United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Erich J. Rosenwinkel, Plaintiff,
Entrust Datacard Corporation, Defendant.
Michael J. Minenko, Minenko Law, LLC, counsel for plaintiff.
Lillian Terese Dobson, Marilyn J. Clark, Dorsey &
Whitney, LLP, counsel for defendant.
S. Doty, Judge
matter is before the court upon the motion for summary
judgment by defendant Entrust Datacard Corporation
(Datacard). After a review of the file, record, and
proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the court
denies the motion.
employment discrimination dispute arises out of
Datacard's decision to terminate plaintiff Erich J.
“provides solutions for identity payment and security
applications to primarily financial institutions, governments
and other commercial enterprises.” Steele Dep. at
6:22-7:2. In January 2013, Datacard hired Rosenwinkel for a
sales position. Rosenwinkel Dep. at 68:20-69:17. In April
2016, Datacard promoted Rosenwinkel to North America Sales
Director for Identity and Access Management. Id. at
74:11-75:4. In that role, Rosenwinkel was responsible for
developing and maintaining relationships with third parties
who sell Datacard products (referred to as “channel
partners”). Id. at 79:11-80:2; Mattia Decl.
¶ 6; Mattia Decl. Ex. 1. He traveled extensively for the
position and only spent approximately thirty percent of his
time at Datacard's corporate offices. Rosenwinkel Dep. at
832:23-83:24. Rosenwinkel initially reported to Kathleen
Phillips and later to Patrick Steele. Id. at
asserts that it began to have concerns about
Rosenwinkel's performance in 2017. The record is unclear
as to exactly when those concerns arose, however. According
to Ellen Mattia, Senior Human Resources Partner, Steele first
told her about Rosenwinkel's performance issues in the
spring of 2017. Mattia Decl. ¶ 5. But Steele testified
that he first received negative feedback about Rosenwinkel
from two channel partners - Plasco and Identisys - and from
internal sources sometime in the summer of 2017. Steele Dep.
At 75:7-76:12, 115:11-117:7, 123:19-124:4. Other Datacard
employees vaguely state that Rosenwinkel had performance
issues “[i]n the last year of [his] employment, ”
Jones Decl. ¶ 4, “in the early part of 2017,
” Ball Decl. ¶ 6, “[o]n multiple occasions
in 2017, ” id. ¶ 8, and “in the
early months of 2017 ... and several months later.”
Smolinksi Decl. ¶¶ 6, 14.
Steele testified that he had numerous conversations with
Rosenwinkel about his performance and that Rosenwinkel
understood that he could be fired, Rosenwinkel denies having
any such conversations. See Steele Dep. at
41:14-42:14, 75:19-76:10, 124:5-22, 138:17-18; Rosenwinkel
Dep. at 140:25-142:14, 184:21-185:3. Rosenwinkel does recall
that on September 13, 2017, Steele vaguely mentioned the need
to “get these guys to like you, ” but Rosenwinkel
did not know who Steele was referencing and, when asked,
Steele declined to elaborate. Rosenwinkel Dep. 137:5-140:24,
185:9-186:20. Rosenwinkel also denies causing problems with
any channel partner or that he was ever reprimanded due to
his interactions with those partners. Rosenwinkel Decl.
¶¶ 3-10; Rosenwinkel Dep. at 124:10-125:21,
130:16-132:24, 134:16-135:3, 136:11-24, 140:25-142:14,
did not document his alleged conversations with Rosenwinkel
and admits that no other writings reflect Datacard's
concerns about Rosenwinkel's performance. Steele Dep. at
138:17 139:19. Steele also did not document his conversations
with channel partners or internal employees in which they
allegedly complained about Rosenwinkel. Id. at
only document addressing Rosenwinkel's performance is his
2017 performance review. See Clark Decl. Ex. 3 at 1.
Steele drafted the review in June 2017, but it covers the
period of Datacard's 2017 fiscal year - April 1, 2016, to
March 31, 2017. See id. at 1. Steele gave
Rosenwinkel an “Achieving” rating and commented
favorably on Rosenwinkel's performance throughout the
review. See Clark Decl. Ex. 3 at 1-3, 5-6, 13-17. He
also noted that Rosenwinkel needed to continue to improve
“partner relationships and feeling of trust across the
board” and to “reestablish trust” with
channel partners. Id. at 3, 16. Those comments,
however, did not reflect concerns about Rosenwinkel's
performance or ability to establish trust with channel
partners, but instead referenced Datacard's commitment to
improving its trustworthiness as a company. See
Steele Dep. at 130:8-135:15; Rosenwinkel Dep. at 80:3-81:6,
24, 2017, Rosenwinkel notified Steele and Mattia that he had
been summoned to appear for federal grand jury service on
June 20. Mattia Decl. Ex. 2. Steele responded “Ok we
will figure ...