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R. Mason Green v. Vf Jeanswear Limited Partnership

August 22, 2011

R. MASON GREEN,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
VF JEANSWEAR LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Donetta W. Ambrose United States Senior District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

SYNOPSIS

In this civil action, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant, his former employer, discharged him in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. 621, et seq., and the Pennsylvania Himan Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 P.S. § 951, et seq. Defendant has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, on grounds that Plaintiff cannot demonstrate either a reasonable inference of age discrimination or pretext.

For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion will be denied.

OPINION

I. APPLICABLE STANDARDS

Summary judgment shall be granted if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court must examine the facts in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. International Raw Materials, Ltd. v. Stauffer Chem . Co., 898 F. 2d 946, 949 (3d Cir. 1990). The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of any genuine issues of material fact. United States v. Omnicare Inc., 382 F. 3d 432 (3d Cir. 2004). Rule 56, however, mandates the entry of judgment against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986).

II. DISCUSSION

A. McDonnell-Douglas

In this case, I apply the burden-shifting paradigm established in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S. Ct. 1817, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668 (1973).

Under that paradigm, the plaintiff bears the initial burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence a prima facie case of discrimination: "1) he is within the protected class.; 2) he was qualified to have been retained; 3) he suffered from an 'adverse employment action'; and 4) the employer retained a 'sufficiently younger' and 'similarly situated' individual to permit a reasonable inference of age discrimination." Embrico v. United States Steel Corp., 404 F. Supp. 2d 802, 818 (E.D. Pa. 2005) (citation omitted).

If the plaintiff succeeds in proving a prima facie case, the burden then shifts to the defendant to produce some legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the employee's rejection. In pretext discrimination cases, when the burden shifts to defendant, "the employer need not prove that the tendered reason actually motivated its behavior, as throughout this burden-shifting paradigm the ultimate burden of proving intentional discrimination always rests with the plaintiff." Fuentes v. Perskie, 32 F.3d 759, 763 (3d Cir. 1994).

Should the defendant produce such an explanation, the plaintiff must then establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the legitimate reasons offered by the defendant were not the true reasons, but were a pretext for discrimination. Texas Dep't of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 252-53, 101 S. Ct. 1089, 67 L. Ed. 2d 207 (1981). To rebut the defendant's legitimate reason for its conduct, plaintiff must provide sufficient evidence from which a fact finder could either reasonably reject the defendant's explanation, or believe that an invidious discriminatory reason was more likely than not a motivating cause of the employer's decision. Fuentes, 32 F.3d at 763-64.

Specifically, a plaintiff must "demonstrate such weaknesses, implausibilities, inconsistencies, incoherencies, or contradictions in the employer's proferred [sic] legitimate reasons for its action that a reasonable factfinder could rationally find them unworthy of credence." Evans v. Pennsylvania Power & Light Co., 98 Fed. Appx. 151, 155 (3d Cir. 2004). "In simpler terms, the plaintiff must show, not merely that the employer's proffered reason was wrong, but that it was so plainly ...


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