Gleason and Murphy), while Gregorich now headed Business Profitability and Analysis (supervising Huffman, Spizzo, Wilson [who had apparently returned to the Group] and Nick Noto (age unknown)) (P. 12(n)(2) P 71; Murphy Dep. 57-58; Rhodes Dep. Ex. 1 Doc. N2120). Rhodes was no longer in charge of the Group, which now fell under the supervision of Jim McIntosh (P. 12(n)(2) P 67; Rhodes Dep. Ex. 1 Doc. N2120).
In April 1992 Zurkowski left Navistar, and in May or June of that year Murphy was promoted to Zurkowski's old position (P. 12(n)(2) P 71; Rhodes Dep. Ex. 1 Doc. N2123). On June 22, 1992 Bruce Glanville ("Glanville") (age 34) took over Murphy's Financial Analyst position, so that Murphy now supervised Glanville and Gleason (P. 12(n)(2) P 71; P. Ex. 4 Doc. N3266).
So much for the facts. This opinion now turns to the evaluation of those facts in terms of ascertaining the existence or nonexistence of any genuine issue of material fact.
Under ADEA the employee always carries the burden of proving "that he would not have been discharged 'but for' his employer's motive to discriminate against him because of his age" ( Karazanos v. Navistar Int'l Transp. Corp., 948 F.2d 332, 335 (7th Cir. 1991)). By now the dual judicial approaches to that problem are so familiar that this opinion will do no more than to identify them in outline form.
One of those approaches is the more-recently-announced mixed-motives analysis in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228, 104 L. Ed. 2d 268, 109 S. Ct. 1775 (1989), appropriate where both discriminatory and nondiscriminatory considerations have influenced an employer in making the adverse employment decision. Price Waterhouse, id. at 232 says that its division of the burdens of proof between plaintiff and defendant applies "when it has been shown that an employment decision resulted from a mixture of legitimate and illegitimate motives." Of course when a court rules on a motion for summary judgment, nothing "has been shown": Factual proofs have not been weighed by a trier of fact. Because Price Waterhouse (unlike the formulation next discussed) involves a shift in the burden of persuasion, and thus sets a higher hurdle for the employer to overcome, it comes into play only when there is a reasonable inference that the employer's adverse employment decision was the product of "a mixture of legitimate and illegitimate motives."
As for the more familiar earlier-announced approach, it was established in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802-04, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668, 93 S. Ct. 1817 (1973) and reaffirmed in Texas Dep't of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 253-54, 67 L. Ed. 2d 207, 101 S. Ct. 1089 (1981). It is used where "either a legitimate or an illegitimate set of considerations lead to the challenged [employment] decision" ( Price Waterhouse, 490 U.S. at 247).
As already indicated, the McDonnell Douglas-Burdine formulation is more demanding on the plaintiff employee. If in the last step of its ping-pong approach the employee does show that the employer's proffered reasons are mere pretext, the trier of fact is permitted "to infer the ultimate fact of intentional discrimination," though such an inference is not compelled because the "ultimate burden of persuasion" remains with the employee at all times ( St. Mary's Honor Center v. Hicks, 125 L. Ed. 2d 407, 113 S. Ct. 2742, 2749 (1993)). But the important factor is that what the employee must do to avoid summary judgment in that scenario is to create the reasonable inference of employer pretext.
By contrast, when an employee creates a reasonable inference (by either direct or circumstantial evidence) of age discrimination in the Price Waterhouse situation, the burden of persuasion shifts to the employer and the employee need not rebut the employer's claim ( Berlett v. Cargill, Inc., 780 F. Supp. 560, 562-63 (N.D. Ill. 1991)). Hence this opinion will first examine the evidence in terms of the Price Waterhouse framework and the Rule 56 standards, even though Sprague has not organized his presentation in those terms.
Under Price Waterhouse the employee's initial burden is to show the existence of the employer's "illegitimate motive": In ADEA terms, that age was a "substantial factor" in his or her discharge.
That was fleshed out in the plurality opinion, 490 U.S. at 250 (adapted to ADEA):
If we asked the employer at the moment of the [employment] decision what its reasons were and if we received a truthful response, one of those reasons would be that the . . . employee was [at least 40 years of age].
In his opposition to Navistar's summary judgment motion, Sprague endeavors to raise a genuine issue on that question by offering as evidence (1) statements made by Morrison and (2) circumstantial evidence that Sprague was replaced by Murphy. Each of those will be assessed in turn.
When questioned at his deposition about Navistar's treatment of FMDP trainees compared with that accorded longer service employees, Morrison made several references to the age of Navistar's work force and its need for younger people (Dep. 141-42, 151-52, 162-63). While not a necessary inference, a reasonable jury could infer that a person with that perspective would be motivated by a discriminatory age-based bias in selecting employees to be terminated during Navistar's 1991 RIF. One possible interpretation of Morrison's statements is that he viewed the age composition of Navistar as a "problem" (Dep. 163) whose solution was "to bring . . . young people" into Navistar to insure its future economic viability as "a continuing company" (Dep. 141). It is a permissible inference that such a view would influence Morrison in choosing individuals to be terminated during a company-wide RIF whose avowed purpose was "to improve the economic conditions and revitalize the company" (D. 12(m) P 16).
But for such statements to be probative of a discriminatory basis for Sprague's discharge, he must show a causal connection between the expressed view and the decision to discharge him. As the plurality in Price Waterhouse, 490 U.S. at 251 (again adapted to speak in ADEA terms) explains:
Remarks at work that are based on [age] stereotypes do not inevitably prove that [age] played a part in a particular employment decision. The plaintiff must show that the employer actually relied on [his age] in making its [employment] decision.