The opinion of the court was delivered by: HAROLD BAER, JR., District Judge
Defendants move for partial summary judgment on plaintiff's
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.
("Title VII") and Age Discrimination in Employment Act,
29 U.S.C. § 623 et seq. ("ADEA") claims.*fn1 For the reasons set
forth below, the defendants' motion for partial summary judgment
Plaintiff Diana B. Klier, a white female born on June 1, 1941,
has been employed by the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") from
April 1979 to the present time. From 1994 to January 12, 2004,
Klier was a Manager in the Miscellaneous Case Processing Unit
("MCPU") in one of the IRS' Manhattan offices. This position was
originally graded as a General-Schedule ("GS")-9*fn2
position. Klier was given additional responsibilities in 1997. As
a consequence, she and her then-supervisor, Stephen Levy,
recommended that the National Classification Center reclassify
Klier's position as a GS-11 through a "Desk Audit."*fn3
Effective March 15, 1998, Klier's position with the MPCU was upgraded to GS-10 based on the results of this Desk
Audit. Klier's new title was Manager, Collection Support.
Klier learned in January 2002 that Stephen Baxam, a black male
approximately 55 years of age, had applied for and received a
GS-11. As a consequence, Klier concluded that she had been
discriminated against. According to Klier, her position involved
greater responsibilities than Baxam's but she was found to merit
only a one grade increased to GS 10. Baxam's position was
competitively announced on the IRS internet system, although
Klier did not apply*fn4 because the position was at a
Brooklyn location and would have increased her commute from
approximately thirty minutes to approximately one and half hours.
Klier initially complained about the alleged discrepancy between
the GS-level of the positions she and Baxam held to her
then-supervisor, Wayne Garvin, and requested that another Desk
Audit be performed. According to Klier, Garvin explained that a
Desk Audit could not be performed at that time because of an IRS
nationwide restructuring project then in progress. Garvin
suggested to Klier that a Desk Audit might eventuate if she filed
an Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") complaint. Klier
contacted an EEO counselor on February 14, 2002 and complained
that managers in other areas were being paid at a higher GS level
for the same or less work. On April 19, 2002, Klier filed a
formal EEO complaint and alleged race, color, and age
discrimination. She subsequently withdrew her color
discrimination claim on July 18, 2002. Klier subsequently
withdrew from the administrative process and on June 23, 2003,
she initiated this lawsuit.
On September 3, 2003, Mala Williams, a Human Resources
Specialist at the National Classification Center in Atlanta,
Georgia, completed a second Desk Audit of Klier's position.
Williams determined that Klier's position was properly graded at
GS-10 based on organizational charts, documents, and the
questionnaire signed by both Klier and Garvin. Klier avers that
she was not aware that this Desk Audit was conducted and did not
see the entire report, even though she signed the last page. Not
surprisingly, Klier claims that there were inaccuracies in the
Desk Audit report and that it did not adequately account for her
experience and responsibilities. Shortly thereafter, on October 8, 2003, Williams completed a Desk Audit
of Baxam's position.*fn5 Williams determined that Baxam's
position was properly graded at GS-11.
On December 14, 2003, Klier was awarded a GS-11 and the title
of Integrated Collection Support Quality Analyst following her
application for this competitively announced position.
Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer to, inter alia,
"discriminate against any individual with respect to his[/her]
compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment,
because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or
national origin." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). The ADEA makes it
unlawful for an employer to, inter alia, "discriminate
against any individual with respect to his[/her] compensation,
terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such
individual's age." 28 U.S.C. § 623(a)(1). Here, Klier alleges
that she was discriminated against on the basis of her
sex,*fn6 race, and age by the defendants' course of conduct,
which resulted in her being placed in a lower grade level and
paid less than others not in her protected class. For the reasons
set forth below, the defendants' motion for partial summary
judgment on these claims is granted. Klier has failed to make out
a prima facie case of discrimination under either statute,
and had she done so, her complaint would nonetheless have likely
been dismissed for her failure to rebut the defendants' proffered
non-discriminatory rationale for compensating Klier at the GS-10
level during the time in question.*fn7
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Fed.R. Civ. P.")
56(c), a district court must grant summary judgment if the
evidence demonstrates that "there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and [that] the moving party is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S.C. § 242, 250 (1986). "Summary judgment is properly regarded
not as a disfavored procedural shortcut, but rather as an
integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed
to `secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of
every action.'" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327
(1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 1). To determine whether there is a genuine issue of material fact,
the Court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all inferences
against the moving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc.,
369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962) (per curiam); Donahue v. Windsor Locks Bd.
of Fire Comm'rs, 834 F.2d 54, 57 (2d Cir. 1987). However, the
mere existence of disputed factual issues is insufficient to
defeat a motion for summary judgment. Knight v. U.S. Fire Ins.
Co., 804 F.2d 9, 11-12 (2d Cir. 1986). The disputed issues of
fact must be "material to the outcome of the litigation," id.
at 11, and must be backed by evidence that would allow "a
rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party,"
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The non-movant "must do more than simply show
that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts."
Id. With respect to materiality, "substantive law will identify
which facts are material. Only disputes over facts that might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will
properly preclude entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes
that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted."
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
As in other areas of litigation, summary judgment is available
in discrimination suits. Weinstock v. Columbia Univ.,
224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000). The Second Circuit has, however, urged
courts to exercise caution at the summary judgment stage where
intent is an issue, such as in discrimination cases. Gallo v.
Prudential Residential Svcs., Ltd., 22 F.3d 1219, 1224 (2d Cir.
1994). Nevertheless, summary judgment is appropriate "when an
employer provides convincing evidence to explain its conduct and
the plaintiff's argument consists of purely conclusory
allegations of discrimination," thereby eliminating any material
issue of fact. Diaz v. Weill Med. Ctr. of Cornell Univ., No. 02
Civ. 7380, 2004 WL 285947, at *14 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 13, 2004).
To determine whether plaintiff's Title VII and ADEA claims will
survive summary judgment, the Court applies the same
burden-shifting scheme set out in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v.
Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802-4 (1973). See Terry v. Ashcroft,
336 F.3d 128, 138 (2d Cir. 2003). Under this scheme, plaintiff
must first make out a prima facie case of discrimination.
Id. at 137. If plaintiff makes such a showing, the burden of
going forward shifts to the defendants to offer a
non-discriminatory rationale for its actions. Id. at 138. If
such a showing is made, plaintiff must adduce sufficient ...