The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurd, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Plaintiffs, John Hogan ("Hogan") and David Rees ("Rees"),
individually, and on behalf of all others similarly situated,
commenced the current action alleging age discrimination in
violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"),
29 U.S.C. § 621-34, and the New York State Human Rights Law
("HRL"), N.Y.Exec.Law § 296(6) (McKinney 1993 & Supp. 2000).
Carmen Laporta ("Laporta") and William Sheahan ("Sheahan")
became "opt-in" plaintiffs after the filing of the initial
On July 17, 1995, General Electric Power Systems ("GEPS")
conducted an involuntary reduction-in-force ("RIF") at its
Schenectady, New York facility. Defendant General Electric
Company ("GE") claims the RIF was required because of increased
global competition which facilitated a need to reduce costs to
remain competitive. The terminations during the RIF took place
in the Marketing & Sales Division of GEPS. Among those
terminated were the plaintiffs in this action.
At the time of the RIF, there were one-hundred seventy-four
(174) workers eligible for termination in the Marketing & Sales
Division. Of the 174, ninety-nine (99) were over the age of
forty, and seventy-five (75) were under forty. Between nineteen
(19) and twenty-two (22) employees were terminated as a result
of this RIF.*fn1 It is undisputed that sixteen (16) of the
employees terminated were over the age of forty.
During all relevant times, defendant Ronald Pressman
("Pressman") was Vice President of the Marketing & Sales
Division of GEPS, and defendant Stephen Hollenberg
("Hollenberg") was the General Manager of the Global Sales
Integration and Support unit, a sub-unit of the Marketing &
Sales Division. The RIF was conducted after the offering of a
voluntary job elimination package did not produce the needed
cost reduction. Managers of the various departments within the
Marketing & Sales Division were instructed to select individuals
for layoff pursuant to the GEI & PS Human Resources Procedure,
Subject Lay Off. If an employee's job was "unique" and
non-essential to the functioning of GEPS, they were directly
laid off. If there was a need to eliminate some employees
performing similar jobs, the managers were instructed to use a
"layoff determination comparison matrix" to rank employees.
(Weyl Aff.Ex. B at 3.) These matrices ranked employees based on
five criteria: performance, productivity, criticality of skills,
versatility/adaptability, and length of service. According to
this system, length of service with GE, a factor strongly
correlated with age, benefitted the employee. After the initial
termination decisions were made and reviewed by mid-level
management, Pressman was required to personally review the
termination of any employee with more than twenty years of
service at GEPS. According to the defendants, the human
resources and legal departments also reviewed the terminations.
Laporta, age fifty-eight at the time of the RIF, was a
Specialist of Technical Manuals with twenty-three years of
service with GE. He organized the schedule for the creation of
the service manuals for GEPS' products. Laporta was originally
placed on a matrix with twenty-six (26) other employees where he
ranked fifth. However, after a meeting attended by defendant
Hollenberg and other GEPS management, Laporta's position was
labeled "unique," he was taken off the matrix, and was
Rees, age fifty-eight at the time of the RIF, was a Program
Development Manager with twenty-nine years of service with GE.
Rees' main responsibility was organizing "State of the Art"
conferences and seminars. These conferences were eliminated as
part of GEPS' cost-cutting measures. Rees allegedly worked with
three (3) other people, ages twenty-six, thirty-one, and forty.
Nevertheless, his position was also labeled "unique," and he was
not placed on a matrix for comparison.
Sheahan, who was fifty-one at the time of the RIF, was a Sales
Manager with twenty-six years of service with GE. In this
position, he assisted in the development of power plant projects
in Asia. Sheahan worked with four (4) other people, ages
thirty-six, thirty-eight, forty-one, and fifty-six. Sheahan was
placed on a comparison matrix and placed second out of five (5).
While the three (3) lower ranked employees were also
"terminated," two quickly found other work within GE. Of the 5,
only Sheahan and his fifty-six year old co-worker could not find
jobs within GE.
After this suit commenced, plaintiffs hired Dr. Debojyoti
Sarkar ("Dr. Sarkar") of Integral Research, Inc. to prepare a
statistical report on the RIF to determine if there was any
correlation between the age of an employee and termination. This
report determined that age was significantly related to
termination in the RIF. Dr. Sarkar evaluated the statistics
holding education ...