at 170. Nor
does the record reflect that Phelan shared Mott's
concerns with anyone else.
continued to resist changes arising from the department
reorganization, including the new collaborative priorities
process. As part of the corporate restructuring, Accenture
rolled out its new “Performance Achievement”
program, a “collaborative process” where Career
Counselors and counselees together were to define job
objectives and priorities. ECF No. 123-4 at 64-65. While
other employees generally completed the drafting and
uploading of their priorities in about an hour and a half,
Mott's process stretched over several months. ECF No.
123-2 at 211.
particular, Walter's “many discussions” with
Mott about defining employment priorities resulted in Mott
uploading only two priorities into the online system that,
unbeknownst to Walter, “had nothing to do with what
[they] had discussed.” ECF No. 123-4 at 65. When Walter
learned of the uploaded priorities, she told Mott that
because they were “completely different from the ones
that we discussed, ” Mott should also upload the
previously agreed-upon priorities. Id. at 136. Mott
refused, and instead became increasingly hostile and
disrespectful toward Walter. On July 6, 2016, Mott writes,
“I have great difficulty with our interaction, and
frankly I am exasperated.” Id. at 135. He
I don't know why this item is a priority since you
recently advised me that you believe my colleague Hollis has
more regulatory expertise than I do (which of course, is
categorically incorrect and indicative of the core problem -
i.e. you have little familiarity with my background and
experience and you have shown no inclination toward wanting
to rectify that shortcoming).
ECF No. 123-4 at 137. Mott describes Walter's suggestions
as “suffer[ing] from a myopic approach.”
Id. at 138. Mott criticized Walter's guidance,
saying, “even the manner in which you have dictated
that I approach the issue denotes a lack of professional
regard that is affronting . . . .” Id. Mott
further conveyed his reluctance to work with Walter going
As I told you in my last email on this subject, I was willing
to try to make the career counselor relationship work with
you. However, your subsequent actions, words and the tenor of
our exchanges clearly indicates that our situation is not
working. I am not sure what it is that we could discuss at
this point to alter the dynamic . . . .
Id. at 136.
same day, Walter forwarded this correspondence to Guillorit
who, in turn, forwarded it to Phelan, noting,
The situation is just becoming worse as you can see below. .
. . Each time it seems to be better (which was the case when
Catherine was in Washington), it appears afterwards that he
is still doing only what he wants to do and coming back on
topics previously discussed. No. one else in this team, at
this SM level (even M level), requires so much time for
explanations, discussions coaching . . . . Catherine is
starting to have hard time talking to him given the way he is
interpreting what has been discussed and coming back always
on same things.
ECF No. 123-4 at 145.
days later, on July 13, Walter sent Phelan a summary of her
ongoing difficult interactions with Mott. Id. at
151-53. In the summary, Walter chronicled the difficulties
she experienced with keeping Mott on task regarding his
priorities, his increasing insistence that Walter not act as
his career counselor, and his repeated discussions about his
“difficult relationship with his colleague Hollis,
” his “unmerited ‘bad' rating (3) since
he has joined Accenture, ” and “his experience
prior to joining Accenture, ” among other related
topics. Id. at 152. “When Joe starts talking
about these topics (i.e. absolutely every discussion), it
becomes impossible to stop him and one is in front of a never
ending monologue.” Id.
Mott's Termination and Discrimination Complaint
end of July or early August, Guillorit had decided to
terminate Mott. ECF No. 123-2 at 175. Prior to making this
decision, Guillorit had sought and received input from
Zacharia, Zaman-Malik, and Walter. Guillorit also alerted her
supervisor, Deputy General Counsel for CORE, Patrick Rowe,
who did not object to her decision. Id. at 186-87.
After returning from paid leave in August 2016, Guillorit
scheduled a Skype meeting with Mott “in view of
upcoming Talent discussions.” ECF No. 123-4 at 184. The
call occurred on September 14, 2016, during which Guillorit
told Mott he was fired. ECF No. 123-2 at 219. As grounds for
termination, Guillorit cited Mott's “communication
skills, ” “resistance to changes, ” and
“unacceptable email[s] sent to ...