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ESHELMAN v. MAGEE-WOMENS HOSPITAL

October 11, 2005.

WALTER L. ESHELMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
MAGEE-WOMENS HOSPITAL OF UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH MEDICAL CENTER UPMC AND UPMC t/d/b/a/ UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH MEDICAL CENTER, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: TERRENCE McVERRY, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Presently before the Court for disposition is the MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, with brief in support thereof (Document Nos. 17 and 18) filed by Defendants, Magee-Womens Hospital of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center UPMC and UPMC t/d/b/a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the brief in opposition filed by Plaintiff, Walter L. Eshelman (Document No. 25), and the Reply Brief filed by Defendants (Document No. 28).

After careful consideration of the motion, the material in support and opposition thereto, the memoranda of the parties in support and opposition thereto, the relevant case law, and the record as a whole, the Court finds that there is no record evidence such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for Plaintiff, Walter L. Eshelman, on his federal claims of discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. Therefore, the Court will grant Defendant's motion for summary judgment as to all federal claims which allege age discrimination by Plaintiff, Walter L. Eshelman. BACKGROUND

  The facts relevant to this discussion, and viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, are as follows.

  Plaintiff began his employment as Manager of Compensation and Benefits in the Human Resources Department of Magee-Womens Hospital UPMC ("Magee") on September 18, 1998. At that time, Magee was an independent hospital, and the Compensation and Benefits Department was a "freestanding" department. (Tibbot Affidavit at ¶ 3.) At the time of his hire, Plaintiff's position involved the following job functions:
a. personnel management of staff to include selection, supervision, training, performance evaluations, scheduling and staffing levels;
b. coordinating hospital-wide compensation and benefit fringe budget process including market research, trend analysis and recommendations;
c. maintaining benefit programs including plan documents, Summary Plan Descriptions, employee communications, administration and the annual enrollment process;
d. analyzing current and potential benefits selections for cost competitiveness, efficiency and improvements;
e. participating in negotiating contracts, selecting new carriers and overseeing ongoing communication and administration;
f. maintaining legal and regulatory compliance for all benefits programs and for ensuring completion and compliance with all government mandated filing; keeping abreast of pending and new legislation as it pertains to Hospital's programs and initiates notification to Directory, communication to staff and any necessary systems modifications;
g. initiating development and delivery of new compensation and benefit programs and inservices to increase employee awareness and perceived value; h. developing or modifying policies, practices or programs based on pertinent trends, changing employee demographics and cost effectiveness strategies;
i. investigating methods to automate benefits administration and reporting including software enhancements or programming changes;
j. developing regular financial reporting including administration and reporting utilization analysis and expense projections. Participating with the Director in identifying cost effective alternatives to current or anticipated programming;
k. overseeing ongoing administration of the Hospital compensation program including review of proposed salary adjustments and updating the Hospital salary structure;
l. promoting the development of equitable compensation and employment practices and procedures;
m. consulting with management and employee on compensation questions, unusual situations and business issues impacting wages; and
n. developing, modifying and delivering compensation communications for Hospital staff including group presentations.
(See Pl's Depo. at p. 6:1.14 — p7:1.7 and Magee-Womens Hospital Job Description for Manager, Compensation and Benefits, January 1997 (Date Reviewed)).

  In April 1999, Magee and UPMC entered into a merger agreement. Magee and UPMC planned to accomplish the merger within five (5) years. Once the merger was announced, plans were developed to integrate various Magee functions, including human resources, into UPMC. Jane Tibbott, the Director of Human Resources for Magee, who was 53 years of age in 1999, was responsible for developing and recommending integration plans to Linda Antonelli, who was 41 years of age in 1999, the Vice President Facilities Planning and Support Services for Magee, and seeking approval of the Finance Committee of Board of Directors of Magee.

  As a result of the merger, the Compensation and Benefits Department of Magee and its functions were merged into the Compensation and Benefits Department of UPMC. (Pl's Depo. at p. 24:1.8-18, p. 63:1.16-21.)

  At the time of the merger, UPMC had approximately 28,000 employees, including casual and temporary staff, and Magee had approximately 2,100 employees, including Magee's research foundation. (See Affidavit of John Galley, at ¶ 3; Pl. Depo. at p. 11:1.15-19.) In addition, at that time, UPMC had approximately 25,000 pension plan and health and welfare benefits participants and Magee had approximately 1,900 pension plan and health and welfare benefits participants.

