|Ex-P&G Manager's Glass Ceiling Lawsuit|
CINCINNATI (TDB) -- A federal judge in Cincinnati rejected Procter & Gamble's efforts to end a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by a fired mid-level manager who contends motherhood harmed a rising corporate career. Elizabeth Adkison's case against the consumer products giant probably will get to a jury sometime next year. U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black issued a 45-page ruling Monday in Cincinnati that reveals a lot about the internal workings of P&G, including a tidbit that the company wondered if Crest Whitestips was a "viable business."
P&G hired Adkison in 1996 out of Taylor University in Indiana, where she graduated with dual bachelor degrees in accounting and business administration. Her first job was as a purchasing manager. Her first maternity leave came in 2003. During the years Adkison was with the corporation, P&G says there was no discrimination and contends Adkison was terminated because she was not competitive with her peers and failed to improve. The company contends the firing decision was based on Adkison's inability to collaborate effectively, refusal to accept feedback, and lack of ability to energize, engage and demonstrate leadership skills in an Associate Marketing Director position. An Associate Marketing Director is about half-way up the P&G career ladder to a General Manager -- it takes about 17-20 years to reach that post from entry level.
|Court's Decision Page|
By May 2009, Adkison was told she could opt to work under a performance improvement plan, or accept voluntary separation. Her boss urged her to take the separation package. By 2009 Adkison was complaining that she had been the victim of gender and maternity discrimination. P&G's human resources department investigated and concluded the claims were unsubstantiated. The judge said a jury should decide whether Adkison's boss at P&G gave her "poor reviews" on performance fairly. Or were the reviews a pretext for discrimination? Judge Black wrote:
"[the boss] based her ratings and poor reviews of Plaintiff's efforts on her performance improvement plan on [the boss] views that Plaintiff was unable to internalize feedback, lacked the ability to engage and failed to demonstrate leadership skills. Adkison's challenges [the boss] credibility and asserts that her stated reasons were fabricated to conceal the discriminatory motive to Adkison's termination. . . Therefore, the Court finds that Plaintiff has presented a genuine issue of material fact regarding [the boss] credibility, which therefore requires a jury determination of whether Procter & Gamble's stated reason for Plaintiff's termination was merely a pretext to conceal a true discriminatory motive."