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Shaffer v. American Medical Association

April 19, 2010

WILLIAM SHAFFER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve United States District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

AMY J. ST. EVE, District Court Judge

Before the Court is Defendant American Medical Association's ("AMA") motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff William Shaffer's two-count complaint, which alleges violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") and Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendant's summary judgment motion.

BACKGROUND

I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

When determining summary judgment motions, the Court derives the background facts from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 statements. Specifically, Local Rule 56.1 assists the Court by "organizing the evidence, identifying undisputed facts, and demonstrating precisely how each side propose[s] to prove a disputed fact with admissible evidence." Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000). Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009). "The opposing party is required to file 'a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, part of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.'" Id. (citing N.D. Ill. R. 56.1(b)(3)(B)). In addition, Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) requires the nonmoving party to present a separate statement of additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment. See Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008). Pursuant to the Local Rules, the Court will not consider any additional facts proposed in the nonmoving party's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) Response, but instead must rely on the non-movant's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) Statement of Additional Facts when making factual determinations. See id. at 643; Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., L.L.C., 401 F.3d 803, 809 (7th Cir. 2005) ("Local Rule 56.1 requires specifically that a litigant seeking to oppose a motion for summary judgment file a response that contains a separate 'statement . of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment.'") (emphasis in original).

Moreover, the purpose of Rule 56.1 statements is to identify the relevant evidence supporting the material facts, not to make factual or legal arguments, see Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 2006), and thus the Court will not address the parties' arguments made in their Rule 56.1 statements and responses. Also, the requirements for responses under Local Rule 56.1 are "not satisfied by evasive denials that do not fairly meet the substance of the material facts asserted." Bordelon, 233 F.3d at 528. Further, the Court may disregard statements and responses that do not properly cite to the record. See Cichon, 401 F.3d at 809-10. Finally, "hearsay is inadmissible in summary judgment proceedings to the same extent that it is inadmissible in a trial." Eisenstadt v. Centel Corp., 113 F.3d 738, 742 (7th Cir. 1997). With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts of the case.

II. Relevant Facts

A. The Parties

Defendant AMA is a not-for-profit-professional-membership organization whose mission is to promote medicine and public health. (R. 49, Def.'s Statement of Material Facts at ¶ 2.) Plaintiff Shaffer is a seventy-three-year-old former employee of Defendant. (R. 54, Pl.'s Statement of Additional Facts at ¶ 1.)

B. Shaffer's Employment at the AMA

Defendant hired Plaintiff Shaffer as a speech writer in 1999, when Shaffer was sixty-three years old. (R. 49, Def.'s Statement of Facts at ¶ 8; R. 54, Pl.'s Statement of Additional Facts at ¶ 4.) Plaintiff voluntarily resigned later in 1999, but Defendant hired Plaintiff to be a speech writer as a contract employee in 2001. (R. 49, Def.'s Statement of Facts at ¶ 9; R. 54, Pl.'s Statement of Additional Facts at ¶ 4.) Defendant hired Plaintiff as a full-time contract employee in 2004, when Plaintiff was sixty-eight years old. (R. 49, Def.'s Statement of Facts at ¶ 9; R. 54, Pl.'s Statement of Additional Facts at ¶ 4.) Michael Lynch, Vice President of AMA's twenty-employee External Communications Group, approved a $110,000 salary for Plaintiff in 2005, and later that year Lynch hired Plaintiff as AMA's Director of Leadership Communications, a full-time position within the External Communications Group. (R. 49, Def.'s Statement of Facts at ¶¶ 6, 10, 15; R. 54, Pl.'s Statement of Additional Facts at ¶ 5.)

As Director of Leadership Communications, Plaintiff handled the AMA's speech writing and media relations and supervised a staff of one administrative assistant and three speech writers, all of whom had lower salaries than he had. (R. 49, Def.'s Statement of Facts at ¶¶ 6-7; R. 54, Pl.'s Statement of Additional Facts at ¶ 8.) Lynch believed that Plaintiff had greater qualifications and more experience than the other speech writers. (R. 54, Pl.'s Statement of Additional Facts at ¶ 34.) Plaintiff was also responsible for assigning speech-writing projects, approving final speeches, developing speaking venues, organizing training for speakers, developing a website, and, occasionally, delegating writing assignments for print media. (R. 49, Def.'s Statement of Facts at ¶ 7.)

C. Changes at the AMA

In May or June 2008, Marietta Parenti, AMA's Chief Marketing Officer who supervises a number of managers including Lynch, met with Lynch to discuss areas that she believed were under- or over-staffed. (R. 49, Def.'s Statement of Material Facts at ¶¶ 5, 11.) Parenti stated that Defendant did not need four speech writers and specifically identified Plaintiff Shaffer as an employee who was disengaged and had a flippant attitude when she first met him. (Id. at ¶ 11.) Lynch then met with Shaffer to explain Parenti's concern that the AMA had too many speech writers and to urge Shaffer to find a way to make the speech writers' work visible and valued. (Id. at ¶ 12; R. 54, Pl.'s Statement of Additional Facts at ¶ 31.)

In August 2008, AMA management prepared the first draft of the 2009 budget, which anticipated reduced revenue of approximately $10 million and expenses that were roughly $43 million above their targeted levels. (R. 49, Def.'s Statement of Facts at ¶ 13.) Defendant asked all of its departments to reduce their 2009 budgets to a level at least 3% lower than their 2008 levels. (Id.) In response, Lynch initially did not plan to eliminate any positions to reduce his budget, but he instead reduced his budget by eliminating an annual conference. (Id. at ¶ 14.)

After Defendant AMA's September 2008 board meeting, however, Parenti directed her staff to consider all available options to further reduce budgets, including by eliminating positions. (Id. at ¶ 15.)

On October 28, 2008, Parenti emailed Lynch to request his recommendation "re elimination of Bill Shaffer's position." (R. 55, Pl.'s Appx. Exs. 1, 2.) Lynch responded by indicating that if it were necessary to eliminate a position, he was leaning toward that of Communications Campaign Manager Peter Friedman because his responsibilities had drastically changed, and the AMA had eliminated one of the core campaigns for which he was responsible.

(R. 49, Def.'s Statement of Facts at ¶ 16; R. 54, Pl.'s Statement of Additional Facts at ¶ 9.) Specifically, Lynch responded later that day, in part, that "I do not think cutting additional positions beyond [Peter Friedman's], is in my team's, our work or the AMA's best interest." (R. 55, Pl.'s Appx. Exs. 1, 2.) Soon thereafter, at Defendant's important November 6-8 interim meeting, Lynch had to fill-in for Plaintiff as the speech-writing manager. (R. 49, Def.'s Statement of Material Facts at ¶ 19.)

Plaintiff claims that at a dinner on November 8 or 9, 2008, Plaintiff commented that he was really "into" the 1970s rock group REO Speedwagon, and Lynch responded, "With you it would have been more like Al Jolson or Bing Crosby."*fn1 (R. 54, Pl.'s Statement of Additional Facts at ΒΆ 38.) On November 20, 2008, Plaintiff notified Defendant's representative and Lynch that he intended to take short-term disability leave for a knee surgery that was scheduled for January 12, 2009. (Id. ...


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