jury could conclude that ComEd terminated him because of his disability. Accordingly, ComEd's motion for summary judgment on Matthews' ADA claim is granted and Matthews' motion for summary judgment on his ADA claim is denied.
The ADEA Claim
Matthews next alleges that ComEd terminated him because of his age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The ADEA makes it unlawful for an employer to "discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's age." 29 U.S.C. § 623(a)(1). This protection against discrimination applies to individuals between the ages of 40 and 70. See 29 U.S.C. § 631(a). It is undisputed that Matthews was 48 at the time he was terminated. See Pl. 12(m) at P 7; Def. 12(m) at P 5.
Like other anti-discrimination statutes, both the direct and indirect methods of proof may be used to prove ADEA claims. Anderson v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., 13 F.3d 1120, 1122 (7th Cir. 1994). The parties agree that the indirect method of proof applies to Matthews' ADEA claim. (Defs. Mem. at 10; P1. Mem. at 18-19.)
In support of its motion for summary judgment, ComEd contends that Matthews has not established the prima facie case of age discrimination required by the indirect method of proof. (Defs. Mem. at 10.) To establish a prima facie case, Matthews must show that: (1) he is a member of the protected class; (2) his work performance met his employer's legitimate expectations; (3) his employment was terminated; and (4) employees not in the protected class were treated more favorably. Collier v. Budd Co., 66 F.3d 886, 889 (7th Cir. 1995).
ComEd argues that Matthews has not shown that his work performance met its legitimate expectations. Matthews responds that he has established this element of the prima facie case because ComEd admitted that he was a qualified individual with a disability for purposes of the ADA issue. By definition, a qualified individual with a disability is one who satisfies the requisite skill, experience and other job-related requirements of the position in question. 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(m).
The court agrees with Matthews. "The prima facie case method was 'never intended to be rigid, mechanized, or ritualistic.'" United States Postal Serv. Bd. of Governors v. Aikens, 460 U.S. 711, 715, 75 L. Ed. 2d 403, 103 S. Ct. 1478 (1983) (quoting Furnco Constr. Corp. v. Waters, 438 U.S. 567, 577, 57 L. Ed. 2d 957, 98 S. Ct. 2943 (1978)). ComEd's admission indicates that it viewed Matthews as capable of performing all of the essential function of his position. By admitting that Matthews is a qualified individual with a disability, ComEd recognized that he satisfies the requisite skill and other requirements of his job. See 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(m). This is sufficient to establish he was meeting his employer's legitimate expectations.
Matthews has therefore established his prima facie case and created a rebuttable inference of age discrimination. See Wolf, 77 F.3d at 919. To rebut this inference, ComEd must articulate a non-discriminatory reason for terminating Matthews. Id. ComEd has successfully met its burden by producing evidence of its reduction in force. See Oxman, 846 F.2d at 456 (RIF is a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for termination). To get past summary judgment, Matthews must produce evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that the RIF is a pretext for age discrimination. Wolf, 77 F.3d at 919. Matthews may establish pretext by showing that ComEd was more likely than not motivated by his age, or by establishing that the ComEd's explanation is not credible. Id.
Matthews' only evidence of pretext is his deposition testimony. Matthews testified that after he was fired, "many people" said that he was fired because of his age. (Matthews Dep. at 119.) However, no ComEd official ever indicated that Matthews was fired because of his age. Id. In fact, the people who said Matthews had been fired because of his age were not ComEd employees when they made those comments. Id. at 121. Moreover, none of those individuals ever substantiated the allegations that Matthews was fired because of his age with any evidence. Id.
These comments, made after the termination decision by individuals completely removed from the decision-making process are not evidence of discrimination. See Rush v. McDonald's Corp., 966 F.2d 1104, 1116 (7th Cir. 1992) (remarks must be both related to and contemporaneous with the termination decision to constitute evidence of discriminatory intent); McCarthy v. Kemper Life Ins. Co., 924 F.2d 683, 687 (7th Cir. 1991) (same). Matthews has therefore failed to produced evidence from which a reasonable factfinder could infer that he was terminated him because of his age. Accordingly, ComEd's motion for summary judgment on the ADEA claim is granted.
ComEd's motion for summary judgment on Matthews' ADA and ADEA claims are granted. Matthews' cross-motion for summary judgment on his ADA claim is denied. Entering judgement for defendant. The date for filing any related motions will start to run from the date this Memorandum Opinion and Order is entered.
Ann Claire Williams, Judge
United States District Court
Dated: SEP 30 1996
JUDGMENT IN A CIVIL CASE
Decision by Court. This action came to a hearing before the Court. The issues have been heard and a decision has been rendered.
IT IS ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that pursuant to the court's memorandum opinion and order of September 30, 1996 defendant Commonwealth Edison Company's motion for summary judgment on Matthew's ADA and ADEA claims are granted and plaintiff, JAMES E, MATTHEWS cross-motion for summary judgment on his ADA claim is denied.
September 30, 1996