Age Discrimination Claims Dismissed, Despite Younger Replacement

In Parsons v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 16-CV-0408, 2018 WL 4861379 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2018), the court, inter alia, granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s age discrimination claims.

This case teaches us that replacement by a younger worker does not necessarily (but, in an appropriate case, may) substantiate a claim for discrimination based on age.

From the decision:

Regarding Plaintiffs termination of employment in 2015, there is also no circumstantial evidence giving rise to an inference of age discrimination. Plaintiff’s replacement is an African-American woman who is merely six years younger than Plaintiff. (Def 56.1 ¶ 105.) See O’Connor v. Consol. Coin Caterers Corp., 517 U.S. 308, 313 (1996) (an “inference [of age discrimination] cannot be drawn from the replacement of one worker with another worker insignificantly younger.”). Additionally, both of the decision-makers in Plaintiff’s termination were about the same age as she. Davis was born in 1957, which makes her four years older than Plaintiff. (Davis Decl. (Dkt. 38-20) ¶ 1.) Arcaro was born in 1962, which makes her one year younger than Plaintiff. (Arcaro Decl. (Dkt. 38-21) ¶ 1.) This undermines any inference that either of these individuals may have had discriminatory purposes based on age. See Focarazzo v. Univ. of Rochester, 947 F. Supp. 2d 335, 339 (W.D.N.Y. 2013) (finding it difficult to infer age discrimination when decision-makers are “about the same age” as plaintiff). In any case, Plaintiff has not produced any evidence which suggests that her age played a role in her termination. Without such evidence, the court cannot find that there is circumstantial evidence giving rise to an inference of age discrimination. The court also notes that, under the ADEA, Plaintiff must show that age was the but-for cause of the employment decision. Gross, 557 U.S. at 176. Plaintiff has not put forth any facts that would support the argument that age was the but-for cause of either her termination or the denial of her 2013 promotion.