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DECASTECKER v. CASE CORP.

October 3, 1995

ALLAN J. DECASTECKER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CASE CORPORATION, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: McDADE, District Judge.

ORDER

Before the Court is Defendant Case Corporation's Motion for Summary Judgement [Doc # 34]. Defendant Case Corporation ("Case") is a corporation which operates manufacturing facilities in the Quad City area. Plaintiff Allan DeCastecker ("DeCastecker") applied for and was denied a position with Defendant. As a result, Plaintiff filed a suit based upon the Age Discrimination and Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. The Court has jurisdiction in this matter pursuant to the ADEA.

BACKGROUND

The following facts gave rise to the present controversy and are not in dispute. The Case Corporation is a large manufacturer of agricultural and other equipment. In October 1989, Case placed an ad in a local newspaper advertising an opening for a Process Engineer II at its East Moline plant. The ad listed the responsibilities of a process engineer as including "specifications of machine tools and production equipment as well as establishing the sequence of operations, tolerances, sizes, and related items used in the manufactured products." The ad went on to state that interested applicants "should have a B.S. in mechanical engineering or related degree. Prior experience in the processing engineering field is preferred." DeCastecker applied for the Process Engineer position by submitting his resume to Case.

DeCastecker was born September 25, 1942. He graduated from high school and completed a four year tool and dye apprenticeship program, but he does not have a college degree. DeCastecker worked for Case at its Rock Island facility from 1965 until 1987. While in the employ of Case, DeCastecker had two years of experience as an assembler and more than twenty years of experience as a manufacturing tool engineer. DeCastecker also has some experience with mainframe and personal computers.

Review of the applications and the hiring decision regarding the position of Process Engineer II were conducted and made by Daryl Moore, Tom Hansen, Bob Hanna, Bob Veltling, Sr., and Jim Hamrick. Moore, manager of personnel development, prepared the newspaper ad for the process engineer position and screened the applications initially. Moore withheld any applications which did not show that the applicant had a college degree. Hansen, manager of industrial relations, also screened resumes. Hanna, manager of the process engineering department, reviewed all resumes and selected those who would be interviewed. Veltling, a senior processing engineer, consulted with Hanna in his decisions. Hamrick, manager of technical services, along with Hanna, eventually made the final decision regarding who would be hired for the process engineer position.

DeCastecker sent in his resume for the Process Engineer II position, but it was screened out by Moore on the basis that he lacked a college degree. However, DeCastecker made two phone calls to Larry Neff, a senior processing engineer and acquaintance of DeCastecker's, to inquire about the Process Engineering position for him. These calls were made in late October and early November. After the late October call, Neff recommended to Hanna that he consider DeCastecker for the Process Engineer II position but Hanna stated that no such position was available. Two weeks later, after the early November call, Neff once again inquired about the position and Hanna informed Neff that a hiring freeze was in effect until January 1, 1990. Although a hiring freeze was allegedly in effect at that time, Hanna and Hamrick decided to interview Renee Rondeau and were purportedly impressed. Accordingly, they sought and obtained an exception to the hiring freeze. Rondeau, therefore, filled the position of Process Engineer II.

DeCastecker, in response to his failed attempt to secure employment with Case, filed the present lawsuit against Case. DeCastecker's Complaint alleges that Case improperly considered age when deciding upon who to have fill the position of Process Engineer II. DeCastecker alleges that Case systematically discriminated on the basis of age against many qualified applicants including himself in violation of the ADEA and that the requirement of a college degree was no more than a smoke screen for this systematic discrimination. Case filed the present motion for summary judgment arguing that no policy to discriminate against persons 40 years of age or older existed at Case and that its requirement of a college degree for the position of Process Engineer II was merely an attempt to upgrade the educational base of its employees.

ANALYSIS

"A motion for summary judgment is not an appropriate occasion for weighing evidence; rather, the inquiry is limited to determining if there is a genuine issue for trial." Lohorn v. Michal, 913 F.2d 327, 331 (7th Cir. 1990); see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). This Court must "view the record and all inferences drawn from it in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Holland v. Jefferson Nat. Life Ins. Co., 883 F.2d 1307, 1312 (7th Cir. 1989). When faced with a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party may not rest on its pleadings. Rather, it is necessary for the nonmoving party to demonstrate, through specific evidence, that there remains a genuine issue of triable fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Bank Leumi Le-Israel, B.M. v. Lee, 928 F.2d 232, 236 (7th Cir. 1991). Moreover, in an employment discrimination case, where intent is inevitably the central issue, caution is required in deciding whether to grant summary judgment. McCoy v. WGN Continental Broadcasting Co., 957 F.2d 368, 370-71 (7th Cir. 1992).

There are two essentially different frameworks through which an employee may prove that he or she was discriminated against on the basis of age: the direct, mixed-motives analysis of Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228, 258, 109 S.Ct. 1775, 1794, 104 L.Ed.2d 268 (1989), appropriate when both legitimate and illegitimate considerations played a role in an adverse employment decision, and the indirect burden-shifting approach of McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 1824, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973), as rearticulated in Texas Dept. of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 252-53, 101 S.Ct. 1089, 1093-94, 67 L.Ed.2d 207 (1981), appropriate when either a legitimate or an illegitimate set of considerations led to the challenged decision and the plaintiff offers an insufficient amount of direct evidence to preclude summary judgment under the Price Waterhouse standard.

At some point in the proceedings, it is necessary for the district court to decide which approach Plaintiff purports to use at trial. Randle v. LaSalle Telecommunications, Inc., 876 F.2d 563, 569 (7th Cir. 1989) citing Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228, 247 n. 12, 109 S.Ct. 1775, 1788 n. 12, 104 L.Ed.2d 268 (1989). If the Court finds that the direct evidence presented is sufficient to survive a motion for summary judgment, then the indirect burden-shifting method of McDonnell Douglas is rendered irrelevant. Id., 490 U.S. at 568, 109 S.Ct. at 2017; Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Thurston, 469 U.S. 111, 121, 105 S.Ct. 613, 621, 83 L.Ed.2d 523 (1985). Conversely, if there is not enough direct evidence to surpass the summary judgment stage, the Court must then employ the McDonnell Douglas methodology to the case. Randle, 876 F.2d at 570. In this way, the jury will not be overly confused by having to focus upon two different evidentiary schemes at trial. Thus, it is the Court's task here to first determine whether Plaintiff could prevail before the jury under the Price Waterhouse direct method of proof. Only if that method fails should the Court engage in the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting analysis.

Price Waterhouse Analysis

Under the Price Waterhouse analysis, 490 U.S. at 258, 109 S.Ct. at 1794, as applied to ADEA cases in Visser v. Packer Engineering Assoc., Inc., 924 F.2d 655, 658 (7th Cir. 1991) (en banc), Plaintiff must present "direct evidence" to show that age discrimination was a substantial or motivating factor in the decision not to hire him. Should Plaintiff succeed in proving that age was a "substantial" or "motivating factor" in that decision, Defendant must respond by proving by a preponderance of the evidence that it would have made the same employment decision ...


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