Blue Run, Emsworth Lock and Dam, and Hussey Metals. Defendant also contends that plaintiff "padded" jobs, accrued unnecessary overtime, criticized the company causing employee morale problems, and refused direct orders of his supervisors on the Hussey Metals job. Under the McDonnell Douglas formula, this satisfied defendant's burden which is to come forward with evidence of a legitimate business reason for the adverse action. See Burdine, 450 U.S. at 254-55.
Plaintiff now attempts to resist summary judgment by raising a material issue of fact for trial. Plaintiff disputes the defendant's proferred legitimate reasons for the dismissal by offering the following indirect evidence of "pretext":
1. Plaintiff had a long history with the company and was the most experienced driller at the time of his discharge.
2. He was always given the toughest jobs.
3. He was given no warning of discharge or reprimand.
4. He was a "company man" and acted in the best interests of the company over time.
5. While plaintiff agrees that there were poor results on the three jobs cited by defendant, plaintiff states that these were due to problems beyond his control such as seepage and flooding, equipment failures, river traffic, as well as adverse soil conditions.
6. Plaintiff said he complained from time to time about equipment failures and problems with safety and dangerous conditions.
7. Plaintiff believes that Tom Sturges, President of the Company and a much younger man, fired him because Sturges generally lacked experience and felt that he (Sturges) could not control plaintiff due to plaintiff's broad experience, years of service with the company, and association with Sturges' father. See Sorba deposition and Plaintiff's Answers to Defendant's Interrogatories.
Plaintiff has the burden of proving that age was a determinative factor in his discharge by a preponderance of the evidence. Duffy v. Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp., 738 F.2d 1393 (3d Cir. 1984), cert. denied 469 U.S. 1087, 105 S. Ct. 592, 83 L. Ed. 2d 702 (1984); Smith v. Flax, 618 F.2d 1062 (4th Cir. 1980). In order to survive summary judgment, plaintiff must produce sufficient evidence to show a material factual issue. There is no dispute that plaintiff had a long history with the company. Nor is there any dispute about his experience. Furthermore, plaintiff does not dispute that the last three jobs plaintiff worked on for the company produced poor results. Rather, he says these results were not his fault. This, however, is irrelevant. Even if plaintiff performed admirably under the most adverse of circumstances, yet defendant held him responsible for the poor results or, in the alternative, merely fired plaintiff as a scapegoat, this does not establish an ADEA violation. See Miller v. General Electric Company, 562 F. Supp. 610, 617 (E.D. Pa. 1983) (an employer's reasons for discharge may be subjective, short-sighted and narrow minded as long as age is not a determinative factor.) Moreover, if we accept everything the plaintiff says as true, this would lead to the conclusion that plaintiff was fired because the boss felt that plaintiff was too independent for the boss to control. This does not establish age discrimination. Taken as a whole, we do not find that plaintiff's circumstantial evidence establishes a reasonable inference that defendant fired him because of his age. A mere assertion, conjecture, or speculation by the plaintiff is not sufficient to establish a material factual dispute. Summary judgment will be granted in favor of defendant.
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