The opinion of the court was delivered by: BUCKLO
The plaintiffs, Roosevelt Williams and Roman Candir are suing defendant, Imperial Eastman Acquisition Corporation ("Imperial"), for age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. Mr. Candir also alleges disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. Imperial now moves for summary judgment on the merits of the claims, or in the alternative, on the plaintiffs' claims for back pay and/or front pay. For the reasons set forth below, Imperial's motion is granted in part and denied in part.
Mr. Williams and Mr. Candir worked in the quality assurance department of Imperial's Niles facility at the time of their layoffs. They claim that they were laid off because of their age. At the time of the layoff, they were 46 and 56 respectively. In addition, Mr. Candir claims that Imperial laid him off because of his disability: an alleged bad back.
Plaintiffs' last days of work were at the end of March, 1993. From that date, Mr. Williams and Mr. Candir received severance pay until September 29, 1993 and September 26, 1993, respectively.
Imperial manufactures a variety of products, including valves, fittings, and component assemblies for pneumatic and fluid control applications as well as tools to flare and cut pipes or tubes. In January, 1993, Imperial implemented a reorganization and a reduction-in-force plan at its Niles facility. As a result of the reorganization, most positions in the quality assurance department were eliminated.
Seven individuals were originally selected for termination in the quality assurance department: plaintiffs as well as James Sykes (52), Faiz Shakir (47), Walter Kocol (35), Alvin Hoskins (34), and Karen Whalen (32). They were all hourly or salaried, non-exempt employees.
In conjunction with its reorganization effort, Imperial sought to achieve ISO 9000 certification at the Niles facility. The International Organization for Standardization created the ISO 9000 standard as the standard for products traded across international borders. ISO 9000 certification requires exhaustive documentation of manufacturing operations and processes, and intimate knowledge of rigid criteria.
Three employees were hired as part of the reorganization and the ISO 9000 certification. All three were under the age of 40.
There are two ways to prove age discrimination: through direct proof of discrimination or through the indirect, burden shifting method of proof established in McDonnell-Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668, 93 S. Ct. 1817 (1973). See Hartley v. Wisconsin Bell, Inc., 124 F.3d 887, 1997 WL 545872, *1 (7th Cir. 1997). Mr. Williams and Mr. Candir seek to prove age discrimination in this case under the indirect burden-shifting method.
Under the McDonnell-Douglas approach, Mr. Williams and Mr. Candir must first present a prima facie case of discriminatory discharge. Schultz v. General Elec. Capital Corp., 37 F.3d 329, 333 (7th Cir. 1994). If they succeed in establishing a prima facie case, the burden shifts to Imperial to articulate a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for the discharge. Id. If Imperial articulates such a ...