by seven "team leaders" in the CMC. Plaintiff was not selected as
one of the team leaders; therefore, she was discharged.
The essence of a RIF is that fewer employees are doing the work
that has to be done. Sapp's assumption of Plaintiff's duties in
addition to her own job is consistent with a RIF. That is not to
say that a RIF automatically insulates an employer from
challenges of age discrimination. Clearly, discriminatory changes
may occur in the context of an overall reduction in force. See
Samuelson v. Durkee, 760 F. Supp. 729, 736 (N.D.Ind. 1991),
aff'd, 976 F.2d 1111 (7th Cir. 1992). Nevertheless, Plaintiff
must raise at least an inference that the employer would not have
discharged her "but for" her age. Testerman, 98 F.3d at 304.
The mere fact that a younger employee is retained in a RIF while
an older employee is discharged is not enough to create an
inference of age discrimination. Wallace, 103 F.3d at 1398.
Thus, the fact that Sapp managed the OEP department on a
temporary basis does not imply that Colwell discriminated against
Plaintiff on the basis of age. A plaintiff must do more to
survive summary judgment than show that she was discharged in a
RIF while substantially younger employees were retained. Id.
Here, Plaintiff has failed to do that.
Because Azman and Sweeney knew that the OEP department would
continue to exist after April 1995, Plaintiff contends that they
should have reinstated Plaintiff's position and rehired Plaintiff
to fill that position. Sweeney stated that they considered doing
that and decided against it. Instead, the company moved forward
with its efforts to install the new technology. Decision-making
by an employer — even if it exhibits poor business judgment — is
not sufficient to establish pretext. See Pitasi, 184 F.3d at
718. The Court cannot infer age discrimination from Colwell's
In this case, Plaintiff's position was eliminated pursuant to a
bona fide reorganization and RIF. Plaintiff presented no
evidence that her position was ever reinstated. The failure of
the technology to work at the Champaign facility does not create
an inference that the Plaintiff was discharged because of her
age. See Hoffman v. MCA, Inc., 144 F.3d 1117, 1123 (7th Cir.
1998) (to survive summary judgment, a plaintiff must provide
evidence of at least an inference that the real reason for his
dismissal was discriminatory). Plaintiff has failed to present a
genuine issue of material fact regarding whether Colwell honestly
believed in its articulated reason for discharging her.
Finally, Plaintiff apparently contends that the hiring and job
transfer procedures used in the reorganization imply age
discrimination. Specifically, she states that she was never
seriously considered for any other job because no clear criteria
existed for the team manager's job and the company did not follow
the system for applying for openings.
Unfortunately for Plaintiff, even if this evidence showed that
Colwell did not know how to conduct a reliable selection process,
these flaws do not even hint at age bias. The absence of written
criteria for the selection process, without more, does not
constitute evidence of age discrimination. ADEA does not protect
older employees from erroneous or even arbitrary personnel
decisions, only from decisions that are unlawfully motivated.
Kralman v. Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs,
23 F.3d 150, 157 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 948, 115 S.Ct. 359,
130 L.Ed.2d 313 (1994) (quoting Bienkowski v. American
Airlines, 851 F.2d 1503, 1508 (5th Cir. 1988)); Vitug v.
Multistate Tax Comm'n, 88 F.3d 506, 515 (7th Cir. 1996)
(arbitrariness alone does not constitute discrimination; the
subjective nature of a selection process is not sufficient to
demonstrate that age bias more likely motivated an employer's
decision to terminate an employee). See also Kariotis v.
Navistar International Transportation Corp., 131
986 F.3d 672, 677 (7th Cir. 1997) (finding that plaintiff's "energy
is misspent by attacking the company's decisional process, unless
she can point to facts suggesting that the company investigated
her differently because she was an older employee").
In Diettrich v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 168 F.3d 961,
965-966 (1999), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 120 S.Ct. 48, 145
L.Ed.2d 43 (1999), the plaintiff argued that the interview
process was administered unfairly and to his detriment. He
pointed to evidence that the company never trained the decision
maker to conduct interviews, that the decision maker abandoned
the format set forth in the company's interview guide in favor of
a more variable approach, that he asked the plaintiff different
and "more difficult" questions than he did the other candidates,
that the plaintiff's interview was shorter than other interviews,
and that the decision maker disregarded the plaintiff's resume
and cover letter and did not otherwise elicit information
regarding his extensive work history and experience in sales.
Id. The Seventh Circuit stated as follows:
For all we know, Hinckley [(the decision maker)]
was not impressed with Diettrich [(the plaintiff)]
for any one of a myriad of other, non-actionable
reasons. For example, Hinckley may have decided that
Diettrich was wrong for the job because Hinckley
disliked the clothes Diettrich wore to the interview
or he found Diettrich's conversation boring. If this
were the case (and there is no evidence to suggest
that it is), we might question the good sense of
Northwest's hiring decisions, but we could not hold
Northwest liable for discrimination. To prevail,
Diettrich must provide evidence not only that he was
treated differently, but that he was treated
differently because of his age. This he never did.
Id.; see Richter v. Hook-SupeRx, Inc.,