  The first phase of the integration plan involved transferring most of Magee's compensation functions to the Corporate Compensation office at UPMC, which was directed by Charles Donina; then age 52. Because Magee was adopting the UPMC compensation program, including UPMC's salary structure, Plaintiff no longer had to manage the performance and analysis of salary surveys or the updating of the hospital salary structure. Thus, the compensation portion of Plaintiff's job was eliminated and on October 16, 2000, Plaintiff's job description was amended to reflect the elimination of this portion of his job. (Pl's Depo. at p. 8:1.14-9:1.4.)

  The second phase of the integration plan included the adoption of UPMC Health and Welfare benefit plans, transferring payroll work to the UPMC Payroll Department, conversion to the PeopleSoft human resources information system, and implementing KRONOS time and attendance system. (Pl. Depo. at p. 13:1.5-8; Tibbott Affidavit at ¶ 6.) A plan was submitted to the Finance Committee of the Magee Board of Directors on March 28, 2001, which outlined the impact of the integration. (Tibbott Affidavit, at ¶ 6.) The results of the decision, as it related to Magee, included the following:
• Elimination of Magee's payroll system and department of the positions of 2.6 Full Time Employees ("FTEs").
• Adoption of UMPC's Health and Welfare benefit programs eliminated the need for Magee to administer the Health and Welfare benefits, negotiate contracts with vendors, maintain Summary Plan Descriptions, develop employee communications, manage the annual enrollment process, prepare government filings, develop policies or programs based on pertinent trends, and prepare financial reports.
• Initially, approximately 80% of the retirement plans administration would be transferred to the Corporate Retirement Group, managed by Gregory Stoner, then age 35, Director Retirement Benefits. Mr. Stoner assigned the administration of the Magee retirement plans to Joseph Giacomin, then age 54, Senior Retirement Benefit Specialist, and Mr. Richard McKerrow, then age 28, Retirement Specialist. Mr. Stoner did not add staff in order to administer the Magee retirement plans.
• Adoption of UPMC pay practices eliminated the need for Magee to develop its own compensation programs and communications.
• The job of Data Coordinator was created to do the employee data entry into the PeopleSoft system and perform audits to insure data integrity; and
• The job of HRIS Specialist was created to oversee the PeopleSoft operations including coordinating system upgrades, development of specialized reports, acts as the liaison with UPMC payroll department to resolve payroll issues and resolve time submission issues with the KRONOS System, automated time and attendance system.
(Tibbott Affidavit, at ¶ 6.) The PeopleSoft and KRONOS systems were integrated on December 16, 2001. The new positions of Data Coordinator and HRIS Specialist were filled by individuals employed within Magee's Human Resources Department, at a compensation level substantially lower than the compensation Plaintiff was receiving. (Pl Depo. at p. 67:1.17-21; Tibbott Depo. at p. 30:1.13-20.)

  Elbea Smith, then age 33, whose payroll specialist position had been eliminated as a result of the integration, and Holly Novak, then age 27, whose benefit assistant position had been eliminated as a result of the integration, were selected to fill the Data Coordinator positions, which were clerical in nature. Evelyn Gussenhofen, then age 34, whose payroll supervisor position was eliminated, was selected to fill the HRIS Specialist position.

  Plaintiff never expressed an interest or applied for either the Data Coordinator or HRIS Specialist positions.

  In May 2002, a Human Resources Representative position became available and was posted. Plaintiff chose not to apply and testified that he would not have been qualified for such position. (Pl Depo. at p. 58:1.6-12.) Holly Novak applied for and was promoted to the Human Resources Representative position. In June of 2002, Toni Tesauro, then age 44, whose Benefits Specialist position had been eliminated as a result of the integration, was moved into the Data Coordinator position previously held by Holly Novak.

  The third phase of the integration involved moving the administration of the retirement benefit plans over to UPMC. (Tibbot Deposition, p. 12:1.8-11). Magee adopted the UPMC benefit plans and the majority of Magee's pension plans were either frozen or terminated following the merger and the employees of Magee became participants in UPMC's plans. (Tibbot Depo. at p. 9:1.16-20.) The last remaining portion of Plaintiff's job was with respect to retirement plans. Plaintiff retained the responsibility for orienting employees about the plans, filing regulatory information, making arrangements for necessary distributions to employees, maintaining the Summary Plan Descriptions and administering the 457f and 451 plans for the ...


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