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SAELI v. MOTOROLA

March 7, 1996

GREGORY J. SAELI, Plaintiff,
v.
MOTOROLA, INC., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GETTLEMAN

 Plaintiff Gregory J. Saeli has filed a complaint against his previous employer, Motorola, Inc., alleging that his employment was terminated in violation of the Age Discrimination and Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. ยง 621 et seq. Defendant had moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. For the reasons stated below the court grants defendant's motion for summary judgment.

 FACTS

 Plaintiff is a 47 year old male who began working for defendant in 1966. In July 1989 Mario Salvadori, the Public Relations Manager for the Cellular Infrastructure Group ("CIG"), hired plaintiff for the E09 grade position of Strategic Planning Manager in the Public Relations Department. Plaintiff Reported to Salvadori for approximately two and one-half years. Plaintiff's initial duties included the administration of the Participative Management Program ("PMP") *fn1" , arranging the annual meetings, coordinating customer visits, referring requests for information regarding the company, handling donation requests, putting good news items on "good news banners," which were hung in the facility, and working with the patent awards banquet committee in planning the event.

 After Salvadori left CIG in December 1991, plaintiff reported to Sonja Colosia for approximately one year. In late 1992 or early 1993, Colosia gave plaintiff a performance appraisal in which she rated his performance as 2.8 out of 4.0. Plaintiff, however, did not agree with Colosia's evaluation of his performance. Around that same time, in late 1992 or early 1993, Martin Singer, age 44, Vice President and Director, took over the Business Development and Planing Department in CIG. In his new position, Singer had plaintiff transferred from Colosia's public relations organization and reassigned to his department. In business development, plaintiff, initially reported to Judith Soohoo, until Singer hired Scott Wyman, age 50, to be the Manager of Public Relations and Marketing Services for CIG. As of September 9, 1993, Plaintiff worked directly under Wyman. Wyman testified that he soon determined that there was no correlation between plaintiff's title and his actual duties and responsibilities which, according to defendant, were largely clerical and administrative in nature. In addition, plaintiff was previously responsible for several functions that no longer existed or had been transferred to other employees by the time of Wyman's hire. *fn2" Wyman testified that he also determined that plaintiff's work experience had little or no relationship to the field of public relations. Additionally, defendant asserts that plaintiff's skills, experience and performance did not match Wyman's needs or the Company's standards for an E09 grade position. In October 1993, after discussing plaintiff's job performance and duties, Wyman and Singer decided to eliminate plaintiff's position and transfer plaintiff's remaining tasks to other employees in the Business Development and Planning Department. Both Wyman and Singer testified that they had determined that plaintiff's duties were mostly clerical and administrative and could easily be transferred to other employees.

 In October 1993 Wyman met with Plaintiff to inform him that his position was going to be eliminated and that he should look for a new position within the company. Unfortunately, Plaintiff failed to secure any other position with Motorola. Despite having been given notice that his position would be eliminated and of the company's efforts to help him find a new job, plaintiff only applied for three managerial jobs, for which he was not hired. Because plaintiff did not find a new managerial job, in a final attempt to salvage his career with Motorola the company offered him a position as Senior Pricing Administrator. Although the new position was at a level of E07/08, Plaintiff was guaranteed that his salary, hours, and benefits would remain the same as he received from his old position. Plaintiff rejected the company's offer and was terminated by the company effective July 19, 1994.

 SUMMARY JUDGMENT

 Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c), a court should grant summary judgment where "there is no genuine issue of material fact and ... the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." This standard places the initial burden on the movant to identify those portions of the record on file which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). The burden then shifts to the non-moving party to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The court must read the facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). "This standard is applied with added rigor in employment discrimination cases, where intent and credibility are crucial issues." Sarsha v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 3 F.3d 1035, 1038 (7th Cir. 1993). The granting of summary judgment to an employer is appropriate, however, if on the facts before the court, taken as favorably to the plaintiff as the evidence permits, no rational jury could conclude that the employee was fired because of his age. Shager v. Upjohn Co., 913 F.2d 398, 401 (7th Cir. 1990).

 DISCUSSION

 Plaintiff alleges that he was terminated from his position because of his age. In order to show a violation of the ADEA, plaintiff may prove his age discrimination claim in one of two different ways. First, he may demonstrate, through direct evidence, that his age was a "determining factor" in defendant's decision to terminate his employment. Smith v. Great Am. Restaurants, Inc., 969 F.2d 430, 434 (7th Cir. 1992). Alternatively, he may use the indirect, burden-shifting method of proof for Title VII cases originally set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668, 93 S. Ct. 1817 (1973), and later adapted to age discrimination claims under the ADEA. McCoy v. WGN Continental Broadcasting Co., 957 F.2d 368, 371 (7th Cir. 1992). Because plaintiff has not introduced any direct evidence which might indicate that Motorola discriminated against him on the basis of age, plaintiff's suit must rely on the indirect, burden-shifting method of proof.

 To prevail under the McDonnell Douglas approach, plaintiff must initially establish a prima facie case of discrimination. The employee must show that: (1) he was in a protected class; (2) he was doing his job well enough to meet his employer's legitimate expectations; (3) he was discharged or demoted; and (4) the employer sought a replacement for him. Anderson v. Baxter Health Care Corp., 13 F.3d 1120, 1122 (7th Cir. 1994). The fourth prong of the test has been stated differently when applied to reduction in force ("RIF") *fn3" cases. In an RIF case, where the plaintiff can show that younger employees were treated more favorably the fourth prong of the test is satisfied. Collier v. Budd Co., 66 F.3d 886 (7th Cir. 1995).

 If plaintiff succeeds in establishing a prima facie case, a rebuttable presumption of discrimination is created, and the burden of production shifts to the employer to articulate a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the employee's discharge. Weihaupt v. American Medical Ass'n, 874 F.2d 419, 426 (7th Cir. 1989). If the employer is successful, the presumption of discrimination dissolves, and the burden shifts back to the employee (plaintiff) to show that the employer's proffered reasons are a pretext for age discrimination. Sarsha, 3 F.3d at 1039. A plaintiff can satisfy the pretext burden by showing "either that a discriminatory reason more likely motivated the employer, or that the employer's proffered explanation is unworthy of credence." Robinson v. PPG Industries, 23 F.3d 1159, 1163 (7th Cir. 1994).

 Indirect Evidence of Age Discrimination

 It is undisputed that plaintiff has established the first and third prongs of the test. Plaintiff is a member of a protected class, and he was in fact terminated from his job with Motorola. Plaintiff has additionally satisfied the second prong of the test for purposes of the instant motion. However, plaintiff has failed to establish the fourth prong of the test, and therefore, cannot establish a prima facie case of age discrimination. Because plaintiff cannot establish a prima facie case, ...


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