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CLAVERIA v. FIELD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

June 10, 2004.

ROBERTO CLAVERIA, an individual; and ROBERT FRENCH, an individual, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE FIELD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES KOCORAS, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the court on the motions of Defendant Field Museum of Natural History ("the museum") for summary judgment of the claims of Plaintiffs Roberto Claveria and Robert French. For the reasons set forth below, the motions are granted.

BACKGROUND

  Claveria (born March 11, 1926) is a former employee of the museum; French (born December 25, 1927) is a current employee. At the time of the events at issue, both were employed as security guards in the museum's freight elevator and shipping area. At that time, Claveria and French worked 32 and 24 hours a week, respectively. Although he began at the museum as a full-time guard, French reduced his hours because of restrictions placed on him by his physician for diabetes and breathing problems brought on by asthma and emphysema.

  In January 2002, Jeff Hawkins, Senior Manager of Protection Services at the museum, informed French and Claveria that the museum was installing an electronic keycard security system on the freight elevator. As a result of the change, it was no longer necessary to place a security guard at the post that Claveria and French had occupied.

  Hawkins offered both Claveria and French an "on-call" position, meaning that they would be contacted if another security guard could not report to work or if the museum had a need for extra security for special events and the like. Neither Claveria nor French was willing to take the "on-call" offer, and both asked whether there were any regular positions that they could take instead. Hawkins replied that there were no positions available aside from the "on-call" slots.

  Undaunted, French wrote two letters to the museum requesting that he be considered for a full-time position. He also provided the museum with a note from his doctor, lifting his previous restrictions. Approximately three months after the date of the note, French was offered a full-time position as a security guard, which he still holds. Claveria inquired of Hawkins about the possibility of his staying on at the museum "on the floor", once in January and again in August 2002, immediately prior to his termination. Both times, Hawkins informed Claveria that his employment was going to be terminated, and by implication indicated that he would not be hired "on the floor."

  Both Claveria and French filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and both received notices of their right to sue. Each timely filed suit against the museum.*fn1 Claveria alleged discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq., and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. French alleged discrimination under the ADEA as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12102, et seq. The parties have completed discovery, and the museum moves for summary judgment on all claims of both plaintiffs.

  LEGAL STANDARD

  Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party bears the initial burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (1986). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to show through specific evidence that a triable issue of fact remains on issues on which the nonmovant bears the burden of proof at trial. Id. The nonmovant may not rest upon mere allegations in the pleadings or upon conclusory statements in affidavits; it must go beyond the pleadings and support its contentions with proper documentary evidence. Id. The court considers the record as a whole and draws all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000). A genuine issue of material fact exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). With these principles in mind, we address the motions before us.

  DISCUSSION

  A. Claveria's Claims

  1. Age Discrimination in Violation of the ADEA

  Claveria has not offered any direct evidence of age discrimination. Instead, he proceeds under the indirect McDonnell-Douglas method. In a typical ADEA case under the indirect method, a plaintiff must first surpass the threshold of the prima facie elements. They are membership within the protected group (persons 40 years of age and older), satisfactory job performance, an adverse employment action, and replacement by a similarly situated individual who is not within the protected class. Balderston v. Fairbanks Morse Engine Div. of Coltec Industries, 328 F.3d 309, 321 (7th Cir. 2003). In Claveria's case, which involves a reduction in force ("RIF"), the fourth factor is altered slightly because the employer decides who to re-hire or retain from a defined group of existing employees, thus narrowing the potential pool of similarly situated individuals. Id. To withstand summary judgment on an ADEA claim in the RIF context, a plaintiff must ...


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