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Doutt v. AIM Nationalease

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

June 27, 2017

DALE W. DOUTT, Plaintiff,
v.
AIM NATIONALEASE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DAVID STEWART CERCONE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff, Dale W. Doutt (“Doutt” or “Plaintiff”) filed a four (4) count Second Amended Complaint alleging two (2) counts of age discrimination (unlawful termination and retaliation) in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. (the “ADEA”), and two (2) counts age discrimination (unlawful termination and retaliation) in violation of the Pennsylvania Human Rights Act, 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 925 et seq. (the “PHRA”), against Defendant, AIM Nationalease (“AIM” or “Defendant”). Aim has filed a motion for summary judgment, Doutt has responded and the motion is now before the Court.

         II. Statement of the Case

         On December 24, 2013, at the age of sixty-two (62), Doutt was hired by AIM as a Service Manager in its Virtual Maintenance Department in Girard, Ohio. AIM Concise Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (“AIM CSUMF”) ¶ 1. Doutt previously worked for AIM in 1986 as a night shop supervisor, but left after three (3) months taking a position at Rosedale Technical Institute. AIM CSUMF fn. 1. At the time of his hire in 2013, Doutt received a copy of AIM's policy and procedures handbook and signed an acknowledgement affirming that he read the handbook and that he agreed to comply with the policies and procedures contained therein. AIM CSUMF ¶ 2.

         AIM's Virtual Maintenance Department facilitates preventative maintenance and service for revenue producing vehicles and fleets. To accomplish this goal, Service Managers communicate directly with AIM customers and vendors to address vehicle maintenance issues or to process vehicle service requests. AIM CSUMF ¶ 7. The Virtual Maintenance Department is divided into two separate Facilities or Branches and is referred to as Facility/Branch 99 and 94. AIM CSUMF ¶ 8. Facility/Branch 94 was created in December 2013/January 2014 to provide service to a new AIM customer, Matthews Caskett Company, and Doutt was hired specifically to work as Service Manager in Facility/Branch 94, when it was up and running. Id. Doutt, however, was never offered the lead supervisor position for Facility/Branch 94 or any other Facility/Branch. Id.

         Doutt, as well as all other Service Managers in the Virtual Maintenance Department, reported directly or indirectly to Ken Singleton (“Singleton”). AIM CSUMF ¶ 9. As a Service Manager, Doutt was responsible for: (1) ensuring the effectiveness of all repair work on behalf of customers; (2) reviewing preventative maintenance records to ensure units are being serviced at proper intervals; (3) coordinating the creation and preparation of repair orders for all repair work scheduled; (4) confirming all work performed is properly recorded on repair orders; and (5) ensuring that all work orders clearly indicate the nature of the work performed. AIM CSUMF ¶ 10.

         Because Facility/Branch 94 was not up and running when he was hired in December 2013, Doutt was assigned to work as a Service Manager for Facility/Branch 99. AIM CSUMF ¶ 12. There, Doutt worked under the direct supervision of lead supervising Service Manager Ken Wells (“Wells”), the head or for Facility/Branch 99. Id. In January of 2014, Doutt approached Ken Wells about a January 22, 2014 internal phone list that incorrectly listed his job title as “Maintenance Assistant.” AIM CSUMF ¶ 13.

         AIM does not employ any individual as a Maintenance Assistant. AIM CSUMF ¶ 17. Though AIM contends that all new Virtual Maintenance Department hires are initially classified as “Maintenance Assistants, ” Crystal Embry Wallace (“Embry”), who was hired on January 14, 2014, was listed in the January 22, 2014 internal phone list as “Branch 94 Service Manager.” See AIM CSUMF ¶ 16; Doutt Appendix, Patty Durkin[1] Deposition (“D. App. Durkin Dep.”) pp. 16, 36; Durkin Depo. Ex. 1. When Doutt brought the internal phone list to Durkin's attention, the phone list was promptly changed to correct Doutt's job title to Service Manager. AIM CSUMF ¶ 19.

         On or about February 14, 2014, Doutt was transferred from Facility/Branch 99 to Facility/Branch 94, the role for which he was originally hired. AIM CSUMF ¶ 25. He served in this capacity until his termination on October 22, 2014. Id. To memorialize Doutt's transfer to Facility/Branch 94, AIM issued a Change of Status Form on February 14, 2014, stating: “Mr. Doutt is a [service] manager in the virtual facility department. As such, he is a member of the team and is responsible for all customers, accounts and objectives for this department. Effective this date, his primary focus shifted from facility 99 to facility 94 but is not limited to facility 94 activity. In addition to the change in primary focus, his direct supervisor has shifted from Ken Wells (99, 96, 95) to Chris Embry[2] (94).” AIM CSUMF ¶ 27. As Service Managers functioning as head/lead supervisors of a Facility/Branch, Embry and Wells attended supervisor meetings, interacted with customers and had the authority to authorize higher levels of repairs. AIM CSUMF ¶ 28.

         AIM contends that a disciplinary meeting involving Embry, Singleton and Doutt, with regard to Doutt's performance, was held on April 7, 2014. AIM CSUMF ¶ 29. Doutt admits that he asked Embry, “[h]as anyone ever taken a job that was promised to you?” AIM CSUMF ¶ 31. Doutt also told Ken Singleton that he did not trust him. Id. Doutt was very defensive in the meeting, and the meeting was terminated due to Doutt's disruptive behavior. Id. Embry prepared a summary of the meeting, as well as “Notes to File” and an “Action Plan” for Doutt to incorporate into his performance. AIM CSUMF ¶¶ 30, 31 & 32. Doutt contends that he was never presented with the Action Plan. Doutt Response to Concise Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (“Doutt Response”) ¶ 32.

         On that same day, Doutt sent a correspondence to AIM's Vice President of Human Resources, Patty Durkin (“Durkin”), in which he stated:

I feel I have been subjected to discrimination and humiliation and request that I be given an opportunity to transfer to another department where my education, technical training and hands on experience will be better appreciated and utilized.

         Doutt Deposition Ex. N. Doutt also complained that he had been hired as a Service Manager, but he was identified as a Maintenance Assistant, and that he had been unfairly criticized by Embry and Singleton. Id. Durkin met with Doutt on April 8, 2014, to discuss his complaint. AIM CSUMF ¶ 35. Doutt reiterated the complaints in his letter and informed Durkin that he was “hurt” that he was not given the head/lead supervisor job for Facility/Branch 94 because he believed he was more qualified than Embry. AIM ...


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