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KRYSTOF v. HYATT CORP.

June 25, 1993

EDWIN J. KRYSTOF, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
HYATT CORPORATION, a corporation d/b/a HYATT REGENCY CHICAGO, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRIAN BARNETT DUFF

 Plaintiff Edwin J. Krystof, Sr. ("Krystof") has filed a one count age discrimination claim against Defendant Hyatt Corporation ("Hyatt"). Krystof argues that Hyatt discharged him in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634 ("ADEA"). Hyatt filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that Krystof has not put forth a scintilla of evidence to support his claim. Krystof, in turn, asserts that he can show age discrimination through statistical evidence and a demonstration that Hyatt's proffered reason for his discharge is a pretext. For the reasons discussed below, Hyatt's motion for summary judgment is granted.

 BACKGROUND

 Hyatt is a hotel-management company that manages various hotels bearing the "Hyatt" name, including the Hyatt Regency Chicago, and previously including the Hyatt Lincolnwood.

 In February 1969, Hyatt hired Krystof, then age 42, to be a Night Auditor and Night Manager at the Hyatt Lincolnwood. Around September 1976, at age 50, Krystof became a Night Manager at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, and in this position he handled various accounting procedures. In 1983, at age 57, Krystof assumed the position of General Cashier at Hyatt Regency Chicago and held that position from 1983 until his termination on October 16, 1991.

 As General Cashier, Krystof operated as the "bank" or "currency exchange" at the Hotel, handling two vaults (a large vault containing $ 185,000 and a small vault containing $ 30,000). Among his responsibilities were issuing and auditing "house banks," receiving deposits of funds from cashiers, assembling daily deposits for pick-up by security guards, verifying the amount of funds in the vault, issuing funds back to certain cashiers, handling petty cash, and updating the exchange rate for foreign currency.

 When Krystof assumed the General Cashier position, his supervisors were Controller Bob McCall and Assistant Controllers Pam Seiter and Bikas Pandy. During the time he worked under McCall's supervision, Krystof received satisfactory evaluations for "production," but also received a number of criticisms concerning his accuracy and management skills. Specifically, in his November 1984 "Managerial Performance Evaluation," Krystof received an "unsatisfactory" rating for his "monitoring" certain work, and was cautioned that "duebacks and vault must be consistently counted." He was also reminded that "bank counts have to be 100% every month--including night cashiers." In his July 1985 evaluation, Krystof was again reminded that "he must maintain 100% audits each month," and that he needed to "follow established procedures to maintain control of the funds. This includes bank audits, proper approvals, and accuracy, all of which must be done independently." In June 1986, Seiter sent Krystof a memorandum detailing procedures for conducting a house bank audit, but nine months later, in March, 1987, Krystof received a written warning for "failure to comply with house bank audit guidelines as set upon June 6, 1986." Krystof was warned that "failure to comply again will result in suspension."

 In the fall of 1989, James Barnish replaced McCall as Controller. The Assistant Controllers at that time were Mike Marsch and Ashok Karra. Additional performance issues arose while Krystof was working under Barnish. For example, in May 1990, Krystof was cited for failure to count the vault for three days. In September 1990, he was cited for failure to follow appropriate procedures for issuing a $ 200 loan to an unidentified cashier. He was also notified that "should a shortage of this nature occur in the future employee suspension might occur." On or about May 16, 1991, Krystof was relieved of the responsibility of auditing house banks, and on July 3, 1991, Krystof was placed on 60 days probation after he failed to complete all deposits by month-end. The probation period was described as a means "to evaluate [his] performance and improve [his] management skills."

 On April 16, 1992, Krystof filed a charge of age discrimination against Hyatt with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). On June 30, 1992, more than 60 days having elapsed since the filing of his charge, Krystof filed a complaint under the ADEA, claiming that Hyatt discharged him because of his age. On March 31, 1993, Hyatt filed its motion for summary judgment.

 DISCUSSION

 Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires this court to enter summary judgment on Hyatt's motion "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." See, e.g., Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). Accordingly, the court must decide "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). The court must view the record and draw all inferences from it in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Lohorn v. Michal, 913 F.2d 327, 331 (7th Cir. 1990). "This general standard is applied with added rigor in employment discrimination cases, where intent is inevitably the central issue." McCoy v. WGN Continental Broadcasting Co., 957 F.2d 368, 370-371 (7th Cir. 1992).

 The ADEA prohibits employers from refusing to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against any individual 40 years of age or older with respect to his or her compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of that individual's age. 29 U.S.C. §§ 623(a), 631(a). The Seventh Circuit has clearly articulated the standard governing the determination of age discrimination claims as follows:

 
[A] terminated plaintiff's ultimate burden in an age discrimination case is to prove that he was discharged because of his age. The plaintiff need not prove that age was the sole factor motivating the employer's decision, only that age was a determining factor in the sense that he would not have ...

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