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Jehling v. Mellon Bank

May 31, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge

Electronically Filed

Memorandum Opinion on Summary Judgment

I. Introduction

This is an action in employment discrimination. Plaintiff, John Jehling ("Jehling"), alleges that Mellon Bank, N.A. and Mellon Financial (collectively "Mellon"), discriminated against him in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), 42 Pa. Stat. § 951, et seq., when he was eliminated as a part of a corporate reorganization/reduction-in-force (RIF).

Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment (doc. no. 37) arguing that plaintiff cannot establish that he was replaced by a similarly situated, sufficiently younger person, or that defendant's legitimate nonscriminatory reasons for eliminating his position were a pretext for discrimination. For the reasons that follow, this Court will grant defendants' motion for summary judgment.

II. Facts

The parties have set forth more than 68 pages of material facts. The facts, many of which are disputed, but most of which are not "material", may be fairly summarized as follows.

Jehling, who was born on November 10, 1947 and was 56 years old at the time of termination, was hired by Mellon in 1998 as a first vice president and team leader to manage underwriting for Mellon's institutional banking department. In 1999, the institutional banking, corporate banking and middle market departments reorganized into two departments - large corporate and loan products. Large corporate handled the "relationship" side of the business and loan products handled the underwriting and credit.

Effective January 1, 1999, Mellon separated the marketing and underwriting functions of the institutional banking department into two separate areas, and as a result, plaintiff became the head of the loan underwriting group, and he was reassigned to report to Mr. Richard Arrington ("Arrington"), who was the head of the loan products department (later changed to the global exposure department). Arrington was born on September 30, 1959, and was forty-five years old at the time of plaintiff's termination in 2004.

In 2002, Jehling played a role in establishing a new group within Mellon's loan products department (GEM) known as the portfolio management group. The GEM was set up to purchase and monitor credit derivatives (insurance taken out on loans to large corporations) as well as to monitor Mellon's loan portfolio. In September 2002, Arrington offered plaintiff a new position as the director of portfolio management.*fn1

From 2002 through 2004, plaintiff received favorable performance reviews from Arrington for his work as the head of the portfolio management group.

In the fall of 2004, as a result of a restructuring and reoganization of another department, global institutional clients (GIC), and Mellon's desire to reduce expenses in GEM, Arrington decided to restructure GEM. Arrington discussed his decisions with and they were approved by his supervisor, John Chesko. Chesko was born on March 15, 1949 and was 54 years old at the time of plaintiff's termination. Ultimately, it was determined that the GIC department would be disbanded and portions of that department would be consolidated into GEM. Mellon carried out a reorganization of its GEM and as part of that reoganization, the Philadelphia, Los Angeles and London offices were closed.

Mellon alleges that the purpose of the reorganization was to reduce expenses by two million dollars. Plaintiff disputes that fact and states that in Jehling's 2004 performance evaluation (drafted by Arrington after his termination), Arrington did not cite expense reduction as the reason for Jehling's termination. However, the parties agree that Arrington claimed that as a result of "a strategic review of how and when derivatives will be purchased," the portfolio management group was reorganized and plaintiff's position was eliminated.

Mellon alleges that Arrington decided to combine plaintiff's job duties, which would not justify a full-time position, with those of Ed McGrath ("McGrath"), which were more than one full-time position, and to reassign some of McGrath's job duties to another position. McGrath was born on April 5, 1947 and was 56 years of age at the time of plaintiff's termination. Arrington testified that he determined that "it would be easier for Ed McGrath to come up to speed on portfolio management than it would be for John Jehling to assume ...

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