and was placed on "layoff-recall unlikely" (Ahlborn Affidavit, para. 13).
The Aliquippa Works layoffs were extremely large in both the hourly and salaried work forces. In July, 1981, 6,772 hourly paid employees were actively at work in the plant and only 264 were on layoff. By October, 1982, only 2,464 hourly employees were scheduled to work, while 4,458 were laid off. (Ahlborn Affidavit, para. 8).
The reduction in force among salaried employees was also quite large. As of April 1, 1982, before the layoff at issue in this lawsuit, a total of 936 salaried employees, excluding superintendent level jobs, were permanently assigned to the 18 Aliquippa operating departments. By the end of 1982, 254 salaried employees had been placed on "layoff-recall unlikely" status. In 1983, 54 additional salaried employees were placed on "layoff-recall unlikely" status. (Ahlborn Affidavit, para. 8).
In sum, Plaintiff is but one of the more than 300 salaried employees J&L was forced to lay off in 1982 and 1983. He was placed on layoff in a reduction-in-force which resulted in an absolute reduction in the number of hourly and salaried employees working in their respective departments.
With respect to Plaintiff's individual situation, immediately prior to the reduction in the salaried work force which began in the Spring of 1982, there were eight (8) turn foremen working in the Island department (Ahlborn Affidavit para. 10). In April of 1982, the Island Department Manager was requested to rank his turn foremen according to work performance, and he ranked Plaintiff as one of the foremen least necessary for the continued operation of the department (Ahlborn Affidavit para. 11). Consequently, when J&L found it necessary to lay off Island Department employees, Plaintiff was laid off on May 13, 1982 (Ahlborn Affidavit, para. 13). By October of 1982, there were only two (2) turn foremen, ages 50 and 54, remaining of the eight (8) who had been working in the Island Department prior to the beginning of the layoff (Ahlborn Affidavit para. 15).
Immediately prior to his layoff, Plaintiff had been temporarily transferred to the Aliquippa Works billet conditioning operation as a turn foreman because there was a temporary need for his services in the billet conditioning operation and the Island department could spare him because of a lack of work (Ahlborn Affidavit, para. 12). When the decision was made to reduce permanently the work force in the Island Department, Plaintiff was called back to the Island Department and, on May 13, 1982, was laid off and placed upon the "recall unlikely" list (Ahlborn Affidavit, para. 13).
Based only upon allegations that two "trainees" came into the billet conditioning operations as turn foremen the week after Plaintiff was laid off (Doby Deposition of 6/8/84 at 39), Plaintiff filed a charge of age discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on November 9, 1982 (Doby Deposition of 6/8/84 at 27). His EEOC charge, however, was dismissed (Doby Deposition of 6/8/84 at 33). Plaintiff subsequently brought the present action.
In deciding J&L's Motion for Summary Judgment, the Court must resolve any doubts as to the existence of genuine issues of fact against the moving party and must view all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. U.S. v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S. Ct. 993, , 8 L. Ed. 2d 176 (1962); Hollinger v. Wagner Mining Equipment Co., 667 F.2d 402, 405 (3d Cir. 1981); Ness v. Marshall, 660 F.2d 517, 519 (3d Cir. 1981); Goodman v. Mead Johnson & Co., 534 F.2d 566, 573 (3d Cir 1976), Cert. Denied, 429 U.S. 1038, 97 S. Ct. 732, 50 L. Ed. 2d 748 (1977). Although the Third Circuit has emphasized that summary judgment is a drastic remedy, see Hollinger, 667 F.2d at 405, courts must grant the motion where there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 (c). The establishment of prima facie case of age discrimination does not necessarily defeat a motion for summary judgment. Graham v. F.B. Leopold Company, Inc., 602 F. Supp. 1423 (W.D. Pa. 1985): Pierce v. New Process Co., 580 F. Supp. 1543 (W.D. Pa.), Aff'd Mem., 749 F.2d 27 (3d Cir. 1984); Keller v. Bluemle, 571 F. Supp. 364 (E.D. Pa. 1983), Aff'd without opinion, 735 F.2d 1349 (3d Cir. 1984); Fick v. Canterbury Coal Co., 568 F. Supp. 927 (W.D. Pa. 1983).
The Defendant's burden in seeking summary judgment must be considered in light of the intermediate and ultimate burdens of proof provided for under the ADEA. The Act bars employers from discharging or otherwise discriminating against any individual, age forty to seventy, because of his age, but provides that it is not unlawful to discharge or otherwise discipline an individual for good cause. 29 U.S.C. §§ 623 (a)(1), 623 (f)(3).
