The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seybert, District Judge.
Presently pending before the Court is Defendant's motion for
summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. The Plaintiff, Igor Ashton (hereinafter "Ashton"
or "Plaintiff"), commenced this action on or about August 5,
1996, against his former employer, Pall Corporation (hereinafter
"Pall" or "Defendant"), alleging a claim of unlawful termination
in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967,
as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. ("ADEA").
Plaintiff, Igor Ashton, was hired in or about March 1988 by the
Defendant Pall Corporation as a mechanical engineer. (Pl.'s Dep.
at 21.) At that time Plaintiff was 41 years of age. (Pl.'s Dep.
at 14.) For the first six years Plaintiff received positive
performance reviews and commensurate salary increases. (Pl.'s
Local Rule 56.1 Statement (hereinafter "56.1") ¶ 1.) On or about
November 1992, Plaintiff assumed the role of maintenance manager.
(Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 1.) Plaintiff's new position entailed, among other
things, delegating assignments and training subordinates. (Def.'s
56.1 ¶ 2.)
In 1993 there was a merger of two subsidiary departments, and
as a result, Plaintiff was moved to the Engineering Department.
(Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 2.) On or about June 7, 1993, Plaintiff began
reporting to George Grippo, the Director of Manufacturing.
(Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 3.)
On or about February 23, 1994, Plaintiff received a memorandum
from George Grippo regarding his unsatisfactory work performance,
which stated in relevant part:
I have instructed you, on several occasions, to make
sure that your staff is trained. To date, you have
not followed my instructions, resulting in the
inefficiency of our operations. . . . This situation
must change. Please accept this as formal
notification that you are required to train your
(Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 4; Def.'s Ex. C.) This was followed by a second
memorandum also entitled "Unsatisfactory Work Performance," dated
on or about April 26, 1994, which read in pertinent part:
I want to bring to your attention some items related
to maintenance that you have direct responsibility
for. . . . I have expressed my concerns over the poor
state of affairs with the maintenance for this area.
You have also not addressed the training issues for
the department. There is no plan in place to assure
that the mechanics are properly trained. You must
follow-up with me and then let me know the status.
This issue must be straightened out immediately. . .
. These issues must be straightened out immediately.
If they are not, you will be subject to further
(Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 5; Def.'s Ex. D.)
A meeting was held on or about April 27, 1994, in attendance
were Igor Ashton, George Grippo and Voula K. Serres, a Human
Resources Generalist at Pall. The meeting was convened to discuss
Plaintiff's performance. Voula Serres memorialized her impression
of the meeting and the specific areas discussed included
Plaintiff's "inability to manage the maintenance staff
effectively; the lack of technical training that the maintenance
staff has; and why [Plaintiff] has not taken proactive steps to
change that since the last time this issue was raised over a
month ago." (Def.'s Ex. E.) Ms. Serres concluded that the
realizes that he is not capable of handling the
managerial and maintenance responsibilities of this
job. He iterated on several occasions, `I am an
engineer, not a manager.' When I asked him if he felt
he can handle the maintenance staff for this
operation he said, `no, I can't.'
When queried at deposition about this specific exchange, Aston
was asked: "During your meeting with Mr. Grippo and Ms. Serres,
did you tell Ms. Serres that you were an engineer not a manager?"
To which he replied: "Yes, I did." He was then asked: "Did you
tell her that you felt that you were not capable of performing
the managerial functions?" Ashton replied: "On certain — on
existing conditions, no."
On or about May 16, 1994, Grippo conducted Plaintiff's
performance evaluation. Grippo indicated that Plaintiff's quality
of work, communication skills, and participation and contribution
of ideas and solutions were unsatisfactory. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 7;
Def.'s Ex. F.) On a scale of 1 to 5, representing in ascending
order outstanding, above average, proficient, adequate, and
unsatisfactory, Plaintiff received proficient in one category,
adequate in three categories and unsatisfactory in four
categories. (Def.'s Ex. F.) Plaintiff does not claim that
Grippo's memos or the performance evaluations evince his claims
of age discrimination. (Pl.'s Dep. at 74).
In or about May 1994, Plaintiff met with Patricia Lowy,
Corporate Director of Human Resources at Pall, and requested a
transfer. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 8; Pl.'s Dep. at 84-85.) In describing
this conversation, Ashton recounted that Lowy informed him: "That
I have to look for a job in a different department or I have to
leave. And she offered me even help to get [a] head-hunter. This
I remember correctly." (Pl.'s Dep. at 84-85.) Soon thereafter,
Vlado Matkovich, Pall's Senior Corporate Vice-President, informed
Plaintiff that he would be transferred into the Engineering
Department. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 8; Pl.'s Dep. at 84-85.)
Sometime between May 1994 and August 1994, Chris Bush, age 32,
became Igor's supervisor in the Engineering Department. (Pl.'s
56.1 ¶ 3; Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 10.) Ashton became a Project Engineer and
his former responsibilities were assumed by Robert Hoffman, who
was also over 40 years of age at the time. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 10.)
On or about March 14, 1995, Bush conducted Ashton's performance
evaluation, which reads in pertinent part:
Igor has been given assignments with clear objectives
that require feeding back information to me; and has,
over a time, failed to report on their status.
Furthermore, the position he fills requires taking
aggressive action to accomplish tasks that arise in
the production environment, and has not demonstrated
the appropriate decisiveness. This lack of initiative
has resulted in my having frequently to follow-up on