The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pollak, District Judge.
This is an employment discrimination case against a university
in which plaintiff alleges causes of action under both Title VII
and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Presently before this court is defendant's
motion for summary judgment.
The facts — viewed in the light most favorable to Meachum — may
be summarized as follows. Daniel Meachum, an African American
male, was hired by Temple as Associate University Counsel in
August 1989. In his nearly six years as Associate University
Counsel, Meachum was the in-house counsel chiefly responsible for
litigation. His litigation duties included representation of the
university in state and federal courts and supervisory
responsibility for cases being litigated by outside counsel.
While his work concentrated on litigation, he also wrote
university policies, attended board of trustee meetings, and
advised executive officers of the university on legal matters.
During his employment, Meachum consistently received meritbased
pay increases of 3.8% or more. The University Counsel, George
Moore, never informed Meachum that his work was deficient or gave
him a negative review.
Meachum was fired on June 9, 1995. His termination letter did
not give reasons for the firing. He was subsequently informed by
Moore, his supervisor, that Moore had decided to eliminate
Meachum's position in order to transfer litigation
responsibilities to outside counsel as part of a university-wide
reduction in the number of employees. Though Moore could have
chosen to terminate the employment of any of the other Associate
University Counsel — none of whom were African American, and four
of whom had less seniority than Meachum — Moore chose to
eliminate Meachum. The cases on which Meachum was then working
were reassigned either to Moore himself or to outside counsel
with support from the office of the University Counsel.
Summary judgment may be entered if "the pleadings, deposition,
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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). "An issue is
`genuine' only if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Hankins v.
Temple Univ., 829 F.2d 437, 440 (3d Cir. 1987) (citing Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-49, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)).
Temple claims that summary judgment on the Title VII claim is
justified for two independent reasons: (1) Meachum has failed to
demonstrate the existence of a prima facie case; and (2) assuming
that Meachum has demonstrated the existence of a prima facie
case, Meachum has not carried his burden of casting reasonable
doubt on the legitimate non-discriminatory explanations for the
employment decision that Temple has averred.
"In a Title VII case such as this one involving a reduction in
force, in order to make out a prima facie case the plaintiff must
show that (1) she belonged to a protected class, (2) she was
qualified for the position from which she was terminated, (3) she
was terminated and (4) persons outside of the protected class
were retained." In Re Carnegie Center Associates, 129 F.3d 290,
294-95 (3d Cir. 1997) (citing Armbruster v. Unisys Corp.,
32 F.3d 768, 777 (3d Cir. 1994)). Temple admits that Meachum is a
member of a protected class and was discharged. Further, it
acknowledges, albeit "solely for the prima facie case portion of
the analysis," that Meachum was qualified for the position.
Def.Br. at 27 n. 20. Defendant claims that, because Moore
"transferred [Meachum's] active case load to other
African-American attorneys," Meachum cannot satisfy the fourth
prong of the prima facie case. Def.Br. at 27. The "other
African-American attorneys" to whom defendant refers are two
attorneys who work for law
firms that Temple has retained to assist it with litigation
In essence, Temple claims that this case should be governed not
by the prima facie case requirements that apply to reductions in
force, but to the prima facie test requirements that apply when
an employee is fired and then replaced by another employee. In
the latter situation,
a Title VII plaintiff must show (1) that she is a
member of a protected class, (2) she was qualified
for the position, (3) she was discharged, and (4) the
position was ultimately ...