shifts back to the plaintiff to prove that the employer's stated reason is merely a pretext for discriminatory action. Id.
Finishes concedes that for purposes of summary judgment, Mr. Nelson has established his prima facie case. Finishes has articulated a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for terminating Mr. Nelson. Finishes claims that Mr. Nelson was discharged for lying to management. Therefore, I will only address the last step of the McDonnell-Douglas test.
The burden has shifted back to Mr. Nelson to prove that Finishes' non-discriminatory explanation is pretextual. Mr. Nelson can satisfy his burden by showing "either that a discriminatory reason more likely motivated the employer or that the employer's proffered explanation is unworthy of credence." La Montagne v. American Convenience Prods. Inc., 750 F.2d 1405, 1409 (7th Cir. 1984) (emphasis omitted).
Mr. Nelson points to several facts as proof of illegitimate motive. First, he claims that in the seven months from his hiring to his injury, he was promoted, received two pay increases, and was never disciplined. However, "to show pretext, it does not help for [Mr. Nelson] to repeat the proof that his job performance was generally satisfactory. . . . The Company advanced specific reasons for his discharge, and his rebuttal evidence should be focused on them." Aungst v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 937 F.2d 1216, 1223 (7th Cir. 1991). Thus, Mr. Nelson's satisfactory performance does not create an issue of material fact as to pretext. See, e.g., id. (evidence that plaintiff received a merit pay increase and a letter of recommendation shortly before his discharge was irrelevant to proving pretext where it did not respond to the employer's reasons for terminating him); La Montagne, 750 F.2d at 1414 (evidence that plaintiff received regular salary increases and a recent bonus, along with a letter from one of the employer's directors stating that plaintiff's prospects were good were irrelevant to prove that the proffered reason for his firing was pretextual).
Mr. Nelson claims that the ostensible reason for firing him was that he spilled paint, but that another employee who had caused a much larger spill was not disciplined. There is no evidence, other than Mr. Nelson's statement, that another employee spilled paint and was not disciplined. Mr. Nelson has not identified the other employee. Furthermore, this argument does not address Finishes' statement of its reason for terminating him: that he lied to management about his mistake in filling the # 1 mill on February 2, 1995.
Mr. Nelson claims that his locker was vandalized and had vulgar graffiti on it directed at him. Presumably, if those responsible for his termination were the ones who vandalized his locker, a reasonable juror could infer that the termination decision was pretextual. However, Mr. Nelson does not claim that any of the persons who were responsible for the decision to discharge him were also responsible for the graffiti. Mr. Nelson claims that Dan Powers and Dale Woodworth harassed him, but neither of these two men were involved in the circumstances surrounding his termination.
Finally, Mr. Nelson claims that he was never told that he was terminated for making false statements. In fact at his deposition, Mr. Nelson testified that he could not remember what reason was given. Mr. Olson testified that he did tell Mr. Nelson that he was being terminated for being dishonest about improperly filling the # 1 mill. He also states that Ms. Cooper, the human resources coordinator, did not tell him he had been fired because of his alleged false statements and stated only that he was fired "based on what [he] had done in the past." That, however, is consistent with the given reason. Finally, Mr. Nelson presents Hank Godshalk's statement that Mr. Nelson "wasn't going to work out" and that there was "nothing to talk about." This evidence also does not prove pretext for although Mr. Godshalk is president of the company, there is no evidence that he knew of the exact reason or was involved in the decision to fire Mr. Nelson. In addition, his statement is not inconsistent with a decision to terminate Mr. Nelson because he lied.
All of the above evidence does not raise the inference that Ms. Godshalk's decision to terminate Mr. Nelson was pretextual. Summary judgment is therefore granted on Count I of Mr. Nelson's complaint.
B. Supplemental State Claims
"The general rule is that, when all federal claims are dismissed before trial, the district court should relinquish jurisdiction over pendent state-law claims rather than resolving them on the merits." Wright v. Associated Ins. Cos., 29 F.3d 1244, 1251 (7th Cir. 1994). Only in unusual circumstances, such as a statute of limitations problem, should a federal court retain jurisdiction over the state law claims. Id.
In this case, because I have ruled in favor of Finishes on Mr. Nelson's ADA claim, there is no longer a federal question pending before this court. Since no unusual circumstances were presented, Mr. Nelson's state law claims are dismissed.
For the foregoing reasons, defendants' motion for summary judgment as to Count I of Mr. Nelson's complaint is granted. All of the remaining state law claims in Counts II through VI are dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
Elaine E. Bucklo
United States District Judge
Dated: October 31, 1997