The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hutton, J.
Presently before this Court are Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
and Brief is Support of Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 13),
Plaintiff's Brief in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment (Docket No. 16) and Defendant's Reply Brief in Support of its
Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 18). For the following reasons,
Defendant's Motion is DENIED.
Plaintiff Elinore McElhinney ("Plaintiff") was employed by Quest
Diagnostics, Inc. ("Defendant") in June of 1988 as an account
representative. See Compl. ¶ 12. On January 6, 1998, Defendant
terminated Plaintiff's employment. See id. ¶ 13. Plaintiff alleges
that the termination of her employment violated the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act ("ADEA") and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act
("PHRA"). See id. ¶¶ 22-25, 26-31.*fn1
Summary judgment is appropriate "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The party moving for summary judgment
has the initial burden of showing the basis for its motion. See Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Ultimately, the moving party
bears the burden of showing that there is an absence of evidence to
support the nonmoving party's case. See id. at 325. Once the movant
adequately supports its motion pursuant to Rule 56(c), the burden shifts
to the nonmoving party to go beyond the mere pleadings and present
evidence through affidavits, depositions, or admissions on file to show
that there is a genuine issue for trial. See id. at 324. A genuine issue
is one in which the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return
a verdict for the nonmoving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is "material" only if it might affect
the outcome of the suit under the applicable rule of law. See id.
When deciding a motion for summary judgment, a court must draw all
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. See
Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir.
1992). Moreover, a court may not consider the credibility or weight of
the evidence in deciding a motion for summary judgment, even if the
quantity of the moving party's evidence far outweighs that of its
opponent. See id. Nonetheless, a party opposing summary judgment must do
more than rest upon mere allegations, general denials, or vague
statements. See Trap Rock Indus., Inc. v. Local 825, 982 F.2d 884, 890
(3d Cir. 1992). The court's inquiry at the summary judgment stage is the
threshold inquiry of determining whether there is need for a trial, that
is whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require
submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided
that one party must
prevail as a matter of law. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250-52. If there is
sufficient evidence to reasonably expect that a jury could return a
verdict in favor of plaintiff, that is enough to thwart imposition of
summary judgment. See id. at 248-51.
A. Plaintiff's ADEA Claim
Count I of Plaintiff's Complaint alleges Defendant violated the ADEA.
See Pl.['s] Compl., ¶ 23-25. In McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green,
the United States Supreme Court created a special scheme for structuring
the presentation of evidence in discriminatory treatment cases under
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-1 et
seq. 411 U.S. 792 (1973). The Third Circuit has applied a slightly
modified version of this scheme in ADEA cases. See, e.g., Keller v. Orix
Credit Alliance, Inc., 130 F.3d 1101, 1108-113 (3d Cir. 1997); Waldron
v. SL Industries Inc., 56 F.3d 491, 494-95 (3d Cir. 1995); Sempier v.
Johnson & Higgins, 45 F.3d 724, 728 (3d Cir. 1995); Torre v. Casio,
Inc., 42 F.3d 825, 829-30 (3d Cir. 1994); Healy v. New York Life Ins.
Co., 860 F.2d 1209, 1214 (3d Cir. 1988).
The McDonnell Douglas scheme has three steps. First, the plaintiff must
produce evidence that is sufficient to convince a reasonable factfinder to
find all of the elements of a prima facie case. See St. Mary's Honor
Center v. Hicks, 509 U.S. 502, 506, (1993). When the plaintiff alleges
unlawful discharge based on age, the prima facie case requires proof that
(i) the plaintiff was a member of the protected class, i.e., was 40 years
of age or older (see 29 U.S.C. § 631(a)), (ii) that the plaintiff was
discharged, (iii) that the plaintiff was qualified for the job, and (iv)
that the plaintiff was replaced by a sufficiently younger person to
create an inference of age discrimination. See Sempier, 45 F.3d at 728.
If the plaintiff offers sufficient proof of these elements, step two is
reached. 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 it had a legitimate,
nondiscriminatory reason for the discharge. Hicks, 509 U.S. at 506-07. If
the defendant cannot satisfy this burden, judgment must be entered for
the plaintiff. Id. at 509.
On the other hand, if the defendant employer meets this burden, the
presumption of discrimination arising from the prima facie case "simply
drops out of the picture." Hicks, 509 U.S. 502, 511 (1993). "`At the
summary judgment stage, it then becomes the plaintiff's burden to show
that there is a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the
employer's proffered reason for the challenged action is pretextual
— i.e. unworthy of belief.'" Marx v. Schnuck Markets, Inc.,
76 F.3d 324, 327 (10th Cir. 1996).
The court must determine whether the evidence, interpreted in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff, "could persuade a reasonable jury that
the employer had discriminated against the plaintiff." Jones v. Unisys
Corp., 54 F.3d 624, 632 (10th Cir. 1995). "If no facts relating to the
pretextuality of the defendant's action remain in dispute, summary
judgment is appropriate." Id. The plaintiff at all times bears the
"ultimate burden of persuasion." See St. Mary's Honor Center, 509 U.S. at