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The Collaborative Clearinghouse for Lawsuits and Other Claims Against ACE Group Insurance Companies

DODGE v. ACE USA/ESIS, INC.

ATTENTION: It is possible that this information may no longer be current and therefore may be inaccurate. The index contains both open and closed cases and is not a complete list of cases in which an ACE Insurance Group company is involved. This information is provided to give interested persons an idea of the issues disputed in the indexed cases. For a full understanding of a case, one should read the rest of the court file, including the response. For the most up-to-date and complete information on a case, visit www.pacer.gov or contact the clerk of the relevant court.

Case Number: 
1:11-cv-10712 Search Pacer
ACE Group party(s): 
Opposing Party: 
ACE USA/ ESIS, Inc.
Court Type: 
Federal
US District Court: 
Massachusetts District Court
Date Filed: 
Apr 26 2011

"9. Until the events that began in September of 2009, Mr. Dodge enjoyed a solid career in at ACE/ESIS as an Account Executive, a job that he immensely enjoyed and was good at. He thrived in his role of insuring the delivery of property and casualty insurance services to client businesses and on the high degree of interaction that he had with the insurance brokerage community, ACE/ESIS business partners, and his clients. His job was also a reflection of a lifestyle choice. Rather than climbing the corporate ladder to reach higher levels of responsibility and compensation, he chose to stay where he was so that he could have both a rewarding professional life and a meaningful role in his family life.

10. Over the years, Mr. Dodge heard things that made him aware that ESIS president Dave Patterson disrespected his choice to achieve work/family balance and deemed him to be lacking in professional ambition.

11. Mr. Patterson's negative and unfounded assumptions about Mr. Dodge escalated when he heard Mr. Dodge give a farewell speech on behalf of the retiring Regional Vice President for ESIS Client Services, Bill Earle in April of 2009. Among other things, Mr. Dodge thanked Mr. Earle for his family focused approach to management. He told a story about how he truly appreciated that he was able to leave work early once a week during the soccer season so he could coach his daughters' team. Mr. Dodge was undeterred by the public nature of the forum when choosing to praise Mr. Earle for his consideration of his employees' family circumstances.

12. It is plain from what follows that those words were the beginning of the end of Mr. Dodge's career at ACE/ESIS, Within a few months, his new boss, Mark Bossi, began to create a clumsy and internally inconsistent paper trail purporting to document serious performance deficiencies. The performance correction process was nearly entirely perception based and was clearly not designed to actually correct these so-called deficiencies, but instead to push Mr. Dodge out the door. When Mr. Bossi sat down with Mr. Dodge to deliver the first stage of what became a three month perpetual warning process, he effectively admitted the motive behind it. Mr. Bossi told Mr. Dodge that he "probably shouldn't tell [him] this, but Patterson was not happy with your speech at Bill's party." According to Mr. Bossi, Mr. Patterson, then Mr. Bossi's boss, said, "if that is what is important to him, you have to wonder if he is committed to his job." What Mr. Bossi did not share is the exit strategy that had just begun.

13. What followed was a series of performance warnings in which Mr. Dodge, who had a long record of performance evaluations that demonstrated that he did most everything right, suddenly did everything wrong. The stereotyped view that real men put their jobs ahead of their families played out in the disciplinary process as Mr. Dodge's ostensible lack of accessibility away from the office - which although demonstrably untrue- became a central theme of the discipline process. As described below, the documentation of the process shows that there was no clear feedback on what and how to improve as ACE Performance Management Policies, good business practice, and common sense dictates. Instead the feedback was highly subjective and perception based, the criticisms were repetitive and the process regressive, not progressive.

14. Mr. Bossi, whose background lacked managerial experience, assumed his position as Regional Vice President of ESIS Client Services at the very end of April of 2009. During his first four plus months, he gave Mr. Dodge no indication that he had any issue with his performance. However, during Mr. Dodge's mid year performance review discussion on September 17, 2009, he placed Mr. Dodge on a 45-day verbal warning. Stunned at the time, Mr. Dodge responded to the criticisms by email the following day, September 18, 2009. Mr. Bossi responded that he would discuss the issues with Mr. Dodge the following week.

15. Mr. Bossi put his verbal warning in writing by memo dated September 24, 2009. Three categories of unsatisfactory performance were listed;  1) "disgruntled clients/ brokers/internal clients"; 2) "accessibility"; and 3) "communication." Only the first category was supported by account examples with the first example dating back a year and unknown to Mr. Dodge prior to that point, and two instances in which the criticism was simply unfounded. Mr. Dodge provided a detailed factual response to the three account examples and tried to address the subjective criticisms about his accessibility and communication by email dated September 28, 2009.

