United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
ROGER E. ENGLISH, Plaintiff,
TRUCK PRO, LLC and HEAVY DUTY PARTS, INC., a corporation, Defendants.
pending before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment
(ECF No. 27) filed by Defendants Truck Pro, LLC and Heavy
Duty Parts, Inc. (collectively "Truck
Pro"). This Motion has been fully briefed (ECF
Nos. 28-30, 34-43) and is ripe for disposition.
case arises from Plaintiff Roger E. English's ("Mr.
English") allegations that Truck Pro discriminated
against him because of his age in violation of the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 623(a)(1)
("ADEA") and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act,
42 Pa. Stat, and Cons. Stat. Ann. § 955(a) et
secj. ("PHRA") when his employment with Truck
Pro was terminated. (See ECF No. 1.) In the instant
Motion for Summary Judgment, Truck Pro argues that Mr.
English has failed to produce direct evidence to support his
claims of age discrimination and failed to satisfy the
burden-shifting elements of the so-called McDonnell
Douglas framework. See generally McDonnell Douglas
Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973).
reasons that follow, this Court disagrees with Truck Pro, and
its Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 27) is
Jurisdiction and Venue
Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the federal claims
alleged in Count I and Count III of the Complaint pursuant to
Section 7 of the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § 626(c)(1), 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331, 1343(a)(4). (See ECF No. 1 ¶
1.) This Court also has subject matter jurisdiction over the
supplemental state law claims brought under the PHRA in Count
II and Count IV of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
a substantial part of the events giving rise to
Plaintiffs' claims occurred in the Western District of
Pennsylvania, venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2). (See generally ECF Nos. 1,
29, 34, 42.)
Relevant Procedural History
English initiated this suit by filing his Complaint on
January 10, 2017 (ECF No. 1), to which Defendants responded
by filing their Answer on April 13, 2017. (ECF No. 7.) Mr.
English's Complaint is organized into four counts: (1) a
claim that Truck Pro, LLC violated the ADEA by firing Mr.
English, (2) a claim that Truck Pro, LLC violated the PHRA by
firing Mr. English, (3) a claim that Heavy Duty Parts, Inc.
violated the ADEA by firing Mr. English, and (4) a claim that
Heavy Duty Parts, Inc. violated the ADEA by firing Mr.
as both parties agree (see ECF No. 28 at 3; ECF No.
35 at 3), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit and this Court have previously determined that age
discrimination claims under both the ADEA and PHRA are
interpreted identically. See Willis v. UPMC
Children's Hosp. of Pittsburgh, 808 F.3d 638, 643
(3d Cir. 2015) ("Since this Court has determined that
the interpretation of the PHRA is identical to that of
federal anti-discrimination laws, including the ADEA, we
present a single analysis for Willis's claims under both
statutes."); Milliron v. Pilot Travel Centers,
LLC, Civil Action No. 3:06-262, 2009 WL 2579200, at *6
(W.D. Pa. Aug. 20. 2009) (Gibson, J.) (citing Kautz v.
Met-Pro Corp., 412 F.3d 463, 466 n.l (3d Cir. 2005)).
Therefore, despite the organization of Mr. English's
Complaint into four counts, this Court will collectively
analyze all four claims because all four claims involve the
same underlying facts and law and were brought against two
co-defendants in substantively identical positions.
pertinent here, Truck Pro filed its instant Motion for
Summary Judgment, Memorandum in Support thereof, Concise
Statement of Material Facts, and Appendix of Exhibits on
March 16, 2018. (ECF Nos. 27-30.) On April 16, 2018, Mr.
English filed his Response to the Concise Statement of
Material Facts of the Defendant and Plaintiff's
Responsive Concise Statement, his Memorandum of Law in
Opposition, and an Appendix thereto. (ECF Nos. 34-40.)
Lastly, Truck Pro filed its Reply Brief, Reply to
Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Concise Statement
of Material Facts, and a Supplemental Appendix of Exhibits on
April 30, 2018. (ECF Nos. 41-43.)
