The opinion of the court was delivered by: Conaboy, District Judge.
This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' motion for
summary judgment. (Doc. 15). Plaintiff filed the above-captioned
matter*fn1 asserting claims under the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., and the
Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa.S.A. § 951 et
seq. Plaintiff further claims that she was politically
discriminated against pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the
reasons set forth infra, we shall grant the Defendants'
Plaintiff, Antoinette Walters, began working for Schuylkill
County in 1985, where she held the position of Payroll/Benefits
Clerk. (Doc. 23, Walters Deposition, N.T., 19). Plaintiff is a
politically active Democrat who serves as an elected Democratic
Committee person. (Doc. 23, Walters Deposition, N.T. 117). At
the time of the challenged employment decision, Plaintiff was
responsible for handling the manual payroll and benefits
functions for the County.
On January 2, 1996, Defendant Gary Hornberger, a Republican,
assumed office to serve as the County Controller of Schuylkill
County. (Doc. 23, Hornberger Deposition, N.T. 6-7). From January
2, 1996, until July of 1998, the Plaintiff worked under the
supervision of Defendant Hornberger. (Id., N.T. 21)
Upon his entry into office, Defendant Hornberger determined
that certain changes needed to be implemented within the office.
Specifically, Defendant Hornberger decided the manual payroll
system should be replaced with a new computerized payroll
system, and that any payroll/benefits functions should be
transferred from the Controller's Office to Human Resources.
(Doc. 23, Hornberger Deposition, N.T. 27-28, 44-45). As a
result, Plaintiff was made aware that her position as
Payroll/Benefits Clerk in the Controller's Office would be
eliminated in 1998. (Doc. 23, Walters Deposition, N.T. 65-67).
Plaintiffs understanding that her position would no longer be
part of the Controller's Office was confirmed by the 1998 budget
Carol Leashefski was bumped from her previous position in the
Office of the Treasurer, and on January 5, 1998, she was hired
as a temporary employee to help implement the new computer
system that would handle the new payroll system.*fn2 (Doc.
23, Hornberger Deposition, N.T. 59-62). Leashefski, like the
Plaintiff, is also a politically active Democrat. She is an
elected committeewoman and an elected member of the Executive
Board of the Schuylkill County Democratic Party. (Doc. 18,
Leashefski Deposition, N.T. 39-40). Leashefski began
implementing the new computer system in January of 1998 (Doc.
23, Walters Deposition, N.T. 63). Leashefski was later hired in
October of 1998 to fill a new permanent position as Payroll
Analyst in Human Resources, and another county employee was
placed in charge of benefits. (Doc. 18, Leashefski Deposition,
N.T. 43-44, 47, 53).
Plaintiff alleges that Leashefski was given Plaintiffs full
time position even though Leashefski had no payroll or benefit
experience. (Doc. 21). Plaintiff also claims that she herself
"had most of the skills" necessary to fulfill the new full-time
payroll analyst position. Id. However, Plaintiff admits that
prior to July of 1998, she had "very little" experience with
computers, and that she was basically unfamiliar with word
processing, and spreadsheets, etc. (Doc. 23, Walters Deposition,
In July of 1998, the Plaintiff was discharged following the
elimination of her Payroll/Benefits Clerk position. Plaintiff
was considered to have satisfactorily performed her duties as
Payroll/Benefits Clerk. (Doc. 23, Hornberger Deposition, N.T.
23-24). At the time of Plaintiffs discharge, the full-time
payroll analyst position did not exist.
In July of 1998, Plaintiff was sixty (60) years of age, Carol
Leashefski was fifty-five (55) years of age, and Charles.
Daubert*fn3 was sixty-three (63) years of age.
Summary Judgment is a method of final disposition of a case
where there are no factual disputes. We follow considerable
guidance in determining whether summary judgment should be
granted. Summary judgment is proper "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 judgment as a matter of law." See Knabe v.
Boury, 114 F.3d 407, 410 n. 4 (3d Cir. 1997) (citing
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). "[T]his standard provides that the mere
existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties
will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for
summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine
issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)
(emphasis in original).
These rules make it clear then, that in order for a moving
party to prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the
party-must show two things: (a) that there is no genuine issue
as to any material fact, and (b) that the party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). This instructs
us that a fact is "material" if proof of its existence or
nonexistence would effect the outcome of the lawsuit under the
law applicable to the case. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106
S.Ct. 2505; Levendos v. Stern Entertainment Inc.,
860 F.2d 1227, 1233 (3d Cir. 1988). We are further instructed that an
issue of material fact is "genuine" if the evidence is such that
a reasonable jury might return a
verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 257,
106 S.Ct. 2505; Hankins v. Temple University, 829 F.2d 437,
440 (3d Cir. 1987); Equimark Commercial Finance Co. v. C.I.T.
