in showing that a triable issue of fact exists as to whether Daka's proffered reasons for refusing to rehire her were merely pretext. Accordingly, Plaintiff's discrimination claim based on Daka's refusal to rehire her must also be dismissed.
It is worth noting that even if Plaintiff was successful in demonstrating that Daka's proffered reasons were false, Plaintiff's claim would nevertheless fail due to her inability to show that discriminatory animus was the motivating factor driving Daka's employment decisions. See Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 (conclusory affidavits are not sufficient to withstand summary judgment). Simply stated, there is nothing that indicates that discrimination played a role in Daka's decision not to employ Lois Hall.
C. TITLE VII
Plaintiff Hall's Complaint also asserts claims for age discrimination, sex discrimination, and reverse race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000-2 et seq.
Similar to claims under the ADEA, actions brought pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.,
also involve a burden shifting analysis. See, e.g., Russo v. Trifari, Krussman & Fishel, Inc., 837 F.2d 40, 43 (2d Cir. 1988). First, Hall must prove a prima facie case of discrimination by a preponderance of the evidence. Second, once Hall has presented such a prima facie case, the burden then shifts to the defendants to "articulate" some nondiscriminatory reason for the alleged discriminatory action. Finally, in the event that Defendants are able to meet their burden, Hall must be given the opportunity to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the proffered reasons are merely a pretext for discrimination. See Burdine, 450 U.S. at 253-254; McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 804; Lowe v. Commack Union Free Sch. Dist., 886 F.2d 1364, 1369 (2d Cir. 1989).
As discussed above, Plaintiff has failed to produce evidence that shows Daka's legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for refusing to employ Hall was merely a pretext for age discrimination. Accordingly, Hall's claim of age discrimination under Title VII must also be dismissed.
Turning to Hall's claims of sex discrimination and reverse race discrimination, it is clear from both Plaintiff's Complaint and from her papers in opposition to Daka's Motion for Summary Judgment, that she can aver no set of facts in support of a prima facie case of sex and/or reverse race discrimination. In fact, Hall's Affidavit contains absolutely no allegations of race or gender discrimination whatsoever. Moreover, Plaintiff testified at her deposition that she "did not know if race was a factor in her layoff." (Hall Deposition at 141.) Her only mention of gender discrimination is the somewhat ambiguous statement in her deposition that she was laid off because of an alleged "old boy network" at Daka. (Hall Deposition at 140.)
Although a court must draw all reasonable inferences against the moving the party, the non-moving party must do more than simply show "that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586. Here, Hall has not met her burden in opposing Daka's Motion for Summary Judgment on the issue of age, gender, and reverse race discrimination under Title VII. Consequently, Plaintiff's Title VII claim must be dismissed in its entirety.
D. ERISA CLAIMS
Plaintiff also claims a violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1140, for discrimination in connection with her eligibility for pension benefits.
Section 510 of ERISA prohibits an employer from discharging a participant in a benefit plan "for the purpose of interfering with the attainment of any right to which such participant may become entitled under the plan." 29 U.S.C. § 1140. To show a violation of section 510, a plaintiff must "demonstrate that [her] dismissal was motivated by preventing the vesting of pension benefits." Logan v. St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Ctr., 636 F. Supp. 226, 236 (S.D.N.Y), aff'd without op., 805 F.2d 391 (2d Cir. 1986); see also Dister v. Continental Group, 859 F.2d 1108, 1111 (2d Cir. 1988) (noting that 29 U.S.C. § 1140 was intended primarily to prevent "unscrupulous employers from discharging or harassing their employees from obtaining vested pension rights").
In her complaint, Hall alleges that Daka "prevented qualified employees from vesting or working until age 70." (Complaint at P34.) However, Hall concedes that the only retirement plan offered to her as a Daka employee was a 401(k) plan. (Hall Dep. at 175-76.) According to Daka, it may match in its sole discretion the funds contributed by an employee. Employees "vest" with respect to these matched funds after five full years of employment with Daka. (Nichols Aff. at P9.) Because Hall worked at Daka for almost 9 years, she was fully "vested" in the 401(k) plan. In addition, Hall admits that following her lay off she received the funds in the 401(k) plan. (Hall Dep. at 176.)
Although Hall provides no support whatsoever for her ERISA claim in her papers in opposition to Daka's Motion for Summary Judgment, the Court sees only one claim that Plaintiff could potentially assert. In essence, Plaintiff asserts that due to her layoff she is prevented from continuing to contribute to her 401(k) plan and thus receive Daka's matching funds. However, should this argument hold sway, every terminated employee whose employer provides any matching contributions could bring an ERISA action on the basis of every termination. This is clearly not the law under section 501 of ERISA. See, e.g., Dister, 859 F.2d at 1111 (no cause of action where loss of benefits is a "mere consequence of, but not a motivating factor behind, a termination of employment"); Kelly v. Chase Manhattan Bank, 717 F. Supp. 227, 232 (S.D.N.Y. 1989) (granting summary judgment because claim was simply that "had he remained as an employee, he would have accrued additional benefits").
Consequently, Plaintiffs claim under ERISA must be dismissed.
E. STATE LAW CLAIMS
Plaintiff's Complaint also asserts claims for age discrimination, sex discrimination, and reverse race discrimination in violation of the New York Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. L. § 290 et seq., and New York Civil Rights Law, N.Y. Civ. Rts. L. § 40-c et seq. However, having determined that Plaintiff's federal claims should be dismissed, this Court chooses to exercise its discretion and dismiss the remaining state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1367(c)(3) ("the district courts may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a claim under subsection (a) if . . . the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction."). Accordingly, Plaintiffs state law claims are dismissed without prejudice.
In summary, no genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether Plaintiff can prove age discrimination, sex discrimination, and reverse race discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act or Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act: she cannot. In addition, summary judgment is appropriate as to Plaintiff's claim that Daka violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. And, in the absence of a viable federal cause of action, this Court declines to exercise jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims.
Therefore, the Complaint is dismissed in its entirety as against all defendants. However, Plaintiff's claims under the New York Human Rights Law and New York Civil Rights Law are dismissed without prejudice. Accordingly, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is hereby GRANTED.
IT IS SO ORDERED
December 17, 1996
Binghamton, New York
Thomas J. McAvoy
Chief U.S. District Judge