Relevant Factual History
following facts are undisputed unless otherwise
noted. The Court includes additional material
facts in its analysis infra Part VI where
Pro is a heavy-duty truck and trailer parts distributor and
servicer. (ECF No. 29 ¶ 1; ECF No. 34 ¶ 1.) Mr.
English began working for Heavy Duty Parts, Inc.-which was
eventually acquired by Truck Pro, Inc. -in April 1998 as a
counter salesman in the Altoona parts store when he was 49
years old. (ECF No. 29 ¶¶ 2-4; ECF No. 34
¶¶ 2-4.) Throughout his employment, Mr. English
either met or exceeded expectations and received pay raises.
(ECF No. 29 ¶ 5; ECF No. 34 ¶ 5.) Truck Pro
terminated Mr. English's employment on December 4, 2014,
when Mr. English was 65 years old. (ECF No. 34 ¶ 2.)
October 2013, Truck Pro hired 50-year-old Woodrow Allen
("Mr. Allen") as an additional counter salesman.
(ECF No. 29 ¶¶ 6-7; ECF No. 34 ¶¶ 6-7.)
After Mr. Allen was hired, the Altoona parts store employed
five total employees: one sales manager, one delivery
employee, one outside salesman, and two counter salesmen.
(ECF No. 29 ¶ 8; ECF No. 34 ¶ 8.) Mr. English and
Mr. Allen reported to Store Manager David Harclerode
("Mr. Harclerode"), who, in turn, reported to
Regional Manager Bob Langbo ("Mr. Langbo"). (ECF
No. 29 ¶¶ 9-10; ECF No. 34 ¶¶ 9-10.)
mid-to-late 2014, Truck Pro decided to eliminate one of the
two counter salesmen positions; it was the only position with
multiple employees at the Altoona parts store. (ECF No. 29
¶¶ 15-21; ECF No. 34 ¶¶ 15-21.) As
discussed further infra, the parties dispute the
motivation for hiring Mr. Allen, the reasons for eliminating
a position, and the reasons for choosing whether to fire Mr.
English instead of Mr. Allen.
the characterization of the evaluation and its merits are
contested, Truck Pro evaluated Mr. English and Mr. Allen in
late 2014. (ECF No. 29 ¶¶ 22-24; ECF No. 34
¶¶ 22-24.) On November 4, 2014, Mr. Harclerode
prepared the first draft of the assessment for both Mr.
English and Mr. Allen and sent them to Mr. Langbo. (ECF No.
29 ¶ 24; ECF No. 34 ¶ 24.) Under Mr.
Harclerode's assessment, Mr. English received an
unweighted rating of 16/25 and Mr. Allen received an
unweighted rating of 20/25. (ECF No. 29 ¶¶ 25-26;
ECF No. 34 ¶¶ 25-26.) Upon Mr. Langbo's review
of the assessments, Mr. Langbo increased both of Mr.
English's competency scores to a 4, increasing Mr.
English's final unweighted rating to 17/25 and leaving
Mr. Allen's unweighted rating at 20/25. (ECF No. 29
¶¶ 28-29; ECF No. 34 ¶¶ 28-29.)
Pro contends that Mr. English's position was eliminated
because his rating was lower than Mr. Allen's rating.
(ECF No. 29 ¶ 32.) However, Mr. English argues that
Truck Pro eliminated his position due to his age, which Mr.
English suggests is evinced by, inter alia, Mr.
Harclerode and Mr. Langbo's differing understanding of
the evaluations, Mr. Langbo's alteration to the ratings,
the earlier ratings of Mr. English, the timing and
circumstances of Mr. Allen's hiring (i.e., hiring an
approximately fifteen-year-younger employee to fill an
already filled position in a four-employee business location
and, then, firing the older employee after the new, younger
employee had been trained by the older employee), and
comments made to Mr. English by Mr. Harclerode regarding Mr.
English's retirement and eligibility for social security
retirement benefits. (See ECF No. 34.) Mr. Langbo
made the final decision as to who would ultimately be
terminated. (ECF No. 34 ¶¶ 62-64; ECF No. 42