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Hunt v. JP Morgan Chase & Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

January 19, 2017

KEVIN HUNT, Plaintiff,
JP MORGAN CHASE & CO., Defendant.


          Robert W. Gettleman United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Kevin Hunt has sued his former employer, JP Morgan Chase & Co., alleging that defendant failed to rehire him as a Branch Sales Center Lending Manager (“BSC Lending Manager”) because of his age, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. Defendant has moved for summary judgment. For the reasons described below, defendant's motion is granted.


         Plaintiff, a sixty year-old male, began working for defendant as a mortgage consultant in July 2001. By all accounts he was an excellent employee and was promoted to Lead Mortgage Consultant and then Senior Lead Mortgage Consultant. In January 2008, he was promoted to Lending Manager at defendant's Branch Sales Center (“BSC”) in Downers Grove, Illinois. As a BSC Lending Manager, plaintiff worked in a call center managing mortgage bankers who worked with personal bankers, branch managers, and district managers who did not have mortgage bankers within their district to originate mortgages.

         In October 2011, defendant's Vice President Eric Andrews-Sharer promoted plaintiff to BSC Senior Lending Manager. Plaintiff was 55 years-old at that time. As a BCS Senior Lending Manager, plaintiff oversaw a team of three lending managers who, in turn, each supervised a team of mortgage bankers.

         In April 2012, Andrews-Sharer told plaintiff that defendant wanted to grow the Consumer Direct Department and that Andrews-Sharer wanted plaintiff to head a Consumer Direct Department at Downers Grove. In May 2012 plaintiff became a Consumer Direct Lending Manager in the new Consumer Direct Department. “Consumer Direct” is a call center staffed with mortgage bankers and lending managers who were contacted directly by consumers inquiring about a mortgage. Plaintiff oversaw a team of mortgage bankers who answered incoming calls from consumers.

         In June 2013, afer a downturn in the market, defendant closed the Consumer Direct Department. Plaintiff became a Retail Lending Manager. Andrews-Sharer found the position for plaintiff through his connection with the manager of that position. As a Retail Lending Manager, plaintiff oversaw mortgage bankers who sat in 14 different retail bank branches, and worked with personal bankers to originate mortgage applications for both purchases and refinances.

         In February 2014, plaintiff was laid-off as part of a reduction in force (“RIF”) due to a market turn and downsize of the company. Plaintiff was placed on “talent reassignment, ” a program through which defendant assists laid-off employees with finding another position with defendant. Plaintiff was 59 years-old at that time.

         In April 2014, a BSC Lending Manager position became available. Plaintiff applied for that position. Plaintiff first interviewed with Senior Lending Managers Scott Neri and Thomas Croy, and then with Andrews-Sharer, the ultimate decision maker. Neri and Croy recommended two candidates to Andrews-Sharer. According to Croy, who claims not to have had hiring authority, plaintiff was his first choice, and 37 year-old Robby Kane was his second choice. It is undisputed that plaintiff was Neri's first choice, but neither Neri's nor Croy's recommendations were documented.

         Andrews-Sharer interviewed both plaintiff and Kane and determined that plaintiff was the more qualified. He offered the position to plaintiff and plaintiff signed an acceptance letter on June 4, 2014. The offer was contingent on plaintiff passing defendant's required pre-employment screening, consisting of a criminal background check and regulatory credit review. Plaintiff failed the regulatory credit review because he had nine accounts in collection that were delinquent over 90 days. Plaintiff attempted to supply mitigating circumstances, but defendant's Global Security & Investigation Department determined that plaintiff's explanations did not qualify as mitigating circumstances and, as a result, plaintiff's offer was revoked. Neither Andrews-Sharer nor Neri had any involvement in the screening process, and neither had authority to alter the decision to revoke the offer. As a result, Kane was offered the position.

         In late 2014 or early 2015 another BCS Lending Manager position became available. Once again plaintiff applied and interviewed with both Croy and Neri. Neri and Andrews-Sharer were the hiring managers for the position. Croy provided input. Plaintiff claims that he first interviewed with Croy alone, and then Neri joined them. While alone with Croy, plaintiff claims that Croy stated to him “I'm almost 50 and I barely have enough energy to do the job myself, I know you are a lot older than I am. How are you at your age going to have the energy to do this job?” Both Croy and Neri deny that Croy was ever alone with plaintiff, and Croy denies making the statement. Croy also stated in his deposition that plaintiff was his first choice and that he told both Neri and Andrews-Sharer that.

         Neri and Croy interviewed both plaintiff and Stacy Kopecky, a Retail Lending Manager who had not been in the pool of candidates for the earlier 2014 position originally offered to plaintiff. Neri testified that he considered Kopecky to be the number one candidate with plaintiff number two, and told Andrews-Sharer that. Andrews-Sharer then interviewed Kopecky. Andrews-Sharer claims that he also interviewed plaintiff, but plaintiff says Andrews-Sharer did not conduct a third round interview with him. Andrews-Sharer offered the position to Kopecky, claiming that he liked her retail experience, hoping that she would help develop business. Kopecky was approximately 40 years-old at that time.


         Defendant has moved for summary judgment on plaintiff's claim. Summary judgment is appropriate when “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The movant bears the burden of establishing both elements, Becker v. Tenebaum-Hill Associates, Inc., 914 F.2d 107, 110 (7th Cir. 1990), and all reasonable inferences are drawn in the non-movant's favor. Fisher v. Transco Services - Milwaukee, Inc., 979 F.2d 1239, 1242 (7th Cir. 1992). If the movant satisfies its burden, then the non-movant must set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. Nitz v. Craig, 2013 WL 593851, *2 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 12, 2013). In doing so, the non-movant cannot simply show some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. Pignato v. Givaudan Flavors Corp., 2013 WL 995157, *2 (N.D. Ill. March 13, 2013) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith ...

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