refutes the fact that he was the least qualified by referring to the testimony of firefighter Szarek, who stated that defendants enrolled him in the course despite his marginally passing pre-test score of 79. Plaintiff also asserts that he would not have retired had he been promoted to paramedic duties. He claims that he indicated a desire to retire only after the Department had repeatedly refused to enroll him in the program.
It is uncontested, however, that Szarek was the most senior conditional employee at the time the Department enrolled him in the course, and thus the Department was contractually required to send him to the paramedic training program. Further, the only other employee whom plaintiff referred to in his brief was firefighter Lyons. Defendants contend that Lyons was enrolled in the course because he received a passing score, not a marginally passing score, on his pre-test. Thus, while defendant is correct that some of the evidence indicates that plaintiff was not as qualified as other firefighters who were enrolled in the course, for purposes of this motion, the court will assume that Szarek and plaintiff were similarly situated and, based on that assumption, plaintiff can establish a prima facie case.
Giving plaintiff that assumption, however, does not defeat defendants' motion because defendants have "clearly set forth, through the introduction of admissible evidence, the [non-discriminatory] reasons for the plaintiff's rejection." Texas Dep't of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 254, 101 S. Ct. 1089, 1094, 67 L. Ed. 2d 207 (1981). Defendants assert that they refused to enroll plaintiff in the course because he had indicated a desire to retire and was therefore less likely to realize the cost of the training over the remaining duration of his employment. As noted previously, when assessing various candidates for paramedic training, the Department, consistent with its contract with the Firefighters Association, considers the amortization of the cost of the training over the candidate's expected additional years of service and, among other facts, the best interests of the Department.
In response, plaintiff contends that he would not have retired had he been promoted to paramedic duties. He claims that he indicated a desire to retire only after the department had repeatedly refused to enroll him in the program. The undisputed facts of this case, however, tell a different story. In November 1991, at least four months before plaintiff submitted his first paramedic training request, plaintiff indicated that his goals for the following evaluation period consisted entirely of "Health, Wealth, and Retirement." While this statement does not constitute an application for retirement, defendants could - and did -- reasonably conclude that it is a statement of an intention to retire in the near future. This conclusion was strengthened by the fact that plaintiff waited twenty years before indicating any intent to participate in the paramedic training program. After reviewing plaintiff's pre-test score and the amortization of the cost of training someone who planned on retiring in the near future, defendants reasonably decided not to enroll plaintiff in the course.
In response to defendants' articulated reasons for refusing to enroll plaintiff in the course, plaintiff must demonstrate that the proffered reason was not the true reason for the employment decision. "This burden now merges with the ultimate burden of persuading the court that [he] has been the victim of intentional discrimination. [He] may succeed in this either by directly persuading the court that a discriminatory reason more likely motivated the employer or indirectly by showing that the employer's proffered explanation is unworthy of credence." Burdine, 450 U.S. at 256, 101 S. Ct. at 1095.
Plaintiff refers to two statements made by defendant Kramer to show that the Department's proffered reasons were a pretext for age discrimination. First, plaintiff refers to the testimony of Ed Weiler, who heard Kramer state that he was not going to enroll Plaintiff in the paramedic training course because "they wanted to send someone younger that hadn't been on the job so long, that would be around for a while to do the department some good." Plaintiff next refers to the testimony of Daniel Meyer, who heard Kramer at a different time state that plaintiff "would not be sent because he's been around here too long."
Even when these statements are considered, however, the facts of this case do not establish that defendants' decision not to enroll plaintiff in the paramedic program was based on age bias. In Hazen Paper Co., the Supreme Court held that a defendant's proffered reason can be closely related or correlated with the employee's age, so long as it does not incorporate or infer any inaccurate or stigmatizing stereotypes. 507 U.S. at 609, 113 S. Ct. at 1705. The court finds that Kramer's statements, taken in the light most favorable to plaintiff, neither indicate that age motivated defendants nor show that the Department was lying when it provided its reasons for refusing to enroll plaintiff in the training course.
Like the Hazen employer's decision to terminate an older employee to prevent his pension from vesting, these statements create no inference of age bias but instead indicate that defendants were motivated by an economic reason, correlated with age. Defendants based their decision on the Department's need to select employees who "would be around for a while" and could therefore justify the cost of the training over the duration of their employment as a paramedic. In fact, given this reason, the Department most likely would have refused to send any employee, regardless of age, who indicated an intention to terminate his employment with the Department in the near future. In considering plaintiff's possible future years of service as a paramedic, defendants had to consider plaintiff's 1991 goal of "Health, Wealth, and Retirement" as well as his subsequent written application for retirement in May 1993.
Because plaintiff has failed to proffer sufficient evidence on which a reasonable jury could conclude that plaintiff was the victim of age discrimination, the court grants defendants' motion for summary judgment on Count I of the complaint.
Because the court has granted summary judgment on Count I, the only claim court has granted summary judgment on Count I, the only claim over which it has original jurisdiction, it declines to extend supplemental jurisdiction over Counts II, IV, and V pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1367(c)(3).
For the foregoing reasons, the court grants defendants motion for summary judgment on Count I of the complaint and dismisses Counts II, IV and V.
ENTER: January 13, 1998
Robert W. Gettleman
United States District Judge