the entire Mail and File department not to assist plaintiff with the hunt list. Id. Plaintiff contends that Murray continued her campaign of harassment by adding "nitpicking requirements" and "time-consuming procedures" to her job.
On February 7, 1992, Pouch, having received authorization to proceed from Kelsey, terminated plaintiff. After plaintiff's termination, Murray found about 1000 pieces of mail in her work area that had never been processed, including summons and complaints and arbitration awards. Murray affidavit at P 12.
In October 1991, while on medical leave, plaintiff filed an age-discrimination charge against State Farm with the NYSDHR. On November 25, 1991, John Groves, corporate counsel for State Farm, filed a three-page response denying plaintiff's charge. After she was terminated in February 1992, plaintiff filed an additional retaliation charge with the NYSDHR. On April 21, 1992, the NYSDHR found no probable cause, concluding that plaintiff was placed on probation due to her poor performance and that she was terminated when it did not improve. Exhibit X. Plaintiff then requested a review of the NYSDHR finding by the EEOC. On July 16, 1992, the EEOC affirmed the finding of no probable cause. Exhibit Y. In their affidavits, Murray, Pouch, and Warren all attested that they did not learn that plaintiff had filed a complaint with NYSDHR until after her termination in February 1992. Murray affidavit, P 14; Warren affidavit, P 13; Pouch affidavit, P 8.
As evidence of age discrimination, plaintiff points to an August 12, 1991 memorandum from Jane Bosshardt of State Farm's Personnel Department, requesting certified copies of plaintiff's birth certificate and her marriage certificate. See Duffy affidavit, P 29; exhibit P. Plaintiff did not mention this memorandum in her complaint. Bosshardt made this request as part of a company-wide effort to gather documentation routinely required by State Farm's retirement plan. See Bosshardt affidavit, P 2; Exhibit B (June 21, 1991 memorandum to Northeastern Personnel Department from Retirement Benefits requesting evidence of age documents for numerous employees) Bosshardt requested the same information of forty-five other employees in the Northeast region in addition to plaintiff. Bosshardt affidavit, P 4. Bosshardt also stated that she knew nothing about plaintiff's job performance and was in no way involved in or aware of the decision to terminate her. Id. at P 5.
I. ADEA Claim
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") prohibits an employer from discharging an employee because of her age if she is between forty and seventy years old. 29 U.S.C. § 631(a). An ADEA plaintiff may attempt to prove discrimination by direct evidence, by statistical proof, or through circumstantial evidence. In this case, plaintiff has no direct evidence of discrimination. She does not allege that anybody at State Farm ever made any comments about her age. Nor does plaintiff present any statistical evidence to establish a pattern of discrimination against older people. Plaintiff instead seeks to prove her ADEA claim through circumstantial evidence, and therefore, the familiar three-step analysis from McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S. Ct. 1817, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668 (1973) applies. Johnson v. State of New York, 49 F.3d 75, 78 (2d Cir. 1995).
Under this burden-shifting analysis, an ADEA plaintiff has the initial burden of establishing a prima facie case of discrimination. St. Mary's Honor Center v. Hicks, 509 U.S. 502, 113 S. Ct. 2742, 2746-47, 125 L. Ed. 2d 407 (1993). In order to establish a prima facie case under the ADEA, plaintiff must demonstrate (1) that she was within the protected age group, (2) that she was qualified for the position, (3) that she was discharged, and (4) that the discharge occurred under circumstances giving rise to an inference of age discrimination. Cronin v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 46 F.3d 196, 204 (2d Cir. 1995).
If plaintiff meets this burden, discrimination is presumed, and the burden shifts to defendant to articulate a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the discharge. Gallo v. Prudential Residential Services, 22 F.3d 1219, 1224 (2d Cir. 1994). If the employer proffers, "through the introduction of admissible evidence, reasons for its actions which, if believed by the trier of fact, would support a finding that unlawful discrimination was not the cause of the employment action," Hicks, 113 S. Ct. at 2747 (citations and internal quotations omitted), the presumption of discrimination drops out of the case. Id. at 2749. The employer's burden at this stage is one of production, not persuasion. Id. at 2747. If the employer carries this burden of production, plaintiff then must show that defendant's articulated reason for its decision is in fact a pretext for discrimination. Gallo, 22 F.3d at 1225.
A. Step 1: Plaintiff's Burden to Establish a Prima Facie Case
Defendant concedes that plaintiff has established three of the four elements of a prima facie case: she is over forty, she was discharged, and she was replaced by a younger person. Defendant, however, argues that plaintiff cannot establish that she was qualified for the position. In satisfying this burden, plaintiff must demonstrate that "her performance was of sufficient quality to merit continued employment, thereby raising an inference that some other factor was involved in the decision to discharge [her]." Powell v. Syracuse University, 580 F.2d 1150, 1155 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 984, 99 S. Ct. 576, 58 L. Ed. 2d 656 (1978) (citation omitted).
In opposing defendant's motion for summary judgment, plaintiff submitted sworn affidavits from herself and a co-worker, Sheila Mason. Although defendant argues persuasively that, based on the affidavits it submitted, plaintiff was not qualified for the position, this is a motion for summary judgment, and the Court is required to draw all reasonable inferences and resolve all ambiguities in favor of the non-moving party. Taggart v. Time, Inc., 924 F.2d 43, 46 (2d Cir. 1991). "The inferences to be drawn from the underlying affidavits, exhibits, interrogatory answers, and depositions must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Cronin, 46 F.3d at 202. Given the numerous, detailed affidavits submitted by State Farm, the Court has serious doubts about whether plaintiff was qualified for any position at State Farm. Courts, however, have consistently emphasized the de minimis showing required to establish a prima facie case in employment discrimination cases. See e.g., Cronin, 46 F.3d at 203-04 (reversing district court's grant of summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case and emphasizing that "the showing the plaintiff must make as to the elements of the prima facie case in order to defeat a motion for summary judgment is de minimis"). In light of this caselaw and the affidavits and the exhibits submitted by plaintiff, the Court concludes that plaintiff has demonstrated that she is qualified for the position and therefore has established a prima facie case.
B. Step 2: Defendant's Burden to State a Legitimate Non-Discriminatory Reason