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DUNCAN v. NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY

January 24, 2001

SHEILA DUNCAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY AND MANHATTAN AND BRONX SURFACE TRANSIT OPERATING AUTHORITY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gershon, District Judge.

ORDER

Plaintiff Sheila Duncan brings this action against defendants New York City Transit Authority, and Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority ("MaBSTOA") (collectively "Transit"), alleging discrimination on the basis of age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA") as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., and the New York State Human Rights Law ("HRL"), New York State Executive Law §§ 290 et seq.; and discrimination on the basis of race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) et seq., and the HRL.

Defendants move for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(b) dismissing plaintiff's claims in their entirety. Defendants argue that plaintiff has failed to establish a prima facie case of age or race discrimination in violation of the ADEA, Title VII and the HRL, and, alternatively, that plaintiff cannot show that the stated legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for her termination was a pretext for discrimination.

Facts

Unless otherwise indicated, the following facts are undisputed.

Plaintiff Sheila Duncan is an African-American female who was born on January 12, 1949. Plaintiff has a High School diploma, but did not attend college. She began working for MaBSTOA, a subsidiary of the New York City Transit Authority, on February 22, 1971, as a clerk typist in the Personnel Department of the Materiel Division ("Materiel"). Then on August 25, 1971, plaintiff was transferred to the Purchasing Department of Materiel, where she remained until her termination in 1995. During her employment, plaintiff was promoted from clerk typist, to assistant buyer, to buyer, to senior buyer, to supervising buyer, and finally to procurement specialist. In 1994, Bonnie Hickey, plaintiff's supervisor, carried out a series of evaluations. On three occasions, plaintiff received a good, the second highest score on a scale of four, for her job quality, initiative, and overall performance. On two evaluations, under the heading "initiative," Ms. Hickey comments that plaintiff shares ideas and suggestions, and on the third evaluation, Ms. Hickey comments that "[w]hen called upon, Ms. Duncan will offer suggestions and ideas." However, in 1987, plaintiff was disciplined for tardiness. Further, in March 1995, Ms. Hickey reprimanded plaintiff for excessive absenteeism and reduced plaintiff's paycheck, because plaintiff took approximately 9 sick days in 1990; 18 sick days in 1991; 24 sick days in 1992; 19 sick days in 1993; 22 sick days in 1994; and 10 sick days in the first half of 1995.

On July 1, 1995, plaintiff and five other procurement specialists were terminated pursuant to a reduction in force ("RIF"). Earher that year, Materiel had determined that it would eliminate 6 of its 115 procurement specialists to comply with a general RIF that Transit was carrying out for budgetary reasons. In order to make these cuts, defendants set up an RIF Task Force, which in turn designed a ranking system. The ranking system gave job knowledge, education, experience, and computer skills a weight of 5 each; absenteeism, communication, initiative, and analytical and interpersonal skills a weight of 10 each; and quality and quantity of output a weight of 15 each. The ranking system then gave employees a score of one to eight in each category, and multiplied that score by the category's weight. Finally, the ranking system added the weighted scores in each category, and terminated the six employees with the lowest total scores. In weighing education, college graduates received a good or better (over 25 points); employees with some college work but not a degree received a marginal (15 to 20 points), and employees with only a high school education received a poor (10 points). In weighing experience, the ranking system equated experience acquired in Materiel with other transit experience.

Plaintiff tied for the sixth lowest overall score at 450. Her weighted scores in each category were as follows: education (10); experience (30); absenteeism (10); computer skills (25); job knowledge (25); communication skills (50); analytical skills (50); interpersonal skills (60); quantity of output (75); quality of output (75); and initiative (40). Because plaintiff challenges her quality of output and initiative scores as inconsistent with her previous rankings, I note that the quality of output score corresponds to a "good," which is the second highest score on a scale of four, and plaintiff's initiative score corresponds to a "marginal," the third highest score, which describes an employee who "[f]requently avoids more difficult assignments. More comfortable with status quo. Occasionally extends his/her role with prodding." Thus, on June 7, 1995, defendants' informed plaintiff that she would be terminated at the end of the month.

The number of procurement specialists of each class (and the percentage of Materiel procurement specialists of each class) before and after the RIF were:

Before the RIF After the RIF
African-American 41(36%) 37(34%) Non-African-American 74(64%) 72(66%) Age-Protected 62(54%) 58(53%) Non-Age-Protected 53(46%) 51(47%)

Thus, 90% of African-American procurement specialists in Materiel passed the RIF, while 97% of non-African-American procurement specialists in Materiel passed. The ratio of African-American procurement specialists who passed to non-African-American procurement specialists who passed is 93%. In addition, 93% of age-protected procurement specialists in Materiel passed the RIF, while 96% of non-age-protected procurement specialists in Materiel passed. The ratio of age-protected procurement specialists who passed to non-age-protected procurement specialists who passed is 97%.

Plaintiff, rejecting the significance of these figures, relies on the fact that, of the six terminated procurement specialists, four were African-American, and four were age-protected. Further, plaintiff relies on the fact that the number of Materiel procurement specialists of each class ...


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