The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOYNER
Defendant, Stone and Webster Engineering Corporation moves for the entry of summary judgment in its favor as to the claims of plaintiffs Roy Simons, Richard Read, Peter Silverberg, Ananda Banerjee and Srinivasaiyengar Rajan. For the reasons set forth below, the motions shall be granted.
This lawsuit has its origins in a company-wide reduction in force ("RIF") which defendant Stone and Webster ("S & "W") commenced in June, 1992 ostensibly to reduce its operating expenses. According to the plaintiff's complaint, defendant's RIF program resulted in the layoff of approximately 50 salaried employees in New Jersey alone. (Pl's Complaint, P15). The six plaintiffs here, all of whom aver that they were over 40 years of age and employed by defendant for 8 years or longer, were included among the employees laid off in defendant's Cherry Hill, New Jersey office.
Plaintiffs allege that at the time they were terminated and during the reduction in force, defendant was engaged in recruiting and hiring younger employees and that the RIF program resulted in the disparate treatment of and had a disparate impact on employees over the age of 40. In this manner, plaintiffs contend that their terminations under the reduction in force violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et. seq. ("ADEA").
In response, defendant contends that the reduction in force was necessary in view of the general downturn in the demand for engineering, construction and consulting services and thus plaintiffs' layoffs were not age-related. Defendant avers in support of its motion(s)
for summary judgment that plaintiffs have no direct or indirect evidence of discrimination to prove their claims or to rebut the legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for its employment decisions.
Standards Applicable to Summary Judgment Motions
The standards for determining whether summary judgment is properly entered in cases pending before the district courts are governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Subsection (c) of that rule states, in pertinent part,... The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. A summary judgment, interlocutory in character, may be rendered on the issue of liability alone although there is a genuine issue as to the amount of damages.
In this way, a motion for summary judgment requires the court to look beyond the bare allegations of the pleadings to determine if they have sufficient factual support to warrant their consider-ation at trial. Liberty Lobby, Inc. v. Dow Jones & Co., 267 U.S. App. D.C. 337, 838 F.2d 1287 (D.C. Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 825, 109 S. Ct. 75, 102 L. Ed. 2d 51 (1988). See Also : Aries Realty, Inc. v. AGS Columbia Associates, 751 F. Supp. 444 (S.D. N.Y. 1990).
As a general rule, the party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and ad- missions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). In considering a summary judgment motion, the court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion and all reasonable inferences from the facts must be drawn in favor of that party as well. U.S. v. Kensington Hospital, 760 F. Supp. 1120 (E.D. Pa. 1991); Schillachi v. Flying Dutchman Motorcycle Club, 751 F. Supp. 1169 (E.D. Pa. 1990).
When, however, "a motion for summary judgment is made and supported [by affidavits or otherwise], an adverse party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleading, but the adverse party's response...must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. If the adverse party does not so respond, summary judgment, if appropriate may be entered against [it]." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).
A material fact has been defined as one which might affect the outcome of the suit under relevant substantive law. Boykin v. Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, 893 F. Supp. 378, 393 (M.D.Pa. 1995) citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is "genuine" if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could ...