(with first initial, no space for Sullivan, Dorsey, and
Walsh): Yarashus, Valerie A., J.
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTSâ
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Valerie A. Yarashus, Justice
plaintiff, Mohammad Bakhtiar ("Bakhtiar"), brings
this action claiming employment discrimination and
retaliation by his former employer, Infineon Technologies
Americas Corp. ("Infineon"), and his former
supervisor, Derek Richardson ("Richardson").
Bakhtiar alleges that despite a long and positive work
history at Infineon, he suffered discrimination upon being
assigned Richardson as his. supervisor. Under Richardsonâs
supervision, Bakhtiar received his first negative work
reviews at the company and was ultimately terminated as part
of a "reduction in force," that Bakhtiar now
alleges was pretextual. Bakhtiar asserts claims of
discrimination on the basis of race and national origin in
violation of G.L.c. 151B, Â§ 1, and retaliation in violation
of G.L.c. 151B, Â§ 1. The defendants have filed a motion for
summary judgment requesting dismissal of all counts. For the
following reasons, the defendantsâ Motion is DENIED
following facts are taken from the summary judgment record,
which includes the pleadings, deposition transcripts, answers
to interrogatories, admissions on file, and affidavits. The
evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. Attorney Gen. v. Bailey, 386 Mass.
367, 370 (1982).
Bakhtiar was hired as a senior process engineer by a
predecessor entity to Infineon in 2008. He worked for the
same company previously in an unspecified position. Between
2008 and 2014, Bakhtiar received generally positive
performance reviews, performance bonuses, and was never
disciplined. For example, his review for 2014 indicated that
he "exceeds expectations." Managers and co-workers
provided positive statements about Bahktiarâs work
performance. Bakhtiarâs work experience at Infineon was
positive up through April 2015.
April 2015, Richardson was assigned to be Bakhtiarâs manager
and Bakhtiar began reporting to him. From the time he began
reporting to Richardson, Bakhtiar noticed that he was being
treated differently than other engineers who reported to
Richardson. Bakhtiar identifies as non-Caucasion based upon
race, and identifies his national origin as Iranian. With the
Caucasian engineers, Richardson "made time for
them," communicated with them, and appeared to enjoy
working with them. Bakhtiar noticed that Richardson did not
make the same effort to get to know him and was not receptive
to Bakhtiarâs attempts to communicate and get to know
April 2015, Bakhtiar began working on a "Lead Bend
Project." Bakhtiarâs communications to Richardson about
the project were met with negative feedback about the
completion of the project. On June 22, 2015, Richardson wrote
a document indicating that Bakhtiarâs performance was
"not meeting expectations." Bakhtiar did not
believe the negative feedback from Richardson to be based on
the merits of his work, but instead on discriminatory animus.
days after receiving the June 22 document drafted by
Richardson, Bakhtiar met with the companyâs Human Resources
Manager, Patricia Briscoe ("Briscoe"), and Vice
President of Operations, Michael Robinson
("Robinson"). Bakhtiar told Briscoe that he was
concerned that Richardsonâs assessment of his job performance
was incorrect, and that he was being treated differently from
other engineers supervised by Richardson. At the meeting,
Briscoe offered to look for another position for Bakhtiar
under a different manager, but another position never
Bakhtiar believed that his communication with Briscoe was a
formal complaint about the disparate treatment he felt he was
receiving from Richardson. Infineonâs employee handbook
instructs employees to report incidents of discrimination and
to speak with the Human Resources Department about them.
Bakhtiar continued to work on the Lead Bend Project. He
completed the project and emailed his results to Richardson
on July 31, 2015, prior to the deadline Richardson
assigned. Bakhtiar continued to work on other
projects under Richardsonâs supervision. Their relationship
did not improve.
September 2015, Bakhtiar received a performance bonus.
According to Bakhtiar, it was the lowest bonus he had ever
received while working for Infineon. Bonuses were determined,
in at least part, by the feedback provided by the employeeâs
supervisor. On July 7, 2015, Richardson gave Bakhtiar a score
of "1," the lowest score being "0," when
asked by his supervisor to rate Bakhtiar for his bonus.
Richarson also communicated to his supervisor that he wanted
Bakhtiar "gone" at that time.
Bakhtiar met with Briscoe on September 30, 2015 to discuss
what he viewed as an unjustifiably low bonus. At that
meeting, he again complained about being treated differently
than other engineers by Richardson and complained that
Richardsonâs behavior was discriminatory. Bakhtiar requested
a follow up meeting with Briscoe in December 2015, but no
follow up meeting occurred. Between October 2015 and June 2,
2016, Bahktiar continued to work for Infineon without any
discipline or performance improvement plan.
June 2, 2016, Bakhtiar was terminated from his position with
Infineon. Infineon stated that the termination was a result
of a "reduction in force" in order to "achieve
cost savings." Bakhtiar alleges the company posted a job
opportunity in the days following his termination for a
position nearly identical to his terminated position.
Infineon disputes that the posted job was "nearly
identical" and alleges the position was posted prior to
connection with Infineonâs cost-cutting program, a panel of
four managers, including Richardson, was appointed to review
and rate the performance of all "indirect labor"
(i.e., non-manufacturing) employees, including the process
engineering group where Bakhtiar worked. Bakhtiar agreed in
his deposition that the other three managers were "in a
position to assess his performance," and had no reason
to believe any of the other panelists were racist. Each of
the four panelists rated all 161 "indirect labor"
employees on a scale from one to five, with one being the
highest score. Bakhtiar ...