16. Mr. Dodge also voiced broader concern that while some of the issues raised warranted a discussion, certainly none rose to the level of transgression warranting a warning. Mr. Dodge also raised his concern that Mr. Bossi was basing this disciplinary action, not on performance, but on a perception for which Mr. Bossi struggled to find examples to support. By email dated, October 9, 2009, Mr. Bossi reiterated the conclusion that Mr. Dodge was not meeting the expectations for an account executive and promised to point out more examples as they occurred.

17. Although they worked in the same office, Mr. Bossi never once held the weekly meetings with Mr. Dodge which were prescribed in the written verbal warning. It was left up to Mr. Dodge to ask Mr. Bossi about the status of the meetings on October 14, 2009. Mr. Bossi verbally responded by saying that he did not feel that the meetings were necessary. The reality is that the meetings were not necessary either because (1) there were no transgressions to report; or (2) Mr. Dodge's wrongful and unlawful termination was predetermined; or (3) most likely, both reasons,

18. The verbal warning period expired - without any acknowledgement from Mr, Bossi - on November 9, 2009. An entire week passed, when on November 16, 2009, Mr. Bossi gave Mr. Dodge a memo stating that the 45 day verbal warning was being extended by an additional 30 days. The extended warning was a retread of the original except that it acknowledged that the only specific concerns relating to the three accounts had been satisfactorily resolved. Mr. Dodge pressed Mr. Bossi on why the warning was being extended when he had met the terms of the original 45 day warning, Mr. Bossi indicated that it was not his idea, and that it was being done at the recommendation of ACE Corporate HR. On November 16,2009, Mr. Dodge noted his concerns about the extended warning and the entire "performance improvement plan" process. In addition, at no time during the extended verbal warning period did Mr. Bossi discuss any aspects of the warning, or offer any feedback or management direction. In fact, Mr. Bossi withdrew from any interaction with Mr. Dodge completely.

19. On December 16, 2009, the extended verbal warning period again expired without any acknowledgement.

20. Nonetheless, Mr. Bossi continued to use the sham performance process to force Mr. Dodge out of the company. On January 22,2010, Mr. Bossi met with Mr. Dodge to discuss his annual performance appraisal. Mr. Bossi used this forum to inform Mr. Dodge that he was being placed on a 45-day written warning.

21. Although Mr, Dodge's self-performance appraisal which identified his satisfaction of objective metrics and included extensive examples of positive feedback from his customers and brokers, Mr. Bossi completely dismissed the positive customer and broker feedback ("friends in the industry will write whatever you ask them to") as well as the objective metrics of Mr. Dodge's success ("numbers don't mean much to me"). He refused, however, to provide specific examples to counter objective evidence that Mr. Dodge presented to him ("I'm not going to give you examples").  Mr. Dodge asked Mr. Bossi directly if he was coming up with artificial instances of poor performance in order to make upcoming job eliminations easier to accomplish, a charge which Mr. Bossi strongly denied. When Mr. Dodge asked whether ESIS's president has instructed him to do whatever is necessary in order to move him out of ESIS, Mr. Bossi replied, "think what you want to think."

22. Leading up to Mr. Dodge's termination, in a last ditch effort to prop up ESIS's unsupported and pre-determined termination strategy, Mr. Bossi continued to hold Mr. Dodge to different standards than those expected of his ESIS colleagues. In one instance, Mr. Bossi called Mr, Dodge "unprofessional" for sending a pricing proposal format to an internal business partner which was "boilerplate" in Mr. Bossi's opinion. However, this particular format had been exclusively used by Mr. Dodge and each of his three colleagues in every prior request of this nature and Mr. Bossi had criticized only Mr. Dodge. Furthermore, when Mr. Dodge spoke with the internal business partner about whether she had ever received a document in the format Mr. Bossi wanted, she said she had not.

23. On March 8, 2010, ACE/ESIS fired Bud Dodge after 14 successful years as an Account Executive based on unlawful gender stereotyping as described above.

24. As a result of ACE/ESIS's discriminatory termination, Mr. Dodge suffered lost back and front pay and benefits, emotional distress and diminution of earning capacity. He also seeks punitive damages and reimbursement of his attorneys' fees."

 

"26. The actions of ACE/ESIS as set forth above constitute sex discrimination based upon disparate treatment and unlawful stereotyping, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title 1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

27. The actions of ACE/ESIS as set forth above constitute sex discrimination based upon disparate treatment and unlawful stereotyping in violation of M.G.L. c. 151B, §4(1)."

The provided text is an excerpt from a document filed in this case. For a full understanding of the case, one should read the complete court file, including the response.

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