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Cuppett v. Rite Aid of Pennsylvania, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

October 21, 2019

CARYJ. CUPPETT, Plaintiff,



         I. Introduction

         This case arises from Defendant Rite Aid of Pennsylvania, Inc.'s ("Rite Aid") alleged discrimination against Plaintiff in violation of both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") and Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") while working as a pharmacist for Defendant. Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 30.) The Motion is fully briefed (ECF Nos. 31, 35, 41) and ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion.

         II. Jurisdiction and Venue

         This Court has subject-matter jurisdiction because Plaintiff's claims arise under federal law. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Venue is proper because a substantial part of the events giving rise to Plaintiff's claims occurred in the Western District of Pennsylvania. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2).

         III. Factual Background

         The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted.[1]

         A. Plaintiff's History as a Pharmacist for Defendant

         In 1997, Plaintiff-who was born in 1949-worked part-time at an independent pharmacy that Defendant acquired. (ECF No. 32 ¶¶ 14, 18.) Approximately a year after the acquisition, Plaintiff resigned from Rite Aid. (Id. ¶ 22.) In October 2000, Plaintiff reached out to his former supervisor at Rite Aid, Frank Aceto, to see if Rite Aid had any jobs available. (Id. ¶ 23.) Mr. Aceto informed Plaintiff that Rite Aid had a pharmacist position available splitting time between Rite Aid's Huntingdon and Mount Union locations. (Id. ¶ 24.) Plaintiff applied for and received this position, but subsequently resigned from Rite Aid because he did not want to travel to the two locations. (Id. ¶¶ 25, 31.)

         In July 2002, Pharmacy District Manager Sherry McQuiston reached out to Plaintiff to see if he would be interested in a pharmacist position at a store in Windber. (Id. ¶ 32.) Plaintiff accepted Ms. McQuiston's offer and returned to employment with Rite Aid. (Id. ¶ 33.) In May 2003, Plaintiff took over the Pharmacy Manager position at a store in Cresson and, after about a year, Plaintiff was moved to a floating pharmacist position. (Id. ¶¶ 34-35.) Over the next several years, Plaintiff shifted between positions at different stores and Defendant ultimately transferred him back to the store in Windber in July 2013, as the store's staff pharmacist. (Id. ¶¶ 36-40.)

         In August 2014, Ms. McQuiston transferred Plaintiff to a floating pharmacist position. (Id. ¶ 43.) Plaintiff did not object to this transfer, did not inform Ms. McQuiston that he would prefer to stay at Windber, and did not tell her that he did not want to be a floating pharmacist. (Id. ¶ 44.) Plaintiff admits that Ms. McQuiston's motivation for this transfer was not related to Plaintiff's age. (Id. ¶ 45.)

         In April 2015, Plaintiff went on a leave of absence, and returned in October 2015, as a floating pharmacist. (Id. ¶¶ 46-47.) In February 2016, Defendant transferred Plaintiff back to the staff pharmacist position at the Windber store. (Id. ¶ 48.) In August 2016, Plaintiff went on another leave of absence through October 2016, and upon his return, Defendant placed him in a floating position, with the Windber store as his home store. (Id. ¶¶ 49-50.)

         On November 20, 2016, Defendant placed Megan Frazer-who was born in 1992-in the staff pharmacist position at the Windber store. (Id. ¶ 51.) Plaintiff did not complain to Ms. McQuiston about being placed in a floating pharmacist position, and did not express a desire to return to a staff pharmacist position following his leave. (Id. ¶ 52.) In fact, Plaintiff told Ms. McQuiston on multiple occasions that he preferred the floating pharmacist position, because he did not like the monotony of being assigned to the same store every day. (Id. ¶ 54.) The first time Plaintiff ever expressed a desire to be a staff pharmacist was during his performance review with Ms. McQuiston in April 2017-five months after Ms. Frazer was hired. (Id., ¶ 56.)

         B. Rite Aid's Reorganization of Plaintiff's Region

         In March 2018, Rite Aid reorganized its districts and assigned Plaintiff to a new supervisor, Robert McEvoy. (Id. ¶ 56.) In November 2018, Rite Aid reduced the base hours for all floating pharmacists in Plaintiff's region to 60 hours per pay period. (Id. ¶ 59.)

         Plaintiff never complained to Rite Aid about his hours being reduced and never complained that he thought the reduction was discriminatory in any way. (Id. ¶ 62.) Plaintiff never told Ms. McQuiston or Mr. McEvoy that he preferred and wanted to be a staff pharmacist instead of a floating pharmacist. (Id. ¶ 63.) Plaintiff was never told that if he did not take a certain position and/or opportunity offered to him he would be terminated. (Id. ΒΆ 64.) Plaintiff never made a complaint to anyone at Rite Aid regarding the terms or conditions of his employment, including any acts or circumstances of ...

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