Financial Services Corp., 812 F.2d 141, 144 (3d Cir. 1987).
Under this regime that we follow, the Court is required to
view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party. However, the non-moving party may not rest on the bare
allegations contained in his or her pleadings. Once the moving
party has satisfied its burden of identifying evidence which
demonstrates an absence of a genuine issue of material fact,
see Childers v. Joseph, 842 F.2d 689, 694 (3d Cir. 1988), the
nonmoving party is required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56(e)*fn4 to go beyond the pleadings by way of affidavits,
depositions, answers to interrogatories or the like in order to
demonstrate specific material facts which give rise to a genuine
issue. Celotex Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324, 106
S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). When Rule 56(e) shifts the
burden of proof to the nonmoving party, that party must produce
evidence to show the existence of every element essential to its
case which it bears the burden of proving at trial. Equimark,
supra at 144.
A. LIABILITY UNDER THE ADEA
The parties' burdens in establishing and defending ADEA*fn5
claims has been set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green,
411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973). Stanziale
v. Jargowsky, 200 F.3d 101, 105 (3d Cir. 2000); see also St.
Mary's Honor Ctr. v. Hicks, 509 U.S. 502, 506-507, 113 S.Ct.
2742, 125 L.Ed.2d 407 (1993). In a pretext case,*fn6 the
plaintiff must first produce evidence sufficient to convince a
reasonable factfinder as to all of the elements of a prima facie
case of discrimination. In order to establish a prima facie case
under the ADEA, a plaintiff must prove that: (1) she belongs to
a protected class — over age 40; (2) she was qualified for the
position in question; (3) she suffered an adverse employment
decision; and (4) the position was filled by someone
sufficiently younger to permit an inference of age
discrimination. See Narin v. Lower Merion School Dist.,
206 F.3d 323, 331 (3d Cir. 2000); Sempier v. Johnson & Higgins,
45 F.3d 724, 728 (3d Cir. 1995).
If a plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, "the burden of
production (but not the burden of persuasion) shifts to the
defendant, who must then offer evidence that is sufficient, if
believed, to support a finding that the defendant had a
legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the adverse employment
decision." Stanziale, 200 F.3d at 105 (internal citations
omitted). The plaintiff then has "the opportunity to
demonstrate that the employer's stated reasons were not its true
reasons but were a pretext for discrimination." Sempier, 45
F.3d at 728. At all times, the ultimate burden of proving
intentional discrimination remains with the Plaintiff. Hicks,
509 U.S. at 507, 113 S.Ct. 2742; Simpson v. Kay Jewelers, Div.
of Sterling, Inc., 142 F.3d 639, 644 n. 6 (3d Cir. 1998).
The Defendants argue that Defendant Hornberger is not subject
to the ADEA because he is not an "employer" as defined by the
statute. Moreover, the Defendants note that the Plaintiff
concedes that the weight of the caselaw favors the Defendants'
The ADEA defines "employer" as: "a person engaged in an
industry affecting commerce who has twenty or more employees . . .
and (1) any agent of such a person, and (2) a State or
political subdivision of a State and any agency or
instrumentality of a State or political subdivision of a State."
29 U.S.C. § 630(b). Many Courts have found that individual
agents of state agencies do not fall under the ADEA's definition
of employer. See Pierce v. Philadelphia Housing Auth., 1995 WL
447614, *2 (E.D.Pa. 1995) (individual agents of the Pennsylvania
Housing Authority, a state agency, are not considered
"employers" and are not subject to the ADEA); Ditch v. Bd. Of
County Comm'rs of County of Shawnee, 650 F. Supp. 1245, 1251
(Kan. 1986) (as Congress made no provision for agents of states
and political subdivisions, the court reasoned that Congress
could have easily added the phrase "and their agents" in
29 U.S.C. § 630 to express Congress' intent to hold individuals
liable for age discrimination); Tranello v. Frey, 758 F. Supp. 841,
851-52 (W.D.N.Y. 1991); Wanner v. State of Kan.,
766 F. Supp. 1005, 1007 (Kan. 1991).
In the instant case, we do not find the Plaintiffs limited
argument or reliance on two district cases to be persuasive.
Furthermore, we find that Defendant Hornberger as County
Controller, clearly works as an individual agent for a political
subdivision of the state, thus, he is not subject to the
Plaintiffs ADEA claim. In reality, the Plaintiff was an employee
of the other Defendant, the County of Schuylkill. ...