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MARTIN v. GE

June 28, 1995

ROBERT F. MARTIN
v.
GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. WILLIAM DITTER, JR.

 Ditter, J.

 June 28, 1995

 This action, before me on defendant's motion for summary judgment, derives from plaintiff's being twice laid off from defendant company, General Electric. After the second layoff, plaintiff located another job in the company and received an offer of employment. That offer was later rescinded. Plaintiff's four-count complaint alleges two counts of age discrimination, based on the two layoffs, and one count of unlawful retaliation, based on the rescinded job offer. The fourth count is for damages. For the reasons given below, defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part.

 I. FACTS

 Plaintiff, Robert Martin, began working for General Electric ("GE") in 1966. After receiving his engineering degree, he was involved in the area of quality control. Plaintiff became a manager in 1988. His annual salary had risen to over $ 60,000. In September 1991, when Martin worked in GE's Astro Space Division, business conditions required GE to reduce the size of its workforce and lay off employees. Pursuant to its reduction-in-force policy, GE laid off employees based on their relative rankings on a scoring matrix, with low-rated employees receiving layoff notices. Martin was one of approximately 1,000 workers laid off in this initial layoff. At the time of the layoff he was 49 years old.

 Following the 1991 layoff, Martin was hired into a position within the Space Power Group, effective November 1991. The new position paid approximately $ 4,000 less than Martin's previous position. Another round of layoffs occurred in March 1992 and, akin to being twice struck by lightning, plaintiff again received a layoff notice. As with the earlier layoff, GE employees were again ranked on a matrix and low-ranking employees were the ones laid off. Martin was 50 years old when he was laid off for the second time.

 Following the March 1992 layoff, Martin sought and obtained another offer of employment within GE, this time in California, with GE Government Services. GE extended the offer on May 8, 1992. Plaintiff asserts that his attorney notified GE on June 15, 1992, that plaintiff was the victim of age discrimination and that he intended to utilize "appropriate avenues of redress" regarding the alleged discrimination. GE rescinded the offer of employment on June 19, 1992. *fn1"

 In count 1 of his complaint, plaintiff alleges that he was laid off in September 1991 because of his age, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634. Count 2 makes the same claim with regard to the March 1992 layoff. Count 3 alleges that the job offer was rescinded in retaliation for plaintiff's asserting his rights under the ADEA, in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 623(d).

 II. THE AGE DISCRIMINATION COUNTS

 A. Analysis of an Age Discrimination Claim

 The same burden-shifting analysis applicable to Title VII discrimination claims also applies to age discrimination claims under the ADEA. Torre v. Casio, Inc., 42 F.3d 825, 829 (3d Cir. 1994). Therefore, a plaintiff must first establish a prima facie case of age discrimination. To establish a prima facie case of age discrimination in a reduction-in-force ("RIF") situation, a plaintiff alleging age discrimination must show that he or she (1) is a member of the protected class; (2) was discharged from employment; (3) was qualified for the job from which he or she was terminated; and (4) other similarly situated, but substantially younger employees, were retained. Torre, 42 F.3d at 831. *fn2"

 If a plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, the burden then shifts to the defendant to articulate a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its actions. *fn3" The presumption of discrimination which arose from plaintiff's prima facie case is then dispelled and plaintiff, to survive a defendant's motion for summary judgment, must present either evidence that discredits the defendant's proffered reasons or evidence that shows that discrimination was more likely than not a motivating cause of defendant's adverse employment action. Id. at 830; Fuentes v. Perskie, 32 F.3d 759, 764 (3d Cir. 1994). It is important to recognize that plaintiff can defeat a motion for summary judgment either by discrediting defendant's reason or by coming forward with additional evidence of discrimination, but that he or she need not do both. Torre and Fuentes are clear that either "discrediting evidence" or "discrimination evidence" will suffice at the summary judgment stage, although plaintiff at trial will need to convince the factfinder both that the reason was false and that discrimination was the real reason. 42 F.3d at 829-830; 32 F.3d at 763, 764. Defendant confuses plaintiff's burden at summary judgment with his burden at trial, asserting that Martin can defeat GE's motion for summary judgment only by proving both that GE's ...


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