Because of the similarity in language and purpose between the ADEA and Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. employees (or former employees, as in the present action) alleging age discrimination are generally held to the same requirements for burden and allocation of proof as those alleging race or sex discrimination. See Texas Department of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 101 S. Ct. 1089, 67 L. Ed. 2d 207 (1981); Massarsky v. General Motors Corp., 706 F.2d 111 (3d Cir. 1983); Smithers v. Bailar, 629 F.2d 892 (3d Cir. 1980). Therefore, in accordance with McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S. Ct. 1817, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668 (1973), the order of proof in this ADEA case requires that Plaintiff establish a prima facie case of age discrimination by proving that: 1.) he is within the protected age group of 40-70 years; 2.) he was subject to adverse employment action; 3.) he was qualified for the positions in question; and 4.) younger employees were treated more favorably. Proof of these facts raises a rebuttable presumption of discrimination which Defendant may counter by presenting a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the employment action. Burdine, 450 U.S. at 254, 101 S. Ct. at 1094.
In the present case, it is undisputed that Plaintiff, age 40, was a member of the protected class and was the object of adverse action. Plaintiff's position, at layoff,
was temporarily filled by two younger employees. Further while there is some dispute about Plaintiff's qualifications for the position at issue, for purposes of this motion this Court concludes that Plaintiff has sufficiently met his burden of showing that he was qualified, thereby establishing a prima facie case.
Defendant must therefore show some "legitimate, non-discriminatory" reason for the layoff decision. Burdine, 450 U.S. at 254, 101 S. Ct. at 1094; Massarsky v. General Motors Corp., 706 F.2d at 118. The test for this intermediate burden of production is whether the employer sets forth admissible evidence permitting the trier of fact rationally to conclude that the employment decision was not motivated by discrimination. Burdine, 450 U.S. at 257, 101 S. Ct. at 1095. J&L's burden is light and the evidence need only raise a factual issue on the motivation for the Plaintiff's lay off. Burdine, 450 U.S. at 254-55, 101 S. Ct. at 1094-95. See also Massarsky, 706 F.2d at 118.
This Court finds that the Defendant employer has met its burden of production. J&L has presented clear, legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for the layoff of Plaintiff. It is undisputed that the reduction in force at J&L's Aliquippa Works was quite large. As of April 1, 1982, before Plaintiff's layoff, a total of 936 salaried employees, excluding superintendent level jobs, were permanently assigned to the 18 Aliquippa operating departments. By the end of 1982, 254 salaried employees had been placed on "layoff-recall unlikely" status. In 1983, 54 additional salaried employees were placed on "layoff-recall unlikely" status (Ahlborn Affidavit, para. 8).
In sum, Plaintiff is but one of more than 300 salaried employees J&L was forced to lay off in 1982 and 1983. He was placed on layoff in a reduction-in-force which resulted in an absolute reduction in the number of hourly and salaried employees working in their respective departments.
Defendant has unequivocally rebutted the presumption of discrimination, and Plaintiff must show that Defendant's reason for the layoff is a pretext, or that evidence exists proving Defendant's discriminatory intent. Graham v. F.B. Leopold Co., Inc., 602 F. Supp. at 1425; McClain v. Mack Trucks, Inc. 532 F. Supp. 486, 489 (E.D. Pa. 1982). See also Nicholson v. Western Electric Co., 555 F. Supp. 3, 8 (M.D.N.C. 1982), Aff'd without op., 701 F.2d 167 (4th Cir. 1983). ("The defendant has met it's burden of articulation. In order for the Plaintiff to survive a motion for summary judgment, he must produce some evidence which would support his claim that Defendant's stated reasons are pretexts and that the actual intent of the Defendant is to discriminate against him because of his age, race or sex ") (emphasis in original).
Plaintiff's intermediate burden to prove pretext merges with his ultimate burden to persuade the court that "but for " the employer's unlawful discrimination, he would not have been discharged. See Burdine, 450 U.S. at 256, 101 S. Ct. at 1095; Keller v. Bluemle, 571 F. Supp at 369.
Plaintiff must only introduce sufficient evidence to create a genuine factual issue concerning the existence of a legitimate justification for the action. Massarsky, 706 F.2d at 118. In Keller v. Bluemle, 571 F. Supp at 369, the court delineated the process by which a plaintiff shows pretext:
In order to avoid summary judgment, plaintiff must adduce facts raising a genuine issue for trial whether defendants proffered reasons for his dismissal were pretexts for age discrimination . . . .
Plaintiff may carry this burden directly by adducing evidence such as age-biased statements by his superiors which might persuade the court that a discriminatory purpose more than likely motivated his employer. See United States Postal Service Bd. of Governors v. Aikens  U.S. , 103 S. Ct. 1478, 1482, 75 L. Ed. 2d 403, quoting Burdine 450 U.S. at 256, 101 S. Ct. at 1095. He may carry this burden indirectly by showing that the employer's proffered explanation for his dismissal should not be believed. Burdine at 256, 101 S. Ct. at 1095.