that Plaintiff was not qualified to do the work she was doing.
As to the fourth prong, Plaintiff does not clearly articulate whether she believes this case should be analyzed as a reduction-in-force case or a typical termination case. The Court finds that the facts as alleged by Plaintiff can only support analysis under the RIF scenario.
In her deposition and a questionnaire filed with Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission, Plaintiff acknowledges that her position was eliminated. Plaintiff presents no evidence suggesting that her position at Corporate Headquarters was ever filled by someone else after Plaintiff's termination. This factual scenario is precisely the factual scenario to which the RIF analysis applies. Thus, although Plaintiff asserts that she has made a prima facie case because she was replaced by someone younger, the only plausible meaning which can be attributed to Plaintiff's statement is that her duties were undertaken by a younger person who was already employed by Alpo. This is not the definition of "replacement". In all cases where a position is eliminated duties are transferred to another employee. If Plaintiff's definition of replacement were correct all reduction-in-force cases would become typical termination cases. Plaintiff's definition of replacement would obliterate any need for a differing analysis for RIF cases and the typical termination case. Because Plaintiff admits that her position was one of several which were eliminated, the Court finds the RIF analysis to be appropriate.
Under the RIF scenario, Plaintiff must show that similarly situated younger employees were treated more favorably than Plaintiff. Defendant asserts that the relevant class is all employees in the Corporate Finance department whose positions were decentralized pursuant to the recommendations of the independent consulting firm. Clearly if this is the relevant class, younger similarly situated individuals were not treated any better on the whole than Plaintiff. Plaintiff does not dispute that the positions of two other senior account clerks were terminated as a result of decentralization, both of whom were younger than she. Furthermore one of the four women retained is within the protected class. The fact that some younger women were retained while Plaintiff was not is insufficient to establish a prima facie case of employment discrimination. Courts have repeatedly held that ADEA shall not be construed to suggest that employees are entitled to a preference for age. Barnes v. GenCORP., 896 F.2d 1457, 1469 (6th Cir.)(an employer has no duty under ADEA to transfer employee to another position or displace workers with less seniority when employee's position is eliminated as part of a work force reduction), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 878, 112 L. Ed. 2d 171, 111 S. Ct. 211 (1990); Stacey v. Allied Stores Corp., 247 U.S. App. D.C. 285, 768 F.2d 402, 408 (D.C.Cir. 1985)(no requirement under ADEA that an employer must place in another position an employee whose age brings him or her within the ADEA protective class when that employee is being terminated for nondiscriminatory reasons.)
Plaintiff has indirectly argued that the class of employees similarly situated consists of persons performing her duties and that Defendant discriminated by eliminating her position rather than someone else's. Plaintiff's argument fails because Defendant eliminated the positions of Duncan and Horn, both of whom were younger than Plaintiff. Additionally, the decision as to which positions should be decentralized is intrinsically a business decision. A business assessment that the review of Crete invoices is most efficiently performed at the branch level is plausible and well within the realm of permissible business decisions with which the Court will not interfere. See Ezold v. Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen, 983 F.2d 509 (3d Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 114 S. Ct. 88, 126 L. Ed. 2d 56, 1993 WL 232494 (U.S. Oct 4, 1993).
For the foregoing reasons the Court finds that Plaintiff has not established that she was treated less favorably than similarly situated employees. Thus, the Court finds that Plaintiff has not established a prima facie case. However, even if a prima facie had been established, the Court finds that Alpo has successfully articulated a nondiscriminatory basis for Plaintiff's termination and Plaintiff has not presented any factual evidence which casts doubt as to the credibility of those articulated reasons.
B. ALPO's Legitimate Nondiscriminatory Reason
Alpo produced evidence that outside consultants were brought into the firm in August of 1991 in order to analyze Alpo's performance relative to its competitors in various administrative areas including the Corporate Finance Department. The outside consultant reported that the Corporate Finance staff at Alpo was 29% larger than the median staff of the competitors. The overstaffing was attributed to redundancies in staffing. Functions performed at the branches in Crete, Nebraska and Decatur, Alabama were being duplicated at the Corporate Headquarters in Allentown. One particular redundancy involved the tasks assigned to Plaintiff. Internal reviewers found that employees in the Crete plant reviewed invoices against purchase orders, contacted vendors with questions concerning the invoices and obtained plant management approval to pay the invoices. Invoices were then sent to Corporate Headquarters where many of the same tasks were repeated by Plaintiff, Mary Duncan and Paula Horn, a part time employee.
Alpo decided to decentralize the positions of those employees who processed the Crete invoices to the branch office and terminate the employees who had filled these positions in order to reduce the size of the Corporate Finance staff and improve efficiency.
C. Evidence of Pretext
Plaintiff must now demonstrate that the Defendant's proffered reason was not the true reason for the decision to terminate. Burdine, 450 U.S. at 254-56. As the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has noted, "[a] plaintiff has the burden of casting doubt on an employer's articulated reasons for an employment decision. Without some evidence to cast this doubt, this court will not interfere in an otherwise valid management decision. To require less would be to expose to litigation every management decision impacting on a protected party." Billet v. Cigna Corp., 940 F.2d at 828.
The bulk of Plaintiff's pretext argument consists of the following statement:
The Defendant contends that the conclusion of these studies was that Alpo would need to reduce significantly its Finance staff in order to attain a competitive position. The unstated conclusion must be that the nondiscriminatory reasons for the termination is that her elimination and that of another clerk will boost the defendant corporate giant into a competitive market position. The credibility of such reasoning must be questioned and such question must be resolved in favor of the plaintiff.
Plaintiff also alludes to the fact Defendant may have been motivated to terminate Plaintiff rather than another employee because Plaintiff had a larger salary and Defendant would save more money by terminating her. Plaintiff states "it was cheaper to get rid of [me] and give [my] responsibilities to a less expensive younger employee. The rest was part of the ruse."
Neither of these statements sustain Plaintiff's burden of proof. Conclusory allegations, insinuation or innuendo do not satisfy the Plaintiff's burden of presenting rebuttal evidence. Naas, 818 F. Supp. at 880. Allegations that Defendant terminated a more expensive employee does not constitute evidence of age discrimination. Termination of a more expensive employee where a less expensive employee can do the job is a legitimate business decision.
Plaintiff has not addressed the specific reasons for termination articulated by Defendant nor has she pointed to a single fact which would cast doubt on the legitimacy of Defendant's stated reasons for the termination. Because Plaintiff has not established a prima facie case nor put forth evidence casting doubt on the veracity of Defendant's articulated reasons for the termination, Plaintiff has failed to carry her burden of proof with respect to Defendant's motion for summary judgment. Accordingly, Defendant is entitled to summary judgment.
For the reasons stated above, I shall grant Defendant's motion for summary judgment. An appropriate order follows.
Daniel H. Huyett, 3rd, Judge
Upon consideration of Defendant's motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff's response, Defendant's reply and for the reasons stated in the accompanying Memorandum:
Defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED. Judgment will be entered in favor of Defendant and against Plaintiff.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Daniel H. Huyett, 3rd, Judge